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China's Supply Chain Economy

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE | 0 | 0 | April 25, 2014

First-quarter numbers are in, and China’s economy expanded 7.4 percent. The BBC reports this result is better than expected, but the figure is still down from 7.7 percent growth in the last quarter of 2013.

China’s government has taken actions to boost its slowing economic growth. Earlier this month, it extended a tax break for small- and medium-sized companies. It also is investing in its railway system. Next, China will work with Hong Kong to enable stock investment across borders, which, according to the BBC, is expected to start in about six months. Lastly, the Chinese government is testing economic reforms in a new free-trade zone in Shanghai.

However, despite these measures, the first-quarter data also revealed a steep decline in both imports and exports.

Elevating excellence

Although its economic growth may be slowing, China continues to impress due, in no small part, to the supply chain and operations management professionals who are dedicated to advancing their companies and their country.

Last week, I attended APICS 2014 Shanghai, where I joined 200 professionals to explore topics in supply chain and operations management. I was impressed with the diversity of the participants. Approximately half of attendees were younger than 35 and almost half were women. The group was nicely balanced in their experience and represented a variety of positions across the supply chain.

What struck me, once again, was how similar these attendees’ APICS stories were to those of other professionals around the world. During our opening session, we asked participants to share their experiences. Slowly, one by one, people stood to talk about the positive difference APICS had made in their careers. They talked about how earning their APICS CPIM credential gave them the confidence they needed to be a part of transnational supply chain teams, make recommendations to their corporate leaders, and put themselves on a solid career path.

This group was eager for practical, applicable knowledge. Like all APICS professionals, they were especially interested in hearing how companies were using supply chain management as a key differentiator in today’s highly competitive economic environment. They learned about the successes of Rockwell Automation, Lenovo, DuPont, Samsung, Unilever, Tesco, and others. They wanted to learn about both traditional APICS body of knowledge topics, including just-in-time manufacturing, and emerging topics, such as big data and chronic disruption. They wanted to learn how to develop leadership skills, such as strategic thinking, and be able to leverage those skills to increase the level of responsibility and influence they can have.

From a workforce perspective, China lags the West in retention of employees. Thus, turnover is very high. The reason is simple. Chinese professionals have a world of choices available to them. In my closing remarks, I encouraged senior professionals in the audience to be advocates for employee training and development—which, experience shows, increases employee loyalty. Talent retention is a key factor in sustaining growth. And from my point of view, the dedicated supply chain and operations management professionals who attended APICS 2014 Shanghai and other professionals like them are well worth the investment.

All comments will be published pending approval. Read the APICS Comment Policy.


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