Supply Chain Now Episode 467

“If I want to hire strong students into my organization or into our customers, we need to make sure that we’re bringing the right sets of insights, problems, things that we’re seeing back to academia.”

Anne Robinson, PhD, Chief Strategy Officer at Kinaxis

 

Supply chains have been a key area of focus since the start of the COVID-19 and resulting shutdowns, sometimes leading to shortages and other times to gluts of product. Because of how interconnected industries and geographies are, and the dependence all of those connections have on supply chains, any number of fields or professions can serve as a great stepping stone into supply chain.

Anne Robinson, PhD, is the Chief Strategy Officer at Kinaxis. She discovered supply chain from a program on field operations research, which she selected because it allowed her to apply her math skills in a practical way. Anne’s work is clearly her passion, as she explains in her own words, “I have the great fortune of having an excellent day every single day at work, because it is so interesting.”

In this conversation, Anne opens up with Supply Chain Now Host Scott Luton about:

· The rich opportunities associated with mentoring – for the mentor as well as the mentee

· The signs and signals that she sees that suggest resiliency is about to surpass efficiency as the primary focus of supply chain managers

· How technology is affecting supply chain skills requirements, and vice versa, and what the combination of these dynamics is doing for overall value creation

Intro (00:05):

It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world, supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things, supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.

Scott Luton (00:28):

Hey, good morning, Scott Luton with supply chain. Now, welcome to today’s show. Now, in this episode, we’re gonna be talking with a senior leader with a firm that’s helping to pilot organizations and their supply chains through these challenging times. Man, talk about challenging times and we’re going to be certainly working really hard to increase your supply chain IQ. So stay tuned for a great episode, a quick programming before we get started. If you enjoyed this conversation, be sure to find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. All right. So with no further ado, let’s bring in our featured guests, dr. Ann Robinson, chief strategy officer with Connexus and good morning. Okay.

Anne Robinson (01:07):

Morning. Thanks for having me this morning.

Scott Luton (01:09):

You bet. Well, our team has really enjoyed all the prep conversations with you and members of your team. And undoubtedly, we’re excited to share your perspective with our audience here today. So are you ready to dive right in? Absolutely. Okay. Let’s do it upfront. As, as we love to do before we, we, we work right. Getting to work. We’ll want to really get, um, allow our audience the opportunity to get know you a little bit better. Dr. Ann Robinson, a little better. So tell us, you know, where are you from and give us an anecdote or two about your upbringing.

Anne Robinson (01:40):

Yeah, absolutely. Um, I am from st. John’s Newfoundland Canada. So if you think about North America, I am as from as far East, as you can get, it’s a beautiful place to visit. So I encourage all your listeners to check it out, certainly when we’re able to travel again, um, with, uh, but maybe stick to July and August for the weather a little bit about me. So I grew up in that with a brother and he and I were very much, it’s very much a musical culture where we’re from. So we both grew up playing different instruments. I play classical music as a child. I still have a piano though. It doesn’t necessarily get as much attention as it did once upon a time.

Scott Luton (02:20):

I’ve got to ask. Uh, so clearly you, uh, play the piano, any other instrument,

Anne Robinson (02:27):

Not so much lately, but I did grow up as a member of the Newfoundland symphony youth orchestra, where I played the clarinet and, uh, had my fingers on many other types of instruments, including a few percussion instruments as a child. You will however, find lots of interesting instruments in my house, including a concert, Tina, some Irish tin with little and a myriad of other more traditional instruments that someone comes over. They always have an opportunity to play.

Scott Luton (02:55):

All right. One last question about, we love our music here at supply chain too. Did you and your brother ever have a jam session for the rest of your family?

Anne Robinson (03:03):

Yes and no. Or he with his friends and me with my friends at various times, I mean, that’s pretty dominant part of the culture there that you jam and sing along and do that as part of almost anytime you’d go to a party that would likely happen regardless of the age and audience

Scott Luton (03:22):

Love that music is definitely one of those things that brings, brings us all together. And we need a lot of that in here in 2020. All right. So let’s, uh, let’s talk about your professional journey a bit, right? Um, prior to your current role, kind of walk us through that journey, especially, you know, a roller too, that really helped shape your worldview.

Anne Robinson (03:42):

Yeah, absolutely. So I’m going to back it up a little bit if that’s okay to talk a little bit about, um, my education path. Cause I was one of those who stayed in school a really long time. I love to tell small children that I was in grade 25 just to watch their eyes pop out of their head. Um, and I started as, as math as my background, and that was always a passion of mine and something that was very interesting, but growing up in a place like Newfoundland that had been fairly economically repressed, um, when I was, you know, in my formative years I learned the importance of transferable skills. So I came in with my eye on a career path that would allow me to flex to what ever industry was key at the moment. So, uh, during this math degree, I went to Acadia university, a small East coast Canadian school.

Anne Robinson (04:33):

And we attended a conference when I was probably 19 years old called what’s a mathematician like you doing in a place like this. And it’s part of that conference. I got to attend. My, my friends wanted to be actuaries or math teachers, or, you know, sort of the more traditional traditional paths you might take as a mathematician. And I attended these other sessions where I was exposed to a field called operations research. And here was it a discipline that allowed the application of math and to solve planning problems that could be applied to any industry. And I fell in love right then and there I came back and said, this is what I want to explore. This is what I want to learn more about. I want to learn the science of it. I want to learn the application of it. And that’s what put me on a path of, of operations research quickly into applied operations research. And I, I focus my entire educational path towards that, including transportation, logistics, and then industrial engineering, all the building blocks that describe our modern, modern day supply chain.

Scott Luton (05:39):

Wow. Well, let me, so let me ask you real quick, before you continue with, with your, uh, aspects of your journey, what was the first industry that you can recall applying that science and math to?

Anne Robinson (05:54):

Yeah, well, so when I went to Waterloo was a, like, it was a very applied program and it was actually applied operations research. And as a result, we had companies that were engaged with us through that entire program. I chose a, sort of a more thesis option. Some of my peers chose a co op option, but because we had companies embedded with the program, we had many opportunities in the one of the first, first couple. I remember one was with, um, a potato chip manufacturer trying to figure out how to make one of these blends, where you have like circles and cheese crunches and different things all in the same package. And each of those are being manufactured in a different plant. They needed to figure out how to bring them all together. And what was the optimal way to do that? So you didn’t waste and you had the right amount. So potato chips, I guess the short answer, one that we can all relate to,

Scott Luton (06:46):

You know, and, uh, what that illustrates I think, uh, so well is that all of us as consumers really don’t stop to think about everything that goes into in the, in the tech behind a potato chip, the engineering behind a potato.

Anne Robinson (07:02):

Absolutely. And we had a chance to visit the factory and just even to know between the generic brand and the branded product and how those process go, it was really good.

Scott Luton (07:12):

Well, I love that. In fact, I’d love to dive in deeper for, for next three hours into that. It really is a fascinating part of that is kind of below the surface level in the industry, oftentimes, but let’s, let’s keep driving forward. What, what else, when you think of a role or two that really shaped how you view the business world, what else really sticks?

Anne Robinson (07:30):

Sure. So I started my career at Cisco systems on the West coast of the United States in California, and through many supply chain roles. I think I started as applied supply chain program manager had no idea what that meant, but within the first six months I was traveling the world helping to educate our supply base about inventory management and just some of the basic principles of inventory optimization. And so that was, uh, I had always intended on being a practitioner. So putting the PhD into practice, and this was a great stepping stone for me to get started. Um, I quickly realized I love the idea of, of bringing in more people with similar backgrounds to mine in terms of, of advanced math applied to the science of supply chain and quickly started to build teams and applied it in the forecasting space and the inventory management space. Um, and I think one of the things you were curious about were sort of pivotal moments that had an impact on my thought process.

Scott Luton (08:29):

Yes. Eureka moments as we refer to them.

Anne Robinson (08:31):

Yeah. Well, while I was in one of these more junior roles and I’m very grateful, it happened to me when I was sort of in that senior manager level. Um, I was assigned to be the mentor of someone coming in to lead change management for supply chain. I didn’t even know what this was. Certainly. I had no through my educational background had not been exposed to it. And, um, certainly didn’t want to be hindered by some of the soft stuff. Well, I quickly learned the value and power of the science of change management and how critical it is when you’re bringing complex mathematical concepts to a group of executives who you want to trust and believe in what you’re trying to do. It’s something like the science of how people change and accept change, and, um, and the processes to actually get people to adopt these new ideas. That was a huge realization for me. And I am also grateful to the woman who brought that to my attention. She’s now a very good friend of mine, and I’m just realizing the power of change management and how critical it needs to be as part of our, you know, young engineers toolboxes so that they can actually bring the latest and greatest ideas to life in their career choice of their career path of choice.

Scott Luton (09:52):

Love that. Um, I worked for a consulting firm where I was one of the few non-engineers and it was a constant focus as the organization was to try to take all the smarts and, and the technical, uh, expertise that the engineers have conveyed to these business executives about the changes that needed to be made. It was a constant focus, but going back, uh, you mentioned, uh, basically a strong mentor. It sounded like in, in your journey before we talk more about Connexus, share a little bit more about her role in your life.

Anne Robinson (10:27):

Yeah. She’s uh, I was actually at the end for this particular one, I was actually assigned as the mentor to her coming in. So I had to show her the ropes of supply chain and as every good mentor mentee relationship should be, she opened my eyes to the value and power of change management, which I think is really critical. Now, mentors are absolutely key in somebody’s life. And if you’ll allow me the Liberty to talk about sort of the other part of my world, which is, um, engagement with professional society. So one informal, so maybe not paid jobs that I had, but spent a lot of time in this is what the professional society informs, which is again, I would say another path, how I grew up. This is the largest association of analytics professionals in the world, and they get together a couple of times a year, as well as a lot of other splinter meetings, all come virtual now like everybody, but I had the good fortune of getting involved just as I was in graduate school.

Anne Robinson (11:28):

And then quite frankly, it stayed with me. And in 2013, I actually was the president of this organization. Wow. 12,000 strong mix of practitioners and academics, many of our supply chain, the thought leaders, the ones who pointed the phrases that we all are so familiar with, like bullwhip factor, all members of this organization, but learning about change management, I actually had the opportunity apply it to that community as well. Um, as we were continuing to evolve and grow, but by being part of a professional society, I identified people who were in a career path that I would eventually like to have myself. And so they stayed with me, helped me understand how to grow my team, how to understand the balance of the mathematical skillset, along with the business skills that would really make for success and having a mix of people who you can identify as mentors are really great for helping you craft again, the vision of who you would like to become. And it gives you a great support mechanism as you might navigate through different companies in your career. So, um, I really advocate for people to find that organization that resonates with them, um, so that they can create that mentor network for themselves and be also a mentor to the next generation.

Scott Luton (12:49):

Love that. Uh, and as you, as you said, not only can you individually benefit from that involvement, but how you’re giving back to industry, uh, as you put it in formerly or volunteer leadership role. I mean, that’s where a lot of change comes from. So love, I appreciate you sharing that. And one of the things before we talk about Connexus, you mentioned the bullwhip effect just this week, I was reading as expected for any supply chain practitioner. A few months back here in the States, uh, the meat industry had, you know, was, was dealt a variety of setbacks, unfortunately. Uh, and they, you know, as consumers, we were limited what we could buy, but two packages immediately. So where we live and now there is an abundance, it’s all on sale because everything’s caught up. But, um, you know, I like to think that we’re going to learn so many great lessons, uh, in, in any sector from these these months.

Scott Luton (13:44):

And so that’s part of the silver linings that we believe in here, so that we’re come back stronger and I hate to use, uh, such a cliche word, but more resilient cause it in a very meaningful and real way. Okay. So now I want to talk more about connects is w we’ve had a good fortune of meeting and talking with a variety of your, um, team members and really enjoyed that and learning more about what you do, but, but for the benefit of our audience, tell us in a nutshell what connects this does, and then we’re going to talk about your role and where you spend your time.

Anne Robinson (14:16):

Yeah, absolutely. So connects us as a supply chain software company that focuses on planning and risk mitigation. Um, it’s been around since 1984, so we’re not new, but, uh, still an up and comer, I think in the supply chain planning space, uh, the solution that we bring to the market was purpose built for supply chain. And there’s a hundred percent in memory, which is what kind of drew my attention to this company and what they were doing. That it was really interesting to see leading edge analytics married with this unique technology, through a technique that we call concurrent planning. So it’s been a really fun place to come and get involved with. And I will say the best company culture of anywhere I’ve ever worked.

Scott Luton (15:04):

Outstanding. You know, we, we, we pick up on that through a lot of these prep conversation through all of our shows and that’s what we’ve gathered as well. I gotta say what I’ve really, um, I’m a simple minded person. I love things in threes, nice succinct phrases. And, uh, as I shared with you last week, I believe this no sooner act faster while removing waste. I loved that. And I love how the simplicity of that as it relates to what connects us does.

Anne Robinson (15:31):

Yeah, that’s great. It really is the core of, uh, identifying who we are.

Scott Luton (15:37):

Well, it’s everyone, uh, all of us, including myself oil, we all make assumptions. And when we see certain titles of where folks spend their time and what they do as chief strategy officer, what do you do, uh, specifically and where do you spend most of your time?

Anne Robinson (15:52):

Sure. Yes. You know, I think this title and is different regardless of, of when you look across different companies in different industries, I’m not sure that anybody has the same actual job description when you peel it back for me. I have the great fortune of having a excellent day every single day at work, because it is so interesting truest to my role is the area of strategy management, or really curating with my peers, with trends happening in industry with all the different spaces with, with content like you provide through supply chain now, understanding where supply chain going. Where’s our software industry going, and what does the vision for Kinaxis access need to look like as we move forward? So that curation of strategy. So we spend a lot of our time and that’s where that’s probably 50% of my days right now we’re focused in that area.

Anne Robinson (16:46):

The second part of my team is I have internal or strategic communications and internal change management, which, you know, how passionate I am about that. So I was thrilled. That was part of my purview. And as we go through iterations, small changes are large. We just acquired Rubikloud earlier this year. So going through that integration process, the change management responsibilities lie with my team and ensuring that that transition is as smooth as possible so that we are much better at adopting changes. And then the last area that sort of led to this conversation, and it’s probably true is to my heart and background is thought leadership and industry outreach. And this is our opportunity to bring the thought leadership of the expertise of why, you know, what is that vision for connects us to the world through mechanisms like these kinds of podcasts or speaking engagements and others, but also making sure that as trends as new innovations are emerging or bringing those trends back into, um, our R and D team or product team so that they understand what’s going on, what’s happening in the outside world.

Anne Robinson (17:57):

We also have very strong partnership with academia and something. Again, I very much believe in if, if I want to hire strong students into my organization or into our customers, we need to make sure that we’re bringing the right sets of insights, problems, things that we’re seeing back to academia. So just last night, one of the members of my team, and I did a lecture for a university in Texas city grade here in our respective homes and in Ottawa and in Connecticut. And we’re able to meet with 60 students, um, across various levels of supply chain, you know, knowledge from undergrad to grad students and share a story, which is just an amazing opportunity, um, during, particularly during the pandemic

Scott Luton (18:41):

Outstanding. So quick follow up question. Um, a lot of the lot of the space where we’ve, we’ve spent a bunch of volunteer time here in the last five or six years has been on the awareness side of supply chain, right. Going into schools. And, and, and we had a program called supply chain one-on-one. We were talking with third, fourth and fifth graders just about what goes into supply chain. And it’s amazing how smart these kids are, how quickly they pick it up, and then they start making connections. Uh, it’s fascinating. Uh, we look forward to doing it again soon, but speak for a minute with, with your interactions with academia and with students. Do you believe that there is, uh, more of an awareness and an appeal for students to get into, uh, different aspects of global supply chain?

Anne Robinson (19:25):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think we were going to talk about this a little bit, so I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but, um, you can’t turn on the TV these days, the news, and not hear some mention of supply chain challenges and supply chain opportunities and supply chain. You just mentioned the, the meat industry, having a shortage and now a glut of product availability. Guess what? That’s all supply chain and supply chain science. Absolutely. As businesses have evolved as customer interests have become, um, more specified or more critical given, um, what’s happening in the world right now, the attention and importance of supply chain has never been higher. And I think it’s a great time, but you don’t just have to find the title supply chain in an academic program, industrial engineering, operations, management production, um, any of those flavors, quite frankly, even operations research is a really great backdrop to lend, to step into a career in supply chain.

Scott Luton (20:29):

That is an excellent point, uh, analytics, technology, you name it all funnels into in one way, shape or form in the global supply chain. Excellent point. Okay. So you, uh, you preface what the kind of next segment of the conversation, which I’m really looking forward to diving into based on our, our, our appreciate conversations. Uh, so when you, when you step back and kind of survey, you know, global supply chain, what are, what are some of the trends or topics that you’re tracking more than others right now?

Anne Robinson (20:58):

Yeah, I think one of the biggest things that we’ve been seeing lately is this increased attention. You know, it would be scrutiny on the supply chain and that senior leaders are realizing how critically important supply chain and supply chain performance are to their company performance. So we’re seeing really every executive and every CEO pretty much say, okay, I, I need to become a supply chain manager. I need to understand what’s happening here. And where the trend historically in supply chain, you know, a supply chain professionals are used to being a cost center. So it’s been efficiency, efficiency, efficiency, but right now we’re seeing the conversations I’m having are suggesting that resiliency will Trump efficiency. And I know you said it’s a little bit of cliche, maybe it is. But, um, this notion of being able to weather the storm, whether that means you need to dual source components, maybe not just the critical ones, but the second most critical ones, or you’re going to do dual production by having product closer and product closer to your hand customers. This notion that a resilient supply chain, um, is the more important metric is really surfacing. And that, of course, to make those types of investments to make those types of decisions is really bubbling up to the C suite of major companies.

Scott Luton (22:29):

I love that. And one final note to that, uh, and organizations and their leadership that can’t afford to wait. Right?

Anne Robinson (22:37):

Absolutely. So when people are looking to do this and you say, okay, well, what, what does that mean? What am I going to do differently? This is a great opportunity to say, look, let’s not just try and force fit this new way of thinking into our existing supply chain model. This is a chance for us to look at revamping. It let’s look at how to be a redesign our supply chain, so we can be more resilient. This is the time to tackle that digital transformation. So you can have that resilience and still be in a cost effective manner. And that’s where he ended up. We help many, many customers just have that conversation, um, to understand what their supply chain could look like and how it could operate differently by going through this digital transformation. I really believe that you cannot afford to wait. We’re seeing that the only constant right now has changed. There’s another good police say for you, but we don’t know what’s going to happen next in the, in where I live. We’re seeing the pandemic cases uptake again. So we’re seeing things slow down again between the unprecedented number of S of storms and hurricanes that are hitting to the wildfires resilience needs to be key.

Scott Luton (23:49):

Yes. And, and, and of course, supply chain, doesn’t just own this notion of resiliency that it applies to so many different things. And, you know, as we both know, things become cliche for a reason because they’re so very real for so many people. So, um, alright, so you’re setting the stage very nicely, I think for this second big topic, uh, that that really is front and center for you here lately. Right?

Anne Robinson (24:13):

It’s great that we have these now more digitally robust supply chains. Um, we are leveraging techniques like artificial intelligence and machine learning to do empower the sort of mundane supply chain tasks, or to really look at the supply chain differently. Now let’s talk a little bit about the supply chain, um, practitioner role itself. This wasn’t always seen as a sexy role. Believe it or not, Scott, this is not the one that everybody said. I want to do that. But these days it’s really emerging into needing somebody with a much broader skill set and a much broader understanding. Um, Gartner has been popularizing this notion of a citizen data scientist. So somebody who understands the models understands their use and practice. I would take that one step further in the supply chain space and say the supply chain citizen data scientist is the type of person that we want to see sitting as a supply chain practitioner.

Anne Robinson (25:17):

So it’s somebody who understands the science of supply chain very well. They don’t need to build the models. We’ve got really smart technologies that are, that are, have the models for us, but they understand how those models work. But at the same time, they understand the dynamics of the business that they’re planning. So whether or not you, it’s a, let’s assume it’s a product, a product company, you understand, what’s your product is who the suppliers are. You have a relationship with marketing that tells you what the marketing expectations are. You have a site to the demand that you can understand what those demand plans are. You really have to have that business understanding for that product. Well, guess what, that also requires really strong communication skills, influence skills, change management skills, because ultimately, particularly as our world has become faster and faster, the realization that the supply chain is absolutely the last touch point of your product before it arrives in the customer’s hands, being the keeper of that final touch point before the, that moment of truth is critical to the success of the company and such a great role to be in. I love seeing students’ eyes get bigger and bigger as we talk to them about the opportunity, but that just the importance of those roles.

Scott Luton (26:37):

Gosh, there’s so much there that I love what you just shared, especially the keeper of the last touch just brings there’s. There’s a, a monument in Wichita, Kansas called keeper of the flank keeper of the Plains. And it’s a, it’s a famous image sculpture. And so I can picture the keeper of the last touch with, with maybe a supply chain, monument of sorts. It’s a great visual. The other thing, a couple of things you’ve touched on there. Number one is the integrated holistic approach. Let’s break down the silos, let’s get different functional areas talking and working and planning together. There’s a very large global food manufacturer that just released the news about creating an, uh, an operation center, uh, which isn’t creatively named, but the approach bringing all this, including R and D marketing under this, this, um, this tent on how they’re going to save $2 billion a year up in the next five years because of that.

Scott Luton (27:32):

And then the last thing that you touched on as it relates to the appeal of supply chain as a profession. And again, going back to silver linings that we are really excited about in these challenging times is the people that make it happen across global supply chain. Not only are they being more recognized, or at least they’re, they’re more, the consumers are more mindful, but what I think is even more, uh, needed is organizations because we had to keep global supply chains running. There was a lot more emphasis on protecting and making sure their health and wealth welfare are, are provided for, and that I hope will, will be permanent. So we’ll see it, it’s our charge. We need to make sure that it stays permanent. So that so much great stuff you just shared there. And, okay, so let’s talk about one of the final things that, uh, is really front and center, uh, related to people, uh, frankly, uh, what else are you tracking here lately?

Anne Robinson (28:35):

Yeah, just to, to continue on the same theme, I guess, is this, as we see these roles, um, emerge in supply chain, we need to think about our supply chain practitioner a little bit differently. Um, and the, the historical kind of command and control or a traditional management model doesn’t really work anymore. You really need to be a player coach type of perspective. And if you think about that, what is fundamentally at the core of that? Yes. You want to create the guidelines? Yes. You want to create the space, but it’s about empowering people. You want to empower that supply chain professional, to be able to understand the dynamics, understand where it’s headed and really have that importance, um, because if they, if they have that responsibility, first of all, it’s a heck of a lot more of attractive role to all our millennials who are coming out right now, and you’re going to get a better work product because that person’s going to take that personal responsibility for the success of their plan.

Anne Robinson (29:39):

So the recognition and that I think are going to succeed are ones really, or we emphasize that people matter, being able to have the conversations, creating the safe space for challenging discussions, empowering autonomous decision making. I think these are the ones where it really resonates with my personal leadership style, that I want people to own their successes and also own their failures, quite frankly, because there’s nothing you can learn more than one, a challenging moment. Those awry, it teaches you so much. Now that’s not saying repeated over and over again. Um, we certainly value success, but let’s learn from our mistakes and let’s empower people to drive value because that’s really what also leads to a very, um, inspiring and satisfying career. And ultimately we want people to see supply chain as a destination for their careers,

Scott Luton (30:37):

Love that. And, and, you know, you’ve already shared how you embodied that earlier in this interview where you are completely open and relish, what you learned, kind of in that reverse mentoring, um, uh, channel. And, and I think I would argue that part of successful empowerment of people is senior leaders being willing to learn coming back the other way and being, and acknowledging that they don’t, they don’t have all the answers and they can learn from folks that are newer to problems, newer to topics, newer to challenges. So I love that. And all right, so before we move on to, you know, maybe one last thought you’ve got that you’re tracking across global, you know, the global business world, there’s so much to dive into, always, it’s tough to keep these conversations as short as they are. Um, anything else you’d like to add on, on those really three big, uh, uh, points you made before we tackle another one?

Anne Robinson (31:29):

I think that probably covers it. Um, you know, I just feel grateful to be in a, in an environment where I’m able to actually explore these and, um, very much with a leadership and peer group that embodies these beliefs as well,

Scott Luton (31:46):

Um, to have a culture that really allows you. I love that that’s, um, uh, that is so needed here and, and, and all years, but especially your like 20, 20. Okay. So, um, you know, going a little bit broader, you know, kind of beyond just the global supply chain while you and I are kindred spirits that, is there anything else maybe, I don’t know, we love it so much. It touches so much, but any, any, you know, broader topic that you’re really paying a lot attention to.

Anne Robinson (32:13):

Yeah. These days, I think, um, there’s a lot of conversations right now around diversity and inclusion and we’re, we’re having conversations and I’m thrilled to hear the healthy dialogue that is coming out. Um, and as we talk about sort of whether it’s in supply chain space, or really in the, the modeling type of space, there’s also a lot of conversation about bias and data. And I think that one is a very well discussed topic. Um, I recently had the opportunity though, to take that conversation a little bit further with some experts in the space of diversity inclusion when it comes to modeling and actually talking about model design and maybe its supply chain model design. And are we introducing bias through the model design itself and how do you mitigate against bias? And I don’t have the answers. I think it’s really an interesting topic. I think it’s one that’s going to come to the surface more predominantly over the coming months. And as we think about how do we ensure that we’re not just replicating a solution to a problem or thinking of from our own reflection. Okay.

Scott Luton (33:24):

It, it, it, you know, with, with our continued reliance and amplification of using technology across an, in, in new ways, never before seen, I think that is such a great topic to bring up and be, and be mindful of because like you, I certainly don’t have all the answers. I am far from a tech technologist, but we all use the technology. Right. And, and we’re, and being human, our brains go to certain things when, when you may think of dress shoes or our brain goes certain things, when you think of, of certain roles, we’ve got to make sure what I’m hearing is that the AI and the algorithm algorithms behind those things, that power today’s technology don’t have those same assumptions. Right. Exactly. Yup. Exactly. So good stuff like, you know, for, um, as much of a technical side of your brain, you have, I love how you bring things down to my level because, uh, layman’s terms are a good thing here for Mason. Thanks so much for making it easy to ball it. Okay. So let’s, um, let’s talk about how folks can connect with you and connect. Some of y’all got a big event, you keep a, uh, uh, a steady keynote calendar and these virtual times, but I think I’ve got a big event coming up in the end of October, right?

Anne Robinson (34:40):

We do. That’s right. So our connections event, and I’ll let you help people see how to spell that. Cause it’s a little, little unique connections. If they’d go to connections.com, you’ll see the agenda, you’ll see all of the speaking slots and who’s speaking there. The executive and strategy track is from my team, but there’s many other fantastic keynotes. So I would love to see some of your listeners come in and meet up with us there for sure.

Scott Luton (35:10):

Outstanding. And we’re going to add that link to the show notes and make it really easy for folks to click and get involved in that. Um, what else would you suggest how folks connecting with you and learn more about connections?

Anne Robinson (35:21):

Certainly, um, people don’t reach out with me on LinkedIn. That is the number one way that I’ve been connecting with people these days. You can certainly reach out and if not to talk to me or to one of my peers, that’s the best angle. Um, we also have a blog I can access, whereas shares a mix of thought leadership, product details, and other things called the signal on our kinaxis.com website. And I would certainly point people there as well to learn more about not only what we’re bringing to the table, but also about our philosophies and thoughts. I’m going to be remissed. If I wouldn’t mention, we are also active on Instagram and you’ll see a little bit more about collects of life there. So that culture piece really shines through, through our Instagram account.

Scott Luton (36:07):

I love that hashtag connects us life must is a thing, right? Yeah. Well, that’s a great conversation. I, we look forward to having you back. Uh, I really appreciate the, the cultural piece that you’ve, you’ve talked through here today with a big emphasis on people and empowering people. I love your thoughts on the supply chain profession, and it’s really encouraging to hear some of what you’re seeing, uh, the current next generations, their view of, of, uh, the global supply chain profession. So all really good news and let’s face it. We all need as much good news as we can get these days. Right.

Anne Robinson (36:41):

That true. Isn’t that true? Yeah. Thank you so much. This was a great conversation.

Scott Luton (36:45):

Thank you. And to our audience, hopefully you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have. We’ve been chatting with dr. Anne Robinson, chief strategy officer with Connexis. Uh, if you enjoy this interview, you can check out a wide variety of other interviews at supply chain. Now radio.com on behalf of our entire team here. Hey, uh, thanks for joining us, but do good give forward and be the change that’s needed. And with that said, we’ll see you next time on Supply Chain Now.

Would you rather watch the show in action?  Watch as Scott welcomes Anne Robinson to Supply Chain Now through our YouTube channel.

Anne Robinson As Chief Strategy Officer, Anne is responsible for accelerating Kinaxis strategy development to add continued value to customers. Her team drives the strategic roadmap, delivers thought leadership and identifies emerging trends.  A proven leader in analytics and digital transformation, Anne has extensive experience in managing supply chains for global organizations. As Executive Director, Global Supply Chain Strategy at Verizon, Anne was responsible for the strategic vision of the global supply chain, driving excellence through analytics and process innovation. Previously, Anne worked at Cisco where she managed advanced analytics and business performance teams.  Anne is a past president of INFORMS, a seasoned industry speaker and serves on several advisory boards. She is the founding editor of INFORMS Editor’s Cut. Anne has a BScH from Acadia University, MASc from the University of Waterloo and MSc and PhD from Stanford University.

 

Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now. He has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Dice and Quality Progress Magazine. Scott was named a 2019 Pro to Know in Supply Chain by Supply & Demand Executive and a 2019 “Top 15 Supply Chain & Logistics Experts to Follow” by RateLinx. He founded the 2019 Atlanta Supply Chain Awards and also served on the 2018 Georgia Logistics Summit Executive Committee. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and holds the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. A Veteran of the United States Air Force, Scott volunteers on the Business Pillar for VETLANTA and has served on the boards for APICS Atlanta and the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. Follow Scott Luton on Twitter at @ScottWLuton and learn more about Supply Chain Now here: https://supplychainnow.com/

 

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