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Interview with Lisa Shambro, Executive Director of Strategic Sourcing

Recently we had an opportunity to chat with Lisa Shambro, Executive Director and Founder of the Foundation for Strategic Sourcing, (F4SS) industry group. Our discussion focused on several key supply chain initiatives including quality, sustainability, and innovation. We also found time to talk about leadership and the issue surrounding supply chain bench strength that we hear so much about today. Today's Supply Chain Challenges Our discussion with Lisa focused around several key supply chain initiatives including quality, sustainability, and innovation. We also found time to talk about leadership and the issue surrounding supply chain bench strength that we hear so much about today. Sustainability

“We've developed a web based data collection tool so suppliers only have to put in the data once instead of once for every customer. “

Lisa indicated that one critical CPG industry issue facing all food product manufacturers today is how companies will respond to future quality regulations and industry sustainability initiatives. It is believed there will be requirements to label all products with the “˜carbon' footprint (or comparable metric) at some point in the future. Do you know any manufacturer that really controls each product ingredient from cradle to grave? Wouldn't it be helpful if a data base of all ingredients and their composition is available ensuring the same ingredient data can be shared with all who need? Of course, and wouldn't it be helpful if a scorecard on sustainability existed as a standard for all preventing mass confusion on data and statistics? Yes. F4SS not only has these on their radar but is active in getting the standards developed and a web-based data collection system implemented. Commodity pricing and consumer sensitivity Lisa identified that another challenge in the food industry has been the escalation of commodity prices while consumers remain extremely price sensitive. Manufacturers are pressed to find avenues to help offset the commodity price increases. F4SS members worked with the Continuous Improvement Network to find ways to improve their manufacturing processes which increased efficiencies and reduced costs. That has helped keep the escalating commodity prices in check – an excellent example of how companies can offset an uncontrollable variable by shoring up areas that are tightly controlled. Innovation and execution

“You have to continually innovate if you're going to be successful in the marketplace…”

Most interesting, and a challenge with cross company work teams, is achieving superior results through sharing information openly and in full disclosure. Lisa indicated that her experience suggests that if a company is not innovating continuously they will become less competitive. And, the only way to continuously innovate is sharing ideas with other companies to gain insight and knowledge on what can work to drive improvements. She went on to talk about how “˜execution' is the real competitive advantage. If something innovative occurs today in one company and drives value it will be copied by others. It's just a matter of time. Thus, superior execution is a differentiator and enables organizations to maximize value creation. A short term competitive advantage is realized through innovation, but the lasting advantage comes in executing the innovation. Companies who recognize the value of innovation also know that innovating continuously will help bring success. Industry sharing Lisa told us a story about an F4SS conference during which a speaker tolD the story of starting a supplier network during their lean manufacturing implementation. This manufacturer identified their “˜lean' objectives to their suppliers and shared how the suppliers could benefit from exchanging ideas and experiences to the benefit of all. One supplier refused to participate because they didn't feel comfortable sharing their “˜competitive advantage'. The executive representing the supplier thought they were smarter than everyone else. After a short time, the executive attended one of the events and saw the benefit. He learned they weren't as smart as they thought and could benefit from the supplier network! He also realized the only way to get help from others was to openly share. The lesson here is to be effective and continuously improve, be open to learn from others but also to share with others, so they can learn from you. This establishes your organization as a thought leader. Supply chain bench strength

“People think supply chain is moving a box from point A to point B…they don't realize there's a lot more to it than that.”

Lisa then shared her ideas on why supply chain bench strength has the reputation of being weak. She believes companies still struggle with recognizing supply chain departments are core competencies and value delivery centers of a business. Some companies struggle with finding the right “˜home' for supply chain organizations. Should they be a part of finance, operations, or procurement? Some companies struggle with organizational placement and may lack an understanding of the value delivered by the supply chain functions. This understated value has been a major contributor in not attracting our future leaders to supply chain degrees as the function isn't always recognized for the value it delivers to the organization. Lisa did indicate that some progress has been made, but not enough. At a recent supply chain meeting she attended, only 1% of the audience had a degree in supply chain, the rest learned from actual work experience. She believes we, as an industry, need to do a better job in marketing the value inherent within a supply chain organization. This can be accomplished by continuously broadcasting the value of supply chain improvements and getting the public to gain an understanding of the value. This will help drive students to supply chain degrees. So do your part, and speak openly and often about the value driven from supply chains. Leadership Completing our discussion, Lisa talked about how a good leader is focused on delivering results. Outstanding leaders have the ability to view issues/opportunities at 40,000 feet and then convert these into a language that their organization understands and will be motivated to address. Leaders don't necessarily need to be liked or feared, they simply need to be respected. They will make unpopular decisions, but if the organization views those as being made for the greater good, the leader will gain respect. About Lisa Shambro From the F4SS website: Lisa Shambro started her career with Procter & Gamble in Sales, followed by positions in Marketing, then in Mergers & Acquisitions, and acquisition integration. Subsequently, Lisa spent several years in a strategy consulting practice with CSC/Weston Group, followed by international experience leading business development, sales and e-business efforts for Warner Lambert/Pfizer. The most recent segment of her career has been focused on business-to-business in the Contract Manufacturing industry for Newell Rubbermaid and Outsourcing Services Group where she held the position of Chief Customer Officer and Senior Vice President of Marketing. More about F4SS F4SS is a non-profit organization with a primary goal to establish a forum whereby CPG marketers, external manufacturers, and secondary packagers can share the best practices towards the creation of industry standards aimed at improving reliability and reducing supply chain costs. Over 60 companies have membership within this organization and participate on teams that include Quality Assurance, Integrated Replenishment, Sustainability, Trust and Collaboration, Continuous Improvement, and Value Creation. Check out their web site at,

About Matthew Kabik

Matthew Kabik is the former Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He worked at Computer Aid, Inc. from 2008 to 2014 in the Harrisburg offices, where he was a copywriter, swordsman, social media consultant, and trainer before moving into editorial.

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