Supply chain community’s first in-person gathering since Covid-19 was a huge success
Liesl de Wet and Jacques Greeff

More than 600 supply chain professionals from Africa and around the world met in Cape Town for the 44th annual SAPICS Conference, hosted by The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management. It was the first in-person gathering of the SAPICS supply chain community since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic more than two years ago and the organisers report that it was a “huge success”.

Social media users have concurred, with supply chain professionals taking to their social media platforms to commend the compelling presentations, the organisation of the conference, and the welcome opportunity to meet, learn and share lessons and experiences face-to-face once more. “A fantastic experience at the SAPICS Conference and exhibition this year,” enthused Celeste Enoch, customer relationship manager (FMCG) at CHEP. Yogan Naidu, head of procurement at TFG (The Foschini Group), said that it was “really great to be networking again in person”.

“It was truly an amazing experience. It was so refreshing to hear everyone talking the same language - sharing ideas, thoughts and solutions. Supply chain management makes all things possible,” commented supply chain management specialist and lecturer Nikita Reddy.

“A refreshing and thought-provoking two days spent at the 2022 SAPICS Conference. I had great conversations,” was the feedback on social media from Dr Elaine Fouché, management consultant at 4Xcellence Solutions.

Sylvia Opperman, shipping manager at Cape Union Mart Group, rated SAPICS 2022 as an “excellent conference”. She praised the event for being “very slick” and said that the content, community and venue were “great”.

Reflecting its commitment to building and supporting a pipeline of talent in the vital supply chain management profession, and to increasing awareness of supply chain management as an exciting and dynamic career for students and new graduates, SAPICS offered 10 registrations for the conference to students from leading educational institutions. Ayabulela Yantolo, who is a third year BCom Logistics and Supply Chain Management student at Stellenbosch University commented: “This was such an amazing opportunity to go out and learn from experts in our field from all over the world and find out more on logistics and supply chain.”

The annual SAPICS Conference is Africa’s leading knowledge sharing and networking event for supply chain professionals This year’s milestone conference featured 41 powerful presentations and topical and debatable panel discussions by supply chain experts from South Africa and around the world. The three-day event also offered interactive workshops and site visits that gave attendees the opportunity to learn and gain inspiration from the supply chain successes of leading South African and global organisations.

The “Best Speaker Award” at this year’s conference was presented to Liesl de Wet and Jacques Greeff for their presentation on the role of culture, operational excellence and sustainability in creating a purpose driven business. The award for the “Best Innovative Presentation” went to Tammy Greyling, Thato Moloi and Dewald Tolman-Presentation, who shared their insights on sustainability and supply chain circularity in their presentation entitled “It’s not just a beanbag! Creating a Collaborative Purpose-Driven Circular Supply Chain”. Brian Chikwava from Australia’s Victoria University Business and Law School was recognised with the award for the “Best Written Paper”, for his presentation on building supply chain resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exhibition at the 2022 SAPICS Conference featured 24 organisations that showcased the latest tools and technologies impacting supply chain management. The award for the “Best Exhibition Booth” was presented to Nemesis this year. Industrial Logistic Systems (ILS) was recognised for the “Best Exhibition Stand” and Bidvest Mobility won the award for the “Best Multiple Stand”.

In addition to learning and networking, the SAPICS Conference organisers and delegates also found time during the conference to give back to those less fortunate.

A “Rise Against Hunger” meal packaging event that was sponsored by Unitrans saw delegates don hair nets and gloves to pack meals for disadvantaged communities. A total of 5 000 meals were packaged.

“This year’s conference was one of the most important ever because in the wake of COVID-19 and other chaotic supply chain disruptions in recent years, there were so many lessons for the supply chain community to share and so much to catch up on,” notes MJ Schoemaker, president of not-for-profit organisation SAPICS.

“The supply chain profession has rarely been more challenged than in today’s volatile environment. Now more than ever, supply chain professionals need to rally together – as we did at the SAPICS Conference - to learn from each other and embrace new technologies to prevent shortages and life-threatening delays in the provision of medications,” she stresses.