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10 Years of Supply Chain Evolution

10 Years of Supply Chain Evolution




While Singapore commemorates its Golden Jubilee in 2015, Supply Chain Asia (SCA) has also much to celebrate this year with its 10th year anniversary. Over the last 50 years, we have seen Singapore transformed from a small chaotic migrant city into a beautiful hub with a world class airport, seaport and high-speed connectivity that has supported the country’s global development and growth in supply chain and logistics.

While smaller in nature but no less impactful, SCA has also faced tumultuous changes and overcame numerous challenges that made it the success it is today. In this special issue, we look back in time and find out how it all began for SCA, understand the problems faced and celebrate the success of the organisation.

Planting a New Seed of Thought

Mr Paul Lim started the organisation to promote a participative community during a time when the industry was overly competitive and non-collaborative.

He started the organisation by first setting up the SCA official website and sharing the link with 300 of his fellow friends, colleagues and industry partners. That was Mr Lim’s first humble step in building a platform for knowledge sharing and networking.

While Mr Lim did not begin SCA with an ambitious plan in mind, he is convinced that having the community together to network, share and learn from one another will lead to a healthier and more advanced industry. This is the foundation that SCA Forum was built on and continues to expand on. In addition to needing easy access to the relevant news and articles on upcoming trends, industry professionals also need face-to-face meetings, which generally lead to more successful and effective results while also adding a personal touch to relationships.

2005 | Birth of Supply Chain Asia Forum

Back in 2005, before the social media craze hit the region, the Forum was established as a much-needed platform for physical networking and discussions. It served as a credible space for professionals to interact with one another as well as to hear from opinion leaders about various trends and challenges faced by the industry on a macro level.

The Forum was first hosted overseas in Bangkok, Thailand, and was run single-handedly by Mr Lim, who was based there at that point of time. Despite the anti-Thaksin protests that took place during the turbulent period in Bangkok, the event had a turnout of more than 150 participants, with notable attendees like Mr Mirzan Mahathir, son of the former Prime Minister of Malaysia and then Chairman of Konsortium.

The following year, the Forum was hosted again successfully in Bangkok in spite of rumors of a political coup and bombing incidents in shopping malls. Since then, the Forum had been brought back to Singapore, where it continues to gain a strong following.

SCA Forum, which has grown to be one of most anticipated industry events held in Singapore today, is the foundation upon which SCA has launched other initiatives, such as the SCA Awards, SCA Magazines, and SCA Academy.

Tie-up of SCA Publications & SCA Awards

In 2007, the Supply Chain Asia Magazine was conceived and thereafter published in July when Mr Lim was introduced earlier the same year to Mr Turloch Mooney and Mr Frank Paul, who previously worked with FTB Asia.

The bi-monthly magazine aims to provide a comprehensive overview of industry trends, industry insights from veterans as well as food for thought articles that are relevant for professionals across all levels and specialisations. It has grown to become one of the leading magazines for supply chain and logistics professionals in Asia, with over 8,000 subscribers, and is also a staple for universities that deal with supply chain courses.

Available in both print and digital, the magazine is also supplemented by online newsletters that make SCA the one-stop portal for industry updates and articles aimed at giving professionals a leading edge in information knowledge.

As part of SCA’s rebranding strategy, SCA magazine is now available online (via HTML) as well as in a PDF format on a monthly basis. Referred to simply as SCA digiMag, this fresh look provides a more current and relevant coverage of the latest industry news and features.

2007 | The Supply Chain Asia Magazine

In conjunction with the magazine, the Supply Chain Asia Awards was developed as the brainchild of Mr Mooney and Mr Paul to recognise players in the industry who have developed best practices, designed boundary-pushing solutions or had made significant strides within the industry. The gala-themed Awards have now become a measurement and benchmark for performance within the industry.

First established in 2002 as the Asian Logistics Award and gradually evolving into the Supply Chain Asia Awards you see today, the Awards have gained accolades in distinguishing exceptional corporations and individual practitioners for their contributions to the industry.

2007 | Academy & Young Professionals

The combination of experience, accumulation of knowledge of industry practices, and a robust network with industry veterans inspired Mr Lim to set up SCA Academy. Training programmes were developed to fit both new entrants and managers in the fields of supply chain and logistics, with content ranging from leadership to operations. This is an active way for SCA to help raise the professional level of corporations through improving competencies and skillsets of new and current talents.

In addition, SCA also looks towards exposing and promoting the industry to students as a way of attracting fresh and young minds into the industry. It first started in early 2007 when a group of Temasek Polytechnic students (including Ms Genevieve Ong who went on to work at Harley-Davidson) and their lecturer (Ms Cheryl Wee-Teo) came down to volunteer at SCA Forum. From then on, SCA regularly invites students to our events as Young Ambassadors.

They eventually formed a group called the Young Professionals, who continue to regularly appear at events to gain knowledge, find opportunities and familiarise themselves with the industry.

Founding Board of Advisors

The Board of Advisors (BOA) was formed to drive the direction of Supply Chain Asia as a neutral platform for facilitating collaborations and knowledge sharing, with emphasis on an inclusive and bonded community culture.

The idea was pushed forward by Mr Mirzan Mahathir and Mr Richard Loretto, who was then from Gillette. They then became the initial members of the Council, of which Dr Robert Yap (YCH Group) was asked to chair. Dr Yap has since remained the Chairperson for the council, and along with council members Mr Paul Bradley and Dr Mark Goh, have been the biggest contributors and supporters of Supply Chain Asia’s vision in the last ten years.

Dr Robert Yap, Executive Chairman, YCH Group (Chairman of the Board)

As founding chairman of SCA, I feel a fulfilling sense of joy and pride as SCA crosses into its 10th Anniversary, a most commendable milestone! The organisation has indeed come a long way since its inaugural event in Bangkok a decade ago where in retrospect, I fondly recall taking its first members to the ‘Piano Lounge’ to bond the evening before our first SCA Forum.

I encouraged Paul to do this full-time and I will support him as his desire to achieve will simply not allow him to sit still and work for a single company! During his tenure at YCH as my full time assistant, Paul collaborated frequently with me on papers and presentations which I presented to international conferences, which allowed him to learn best practices and trends on Supply Chain Management (SCM). I felt he needed a space where he is passionate and free to accomplish things that others may not be able to do, for which SCA fits the bill perfectly.

The institutionalisation of SCA is in progress as we speak, enabling the community to scale and serve all SCM professionals in Asia for years to come. This is not to replace Paul, but to give him the ‘machine guns’ to take SCA to the next level of growth. SCA is a community comprising professionals, students, and leaders that practice SCM in Asia. They use its platforms to share, connect, and collaborate on best and future ready practices for the industry and others that depend on professional and progressive supply chain practices to develop without the growing pains.

The Asian-centric Supply Chain for movers and shakers is an important focus that SCA has to continue to adhere to, giving it impact, exclusivity, and depth in its area of influence.

Paul’s character has since developed and his personality has taken on a mellow stance. Exuding the same passion, Paul will lead SCA for another decade or more and build a legacy, growing the organisation beyond Singapore to the rest of Asia. I will be there to mentor him and make sure that he plans for and grooms his successor any time he loses the ‘fire in his eyes’ for SCM in Asia, ensuring that SCA will remain a strong and progressive community for many years to come. My sincere appreciation to the SCA community for their continued support.

Mr Paul Bradley, Chairman & CEO, Caprica International (Vice Chairman of the Board)

What was your first reaction when you heard of SCA from Paul?

I had known Paul Lim from the industry and always respected his professionalism. He mentioned that SCA would have its first regional conference in Bangkok to launch the start of the organisation and invited me to join as one of the main panel speakers. I was very impressed with the organisation of the conference and the quality of the speakers and audience. Everyone flew in to support Paul Lim because we knew he would build a great organisation dedicated to connecting the Supply Chain and Logistics Professionals of our industry. I feel like he has done exactly that.

Can you describe the events that led to you being a part of SCA BOA team?

I was very pleased to support Paul Lim since the start of SCA 10 years ago because I shared his vision and I knew he could build a great team and organisation for our industry. Since the beginning, I would meet with Paul regularly to brainstorm over coffee at Starbucks and to speak at each of the conferences. He asked me to serve as the Vice Chairman of SCA and Robert Yap to serve as Chairman and we both are very pleased to be a part of this great organisation.

Can you share with us why it is important for industry professionals to be a part of SCA network?

SCA is the only organisation in Asia, which is non-profit and completely dedicated to building the professional community for Supply Chain Professionals across Asia. It includes a training academy, a magazine, mini conferences, a regional conference and the most prestigious award event of our industry each year to recognise the best companies and individuals.

SCA is a knowledge organisation that benefits every member. Through Paul Lim’s direct efforts as President and Founder and a deep commitment from leaders like Dr. Robert Yap, Chairman of YCH, we have also been the first organisation to reach out to the new generation at leading universities to encourage them to join our profession, attend SCA’s Young Professionals Network and access the leaders of the industry as mentors to guide their future. SCA is impacting every aspect of our community with the goal of enhancing each members knowledge, skills and network in order to optimise the efficiency of global trade.

It is SCA’s 10th birthday. Would you like to share your hopes for the association as it moves forward into the future?It is an honour to be part of this professional organisation and to serve as Vice Chairman and Advisory Board Member of SCA during 10 exciting years of dramatic growth and impact. Paul Lim’s dream was to connect all of us in a professional organisation where friends would share knowledge and support each others individual success.

SCA has achieved a great deal, but the most exciting time for the SCA Community starts today as we move towards the next 10 years. SCA can play a role in helping to drive new technologies that will revolutionise our industry, prepare new leaders for the challenge of continuous learning, build a network of committed mentors to support the next generation of our industry, and strengthen the partnership between business and government leaders so together our community can enhance global trade and prosperity.

We are all grateful to Paul Lim for his vision and passion in creating this SCA Community and building an organisation that will continue to make an impact.

Professor Mark Goh, Director, Industry Research, The Logistics Institute Asia Pacific

What was your first reaction when you heard of SCA from Paul?

Paul asked me for my opinions and I immediately responded by wholeheartedly agreeing with Paul that SCA was timely as it was a good rallying point for SCM professionals in Asia where people can meet in an informal setting and connect with one another from different countries in Asia and truly become a community of practice.

This was the best thing that could happen without the formalised encumbrances that normally attach themselves in an organisation or society. Having been involved in other logistics/transport based organisations, I could see the value and potential significance of SCA over time, one of uniting professionals across a spectrum of functions and experience.

Can you describe the events that led to you being a part of SCA BOA team?

I firmly believe in and subscribe to what Paul is doing, his ideals and his willingness to pull others along for a good cause. Hence my willingness to support him in whatever capacity possible. That said, there was a lot of learning involved to get us to where we are today.

Can you share with us why it is important for industry professionals to be a part of SCA network?

SCA is different from other networks in the market as this is clearly one where students, entry level, middle level and even senior level professionals can connect and support each other in more ways than one. The annual forum is a good example.

Future of SCA

SCA will continue to develop a platform true to its mission – connecting people, enhancing knowledge sharing and facilitating collaborations. In our vision 2020, we want to turn SCA into one of the leading platforms for networking events while improving the standard and content of its magazines to be the best in the industry.

In addition, we are planning to expand our Academy to offer more executive and leadership development programmes – which will be led by senior industry practitioners and veterans.

By strengthening our core pillars, we aim to be the ‘voice’ of the supply chain community by providing the knowledge, network and information platform for Asia with an emphasis on sustainable and inclusive growth.

Ultimately, these platforms serve as more than just a stepping stone to push the industry forward. They open doors to new friendships that would have not been possible otherwise.

And this is what Mr Lim has learnt from his helm at SCA.

“Friendship is forever. Never burn your bridges. Take care of the less privileged and never ever think that you are at the top forever. Be kind and help one another because it comes back in so many good ways. I find life a lot more fulfilling in my last 10 years than the 40 years before it because of the many friendships that I have built up.”

Nothing else best describes the underlying principle of which the entire organisation that is SCA operates on. Here’s to our 10 years, and many more to come.