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The University of Auckland Business School-The Strategic Supply Chain Management Programme

University of Auckland

Mid-career isolation is a fact of life – and a stumbling block to progression – for many people in New Zealand organisations. Talented, experienced professionals find themselves with only a small number of real peers within their organization and with fewer new challenges in their roles.


Developing the depth and breadth of skills, expertise and strategic thinking required to succeed in executive roles is essential for ambitious mid-career professionals – and their organisations. To help with this challenge, the University of Auckland Business School has worked with senior executives from some of New Zealand’s most significant organisations to develop the Strategic Supply Chain Management Programme.

The journey

The programme is a six-month, five-module journey. It is designed to actively develop mid-career supply chain professionals. Preparing them for future leadership roles and helping them to craft the future of their organization and the significant role they will take in it.

The second cohort of the programme completed in October 2014, strengthening the network that was developed by the inaugural cohort in 2013. In their final module they presented the results of the strategic projects that they had worked on during the programme. Mentors with deep experience in supply chain helped them stretch their thinking during the project. Presentation skills coaching helped them communicate their ideas, research and recommendations clearly and confidently. It all came together really well and impressed the audience of senior supply chain executives from the participants’ organisations, the programme faculty and Advisory Board.

The presentations were the culmination of five intensive three-day modules. The modules combined interactive workshops – where supply chain experts shared research and best practice – with observation of supply chains in action through visits to Laminex, Gallagher, Waikato District Health Board, Air New Zealand, Whenuapai Airbase, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, DB and Netlogix.

The modules linked supply chain and organizational strategy and covered a range of areas:

  • Supply Chain Strategy
  • Supply Chain Transformation
  • Visibility and Collaboration
  • Leveraging Information and Improving Performance
  • Strategy into Action

The outcomes

During the project each participant engaged with a sponsor within their own organization. This maximized the connection of their work on the programme to the business. Feedback from sponsors indicates a very positive impact from the programme:

  • Helped align supply chain strategy with organizational strategy
  • Developed supply chain managers who have a strategic, whole of business view
  • Created value through significant supply chain improvements
  • Created and leveraged connections with other New Zealand businesses

Since the inaugural programme in 2013, six of the participants have been promoted to more senior roles within their organisations. Feedback from both cohorts emphasises the value of the network that they built during the programme, and the frequency with which they now draw on it. In the words of the participants:

  • “The strategy section was particularly thought provoking – I am now part of a team helping refresh and refine our strategy.”
  • “I now have a higher level of understanding across the business, rather than being focused in my area.”
  • “I am now much clearer on how the supply chain needs to align and support the business strategy.”
  • “My business case exceeded the expectations of the company and it has been so well received that it is being implemented already.”
  • “Now have a tangible document outlining a clear case for change to future proof our FMCG supply chain.”
  • “The value-add for me was more in the networks and visiting other sites as this helped me think a little differently.”
  • “The diverse range of course participants was good value.”

The programme faculty

The programme is led by University of Auckland Business School Professors Tava Olsen and David Robb. They are supported by a range of academics, business practitioners and senior supply chain executives. Visiting Professors Nicole DeHoratius (Chicago Booth School of Business) and Edwin Keh (Wharton) bring their global supply chain research and expertise.

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