Get to Know Sarah:
Sarah is a logistics and supply chain expert. She is passionate about collaboration, transparency, diversity, and doing better business. She’s the host of the popular podcast Let’s Talk Supply Chain!
Kris: Is the supply chain going to get better? Do you have a message for the supply chain professionals that might be listening today?
Sarah: Yeah, and it's so important, right? What you said about the fact that we have not had any relief or you know, supply chain professionals supply chains in general haven't had the relief that we need. It's sort of been one disruption after another. And you know, I have multiple friends in the industry who are supply chain professionals. And throughout the pandemic, actually, I checked on a lot of Supply Chain Leaders, because what was happening was that they were checking on their people. But the people above them weren't necessarily checking up on them. And I think we're going to talk about this a little bit later on in the interview. But people are at the heart of the supply chain, people are at the heart of this industry. And we've got to really, and I started throughout the pandemic, a buddy check that I was doing every Friday to just encourage people to tag people in the industry to say, Hey, how are you doing? Hey, I'm thinking about you, hey, I'm just checking in. And it was really important. And it's still important to this day for us to be able to check in on each other and provide each other with a safe space to vent because they might not be able to vent within their current environment. And there are a lot of challenges, you know, and some people thrive on it. Right? That's why we're in the supply chain. We're natural problem solvers. And this gets us going and gets us excited. But then there's also the mental challenges around having to do that day after day and shifting and pivoting and And so really, really important to check up on each other, check in on ourselves, give them give ourselves some grace, give others grace for what we're going through, and you know, hopefully, we're gonna see some relief because supply chains, not just the people, but supply chains need a chance to be able to have some relief from all of this disruption.
Erin: Can you tell us something about those relationships, and draw a picture for those of us not in the supply chain world?
Sarah: Yeah, I mean, if you think about supply chain, right, it starts out with sourcing, right? So there's sourcing, there's purchasing or procurement, then there's manufacturing, then you're moving the goods, either by air, by truck, by ocean, then they go into a warehouse for distribution. And then they are out for delivery, either to a retail location or to a consumer's door. So if you think about the supply chain, as it is, and how many people are along the way of that chain, and how many people are involved, just to get one package to your door. relationships do matter. I was recently at TPM. And there the mantra of the conference was relationships matter. And it was bringing people back together, right, bringing people back together, bringing people back in person to really kick start those relationships. Again, we've kept some relationships going through zoom and different things like that. But the relationships really matter to a successful supply chain. And when you think about, you know, some of the other things that we're thinking about in the supply chain as well, which is diversity and inclusion and sustainability, relationships matter for those to be executed. And for us to all come together and collaborate, which I always say collaboration is the future of business. And for those audio only, I have a sign behind me. And that's what I'm pointing to. And so that collaboration, that relationship is really important for successful supply chains, successful businesses, and successful professional and personal life as well.
Kris: What are the pain points in the supply chain right now? And are there any good resources for supply chain professionals out there?
Sarah: That's a really loaded question. Because there are a lot. You know, I talked to some of my supply chain professional friends. And we talk about some of the challenges that they're having. Some of the challenges are that pre-pandemic, you know, their KPIs were at 100%. And now they're at 50 or 75, if they're lucky. And you know, upper management is kind of like, what are you doing, what are you doing wrong and just, you know, sometimes not having that support of really understanding what they're going through on a daily basis and that they're actually doing what they need to do, but there's so many other forces that they're dealing with, that need to be accounted in that equation. So that's a really big pain point is really the empathy, the grace, the support within an organization for your supply chain teams. I think the other one is the great resignation. I mean, listen, there are people leaving jobs on a regular basis, there are people taking jobs and then leaving jobs. You know, trying to find that talent, and for the talent to try to find the right organization to work with. Having a hybrid approach is very difficult when you're bringing in new staff members, right? Because sometimes you're in the office, sometimes you're not, they might not feel supported right away. And so you have to work through all of that to keep them in the position that they've been hired for some time. So there's a lot of, there's a lot of people management. So there's not only mindset management, there's people management. And from a supply chain perspective, it's sort of like, what are we doing? Right? Where are we going to spend our supply chain risk dollars? And so a lot of companies are taking a look at what that means to them? Where do we manufacture, where do we source raw materials? Are we manufacturing the finished product? Are we going to continue? Where are we manufacturing the finished product? Or is there another solution for us? Because there's a lot of risk dollars spent in manufacturing in China versus manufacturing locally. But there's also risk dollars there as well. And so where do we want to spend those? What does that mean to our supply chains? What does that mean to our business? Are we going to invest in AI machine learning robotics, to be able to do it more closer to home, potentially, because that would offset labor costs. So there's a lot of things you know, being discussed. And like you said, there hasn't been any relief. And so they're kind of being pulled in all sorts of different directions. And that's a very difficult place to be to keep supply chains running smoothly. But then also thinking about what's our next move? And what sort of the future of our supply chains within this business?
Kris: And I would definitely say that your programs have been a resource for people, because you have conversations, it's probably therapy for many people just to listen, and to have a place to go to hear other professionals talking about it. I also know on a recent one of your shows, you had somebody that is in the sourcing industry to help, you know, so you know, if they want to outsource some of their supply chain to others, there are companies out there that can help, you know, take some of the relief. And I think those are things that maybe in the past, you know, you didn't think about in your procurement areas or some other areas of the business. But now, you know, with the great resignation, and some of the other things happening, those are real opportunities, and maybe things that people need to be looking at.
Sarah: Yeah, that's a great point, I'm so glad that you brought that up. So a lot of our podcasts are really geared towards companies within the supply chain and what they're doing. So we talk about their culture. So if you're looking for a new place to work, you know, you should listen to those episodes just to see what they're doing and if it resonates with you, but they also come on and talk about what they do. So one of the challenges supply chain professionals have is I want to make changes, I want to implement technology, or I want to look for a new provider. But where do I go? Well, one of those resources is our podcast, because you can listen to it in your own time, and find out whether that's the solution for you without going through their sales process. And then reaching out to them when you know that it's something that you want to do. And so that's what we've really done with our podcast. So the podcast is very different from others out there. Because it's thought leadership, but it's also very focused on who's out there to help you and what is out there to help you and why you would want to work with them and things like that.
Lori: How has the initial concept of your podcast evolved and had an impact on the supply chain world?
Sarah: When I started and I told people I had a podcast, I mean, the looks, I don't know about you. But the looks that I got were like, are you crazy? But um, one of the reasons why I started it was because my dad, we had a family business there was a freight forwarding business and one of the things that we needed to do was really be able to tell our brand story. And I was listening to a lot of podcasts at the time. And if anybody knows who Lewis Howes is, I was like, well, if Lewis house can have a podcast, my Aunt Sarah Barnes, Humphrey, and he's got millions of downloads. I'm not even close to that. But it was kind of like, yeah, you know, why? Why not? And so I asked a gentleman from my customs department to be my co host. And really, it just started out around conversation, but also to be able to provide the industry with a place to go to find out who's out there, who they can work with. And so it's kind of stayed the same since. And we've kind of stuck to why we started it, right. The initial name of the podcast was to babes talk, supply chain, tongue in cheek, I mean, back then, marketing and supply chain, I mean, let's not even go there. I wanted to push the boundaries of the industry. And that's why we called it the Baverstock supply chain because I had a guy and a girl. And it was kind of funny. But the story goes that in the fall of 2017, my dad ended up closing his doors, and I was like, Oh, my God, I didn't have a team, I lost my co host, like, and I had, I had companies paying to come on the show at that point. And I was like, I gotta keep this going, like people are depending on me. And so I had to learn graphic design, social media website design, and then in January 2018, I decided to start the women in supply chain series. And that was really just because I wanted to hear their stories, I wanted to hear how they got into the supply chain and what that journey looked like. But by April 2018, no women would come on a show called Two Babes Talk. Oh, I rebranded it, let's talk supply chain within a week, which was the craziest week of my life. But we've continued on that journey. So one podcast a month is dedicated to women in the supply chain, we also do a blog every month as well. So we can feature 24 women a year. And then the rest of the month, which are weekly episodes, are dedicated to companies within the industry dedicated to providing information that supply chain owners can use to make decisions within their business and their supply chains, around vendors and technology and to get educated. But I've also, I also hear from a lot of people that just come into the industry that they love listening to the podcast, and that's how they learn about the industry and the different aspects and who's out there and why and things like that. So it's kind of an evolution from a name perspective. But we've really stuck true to what we started to do. But also my vision was also to create this platform. So I could give others a voice. And that started with the women in the supply chain that started with having companies on the show. And it's really just evolved from there because we now have people supply chain owners and companies hosting their own shows across our platform. And so now we're starting to see that vision sort of come to life as well.
What the live stream has done for us is really been able to tap into other conversations and be able to have other conversations. And so our lives my live stream show is called Thoughts and Coffee, it's weekly on Tuesday morning. And I've had consumers come in through our YouTube channel, and be like, I'm here because I want to know why my package is delayed. And I want to understand what that actually means for me. Right. It's also extended into opportunities, like I was just recently on BBC, and talking about kind of like the trucker strike and different things like that. And so what the pandemic did was really transitioned the supply chain into the digital world from a digital media perspective and really shone a light on those conversations. And then now that supply chain is just being used so much more. There's a lot more curiosity. People are really understanding what it actually means to them personally. Whereas they didn't really like the package that showed up at my door. And now I feel like E-commerce grew like 300% over the pandemic. And like so many more people decided to start buying online. And so, you know, it's that innate curiosity that we have as human beings that are just sort of like, well, how does that magic happen?
Erin: How do you see this all being resolved? Will it even be resolved?
Sarah: Yeah, well, the crystal ball is kind of fun. Um, I don't have one, I can just sort of go by what I'm hearing and maybe what I'm thinking, No, but um, you know, Costco, one of the biggest indicators for me late last year was that Costco had chartered three vessels until the end of 2022. So to me, that's an indication that they're like, this isn't going anywhere. And we need to protect ourselves. Right. So that was a clear indication. I think the other part of it is that we do need to see some relief. And until we do see some relief, I don't know, I don't know how it can change. I don't think we're ever going to revert back to pre-pandemic, we are now in the new normal, it's our normal, right? I think, you know, rates will, will come down, but I don't think we're gonna see pre pandemic levels again. And I think people are thinking about things differently. And so to me, if we're thinking about things differently, and we're entertaining innovation from a new angle, and we're, we're changing up the conversations, we're bringing in new perspectives. You know, mindsets have really shifted, and so it's a real exciting time to be in the supply chain. Do I know where it's gonna go? No, do I think it's just gonna reset and go back? Absolutely not. Okay. I, but it's exciting to see what that's gonna look like.
Supply chain is a competitive advantage for any business. And they're really, they're really understanding that now. Right? Because they're feeling the pain. They're feeling it at the bottom line, they're like, how do we do this? How do we do this better? How do we make it a competitive advantage? And they can totally do that. And there's tons of ways to do that. And like I said, you know, it's really just a matter of those conversations. And what I think we went with before is, what works for everybody works for everybody. And now, you know, even in our personal lives, right? We always thought that medicine was good for everybody, or we sort of blanket everybody together in a particular category. And now we're looking at ourselves holistically, and being like, oh, what works for you doesn't work for me, and that's okay. And I think we're starting to see that in supply chains as well. And so I think we're just gonna see innovation, new conversation. And that's why it's so exciting.
Erin: Tell me about your DEA work that you've done? How is it helping the supply chain through better employee experience?
Kris: Thank you so much for, you know, letting me talk about it because diversity and inclusion is definitely a passion of mine. And it's something that's not only important to the supply chain, but I think important to business and industry in general. And you talk about employee retention, well, you've got to get them in the front door first. And the next generation is saying, diversity and inclusion is a must have and not a nice to have anymore. And so if we're looking for that next generation of perspective, and innovation and things like that, it definitely needs to be something at the forefront. So when I started the woman in supply chain series, it was about providing that platform and being able to hear the stories because at the end of the day, that's how we learn, right stories. Sell facts, right. And so when we're listening to a story, regardless of whether we're a woman or a girl, or a male listening to it, we can really gain a new understanding and perspective from listening to somebody and listening to their journey and their stories. And so I wanted to because diversity and inclusion is way more than just gender. And so in February 2020, I put out my live stream. I was like, I'm going to expand my diversity and inclusion. And I had no idea what I was going to do. And you know, by April or May people were asking me, What are you going to do? What are you going to do? When is it coming out? When is it coming out, and I still didn't know what I was gonna do. I sort of speak things into existence sometimes. And so July 2020. I had this idea to do like a red table talk, but for podcasts, and about diversity and inclusion. So on a monthly basis, we've got a blended podcast. And I bring five different people from different walks of life together to talk about diversity and inclusion within the workplace. And they share perspectives, they share stories. I'm a little biased. But I feel like magic happens in every single episode. When we click the stop recording button, I've had people tell me, thank you, you know, because I feel heard today, I've had a person of color who's a woman. In my age ism episode, once we were done recording, tell a white, middle aged man, thank you so much for sharing your perspectives. And so that is the magic that can happen around creating safe spaces and having these types of conversations. And through my work on the blended podcast I wanted to do more. And so we extended that into the blended pledge October 2021. Because one of the biggest barriers to seeing diverse voices on stages is travel. Because organizations can only support so much. And most of the time, they're there supporting the sales side of the organization, the upper management, the C suite, that kind of thing, going to conferences and speaking on industry stages. And I think now we want to hear from everybody. But to get a diverse voice to the stage, there needs to be support, there needs to be collaboration from a number of different people. And one of the biggest barriers is that they have to pay out of their pocket for travel, which they might not be able to do. And so they say no to speaking engagements. And so we are now putting together grants to cover travel so that more diverse voices can say yes, and we can see a visual change on industry stages. And so we've got a GoFundMe for individuals to join us to make an impact. But we're also providing exclusive grants to...