Results from UT Global Supply Chain Forum Singapore Meeting Show Challenges of Operating in Uncertain Business Climate

KNOXVILLE— Modern supply chains frequently stretch around the world using complex linkages to connect companies and cultures. The uncertainty and risk present in today’s current global business climate therefore has become a priority for supply chain leaders worldwide.

globe_genericTo discuss recent research and best practices in dealing with this risk and uncertainty, executives gathered in Singapore this past fall during the inaugural Asian meeting of the Global Supply Chain Forum, organized by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The ESSEC (École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales) Business School in Paris and Singapore co-sponsored the event.

There were three major observations from forum participants:

• While supply chain management is becoming an increasingly important part of corporate strategy, many companies in Asia do not yet demonstrate a mastery of how to utilize supply chain best practices to improve their performance, especially as it relates to operational-level activities.

• One of the primary reasons why Asian-based operations are not yet fully utilizing supply chain management principles is that there is a significant lack of available talent who are trained to a global standard in supply chain management. Even when talent can be found, companies struggle to retain those employees who are regularly recruited by other companies offering aggressive compensation packages.

• Many companies still do not have a well-developed strategy for the managing and developing of supply chain talent. In addition, supply chain career paths are not well-defined, and no major improvement appears to be on the horizon.

The forum’s purpose is to provide a venue for leading supply chain executives, academics, and students to discuss the future of supply chain management and to benefit from the supply chain research produced by the University of Tennessee and ESSEC Business School.

Participating firms included Alstom, AXA, Caterpillar, Cummins, Dell, GlaxoSmithKline, Infineon, Total, and the Singapore government, as well as faculty from the University of Tennessee and ESSEC. 

“This global reach puts us in a very small group of world-class institutions who are working with companies internationally to improve supply chains,” said Shay Scott, PhD, managing director of UT’s Global Supply Chain Institute, home to the forum. “Our students and faculty in Knoxville directly benefit from the information we bring from the forum to our research and classrooms.”

UT’s Global Supply Chain Forum meets semiannually in Knoxville as well as annually in key global business regions, including Europe (Paris, France), Asia (Singapore), and Central/Eastern Europe (2013 launch in Budapest, Hungary).

To learn more about the forums, visit

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Haslam College of Business, University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN
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