Embracing Fourth Industrial Revolution and Keeping Up with Industry Trailblazers

The future of supply chains lies in the update of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies within all business operations. With technological advancements like AI, robotics, and blockchain, supply chain management is experiencing a paradigm shift. Of course, new technologies are emerging every day, and understanding the difference between real advancement potential or a buzzword-entwined fad poses the question of how supply chains can adopt the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to revolutionize their current efforts.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution encompasses a range of technologies that are revolutionizing supply chains. According to a report by PwC, AI alone has the potential to add $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. The fusion of digital, physical, and biological systems is leading to increased automation, connectivity, and data-driven decision-making.

Real-time data and analytics are empowering supply chains like never before. Companies can gain enhanced visibility across their networks. According to a survey by Accenture, 79% of supply chain executives believe that IoT will have a significant impact on their operations enabling proactive decision-making, optimized inventory levels, improved demand forecasting, and quicker response times to disruption.

People keep saying AI is coming, the future is coming – but is it? It looks to us like it’s already here.

But, for every company that is embracing the 4IR and its surrounding technologies and capabilities, there are many that still do not see its benefits or more commonly, simply do not know where to start.

Does the rise of robots mean the demise of the workforce? 

There is always a real worry in times of change that the human element of these processes will become redundant. This is an incredibly valid concern for workforces and needs to be treated responsibly by leaders. Supply chains already have an ever-widening skills gap, not only with digitization but with the retirement rate of baby boomers vs the recruitment of the new generation of supply chain leaders causing gaps in the workforce across the world. 

Recruitment within supply chains is a crisis, but the idea that this is because robots and Artificial Intelligence are taking our jobs is just a fallacy. According to the World Economic Forum’s Lighthouse Network, by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced due to automation, which though sounds alarming, many fail to hear that 97 million new roles may also emerge.

Traditional engineers can transition to Fourth Industrial Revolution digital roles with the right training and by adhering to best practices for adult learning. The Global Lighthouse Network give an example of an advanced industries company in North America that partnered with universities that allowed them to upskill 40% of the workforce at their Asia Sites by using personalized learning programs based on individual personnel needs.

Upskilling and reskilling lay at the center of successful 4IR transformation, but this is not something that can be achieved at the flip of a switch, leaders must be able to not only facilitate but communicate change effectively from the ground up, allowing everyone to be actively involved as part of the journey.

Transformation & “Pilot Purgatory”

There isn’t just a skills gap we need to consider when discussing industry-wide transformation but the gap that is ever-growing between industry leaders and those further behind in the journey.

 Everyone knows the benefit of adopting 4IR and as supply chains embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the potential for transformation is vast. By leveraging technologies like AI, IoT, robotics, and blockchain, supply chain leaders can enhance visibility, responsiveness, and traceability. 

But the problem here isn’t the question of its benefits, it’s how all companies can pull off successful transformation projects. The World Economic Forum (WEF) found that whilst many manufacturers have made strides towards technological transformation, over 70% of companies in the manufacturing ecosystem find themselves stuck in what they define as “pilot purgatory”.  This, according to the WEF, is where companies are attempting to implement advanced technologies without measurable operational KPIs, making the measurement of success and identifiable improvement areas difficult to assess. 

Industry benchmarks and transformational case studies must be accessible for all companies to help accelerate widespread adoption of advanced 4IR technologies, for all companies that wish to remain competitive in this new landscape.

The Global Lighthouse Network

We have referred to the Global Lighthouse Network several times during this piece, and we wish to shed light on what they and the companies within their network have achieved in the realm of 4IR. 

In 2018, the World Economic Forum and McKinsey & Company launched the Global Lighthouse Network, a community of leading manufacturers chosen and identified by their adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to transform factory value chains to generate returns in financial operational, and environmental areas.

‘Lighthouses’ are selected through a comprehensive process led by an independent panel of world-leading 4IR experts. As of 2023, there are 132 Lighthouses based all over the world and are leading the way in digitization, automation, predictive analytics, and the Industrial Internet of Things, all of which are accelerating their productivity, sustainably, and financial targets.

The Global House Network isn’t just an accolade for the chosen few, but these leaders are pushing benchmarks through their demonstration of these new technological uses, and paving the way for digital connectivity beyond individual plant sites and across the value chain. 

Not only that, but for companies yet to embark on their transformational journey into scaling 4IR technologies, these Lighthouses have left waypoints to successful transformation, allowing others to learn from their mistakes, and emulate their successes. 

The Global Lighthouse Networks not only celebrates the trailblazers, and helps to educate those further behind on their journey into the 4IR, but encourages healthy competition which helps further breed innovation and advancements across the industry.

A Roadmap for the Unknown

Members of the Global Lighthouse Network have contributed to a playbook on how to best approach transformation based on their own various implementations, providing a map to those who are about to embark into unknown territory themselves allowing all to step into the next phase of the digital revolution.

Having resources, roadmaps, and beacons of this caliber to look to in times of uncertainty and unknown means we continue to celebrate those that are paving the way whilst simultaneously allowing those who follow in their footsteps to prosper. 


Future Insights Network CEO and Co-Founder to Lead Home Delivery World USA Conference

London – Future Insights Network, a leading digital media platform for supply chain, manufacturing, logistics, and business operations leaders, is proud to announce that its CEO and Co-Founder, Maria Villablanca, will be chairing the Home Delivery World USA conference and exhibition taking place on June 14th and 15th at The Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Home Delivery World is the premier event dedicated to uncovering the latest trends and innovative technologies for retailers, grocers, CPGs, and 3PLs facing challenges across the supply chain from warehousing to fulfillment and the last mile. With over 5000 attendees, 250+ speakers, 150+ sessions, and 350+ exhibitors, the conference is a must-attend event for anyone involved in the retail logistics industry.

As part of the conference, Maria will be participating in a fireside chat with Keelin Evans, the VP of Sustainability for Macy’s, to discuss navigating the journey to implementing sustainable solutions in supply chain.

“I am thrilled to be chairing the Home Delivery World USA conference and to have the opportunity to share my insights and experience with the industry’s leading experts,” said Maria Villablanca, CEO and Co-Founder of Future Insights Network. “Home delivery is a critical aspect of the retail experience, and I look forward to discussing the latest trends and technologies that are shaping the future of the industry.”

To register for the conference and learn more about the event, please visit

About Future Insights Network

Future Insights Network is a digital media platform that connects supply chain, manufacturing, logistics, and business operations leaders with the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in their field. With a global network of 130,000+ members, Future Insights Network provides a valuable resource for professionals looking to stay ahead of the curve in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.


Ella Wilkinson

Future Insights Network


Future Insights Network CEO and Co-Founder to Deliver the Opening Keynote at Camelot Consulting Group’s Supply Chain Day Conference

London – Future Insights Network, the leading digital media platform for supply chain, manufacturing, logistics, and business operations leaders, is proud to announce that its CEO and Co-Founder, Maria Villablanca, will be speaking at the Camelot Supply Chain Day conference in Frankfurt on the 30th of March. 

Camelot Consulting Group’s Supply Chain Day will draw a senior audience of supply chain leaders from some of the world’s most admired companies in the manufacturing industry, showcasing insights and use cases on next-generation planning, risk-aware planning, and decision-making, and the end-to-end integration of planning and execution.

Drawing on the hundreds of interviews she’s conducted on the supply chain transformation podcast Transform Talks; Maria will be delivering an opening keynote that addresses the supply chain challenges faced and strategies deployed by the world’s best supply chain organizations. Later in the day, Maria will also be moderating a panel discussion on whether S&OE is the missing link to better-performing supply chains with the Bjoern Neal Kirchner (Corporate VP of Supply Chain Management at Henkel), Laurent Morineaux (VP Supply Chain at Wacker Chemie AG) and Dr. Franz Merath (SVP Supply Chain and Business Process Management at Evonik).

“Every week, I interview an industry leader on some of the most pressing topics in supply chain and business transformation on the Transform Talks podcast. I’m really looking forward to sharing the insights I’ve gained across hundreds of interviews I’ve conducted over the past couple of years at Camelot’s Supply Chain conference,” said Maria Villablanca, CEO and Co-Founder of Future Insights Network. 

To learn more about the conference and book your space, please visit

About Future Insights Network

Future Insights Network is a digital media platform that connects supply chain, manufacturing, logistics, and business operations leaders with the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in their field. With a global network of 130,000+ members, Future Insights Network provides a valuable resource for professionals looking to stay ahead of the curve in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.


Ella Wilkinson

Future Insights Network





Maria Villablanca, CEO and Co-Founder of Future Insights Network, has been named in the list of top 10 most recognized women entrepreneurs to follow in 2022. 

Maria Villablanca Front Page of Global Biz Outlook November 2022

This recognition comes from Global Biz Outlook, the global magazine dedicated to providing best business practices of leaders all over the world. 

As CEO of Future Insights Network, the collaborative content, events, and learning network for supply chain leaders, Maria has been announced as the cover story for the issue, featuring her interview surrounding her approach as a persistent and passionate leader.’ 

Maria commented on her recognition: “any recognition as a woman in business is an honor. No entrepreneur is without their challenges, but as I say in the interview, as women, we often have the odds stacked against us, making success in whatever form that bit sweeter.”

Maria’s work within Future Insights Network and her podcast, Transform Talks, is all about cutting through the noise within the supply chain industry to provide honest, educational, and actionable insights to practitioners worldwide. 

As a thought leader, Maria has conversations every day with people from every aspect of the supply chain that helps inform her and the rest of Future Insights Network’s offerings. 

Maria added: “If we don’t talk about the issues we face within our industry, we will never get anywhere. And with big targets on the horizon and volatility continuing to cause turbulence, these conversations are more important than ever.

I have conversations daily with people spanning all industries, and what I often hear is a sense of confusion amid the constant hype that is pushed our way. Being recognized among the other powerful women as the most recognizable entrepreneurs cements the fact that the work we do at FIN is providing that necessary clarity across the board, which I’m incredibly proud to be leading.” 

Future Insights Network’s mission is to provide clarity to its network of over 130,000 supply leaders and beyond to drive the necessary benchmarking and upskilling to strengthen the industry from the inside out. As we enter 2023, Maria Villablanca and the rest of the Future Insights team will continue to deliver value to the supply chain community by bringing the industry the case studies, insights, and connections needed for thriving as a modern-day supply chain and manufacturing leader. 

The full interview can be read here.



SDGs, Global Supply Chains, and Transparent Sustainability

Supply chains are becoming more intricate than ever before. New markets and the rise of outsourcing have allowed the possibility of creating resilient and ethical global supply chains whilst simultaneously achieving reducing costs by manufacturing in countries with emerging economies.

But, there are wider concerns to consider than individual organizations’ sustainability goals when creating global supply chains. 

Enter the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In 2015, the UN outlined 17 key initiatives as a blueprint for UN members to improve the world by 2030. 

These goals revolve around ethical, socioeconomic, and environmental goals and culminate to answer for much more than corporate sustainability policies. But, these goals should be used as a benchmark by companies to integrate more than just sustainability policies, but consider the impact they have on wider ethical and societal issues. 

The truth is, supply chains should be considered a priority to accelerate the UN’s SDGs. If we are to hit the target in less than 8 years’ time, pressure must be put on supply chains to align with these goals. 

Why Supply Chain? 

Global supply chains are growing more and more complex, with endless touchpoints involved from the collection of raw materials to the delivery to the consumer. 

There is growing pressure from stakeholders and consumers to ensure that outsourced companies and partners of an organization are accounted for when considering the overall output. This is not just in terms of the different scopes of carbon emissions, but also from an ethical responsibility standing. 

It is at this point that global supply chains play a crucial role in achieving the UN’s 2030 goal. Supporting the international economic environment, tolerating only fair labor and sustainability practices. Take SDG 17.11, “increase significantly the exports of developing countries, in particular with a view to doubling the Least Developed Countries (LDC) share of global exports”. Increased trade in LDCs is a proven way to help reduce poverty and increase economic growth, but this must be done fairly and sensibly to ensure LDCs are not exploited. It is vital correct considerations are made to ensure reliance on singular exports does not cause increased fragility.

Supply chains that commit to exporting from LDCs help to ensure fair wages through their involvement in a global supply chain, and provide a reliable source of income to the countries, helping to grow the local economy. This is a mutually beneficial initiative to ensure your supply chain is strengthened, whilst also improving the conditions from within LDCs by applying your policies throughout your supply chain.

Sustainability has become mission-critical for businesses, we know this. But sustainability is not just about protecting the planet, but also ensuring fair and safe working conditions, mitigating risks, and protecting and supporting the economies of LDCs. 

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals provide a collaborative and agreed mission for truly sustainable practices to be agreed upon, and organizations play a monumental role in achieving this by leveraging sustainability right across their supply chains.

Of course, this is not an overnight correction, and to hit these targets purposeful, honest and intentional changes need to be implemented now. 

With this pressure for improvement though, comes another issue, one of transparency.


There have been calls to the UN over the last couple of years, to stop the SDG mission on grounds that it is fuelling greenwashing, emphasizing that the actions stated by the UN to improve these worldwide issues are in fact the same actions that are perpetuating them. 

Others are claiming the SDG goals are being misreported by companies, with the dubbed ‘vagueness’ of the initiatives enabling some companies to publicize the efforts they are going to meet SDGs, which are simply either standard practices, or having little positive impact when further investigated. 

More needs to be done to ensure businesses that use SDG as a positive marketing tactic also measure and quantify their efforts to prove its impact on the ground. A report stated that while 63% of large companies mention the SDGs in their corporate goals, only 19% of them are referencing quantitative targets. This is causing a large discrepancy in companies leveraging SDGs as a way to look good, without actually doing good.

Look at Fifa, the world governing body of football, whose recent claim that the upcoming Qatar World Cup will be carbon neutral has been labeled “dangerous and misleading”, with climate scientists arguing that the World Cup will in fact have a carbon footprint of 10 million tonnes – over three times the amount Fifa are claiming.  

While SDGs are not inherently mentioned in this case, the fact stands that global companies are able to freely claim they are ‘offsetting’ carbon emissions, and ‘leading the way’ with little to no consequences or proof. 

When you’re building infrastructure solely for a football tournament, it’s time to ask questions about what ethical sustainability really looks like. 

Benefits without real impact

It’s often the case that businesses get on board with initiatives like SDGs to reap the benefits that come with publicly supporting social and environmental issues like this, but people are wising up. 

As the world becomes more socially and environmentally conscious, businesses will no longer be able to get away with false claims and empty gestures. This has always been a matter of reputation, but greenwashing is no longer an easy way to win over new customers, but a surefire way to long-lasting loss of trust. 

There have been calls for further measures to be implemented to ensure commitments and contributions to SDGs by companies are legitimate and meaningful. And it is proving legitimacy that will ensure the UN’s SDGs continue to be a force for good, rather than an opportunity for wrongdoers to benefit from false claims.

We must find a way to catch the companies who are tainting these initiatives, to ensure those who are working towards meaningful change are not discouraged from doing so and continue not only doing the right thing but encouraging others to do so too. Independent environmental bodies are needed to separate the legitimate from the liars, sanctioning dishonest reporting and upholding the integrity of those with the best intentions.

As the UN chief said, “we must inject a sense of urgency” now. 2030 is fast approaching, and how far to these goals can we really say we are?


Important Takeaways from SSCE

On October 19th, we brought together supply chain and sustainability leaders from across the world to debate and strategize best practices for operationalizing sustainable supply chains.

We were honored to welcome leading experts to deliver insightful talks and panel discussions on the SSCE stage.

Findings from the day

From the very start of the event, the atmosphere in the room was full of enthusiasm and ready for action.

Sustainability within supply chain, as we all know, is something that is so often preached about with little action really seen. 

SSCE provided the perfect opportunity to take stock with industry peers, benchmark, and create action plans for a future of sustainability. 

Sustainability is now a firm responsibility of supply chain professionals. Given that the carbon footprint of the end-to-end supply chain for manufacturing organizations can account for 80% of the organization’s emissions, supply chain leaders must start measuring, and reducing emissions from within their operations. 

Speaking on the ‘Operationalizing Sustainable Supply Chain Discussion’ panel, Sheri Hinish (Global Practice Leader, Sustainability Services, Alliance & Strategy, IBM) commented that most companies are in fact at the very start of their sustainability journeys. 

And her advice? Visualization. Companies must lead with purpose, and invest in sustainability to accelerate progress. 

Sustainability isn’t just about saving the planet, but many employees are turning away from companies that aren’t taking action. Sheri added that young talent is demanding credible evidence that the companies they are working for are operationalizing sustainability, not just talking the talk. 

Heidi Landry (Chief Procurement Officer, Enterprise Supply Chain, Johnson & Johnson) was asked if a company cannot get out of a contract with a supplier who is resistant to following sustainable practices, what else can be done to make meaningful progress to hit your company’s sustainability targets? 

This question encapsulates the issues many companies have with sustainable practices within their supply chain, and the many suppliers that account for their scope 3 emissions. Heidi responded by emphasizing the importance of a collaborative approach and rewarding the suppliers willing to adopt sustainable practices. The problem is, Heidi explained, that no one buyer is big enough to be in a position to force suppliers to become sustainable. 

Also mentioning the importance of collaboration with suppliers was Harald Emberger (Chief Supply Chain Officer, Beiersdorf), who explained in his keynote that new sustainable initiatives required a different approach to procurement – one that involved a much heavier collaboration with suppliers, with tailored initiatives including the deployment of digital technologies to better monitor and optimize energy and water usages.

Matt Spooner (Industry Thought Leader, Kinaxis), speaking on the ‘Digital Supply Chain & The New World Order – Leveraging Supply Chain Design for Enhanced Sustainability and Agility’ panel earlier in the day, said that most supply chain leaders are uninvolved in the ESG agenda, despite the supply chain being responsible for so much of a company’s emissions.

His fellow panelists concurred that a data-led mindset and a lack of standardized reporting is what’s slowing down sustainability efforts, with Stefano Picasso (Vice President Integrated Supply Chain, Carlsberg) outlining that more sustainability reporting-related regulation is needed now. 

Speaking on the same panel, George Lawrie (Vice President Principal Analyst, Forrester) added to the dialogue that sustainability within supply chains provides a wider business value. 

We always talk about cost, he says, but this is really about value

On top of the consumer and employee demand for action, he also outlined the financial investment tied to ESG too. Like his fellow panelists, George agreed that there is still a lack of visibility across the supply chain that is needed to further cement sustainability efforts. 

Now, all of these sustainable initiatives are one thing, but getting the wider team on board is another – and this is especially true if there is no one on the Board. Talking in her spotlight session, Jenny Wassenaar (Chief Sustainability Officer, Trivium Packaging) identified that having a Chief Sustainability Officer on the board of the organization makes it easier and quicker to get the buy-in for sustainability initiatives. This is because it allows regular face time with function heads as well as the CEO on the subject.

Sustainability, Jenny added, can only be operationalized when it is integrated deeply into each function of the business, and this can be done only when there is buy-in from the top, which demands constant discussion and evidence provided by the appointed Chief Sustainability Officer. 

As you can see, the day was filled with vital discussion provided by leaders in the industry who are willing to prove they can walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Our lunchtime roundtables also provided an opportunity for attendees to continue these discussions, bringing together their joint vast experience in supply chain and sustainability. 

We would once again like to thank everyone for their involvement in these necessary conversations, and for their joint commitment to making action happen. 



There has never been more pressure from customers and stakeholders alike to commit to truly sustainable practices, and supply chains are at the center of this, whilst also trying to balance ongoing disruptions and rising costs.

With just eight major supply chains accounting for 50% of global emissions, and more than 90% of environmental damage caused by consumer goods supply chains, the pressure is on to make real changes, so our supply chains are not only sustainable but successful. 

It’s easy for us to say ‘let’s stop talking and start doing’. The problem with this, is that increased pressure to say ‘you’re doing’, leads to greenwashing and cutting corners simply to tick a box, and without doing any real good. 

So, let’s keep talking, and start doing. Because that is how we can hold each other accountable, and create real change. 

Here are 5 considerations to keep in mind when creating sustainable supply chains. 

Consider Routes

Supply chain involves movement, we know this. And that is a large contributing factor to previous poor sustainability track records. 

Unfortunately, until electric or other more sustainable vehicles are available and affordable to use for worldwide shipments, the best way to minimize environmental impact is route optimization. 

Creating shipment routes that are as optimized as possible, and eliminating unnecessary travel is a surefire way to make your supply chain more sustainable. Adopting technologies such as AI and advanced analytics can work with GPS’ to optimize routes and provide real-time updates to routes.

Take inventory of your supply chain

The difficulty with supply chain is the larger number of moving parts and stakeholders responsible for upholding sustainable practices. 

The starting point for sustainability is mapping this out. If you don’t know what sustainable practices your suppliers have, how can you define yourself as a sustainable company? This is a collective effort.

Supply chain has become a household name, and consumers understand now more than ever that sustainability practices must be upheld all the way down the supply chain to truly be considered a sustainable business. 

Once you know what supplier’s and stakeholder’s practices are, and only work with those that meet your standards so you can be assured that the right practices can be claimed consistently across the supply chain, can you be confident that every part of the contributing supply chain ecosystem upholds sustainable practices?

Leave no gaps

If containers and transportation vehicles aren’t fully utilized, you are creating waste. It is imperative we work with technology to optimize the capacity of containers etc, to reduce the travel and emissions attributed to each product. 

Analytics forecasting the location of goods can help with this to assess what will be where and when to ensure full utilization of transportation is adopted, and measures to ensure this can be put in place. 


As you can see from previous points, having the right technology is a huge benefit to sustainable supply chains. 

Whether it’s AI, machine learning, IoT, or up-to-date analytics and reporting systems, utilizing the right technology provides greater visibility across the whole supply chain which makes it easier to identify areas that are substandard and thus implement sustainable practices. 

Digital transformation of the supply chain is a journey that all supply chain leaders should be actioning for better transparency, sustainability, accuracy, and innovation end-to-end. Those that don’t will be left behind. 

Benchmarking and Collaboration

The pace and scale of change the sustainable agenda demands cannot be easily achieved on your own. Knowledge sharing and collaboration are vital to benchmark against other companies and help the industry as a whole move to a greener future.

When supply chain leaders come together and collaborate on the biggest issue surrounding the industry, action can be taken and wider implementation of proper standards can be introduced which can make a wider impact than any individual effort.

This is why industry events are more important than ever before – hearing what leaders of the world’s biggest supply chains are actioning helps creates a precedent for others to follow suit. 

Looking to operationalize supply chain sustainability? Join us on October 19th, in London, for a full day designated to benchmarking, knowledge sharing, and collaboration, led by world-leading experts on supply chain and sustainability. Find out more here.


Three Things Supply Chain Leaders are Getting Wrong

Supply chain as an industry has transitioned from backroom proceedings to the front and center of global news. Now, more than just those within the industry understand its importance as a focal point within the global economy. 

But, within this age of disruption we find ourselves, many supply chains are struggling to play catch up, failing to reinvent working ways that can align with this new age and withstand further volatility that may present itself. 

So, what exactly is going wrong? The answer to that is nuanced, and cannot be answered in one single blog. The truth is a lot needs to change to create resilience across the supply chain industry. But, there are three things in particular, that if supply chain leaders stop doing, it will have a knock-on effect throughout the supply chain for the greater good. 

Stop delaying digital transformation

Digital transformation has the spotlight right now. In short, businesses that show continued reluctance in starting their digital transformation journey within their supply chain are going to fail, and fast. We say journey because digital transformation is not a box-ticking exercise. Keeping your supply chain up to date with the latest technologies and capabilities can not be achieved overnight, nor can it ever be ‘done’. The brilliance of technology means new advancements are always being produced to enhance the visibility, automation, and analytics we require. 

However, just because this is a long process, does not mean it should not be started now. PwC found that only 50% of CFOs outlined a plan to accelerate automation and new ways of working to streamline processes. Let us tell you that if you do not fall within the 50% who are prioritizing optimizing the cloud, IoT, AI, and other advanced technologies to grant you better end-to-end visibility on your supply chain, your supply chain will quickly become even more inefficient. 

This isn’t just about using new technologies for the sake of it. We all like playing with shiny new toys, but this is about improving cost, service, and agility by systemically improving your organizational practice. The impacts of digital transformation don’t just affect your job, but drastically improve customer satisfaction, providing them with inventory insight like never before.

Stop shouting about sustainability, and start acting sustainably

With social media, it’s all too easy for companies to shout about sustainability online, with little substance to back up their preaching.

Greenwashing is everywhere, and it has to stop. 

Let’s put aside the colossal fact that just eight global supply chains account for more than 50% of annual greenhouse gas emissions for a second, and talk about business implications. 

From a customer perspective, people are becoming more conscious every day of their shopping habits, meaning your efforts to decarbonize your supply chain directly impact the likelihood by which consumers choose to shop within your company – and this is only becoming more and more the case. Today, 90% of Gen X consumers are willing to spend an extra 10% more for sustainable products, up from 34% in 2020.  

The problem is, there is a discrepancy between what consumers want, and what companies think consumers want. A recent First Insight report found that two-thirds of consumers say they will pay more for sustainable products, meanwhile, two-thirds of retailers believe consumers will not pay more for sustainable products. It goes to show that consumers no longer always think cheap is cheerful, especially if it’s costing the climate. 

Another side of creating a more sustainable supply chain is about future-proofing. McKinsey outlined that the COVID pandemic and the related supply chain crisis brought a once-in-a-generation opportunity to future-proof supply chains with three priorities: resilience, agility, and sustainability, and when done properly these three priorities work in tandem to create a truly efficient supply chain. 

Understandably, sustainability and ESG priorities fell down the list of must-do’s during this time of almost constant chaos. But in this age of disruption, we must stop focussing on one priority and instead think of each as a vital cog within the machine. Digitally transformed supply chains have increased visibility, enabling clear pathways to sustainability that deliver real operational results, leading to more agile and resilient supply chains. 

Stop using old-hat methods to attract new talent

The rate at which the Baby Boomer generation is retiring versus the rate at which new supply chain talent is being hired is causing a disparity that urgently needs to be addressed.

The problem is, many supply chain leaders still believe old-hat recruitment methods still suffice in hiring new talent, and this just isn’t the case. 

By solving this recruitment crisis, we can solve other problems throughout supply chain too. Take our earlier point of digital transformation. Supply chains need talent that understands these technologies and advanced capabilities in a way that allows them to be operationalized within a supply chain. That talent, more often than not, are the digital native professionals, the Gen Z’s and millennials, whose careers have revolved around this kind of technical teaching. 

Stop trying to teach an old dog new tricks, and bring in the ‘puppies’ who can adjust to the necessary new ways of working. To do that, you as a company need to make your purpose and mission known – and that is when new talent will be attracted. 

It’s not going to happen overnight

It’s easy to criticize. Problems present themselves much louder than practices that are being done right. And that’s exactly why these ongoing problems within supply chain must stop being ignored. 

Supply Chain leaders by default are forward thinkers, but it’s time as an industry, we start looking forward, leaving behind the practices which no longer serve our global supply chains productively. 


Effective Leadership in Times of Crises

This blog was published shortly after the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, a truly inspirational leader. 

Across her 70 year reign, Queen Elizabeth continually demonstrated what it takes to be a true leader with an unwavering sense of resilience, courage and commitment to public service. 

In light of her passing, we have reflected on her service, and her ability to offer a sense of stability through multiple wars, economic downturns and other crises like no other is a source of inspiration for many. 

She will not only be remembered as our Queen but as an unwavering leader. 

We believe that as a leader, the Queen was an inspiration, and we have created this blog in recognition of her leadership style to inspire other leaders, be that in business or elsewhere to take note. 

We find ourselves in an age of continued disruption, and it is within these times that people look to their leaders for inspiration, empowerment and direction. 

True leaders do not shy away in times of crisis but instead pull their team together to weather any pending storms and come through even stronger, building resilience for whatever future crises may arise. 

It is fair to say that the idea of leadership, and what a leader should be has changed over the course of history, and varies from business to business, but understanding how to lead your specific team in a way that works for both you and your team is paramount. 

Let us take a look at some leadership characteristics that allow us all to withstand crises. 

Emotional Intelligence

We are living in an incredibly turbulent world. And for most that surpasses business life and is bleeding into personal lives. 

As a leader, it is imperative your emotional intelligence enables you to make decisions that are right for all involved, and these decisions can be communicated to stakeholders in a way that justifies the result of action for the individuals as well as the bigger picture. 

Leading with empathy enables you to harness trust as a leader which helps foster loyalty. Understanding that people may be in a very different position to yourself, and having the self-awareness to know how to still be accessible despite possible differences is key

We are in a cost-of-living crisis, and this is a prime example of how leaders must use their emotional intelligence to get their people through. Though you personally may not be able to solve this problem, nor may it affect you less than someone on your team, understanding the problem and the ramifications so suitable adjustments can be made to ease any pressures is how good, emotionally intelligent leaders should be acting. 

No shying away in times of trouble 

It can be easy for leaders to attempt to hide away from sharing news in times of trouble, when in fact often creating a culture of transparency may in fact lead to quicker solutions. 

The truth is, people can see when tides start to turn, and when leaders shy away from outlining issues, employees quickly gain a mistrust for the longevity of a company and begin to jump ship. 

Transparent teams who are informed of troubles are able to feel empowered to solve problems, rather than become disenfranchised with a company they feel are keeping secrets. 

Of course, a leader has the overriding responsibility to steer the ship out of troubled water, however a leader who is able to ask for help in creating a strategy will get out of choppy waters much quicker, with a team that has a reinstated sense of purpose and drive. 

Resilient leadership

Leaders are often praised for their successes, but it is often the hardest time that true leadership shines. 

The best leaders know that not all times are good, and difficulties have to be fought through in order for success to be paved. The issue many leaders have is that resilience is built

Resilience is upholding a sense of emotional intelligence, drive and professionalism despite any troubles faced. The difficulty with resilience is that it is built through the experience of hardship. Leaders that have yet to face adversity are unlikely able to demonstrate resilience. 

When you are a person with people relying on you, you must be able to withstand difficulty, and maintain a sense of composure to create and act on action plans to succeed. 

The moment people see the person at the top crumble is the moment people begin to lose faith in operations, which will accelerate negativity rather than motivate people to weather the storm.

Uphold boundaries

People often say leadership is a lonely place to be. But upholding the right kinds of boundaries as a leader is vital in upholding professionalism, and responsibility. 

Whilst the culture of transparency we touched upon earlier is a necessary trait for a leader to possess, the lines between leader, employee and friend should not be blurred. 

Having the right culture in place where your team is able to come to you with problems is paramount, but creating an understanding that a hierarchy is in place for a reason is key. 

Ultimately, a leader is in place to be held accountable for all, if a leader becomes known as a comrade, or as an equal, a risk of a lack of accountability and failure to take responsibility arises. 

When the right boundaries are set, people are able to approach leaders in a way that still upholds a friendly and personable culture, but understands that a duty of care over the whole team remains in place. 

Lead from the front…

Great leaders uphold all of these things, but these four characteristics of good leadership are not the only things that make a truly great leader. All teams are different, real leaders understand the people they manage and develop methods that work best for their needs, instead of trying to fit into a specific box.

Though we have been talking in a business context, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth exemplified these characteristics throughout her reign. As a leader, she has remained resilient through more crises than any other, and she will continue to be a source of inspiration for many years to come. 



Supply chain is experiencing an ever-widening skills and labor gap. The rate of retirement of the Baby Boomer generation versus the rate of recruitment is causing a disparity that must be addressed. 

There is always news coming out about the difficulty in hiring Gen Zs. As a generation, we are entering the workforce having experienced more ‘once in a lifetime’ economic events than previous generations before we have even reached 25. 

But what does this mean from a recruitment perspective? It means we approach work differently than our predecessors. The attitude of finding a job and remaining loyal to the company until retirement is no more, causing recruiters battle against each other to not only hire the right talent but retain them. 

The supply chain industry is experiencing this at a rapid rate. With supply chains involving such varied roles, from warehousing to transportation to management, efforts to attract this talent may need to be approached differently.

We are seeing a shift in the workforce in real-time, but for companies to stay competitive they must start appealing to Gen Z right now before they fall behind.

The question is: How?

What’s different about Gen Z?

Hustle culture is over. Working to the bone for your boss is no longer a professional bragging right among the younger generation who have been dubbed as “workers who want it all”. 

Balance here is key. Hard work has now been replaced with smart work – with flexible working enabling more productive working environments. And Gen Z has championed understanding the need for working in a way that suits your individual needs and productivity levels. 

How to attract Gen Z into the supply chain

It’s time for digital

This isn’t the first time you’ll be hearing about the urgency of digitizing the supply chain. If it is, where have you been? 

But, the thing is, striving toward digital transformation isn’t only going to make your supply chain resilient with E2E visibility, it is going to help attract the people who can help champion it. 

Gen Zers, for the most part, are digital natives, in a professional sense at least, everything we have learned throughout our early years, education and early professional life has been centered around the internet and the new digital age. For you and your supply chain, this makes Gen Zers a real asset, placing us as the people who can come in with a fresh perspective and help rejuvenate your supply chain in line with the rate of digitalization. 

But, from a recruitment perspective, this presents a challenge. We know that Gen Zers can provide these fresh perspectives and new ways of thinking needed to build resilience within the supply chain, but it’s another thing attracting them. This has to be mutually beneficial. 

These professionals have gone to university or gained work experience learning about the new cutting-edge advancements within supply chain. This means to attract Gen Zers, you’re going to have to show not only your willingness to adopt new technologies but hard evidence that you already are.

Dell Technologies recently found not only do 80% of Gen Zers want to work with cutting-edge technology, but 91% also say the technology in a prospective workplace would influence their job choice.

Why would a new professional want to join a company that is stuck in the old stagnant ways, unwilling to look beyond what has worked before – but simply will not work in the future? 

It’s time to look forward, and embrace new technologies, not only for the success of your supply chain but for the benefit of your team.

From Culture to Mission…

Workplace culture has become somewhat of a buzzword over the last couple of years. The fact of the matter is, however, that these things become ‘buzzwords’ because of a real shift in an otherwise concrete environment. 

It is perhaps because Gen Zers have grown up online, but we are particularly good at sniffing out inauthenticity in the workplace. We share our ‘red flags’ with peers and help others become educated about those warning signs. 

This means that outlining pizza Fridays as part of your work perks are no longer going to cut it. Companies need to be value driven to recruit Gen Zers – who are the most tuned in to political discourse and social responsibility than the generations that preceded them. 

A recent report from EY found that 63% of Gen Zers felt it was very or extremely important to work for a company that shares their values. From diversity to sustainability, companies that are not making tangible and honest steps to meet these necessities (and yes, diversity and sustainability are necessities) will fall behind. 

The supply chain is an industry that has a very real sustainability burden, the World Economic Forum recently found that just 8 supply chains account for 50% of global carbon emissions – a catastrophic statistic. This may lead you to wonder how exactly this may attract the environmentally conscious Gen Zers to work within supply chain… 

Gen Zers are keen to make a difference, and being the company that is making progress in lengths taken to create sustainable supply chains could be exactly what Gen Zers are looking for. Outlining not only your goals but what you have already set in place to help, could be the deciding factor in bringing the fresh Gen Z talent.

When it comes to attracting Gen Z, purpose is everything.

Gen Zers want to be part of something driving change for good. So much so, that YouGov found 49% of Gen Zers were willing to take a 20% pay cut if it meant working for a purpose-driven company. Whilst the acceptance of lower pay is by no means an incentive to become purpose-driven, but what it does show is Gen Z’s willingness to sacrifice their own benefits to be part of the greater good. 

Educate: supply chain is sexy! 

The chances are, Gen Zers simply do not have supply chain on their radar. Sure, over the last year or two supply chain discourse has become a household discussion in the face of crises, but in terms of job prospects, it’s not exactly a job people naturally gravitate towards. 

There’s one obvious way this can change, and it’s with proper marketing. Supply chain leaders and recruiters need to think about attracting the next generation of talent as a sales and marketing exercise. 

Utilizing social media is an obvious place to start, but it has to be done right. Creating a thorough strategy to build your employer brand that is ‘Gen Z friendly’, will do the work for you. 

  • Share career journeys: Gen Zers may not be familiar with the positions within supply chain, so tell them! Share stories of employees, outlining how they got to where they are today. 
  • Outline your diversity: It’s not enough to say you are a diverse employer or to pop up a rainbow flag every pride month. Demonstrate your diversity by celebrating your employees for who they are, and what they have to achieve. Including your range of talent in different posts should allow the diversity to speak for itself. If this is a struggle, perhaps it’s time to look internally at why. 
  • Employee advocacy: The most authentic way to build employer branding is through employee advocacy. When your team wants to preach about their work within the company and has the freedom to discuss their work, it sends the message that their employer gives them the space to be individuals within their organization. 

Outline the Opportunity 

A Robert Half survey found that 95% of Gen Zers outlined career advancement as a top reason to choose an employer. 

You have to think about the wider context of why Supply Chain is struggling to attract Gen Z. This is a generation that has spent two vital years in lockdown. This isn’t to say no one else had it easy, but these are the two years where Gen Zs were graduating from university, or taking the first steps of their professional career. Doing this during a pandemic caused obvious barriers. 

And now, the world has opened back up, we are playing catch up. We are a generation that not only wants flexibility in how we work but the opportunity to learn and develop: something many of us have not had the chance to do over recent years. 

So, what opportunity does your company offer? Do you have individual learning and development budgets? What about progression? Do your vacant roles have a clear line of advancement? 

Gen Zers are job hoppers. We have been held back at the start line and now want to gain as much experience in as little time, which means to both attract and retain talent you have to be able to offer real value.

Linkedin Data found that Gen Zers are switching jobs at a rate 134% higher than in 2019. This is no coincidence. 

This isn’t just about filling the gap

By 2030, Gen Zers will represent 30% of the workforce. But let it be known, this isn’t just about filling the gap. It’s about bringing fresh perspectives to help the longevity and success of supply chain. 

If you continue to use old-hat methods, expect to fall behind. You will quickly notice those who are front runners and trailblazers, are the ones with varied teams, trialing new ideas – what are they doing to attract the next generation of supply chain leaders, that you aren’t? 

As a member of the Future Insights team, and also a Gen Z, I can testify my generation’s urge to be included in the mission for change. Helping supply chain leaders with their supply chain transformation is at the heart of everything we do at FIN, but it’s so much more than that.

By leading debates on sustainability, diversity and inclusion within the supply chain industry, the ramifications of these changes will be amplified far beyond that of supply chain discourse, but to practices that will influence the whole world. I can testify that purpose and mission was the main pull toward my role at FIN – and what many other Gen Z professionals are searching for in the next step of their supply chain career.