Hundreds of supply chain professionals from Africa and around the world came together last week to learn, share knowledge and network at the 2021 SAPICS Conference, hosted by South Africa’s Professional Body for Supply Chain Management (SAPICS). With supply chain management thrust into the spotlight by the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasingly recognised as one of the world’s most vital professions, this 43rd SAPICS Conference was one of the most important ever, says SAPICS president MJ Schoemaker.
“Supply chain professionals have been the heroes behind the scenes in these unprecedented times, striving to ensure that supply chains for food and essential goods, including lifesaving medicines, kept moving. They have supported our frontline workers and helped to keep people safe and healthy by getting PPE (personal protective equipment) to where it was needed, when it was needed. Supply chain management is playing a vital role in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. It has never been more important for supply chain professionals to keep learning, growing and sharing knowledge; so that we can get through COVID-19 and the associated supply chain challenges that still lie ahead, and to ensure that we are ready for whatever other disruptions and crises the future holds,” Schoemaker stresses.
The SAPICS Conference is Africa’s leading event for supply chain professionals. It has gone from strength to strength since the very first conference was organised for 35 delegates in 1975, she states. “This year’s conference was a virtual one due to the ongoing pandemic; but that did not detract from its importance and the value of the powerful presentations from 85 local and international speakers. In addition to the conference, the event featured an exhibition where multiple exhibitors showcased products and services. The state-of-the-art conference platform used by SAPICS enabled delegates to spend time with the exhibitors and to connect with like-minded professionals in the networking lounge.”
This principal sponsor of this year’s SAPICS Conference was global technology consulting firm Accenture. The event’s Diamond sponsors were OpenText, Eazi Access and SAS Institute. Fleet and asset tracking specialist Locus and Imperial supported the conference as Gold sponsors, while the 2021 Silver sponsors were CHEP, Goscor and the Demand Driven Institute.
“We are enormously grateful to our sponsors whose support enabled us to bring the supply chain community together at this critical time to share knowledge and experience, and to learn from each other to ensure that global supply chains are perpetually resilient and able to keep the world turning. This year’s SAPICS Conference proved that online does not have to be boring,” states Schoemaker. In addition to the learning and networking, there were fun activities, competitions and quizzes. A selfie competition was sponsored by Goscor Lift Trucks. OpenText arranged a caricaturist. CHEP used the event as an opportunity to give back to those less fortunate. The company donated 500 fruit trees to a school for underprivileged children.
The Brain of the ASCA Nation Quiz was won by Brad Davies, who received a complimentary registration to the 2021 Smart Procurement World Indaba taking place on 14 and 15 September, registration for the Africa Supply Chain in Action (ASCA) 2021 event on 20 and 21 October and a free EQ (Emotional Quotient) Assessment from People Shop.
The conference got a unanimous nod of approval from delegates. Business transformation expert and author Sean Culey commented: “Well done Team SAPICS! Smashed it out of the park once again! “
“This year was really amazing,” said Annette Naude, general manager, Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare at DSV Panalpina.
This year’s virtual event made it possible for some delegates who may not have been able to travel to an in-person conference to benefit from an exceptional programme, Schoemaker says. “This was a COVID silver lining for some delegates. Content wise, I believe this was one of the strongest programmes we have ever put together. The 2021 SAPICS Conference exceeded all expectations, and we have received extremely positive delegate feedback.”
The topics covered included digital transformation, supply chain risk and resiliency, leadership development, sustainability and the circular economy, healthcare, public sector supply chains, transformation and gender diversity.
The 2022 SAPICS Conference is planned for 12 to 15 June, at Century City, Cape Town.