John Kenny has served as the Chair of the Center’s Executive Advisory Board (EAB) since that role was initiated in the early days of the Center. At the fall EAB meeting, John handed the role on to fellow board member Steve Loehr. As he made the transition out of the Chair role, we asked John what things stood out from all his years of service to the board.
“When I think of everything that has contributed to the success of the Center and its programs, it starts with the generosity of The Grainger Foundation and the outstanding leadership of the Center’s founder, Jack Nevin. On top of these, add the tremendous contributions of the other faculty and staff, especially former and long term Center Director Verda Blythe, coupled with the dedication and collaboration of the EAB. The final pieces are student passion and alumni loyalty. This collective effort has really created something special.”
John has provided the Center and the EAB a great deal of leadership and industry perspective over the years. During that time the supply chain field has undergone many changes, and John has experienced these first-hand. We also asked John to talk about some of the biggest changes he has witnessed during this time.
“One of the biggest has been that supply chain now has a seat at the table of a corporation’s Executive Committee – this represents a great opportunity for individuals in this field to have a bigger impact than ever before. I also think that the effects of e-commerce and onmichannel on supply chain’s complexity and practices have been big changes, and will continue to disrupt supply chains for years to come. Other notable changes include the improvements of software quality, and the increasing importance of risk management and environmental impacts on a company’s supply chain.”
Given the years of experience and wisdom John brings to the EAB, we asked him what advice he would give to recent graduates or current students beginning their supply chain careers. These are the things he shared:
- Do your job to the best of your ability at all times, even when confronted with a difficult management situation;
- Speak truth to authority, always;
- Find a good mentor/role model;
- Constantly work to improve interpersonal skills and being a good listener;
- Make a determined effort to achieve a work/life balance that allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
While John is stepping down from the Chair role, he will continue to serve as a member of the EAB.
From faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the Center – we thank you for your years of commitment and contributions to the Center, and we look forward to continuing to work with you in the years ahead.
From Our New Chair of the Executive Advisory Board, Steve Loehr
I want to share three brief points as I step into the role as Chair of the Executive Advisory Board. First, I want to thank John Kenny for his outstanding leadership and dedication over so many years as our Board Chair. We have been fortunate to have such strong leadership, and we have a very dedicated and collaborative team of Board members that I know will help lead the Center into the future.
Second, I’d like to highlight that we are also fortunate to have strong Academic Director and Director leadership – Greg and Jake have skills that complement each other and they each have long-standing Center experiences through a different lens, but just like the Advisory Board they share a genuine singular focus on the quality of our program for the benefit of our students. All of this promotes an environment of trust, open communication, and also “risk free” healthy debate as we discuss topics between the Board and our Center leaders.
Finally, a business perspective: with each passing day I say with even stronger resolve that there is no better time in history than now to have a supply chain education. What keeps me up at night – or maybe I should state more accurately, gets me out of bed “on edge” each morning – is the hyper-accelerated rate and pace of change within industry. This is occurring as the line between business models and technology becomes blurred, and we see it everywhere within supply chains, from automation/digitization, to Internet of Things, to omnichannel fulfillment and Blockchain, just to name a few examples. All of this opens the aperture even wider for the type of influential leadership roles that supply chain professionals will hold within business in the future, and I believe that a core focus for the Center will be how to ensure that our high-touch, high-value, immersive experience fosters a culture of continuous career-long learning.