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Talent Across Supply Chain During Covid-19 – The Industry and Functional Impact  

Posted on May 2020 By Matthew Monaghan


There is no denying that the recent implications of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy create an environment few (if any) have seen before. Whilst the global financial crash of 2008 and the Oil Glut of 2014 created shockwaves economically, they were compartmentalised to some extent within their geographic or industrial sectors.

The interesting aspect of Covid-19 is that whilst it impacts virtually every organisation regarding their Supply Chain, it affects those businesses in different ways according to their market space. Here I have looked at the retail, life sciences and fast-moving consumer good (FMCG) sectors individually, the relative disruptions, and what this has meant for hiring and talent.


Unsurprisingly one of the most impacted areas of commerce has been the physical retail sector. For those who generate their bulk revenue in a geography separate to that of their manufacturing, a hesitance to spread risk across their reliable suppliers has perhaps hit them hardest. Where factories have closed and these organisations do not have alternative suppliers the ability to continue production has, in some cases, completely ceased across some product lines. It is likely some of these products will not return.

Alternatively, for a B2C business whose stores are closed for lockdown the top-line takes the brunt of the damage. Backlog in stock creates excess warehousing costs and this effect can be felt all the way through the Supply Chain as these companies stop ordering product from their suppliers due to the abundance.

What does this mean for talent?

Strategic sourcing and eCommerce. Companies in these situations are looking to either better develop their existing procurement talent or hire in those with experience in strategic sourcing and category management. Supplier risk and vendor management skills are needed to complement a rounded procurement department to better manage supply challenges and prevent raw materials blackouts.

Accompanying this is the need for businesses to accelerate their online platform. Analysts predict that Amazon will report a 22% increase in sales YoY for the first quarter due to lockdown. The ability for physical retailers to shift their sales strategy to better accommodate an online world will ease overstock issues. Due to this many companies are actively hiring within their eCommerce, data, and logistics departments. Many of these are specifically targeting online specialists such as Amazon, Apple, and Walmart with their headhunting.

Life sciences

The eyes of the world are currently trained on the life sciences industry. More than ever the need to innovate, develop and mass produce products is vital. The past decade has seen a tangible shift in the procurement abilities of life sciences companies. Largely second-no-more to the FMCG organisations, they are risk averse and well established to handle this pandemic from a sourcing perspective. Equally the manufacturing and research and development (R&D) divisions are world-leading, dynamic, and are adapting to challenges accordingly. The largest strain seen from the current situation is felt across either end of the supply chain – the ability to accurately plan the product needs and then the distribution of such items.

Strategic category plans are borne from well devised demand planning; with a resulting trickle effect along the supply chain should there be inaccuracies.

What does this mean for talent?

There has been a clear felt need for high-performing supply and demand planning professionals. This is to say that those individuals need not only have the experience in the relevant division, but that they have evidenced ability to work in a fast-moving and agile fashion. Each country cannot yet say (accurately) the needs of their relative populations – with testing, treatments, or eventual vaccines. As such we are seeing a noticeable desire from life sciences organisations to hire supply and demand planning professionals from universally agreed agile environments – food and commodities.

Second to the planning needs is that of distribution. Largescale, fast, and complex distribution. Whilst many of these businesses have experience in the geographies they are supplying, the needs of their products are usually long planned out with less urgency and less volume. Again, the tangible shift in talent preference is towards that of professionals from FMCG organisations, alongside those who manufacture just-in-time products. We are seeing life sciences companies target fresh food distributors logistics and distribution talent.


Speed has always been key in the FMCG markets – amplified at this time. Supermarkets across the globe have seen increased demand as panic buying took hold in the early stages of the pandemic. For business-to-consumer (B2C) companies the impact was felt immediately, and for business-to-business (B2B) companies their wholesale distributors orders increased where reserve stocks depleted.

The other major impact saw a shift in go-to-market techniques. With restaurants and bars closing, supermarkets are the main (or perhaps sole) avenue to access consumers for these companies. The dynamism of the commercial arm of the supply chain was imperative in ensuring continued sales and cash flow.

What does this mean for talent?

Similarly to life sciences businesses, FMCG companies need supply and demand planning professionals. In this instance, they are likely to already have those with agile mindsets, but the need is for more – to bolster the departments currently. Blue chips are simply hiring more from targeted headhunting whilst small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) have turned to temporary or freelance solutions. The importance being on the experience of these people to expedite fast solutions.

Commercially these businesses have had to adapt extremely fast – and therefore active headhunting of sales professionals from B2B organisations has increased. No longer able to sell to restaurant chains or bars directly, the need to exploit wholesale routes to market requires a different skillset, contacts and unique knowledge quickly found from professionals in the B2B sector.

Overall the needs of different companies are, just that, different. But the unifying similarities are speed, agility, and dynamism. Very few (or no) businesses are operating the same as before in this unique time. Internally, working from home and flexible hours are being utilised, and externally cooperation with suppliers and partners are paramount to unilateral success and, ultimately, survival.

About the author

Matthew Monaghan is the Head of the Partnership Programme in Europe for Phaidon International's Commercial & Industrial (C&I) brands, including DSJ Global. His role is to look after the group's key accounts, as well as bringing on new clients. Get in touch with Matthew to discover how he can help you secure business-critical talent.

Contact Matt