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November 3, 2023 How to Create and Build a Weather-resilient Supply Chain

Companies must strategically hire supply chain talent as extreme weather poses a risk to businesses.

By Sasha Schuster

When Tropical Storm Hillary hit, California was unsettled. Natural disasters like earthquakes and wildfires are common in the area, but when this storm swept over the West Coast, California was not prepared.

Hillary brought flash flooding, winds of up to 52 mph in coastal areas, and rain that directly impacted shipping processes and slowed down the procurement process overall – all of which will have a domino effect on businesses this quarter. 

In 2022, the total damage brought by weather disasters across the world was $360 billion, and that number will likely grow if businesses don’t protect their supply chain before disaster strikes.

As businesses aim to get ahead of the curve, the demand for this niche pool of talent continues to rise – so what can businesses do to have a competitive edge when attracting and retaining roles dedicated to mitigating weather risk in the supply chain?

Weather risk management requires expert minds 

According to a recent Harvard Business Review study, just 11% of suppliers are fully prepared for weather-related disruption; a shockingly low number considering the impact weather has on a business. From floods alone, US businesses lost a collective 3.1 million days of operation in 2022, and that’s only one consequence of what hurricanes and tropical storms can cause. 

In order to protect supply chains in California (and beyond), businesses should look to hire Managers, Directors, and VPs within logistics, transportation and distribution that have experience in direct-to-consumer (DTC) retail. As well as individuals with direct procurement experience in agricultural commodities like grains or dairy. 

These individuals will excel in efficient product storage and shipping. Moreso, they consistently enhance their skill sets to seamlessly integrate technological systems and apply data insights, maintaining a competitive edge even in the face of extreme weather and other risk factors.

Those who have worked in DTC retail are also accustomed to fast-paced environments where nimbleness and quick pivots during times of uncertainty are key to success. The same qualities are sought out in the supply chain, giving these candidates a harmonious match between the needs of the industry and their skillset.

worker wearing hard hat and safety vest

Experts want flexibility  

Hiring managers know that not every strong procurement, planning or logistics candidate will have the skills they need to be successful, because not all industries prioritize risk specialists. There is a finite amount of talent who understand weather risk management in the supply chain, and companies that only look for onsite talent in one particular geographic market can reduce options significantly. In fact, 37% of businesses cite the shortage of qualified candidates as their biggest challenge in hiring in the supply chain, followed by increasing competition for top talent (20%). 

In order to procure talent outside of a specific geographical area, businesses need to know what top candidates are looking for when entering this field. To get ahead of the curve, offering flexible work options is a crucial step, especially when 57% of workers would look for a new job if their current company didn’t allow remote work. 

Of course, not every business can be fully remote. Supply chain jobs for hardware manufacturing organizations in industries such as automotive or consumer electronics will always require employees to be onsite for some of their working hours. If this is the case, businesses can offer competitive relocation bonuses and expand their search outside of the LA area to coastal and port cities like Miami, New Orleans, Houston, and New York City. These areas have a history of dealing with weather-related supply chain disruptions creating increased experience in opportunities for risk mitigation.

Recruit early and ask the right questions 

Experts predicted an above average hurricane season for 2023, so it’s best to plan for the future and onboard critical talent ahead of peak weather seasons. 

The average recruitment process can take over a month, so hiring talent to mitigate weather risk needs to be proactive, not reactive. A part of that includes knowing the right interview questions to ask long before the candidate steps into the room, and making sure that they are a fit long-term. This is not only advantageous for obvious reasons like employee retention and job satisfaction, but to ensure the company is prepared for the unpreparable – like natural disasters. 

Almost fifty percent (47%) of job seekers cite company culture as the driving reason to look for a new job. During the interview hiring managers should ask questions such as “Tell me about a time where you have been given negative feedback that you felt was unjustified?” or a classic like “What is your biggest strength and biggest weakness?”  to further explore if the interviewee will gel well with the company and help reduce employee attrition during times of accelerated need for expert talent.

What to do next 

Hurricanes and tropical storms are not the only natural disaster that can disrupt a business’ supply chain – virtually any form of extreme weather poses a risk to a business and its bottom line. 

For those who have proactively hired weather risk management teams, continue to listen to the needs of your employees and offer flexibility in an effort to retain them. When poor weather strikes, companies won’t have time to replace the talent they have lost or hire completely new departments, so business leaders need to be proactive and think strategically about hiring before it’s too late. 

sasha schuster dsj global
Sasha Schuster

Sasha Schuster is the Head of E2E Supply Chain Recruiting in the West Region at DSJ Global, a Phaidon International brand and the leading specialist talent partner for the end-to-end supply chain market.

 

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