Talent management solutions firm offers mainland opportunities Supply Chain Management (SCM) has long been considered an integral part of the general business process, but its impact goes way beyond the bottom line. In today's uncertain global commercial climate the effects of SCM can be ever more influential. Korn/Ferry International, a provider of talent management solutions with more than 90 offices in 39 countries, has recently opened a new Global Supply Chain Centre of Expertise (COE) in its Shanghai office. The primary impetus for establishing the COE was the complex challenges facing Asia, and especially China, in becoming focal points of global supply chain management expansion for companies across virtually all industries. Bill Fello, managing director of the COE, has spent six years with Korn/Ferry. The company's global supply chain search assets were primarily based in Arizona, in the United States, but last September, the operation was moved to Shanghai and Mr Fello transferred from the US to head up the division. 'As Asia, and particularly China, continues to become even more pivotal and prominent in the global business community, it was natural for us to make this transition,' he said. 'Since I moved out here in September, I've had more interaction with clients than ever before, as we not only manage our worldwide base of clients from here, but just as importantly, we are building resources throughout Asia, training up mentors and leaders to help companies manage their supply chain much more effectively.' Mr Fello believes a proper supply chain infrastructure can lift the overall quality of life in a region and its associated links. And while he feels the quality of life in China has improved, and is continuing to do so, there are still many more people who have yet to benefit from a better life. This can be accomplished in part due to SCM's inherent ability to increase competitiveness. Most Best in Class Companies (BICC) which have embraced and enacted progressive, sound SCM processes are generally much more profitable with better cash flow. According to research figures, BICC are able to generate cash more effectively, versus consuming cash at a rate far beyond in-flow. This is a large part of the ideology which Korn/Ferry has adopted in its own approach to SCM. By expanding 'wealth creation' and helping local companies become world class, Mr Fello believes these companies can in turn serve their local communities better, including in the creation of more jobs. In tandem with the Chinese government's initiative to enhance the Chinese peoples' quality of life, having the right talent in place to improve SCM in local companies can help accelerate the progression. Other key elements for this include the constant enhancement of product quality and the development of additional skills for the mainland workforce, as labour costs in other developing countries continue to be more attractive to several overseas investors. SCM can help with all of these factors. On average, Korn/Ferry completes about four supply chain talent searches per week and the development of the Shanghai office will mean more opportunities for Korn/Ferry staff throughout the world, and especially Hong Kong, to spend time on the mainland, a significant factor in not only serving clients, but also in their own professional and personal growth and maturation. 'When we look for our own talent, especially for the mainland, we look for people who are culturally sensitive, flexible, adaptable and exhibit strong ability to manage change. 'We normally look to bring in experienced people, even from our own offices including Hong Kong, and pair them up with the best available local talent to groom them,' Mr Fello said. Throughout this evolution, Korn/Ferry's ultimate goal is not only to help companies establish and operate better supply chain practices, but also to find individuals who can lead transition and become the future CEOs of world-class companies worldwide. All about Best in Class Companies Best in Class Companies (BICC) have more than 50 per cent higher profits than Median Companies, while the Worst in Class (WICC) ones have nearly 25 per cent lower profits than Median Companies. BICC have shorter cash-to-cash cycles, averaging six weeks versus nine weeks for Median Companies and 11 weeks for WICC. BICC have 90 per cent higher asset turns than Median Companies, who in turn have 10 per cent higher asset turns than WICC. This is a measure of sales on net assets. BICC have 25 per cent shorter order fulfilment cycles than Median Companies, which in turn are up to three times faster than WICC. BICC have 10 per cent lower total supply chain management costs than Median Companies, which in turn are 40 per cent lower than WICC.