Sustainability in Business Laurier (SIB) and Laurier Supply Chain Association (LSCA) hosted a very successful joint event called “Sustainability in Supply Chain”. This event took place on November 8th via Zoom and was sponsored by Diva International and Kindred Credit Union.
This event featured six speakers who have all effectively incorporated sustainability into their supply chain and operations. The first speaker was Roxanne Law, who is the Chief Operations Officer of Diva International. She joined Diva International in 2012 and led the company through their B-Corp certification process. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Diva International’s logistics were affected and they had to adjust their business strategies to accommodate suppliers. Law believes that students who want to pursue a career in supply chain management should be well-rounded, understand finances, and be eager to learn. Law also explained that businesses are heading in a sustainable direction because consumers are demanding more sustainable products.
Another speaker at this event was Sharon Ellis, a Director of Business Development and Operations at Magna. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Magna to restructure manufacturing in Ontario and deal with the challenges of getting devices from overseas. She thinks that students going into supply chain management should have risk-management expertise, creativity, problem-solving skills, and experience in a wide range of industries. Ellis believes the future of sustainability in business is bright, as companies will begin to focus more on UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as hold suppliers accountable.
Shivani Singh, the co-founder of Pathfinder, helps small businesses to become more sustainable. She discussed how COVID-19 has been affecting small businesses, as most of them are not currently focusing on growth, but rather simply keeping their lights on. She also stressed the importance of gaining technical skills and becoming familiar with the collection and analysis of data. Singh recommends that to be successful in a career in supply chain management, students should diversify their skill sets and build critical thinking skills. She believes that there are many new ideas coming forth to help businesses become more sustainable and that there is room for improvement and growth over the next few decades.
Sustainability does not only play a role in the supply chain of small businesses, but also in worldwide companies. This was demonstrated through Frances Edmonds, the Head of Sustainable Impact at HP. Edmonds oversees all social responsibility programs and described how 3D printing at HP ramped up during the pandemic, thus allowing products to continue to be manufactured. She thinks that in order to incorporate sustainability in business and supply chain, we need to understand the value of a carbon tonne and collaborate to reduce our carbon footprint. One piece of advice Edmonds shared was to not worry if you are not an expert in everything, as knowing one’s strengths will help a person make a long-lasting impact.
Don Richardson also had some interesting insight to add to the Sustainability in Supply Chain Event. He is a Managing Partner at Shared Value Solutions, which is a consulting firm that works with Indigenous communities. He brought a unique perspective in terms of managing stakeholder and government relations. He found the pandemic challenging because he could not fly to remote places, like Nunavut, but instead had to use telecommunications and online platforms to communicate with leaders from the Indigenous communities. Richardson thinks that students going into supply chain management should learn to be transparent in their business practices, keep ethics at the forefront of their business model, support local companies, and surround themselves with highly qualified individuals. He also believes the future of sustainability in business can be helped by supporting First Nations, Inuit, and Metis businesses, as they have the fastest growing economy in Canada and these companies keep the environment at the forefront of their business model.
Finally, Nina Boschman shed some light on the sustainable fashion industry and the importance of local and ethical manufacturing. She is the Production Manager at Encircled, a small business selling sustainably-made clothes made in Canada. Boschman found that her company was well-equipped for the pandemic since they have a smaller staff and do not rely on international business. She believes that students pursuing a career in supply chain management should be collaborative, adaptable, have strong soft skills, and not be afraid to work at a small business, as it will give them more experience. Boschman thinks the future of sustainability lies in the growth of local markets and manufacturing.
This event allowed students to ask direct questions to panel members, as well as listen to them speak on their areas of expertise. Although it was run over Zoom, this event certainly did not lack in interest, as each panellist brought a unique perspective and students still had a highly interactive experience.