In today's episode of the Digital Supply Chain podcast, I had the pleasure of diving deep into the ever-evolving world of supply chain management with Donna Palumbo-Miele, the Founder and Managing Director of Concordia Supply Chain Group. If you've ever wondered how professionals at the forefront of the industry are navigating the rapid pace of change, this episode is a must-listen!
Donna took us on a journey through her career, highlighting how the dynamic of supply chains has shifted over the years. From embracing technologies like AI to the push for sustainability in the age of ESG, we explored the challenges and opportunities lying ahead.
One significant takeaway? 🚀 The importance of continuous learning and adaptability in this field cannot be stressed enough. Donna's insights on being strategic, understanding tech solutions, and the human touch's role in AI were particularly enlightening.
We also touched upon the fantastic CSCMP event in Barcelona where we first met IRL. Donna's role as the board vice chairman of the CSCMP gave us an insider's look into how this organization is sculpting the future of supply chain management. If networking, roundtable discussions, and in-depth educational opportunities in the supply chain sphere pique your interest, you'll definitely want to hear her insights on CSCMP!
To wrap things up, Donna shared a golden nugget of advice for all professionals, regardless of their industry - "Be curious, ask questions." Something we all should live by.
Don't miss out on this enlightening conversation! Check out the episode here or on YouTube, and as always, stay curious and keep learning.
Reach out to Donna on LinkedIn (Donna Palumbo -Miele) or visit her website at www.concordiasupplychain.com for more insights.
Until next time, keep those supply chains rolling! 🌐
P.S. Every day is a school day, remember? 😉
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the need for talent and the type of talent has definitely changed over the years. Also technology. Technology, we know, is advancing at a very rapid pace. Just incredibly, incredibly fast. And what I've seen evolve are what the talent needs to know or be able to do to really progress in an industry, in a profession that's so important to the work we do, our global economy.Tom Raftery:
Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the Digital Supply Chain podcast, the number one podcast focusing on the digitization of supply chain, and I'm your host, Tom Raftery. Hi everyone and welcome to episode 341 of the Digital Supply Chain Podcast. My name is Tom Raftery and before we start today's show I just want to let you know that I am taking a couple of weeks off for vacation so, I won't be stopping the podcast completely as I often do when I take vacation, but instead what I'll do is I'll shift to publishing on Mondays only. So for the next couple of weeks, from here until, the 28th of August this podcast will only go out every Monday. The Friday episodes will resume on Friday, September 1st. So, one episode a week from here on out until the week of the 28th of August. Okay, Now, without further ado, I'd like to introduce my special guest today, Donna. Donna, welcome to the podcast. Would you like to introduce yourself?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Thank you Tom, pleasure to be here. Thank you for the opportunity to join you today. So Donna Palumbo Miele, I am a career supply chain professional and I worked in big corporations for a number of years and now I consult in supply chain primarily. In the sourcing procurement space working with supplier relationship management, sustainability risk mitigation. And and what I do is I provide guidance to C level as well as advisory services to different organizations. So, delighted to be here. I'm also the Vice Chair of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. And have always been in the supply chain and delighted to be here and, and talk with you today.Tom Raftery:
Okay, great. And just, you know, to, to clarify, what kind of services are Concordia providing?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Yeah, so we provide consulting advisory services and management consulting primarily in the supply chain space. In supply chain primarily in the sourcing procurement space cross sector, cross industry.Tom Raftery:
Great. Great. Now, Donna, you... Could you, could you start maybe by telling us a little bit about your career journey? How did you get into supply chain in the first place? I mean, did we, there, there are lots of supply chain courses in third level institutions today, but when I started out that wasn't a thing. And I think a lot of people who are in supply chain come into it from very different and interesting paths. So did you study supply chain and university, or how did you get in there?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
I did. So, actually my parents had a family business, so I grew up in a household of entrepreneurs. So I, started learning the, the culture of business at, at a young age. And when I went on to college I went to Penn State and I studied business logistics and I minored in MIS. So, educated in it trained in it over the years and have worked for fantastic companies as well. And just a number of different. unique experiences that I have had the, the privilege to, to be part of.Tom Raftery:
Great. Fantastic. Fantastic. And I mean, you've, you've been working in supply chain now for a while, and you've worked with companies like Walt Disney, Johnson & Johnson, Bloomberg. How have you seen the field evolve over time?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Sure. So, the, the need for talent and the type of talent has definitely changed over the years. Also technology. Technology, we know, is advancing at a very rapid pace. Just incredibly, incredibly fast. And what I've seen evolve are what the talent needs to know or be able to do to really progress in an industry, in a profession that's so important to the work we do, our global economy. Advancing consumer needs. Delivering on consumer needs. So, talent has always been an area that's been very near and dear to me in, in supply chain, and really helping those in, in the profession advance. Learn new skill sets, grow. And as leaders, that's, that's part of our responsibility as well.Tom Raftery:
Okay. Okay. And I mean, when you talk about the changes in supply chain, what are the kind of top factors driving those changes? I mean, you mentioned technology, but there's also, I gotta think things like globalization and sustainability and lots of other factors as well. You know, what, what do you think is the, the kind of top causes of change?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
So, part of it is consumer expectations. What consumers expect of companies how companies are delivering on their mission and vision, the values of companies consumers at times will utilize services or purchase from companies that they believe in their, values or believe in the mission and vision of the company as well. Sustainability has gotten more important to a number of companies. It's part of the agenda for companies and senior leaders as they look at their strategies for the year and years to come. And also how the talent is part of that as well.Tom Raftery:
Hmm, yep, yep, no doubt. And, I mean, you taught at Virginia Tech as well, or maybe you're still teaching there, I'm not sure. How do you see the education of supply chain professionals changing to keep up with industry developments?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Sure. So, so yeah, so I adjunct teach for Virginia Tech. Absolutely love it. I've been an adjunct professor, professor for actually more than 10 years. It's a passion of mine. I love spending time with the students and hearing their, their stories. So, Education and the delivery of education has changed from what my undergraduate and graduate days and as, as professors as leaders, it's our responsibility to really stay on top of, have a pulse on what's changing in the supply chain, what's changing in the profession and bring those learnings It could be via case studies, speakers, et cetera, to the students so they can hear and learn about how the supply chain has evolved and it's going to continue to evolve. Change happens and it's inevitable. But you know, staying close to that and understanding what are our roles as supply chain professionals. You know, those students who, you know, young professionals who then become part of the profession. Those younger in their career or those in academic or in college and university going on to be supply chain professionals. But taking those steps to understand what is changing, how do we learn about those changes? What do we do as professionals? You know, I always say I'm a I'm committed to lifelong learning. And and I truly am. It's, there's so much to learn. There's so much information out there. We learn from others. We learn from reading. There's just so many opportunities to increase our knowledge.Tom Raftery:
For, you know, for example, listening to podcasts. In, in your opinion, what are the key competencies and skills that future supply chain leaders need to succeed? And how can existing professionals cultivate these competencies?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Sure. So, it's really changed over the years. The questions we're asking for those going into new jobs, When they're interviewing, they're asking questions that are different than what we were probably asking years ago as we're into the, into the workforce. So, but being more strategic Understanding technology. You don't necessarily need to know all the intricacies, but solutions are out there to support opportunities. There's so much enabling technology for us to do our jobs that understanding what those solutions are. You can bring them to the table. Also understanding that the supply chain is integrated and you're really working across functions that collaboration and some of it or and I want to say they're basic skills, but they're very important, but having the soft, soft skills, very important really in any profession that you have, being able to communicate, being able to partner, being a collaborator, the supply chain is integrated and you know, working across those different functions, it's very likely that talent will have projects that are cross functional working on engagements from different disciplines. Functions within the supply chain or different different functions, even within the organization on being able to have that team spirit mindset and be able to be a team player. Also you know, working through there's always different challenges within teams, but how can you be a visionary? How can you be creative partnering with different groups? Being inclusive to different ideas and thoughts. We all don't know it all, and again, you know, there's so much to learn from others as well. But some of those with the supply chain and the advances taking place, you know, there's opportunities there's just so much opportunities to maximize the potential of our talent that are, that that's out there and within our organizations. But understanding greater use of digital technology. You know, if you're working with suppliers again, having that ability to have those soft skills and communicate through supplier relationship management opportunities, collaboration, innovate together developing contingency plans as well through the work that you're, you're doing within the supply chain.Tom Raftery:
Excellent. Excellent. And how can businesses ensure they're developing the right supply chain talent? I mean, what role can mentorship and professional development programs play in that kind of process?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Yeah. So, great question. So, many of us, you know, I've been a mentee, I've been a mentor and I continue to, to mentor. And many of us probably have even in one or both of those those roles or different ways to call them. But you know, but being able to provide support, guidance to those that are maybe new in their position, new to the company, new to the department, new to the team and regardless of the level, it doesn't necessarily mean you're just entering into the workforce, but as leaders, you know, providing that, that mentorship and there's benefits, for both. I've been, it's very rewarding to be a mentor. But the benefits for the mentee can be significant. You're bringing an industry expertise that a mentee may not have. Maybe engaging with other entrepreneurs and, and hearing about, you know, that entrepreneurial spirit and the work that they're doing. But, being motivating to to the person that you're, you're mentoring. Providing feedback that's constructive, being a role model, you know, and just having those really relevant conversations that really help that person you know, advance it and whatever they may be looking to, to advance. And also, you know, again, you're committed to lifelong learning. What are those opportunities for continuing education? There's so many programs out there through universities, certificate programs that that, that professionals could take advantage of.Tom Raftery:
Sure. And there's also the likes of the reverse mentorship relationships that can happen as well, right?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Yes. I mean, you learn from the from those that you're mentoring. Challenges change what may have been challenging 10 years ago professionals that might not be the case now. The environment has changed you. So many things have changed just over the years, but it yes. And, and it's also, it's helpful to, for mentors who, again, keeping a pulse on what does, what does talent need to unleash that potential for their opportunities. Within their company, or maybe they want to be an entrepreneur. Maybe they want to innovate or develop a new product. And there's so many opportunities for mentors to get involved with mentees through different programs or even through your network. It's not uncommon that I'll hear from those in my network that Donna, would you spend time speaking with this person with your supply chain background and the organizations that you're involved in or have been involved in or the academic work that you're doing? And you know, it's always joyful to have those conversations with these mentees.Tom Raftery:
Lovely. Lovely. Lovely. You've. shifted from working for large corporations to starting your own supply chain consulting firm. Can you share, you know, what the transition was like and any lessons you've learned from running your own business?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Sure. So, So I had the privilege to work for fantastic companies, you know, those that you mentioned, and had an amazing career in corporate for a number of years, and, you know, I worked on some of the most very unique and iconic projects, and learned so much, and I learned from others. You know, best part was those that I worked with and and engaged with again on those cross functional teams and on those different projects. And, and, when I decided to begin consulting You know, it was it was something I had thought about for a while. And, and it's interesting cause I started my career in consulting right out of out of college. So it's come full circle. But it, it's amazing the power of the network and you know, once I had shared with those in my network that Hey, you know, I'm, I'm consulting and it's in the, in this space, et cetera. It was just, it was. It's such a pleasure and just so nice to hear from so many people of wonderful, you know, how can I help or, hey I, I know of this opportunity that an organization looking for some assistance and, you know, in different areas, but within, within the supply chain. So, it it's, you know, I still have the opportunity to work with great companies work on some very unique and fun projects. Still in, you still have the engagement. You still have the collaboration, cross functional. A lot more is remote these days, you know, since you know, that our world has changed. But but it works and it it's, it it, it's been fantastic. You know, there's this network of consultants out there as well that are always willing to dialogue and have discussions and collaborate and engage. Also doing this. I, I've been able to explore opportunities or work on initiatives that I haven't worked on or engaged with in, in, in the past. So I've had, you know, some of the most fascinating conversations with practitioners, academics, students, innovators, investors, founders, and not that I couldn't have done that in corporate because but when you're an entrepreneur some of the dialogue is different but but some of it's not, you know, when I worked for big corporate you know, for example, when I was in the sourcing procurement space, I would I spent a lot of time talking with suppliers and I've spent a lot of time talking with my clients now and other companies. So that hasn't changed. It's but it's different. But it's been very, very rewarding. I'm very blessed with the companies and clients that I have been working with and continue to work with. And it's been quite enjoyable.Tom Raftery:
There's got to be a certain kind of freedom as well that comes from being your own boss, right?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Yes. So, yes, I can. Make my own hours, of course I can determine how many days I want to take off for vacation for the year So yes, it there's are there's different types of benefits so in there great benefits number of different types of benefits working for corporate But there's also different benefits when you're an entrepreneur as wellTom Raftery:
Yeah, if you're if you're anything like me, you're probably taking less vacation days now than when you were working for corporateDonna Palumbo-Miele:
It's interesting it's you know, I I love to travel. So, that one thing that hasn't traveled and over my, over the years in corporate, I traveled quite a bit to, to different countries as well. And I still have the opportunity to travel for work and for for pleasure. So, it's nice and it's, it's nice to get out there and, and I do meet with clients as well in person too. So, but so much is virtual now.Tom Raftery:
Sure, sure, sure, sure. And speaking of travel, we met at the CSCMP event in Barcelona a few weeks back. You, as you mentioned at the start, are a board vice chairman of the CSCMP. Can you share some of the insights into how the organization is helping shape the future of supply chain management?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Sure. So, so yes, a pleasure to meet you when we were at the Europe conference that just a few weeks ago, fantastic conference, fantastic speakers, and just, you know, so many amazing topics. So as vice chair, so I've been. I've been part of CSCMP for years, and I was actually first introduced to them when I was in undergrad. One of my professors introduced us to the students, to the organization and then the, the, the past 10 years, I've been very active in the support, in, in volunteering with CSCMP. I was a board member of them when I lived in Florida, And then now in the northeast, part of this roundtable here in the northeast as well. So being part of CSCMP, you know, I the honor and privilege to be the vice chair and there's so many opportunities and initiatives going on within within CSCMP. We have an incredible staff. Mark Baxa is the CEO and President of CSCMP and the, some of the benefits of being a member of CSCMP is the education that you have the opportunity to take advantage of as a member countless opportunities. The engagement and networking. So CSCMP has a large member base. There's a number of different networking opportunities. Could be in your local city. We have round tables the Edge Conference that we have each fall. This year will be in Orlando. And there's there's a young professional committee, a young professional group for those that would like to take advantage of the opportunities to engage with other young professionals. And you're not only just engaging with young professionals but also those that are further along in their career. But there's so many opportunities, again, to learn, to network. Engage through different channels. I mean, there's a number of, of webinars that they do that they provide. There's podcasts, there's the conference but it's, you know, it's something I, I have found very rewarding. I am pleased to be a part of them. Again, I guess. at least 10 years. I've been very, very active with them. I have my, you know, my fellow board members that I get to spend quite a bit of time with and and, and meet people like you through the process too, and through the different opportunities. But there's just so much that to take advantage of and it's just like a lot of things. What you put into it is what you get out of it. And it could be, you know, you could be a speaker. They're oftentimes looking for speakers for Edge or different webinar. So, opportunities are just countless.Tom Raftery:
And I, I should say as well, that I've had several episodes of the podcast come out as a result of my being at the event in Barcelona. You know, I had the, the, the episode that came out yesterday was with Rob Haddock from Coca-Cola. Ex Coca-Cola, now he's retired.Donna Palumbo-Miele:
I was saying you actually recorded one of your podcasts live. We're recording one of your podcasts from Barcelona with with Kevin Smith and Mark Baxa, so, fantastic.Tom Raftery:
That's right. It was, it was a very good episode as well. Bit of background noise, which I couldn't, I did my best to get rid of, but there's only so much you can do, but it was, it was a great episode as well. Like if people haven't listened to it, I would, I would definitely encourage you to go back and listen to that one. Can you talk a little bit, Donna, about how the demand for skills and supply chain is changing? You know, are there any emerging skills that are becoming increasingly important?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Yeah, so, you know, as mentioned, you, the, our supply chain has changed, profession has changed, skill sets will change. There's a need to be more strategic. You have the understand some of the tech solutions out there. Again, you don't need to know all the intricacies, but there's enabling technology to support companies operations of their businesses. Understanding the, the value chain. But also you know, and I mentioned earlier, technology, you, it's advancing at such a rapid pace, but how do you leverage that for the work you're doing? There's a lot of talk, your discussion around AI and machine learning. And there's the element of the human touch as part of that as well. So, there's also, understanding risk management. There's varying levels of risk in different companies and different operations, et cetera. But you know, what does risk management mean to your company, to your department, to your team? What does contingency planning mean that to a team, to a department, to a company? And then evolving those as well. So as the supply chain changes, strategies change, plans change, et cetera. Also one of the things I always encourage professionals and especially those in the earlier in their career, but build your network because these are people you know, through the years, over the years, you may work with them engage with them, collaborate, innovate you know, so many great solutions come out of different type of working sessions, et cetera. Only knowing your function in my opinion, isn't enough. Understanding the other functions within the supply chain, you know, I mentioned this a couple of times, the integrated supply chain, the value chain, but how to work cross functionally across the work that you're doing your projects, your engagements. You know, I mentioned building the network and the network is so huge out there and get and you can build that network that you, as I mentioned, but CSCMP, the roundtables and different organizations but working to really understand how a person can be nimble, how you can adapt. I mean, like change happens. How do we adapt with change? How do we grow as individuals? It's you know our our profession has been to me it's very fascinating. The work that we do, and it's very important that the work that we do as professionals in supply chain, but really staying, you know, having a pulse on what are the needs of your team, your organization, your department, and how do you bring those opportunities to continue advancing in the space?Tom Raftery:
Cool. And how, I mean, we've talked now several times about change and continuous learning and how people need to keep up skilling. How can companies foster that culture that encourages continuous learning and innovation within their supply chain teams?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Sure. So, as leaders, it's our responsibility to identify opportunities for those that we work with. Maybe it's a stretch assignment. Maybe it's going to a conference. Maybe it's continuing on an advanced education. You know, it could be a degree. It could be a certificate. There's so many options to learn now through there's webinars podcasts, et cetera. There's but bringing those opportunities, but also as an individual it's our responsibility as well to to manage our careers and manage our our learnings. And if we want to learn something new, voice that to who you work with or who you report to you who your leader is because those opportunities could be right there and you just you just don't know. But training and education, there's just so many opportunities out there to to be a part of and and you and oftentimes those that have become experts in different space, they then give back where they're speaking in the classroom they're speaking at the conferences and it's, you know, you're paying it forward in a number of ways.Tom Raftery:
Sure, sure, sure. Yeah. Yeah. No, I, I give lectures as well in a local business college and I got to say it's, it's, it's always fantastic to be able to stand up in front of a class and impart knowledge. It's a, it's a great feeling. Yeah. So for someone like yourself, who's at the forefront of supply chain management. Where do you see the field going in the next five to 10 years? What kind of trends or developments should we be keeping an eye on?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
We'll continue to see change and we've seen change. I think change is happening, happening a lot quicker and faster than it did in the past. A big part of that is because of advancement in technology and, and different capabilities of different tools and resources. But I see technology really, continue to advance and be an enabler for the work that we do. You know, sustainability, you know, It could be in the sustainability and it's it's a number if you look at ESG if you think about ESG There's a number of different ways that the profession has changed or the work that's being done in ESG. Companies will be looking at that more. It's on more agendas or more part of more strategies as well. The need for talent. I don't feel that will go away. I mean, humans are needed to do work and functions. So, going back to the learnings. As individuals, you learning about technology. How do we advance the profession? It could be how we're engaging with our suppliers and our partners. How it could be working with innovators or creative groups, product developers. You know, modes of transportation the advancement in transportation has changed as well and we'll continue to see that that continuous change in a number of different areas.Tom Raftery:
Okay, superb. We're coming to the the end of the podcast now, Donna. Is there any question I have not asked that you wish I had or any aspect of this we haven't touched on that you think it's important for people to be aware of?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
So I always get asked what is the one thing I would, when someone reaches out to me and you might be a mentee, but I always say, be curious, ask questions. So that I always encourage, be curious.Tom Raftery:
I always say every day is a school day. Yeah. So cool. Great. Donna, if people would like to know more about yourself or any of the things we discussed in the podcast today, where would you have me direct them?Donna Palumbo-Miele:
I'm happy to be contacted via LinkedIn Donna Palumbo -Miele, it's hyphenated. As well as my website, www. concordiasupplychain. com.Tom Raftery:
Fantastic. Donna, that's been great. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today.Donna Palumbo-Miele:
Tom, thank you. A delight to speak with you and appreciate the conversation.Tom Raftery:
Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about digital supply chains, simply drop me an email to TomRaftery@outlook.com If you like the show, please don't forget to click Follow on it in your podcast application of choice to be sure to get new episodes as soon as they're published Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find a show. Thanks, catch you all next time.