Executive Insights with the Supply Chain Queen – Sheri Hinish

Executive Insights is a series by Shipping and Freight Resource that provides ongoing insights and thoughtful analysis enriching the knowledge of the readers with what is happening in the shipping, freight, maritime, logistics and supply chain industry..

Executive Insights is also a chance to pick the brains of industry veterans, leaders and enablers..

In this edition of Executive Insights, we caught up with Sheri Hinish – self proclaimed Supply Chain nerd, Executive Advisor and Thought Leader, IBM Futurist, Influencer in Supply Chain, Sustainability, Innovation, and Leadership and of course SupplyChainQueen®..

SFR : Supply Chain Queen – I think this title says it all.. Can you share the background of how you got to this title..

Supply Chain Queen started as a nickname at work and school. I was able to simply complex issues, processes, and so on while acting as a bridge between difficult transformations.

During a pivotal point in my career, I wanted to stand out and decided to explore social media. I started using Supply Chain Queen and eventually trademarked the name. I am more of a supply chain nerd, but queen sounds much cooler.

SFR : Circular economy and Sustainability are buzzwords to many people in and out of the industry.. Can you give us an insight into these words, how you got into this and how you made it synonymous with yourself..

I believe that supply chains provide a conduit to change the world. I’ve always been passionate about understanding relationships, interdependence, tradeoffs, and rethinking ways of working and connecting. The way we define sustainability is changing, much like supply chain.

It is a venn, a balance of human, natural, and industrial systems. Corporate sustainability prescribes how organizations interact with stakeholders, in this venn, in the world we share. There is a movement to transform and shape a new global economy because “sustaining” a take-make-waste economy isn’t enough, but only an incremental iteration of our current path…how do we impact future generations?

The circular economy is regenerative and restorative by design, like the system dynamics and influences in nature where there is no waste.

I like to think of sustainable supply chain and CE through the lens of Sustainable Development Goal 12 which describes the how we might consume and produce responsibly and sustainably. The tension between CE and SDG12 is does this goal still promote linearity, and at what cost and impact to the Earth and future generations?

SFR : How do you manage to be the Supply Chain Queen and Sheri Hinish or are these two personalities the same..?? What are some of your secrets to strike a work/life balance, especially in the Supply Chain industry..

Yes, I am very much the same person. I am married with three children, ages 10, 6, and 5. So, between family life and business commitments, I needed to have a good system in place.

My secret is early in my marriage, when my two youngest children were still in diapers, I did a value stream map.

I was working for a six-sigma manufacturer and decided to explore my day, defining what was truly value-add in my life.

I was exhausted at the end of each day and realized I spent more time doing housework and laundry then activities like reading, learning, and spending time with my family.

By outsourcing these activities, I was able to reinvest about 15 hours a week into learning.

During that time, I completed my 1st Masters degree, and several certifications (PMP, LSS greenbelt, and a Mini-MBA in digital supply chain).

I also learned to create guardrails in my schedule for important events in my children’s lives, like sporting events, plays, and special time around their milestones.

The industry has more women now, but I can remember being the only woman earlier in my career.

I was able to set clear expectations upfront through planning and creating guardrails to balance my work and personal commitments. Communication and good time management was key….no different than supply chain orchestration.

SFR : You were nominated as a 2019 Supply & Demand Chain Executive “Pro to Know”.. What does this nomination mean to you and how has it helped you in your career/life..

I was flattered and humbled to receive the 2019 Pro to Know award. There are so many awesome supply chain practitioners and leaders doing amazing work.

I didn’t feel any different about myself. My nickname and being called the Supply Chain Queen is a bit tongue and cheek, in that if you know me you can tease out that I’m actually not too fond of titles or hierarchies. This is why I started the supply chain revolution.

Does the Pro to Know title sound good? Sure!

Does it make me better than anyone else, or more capable? I don’t think that title defines who I am, the value I add to others or the world.

I can name 15 people in supply chain who are doing epic things and you’ve probably never heard of them and they’ve never been a Pro to Know.

I hope to bring awareness to these folks and evangelize leaders, rebels, around the world on my podcast. This is how I hope to be remembered, by what I have given and the talents I’ve shared with others to make the world a better place.

SFR : What are the top 3 values that has helped you achieve what you have achieved so far..??

Integrity, courage, curiosity

SFR : There are several people trying to break into this industry, trying to survive and grow in this industry.. As an industry and thought leader, what are some of the points that the job seekers need to bear in mind when applying for positions.. Maybe even some tips for them..??

Don’t be afraid to be yourself and know your worth. Never stop learning and don’t make excuses. If you have the desire and follow through, you will go much further than the smartest person in the room. Relationships matter and must be nurtured.

I can look back on my career and have met people years before the relationship developed into a business engagement. Lastly, not everyone will like you.

Recognize that you can’t please everyone, and you may not be everyone’s cup of tea…and that’s ok.

SFR : Where do you see digitalisation and technology in the industry headed to..??

I think the acceleration of technology will further divide our people. In the future of work, technology can be a huge enabler, particularly in sustainable tech and unlocking new business models.

I spend a large part of my day developing solution strategy for supply chain technology companies. With quantum computing, AI/ML, and edge tech being adopted, disruption will continue and I think we will witness mammoth vendors in the supply chain domain start to fall.

One thing is for sure, if you resist change and are slow to respond, you will be left behind.

SFR : What drives your business philosophy as Executive Advisor, Thought Leader, IBM Futurist and Influencer in Supply Chain..??

Executive Insights with Sheri Hinish - Supply Chain Queen - Shipping and Freight ResourceMy philosophy has been to be so good that they can’t ignore you for many years.

I am driven to learn, share and inspire others to think differently and positively about the impact we can have on the world, our future, in both our business and personal lives as supply chain professionals and leaders.

I understand the digital divide and how access to technology and education can further marginalize people who should not be left behind.

As a 1st generation college student and the 1st woman in my family to attend university, I understand that people have the capacity to learn, dream, and grow.

Many times, access and generational poverty prevent capable folks from growing.

My philosophy across Supply Chain Queen social media channels is to create social media with purpose and share freely. My point of view is provocative and progressive and I’m an advocate for women in STEAM.

Seeing is believing often times and I hope that sharing my story and learning, my unique PoV will help inspire others.

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