The Imperative of Preparedness: Weather-Proofing the Supply Chain through Talent

Hiring the right person can make the difference between being prepared and a supply chain shutting down

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From Hurricane Hilary on the West Coast to Hurricane Idalia on the East, extreme weather blanketed the country this year. With severe flooding blocking roads and railways, the country’s supply chains are in a precarious state.

It was not the first time extreme weather has impacted supply chains and, unfortunately, it won’t be the last.

As erratic weather patterns continue to pose a threat to supply chain centers across the country, recruiting supply chain talent with experience in mitigating risk from the weather is a business-critical investment companies can make to meet their bottom line and ensure customers receive the goods and services they need with minimal disruption.

Los Angeles and Tampa, which contribute nearly $20 trillion annually to the world’s trade, are especially vulnerable to disruptions. Supply chain leaders must hire and invest in the right individuals to protect their companies from damaging losses across the supply chain network.

The hottest hubs need talent

Supply chain managers looking to protect their business from extreme weather first need to understand what revenue-producing markets within the supply chain are the most prone to risk and require specialist skills and experience.

On the West Coast, Los Angeles is one of the most important supply chain hubs, as California offers the most direct route from the Asia-Pacific region. In the past year, the Port of Los Angeles had total operating revenues of $652.9 million, an 8.6% increase over the FY 2022/23 forecast. In the same period, however, California had over 10 governor-proclaimed disasters, making LA a prime location in need of weather risk management talent to help it remain a dominant revenue driver.

Across the country, Florida is home to one of the East Coast’s most influential supply chain hubs – the Tampa Bay Port. Generating more than $17 billion in annual economic impact and supporting almost 85,000 jobs, the Tampa Bay Port is essential to the country’s supply chain ecosystem. Just like LA, Tampa is also susceptible to a plethora of natural disasters, including a lengthy hurricane season, and both hubs need the right minds to mitigate weather risk.

When it comes to protecting supply chains from extreme weather, managers, directors, and VPs within logistics, transportation, and distribution stand out as essential roles. The most impactful candidates within this field will not only know how to efficiently store and ship products but have continued to evolve their skillsets to integrate technology systems and implement data insights, keeping them ahead of extreme weather and other risk factors as much as possible.

Candidates with direct procurement experience – especially in commodities like grains, cocoa, dairy, and oils – are particularly adept at assessing risks. Because of this, individuals from food and beverage and CPG are very agile and tend to move quickly, giving them the ideal skillsets to be successful in these scenarios. Experts in these commodity verticals also have transferable skills in weather-related risk because these industries assess the climate threat from the very beginning of the procurement and sourcing stage, making their aptitude in environmental changes highly sought after.

Hire experts before the hurricane hits

There is a niche network of individuals within the supply chain talent pool who are equipped to deal with weather risk management as it relates to supply bases and route optimization. These specialists understand extreme weather’s impact on route optimization and can proactively shift resources, routes, and shipment schedules to avoid massive losses from weather-related roadblocks. The best way that hiring managers can attract and hire this talent is to proactively source it before businesses need it in an emergency situation.

In both Tampa and LA, an average recruitment process can take 4-6 weeks. Hiring managers simply cannot interview or improve teams when extreme weather conditions are imminent as they will always be too late. They need to plan ahead and hire strategically before issues arise.

The importance of future-proofing your supply chain with the right talent to help mitigate risks cannot be overstated – hurricanes can cause shipping delays that last weeks. Businesses can expect to lose thousands of dollars per individual shipment, totaling hundreds of thousands in losses across an entire fleet.

The benefits matter

Procurement experts are another great example of talent that understands supplier diversification and can help businesses better prepare for risk associated with weather.

Procurement represents 30% of a service company’s revenue, and these specialists know they are an asset to a business’s profitability, so understanding how to draw in talent from this competitive pool is a must. Despite the fact that many companies have returned to the office full time, many candidates in the procurement and planning verticals still desire remote work.

According to our recent survey of supply chain businesses on the impact of flexible working in the industry, 37% of survey respondents cited the current shortage of qualified candidates as their biggest challenge in hiring, followed by an increasing competition for top talent (20%) – and offering competitive salaries is not enough to get talent through the door.

Companies can attract top talent by being flexible around working hours and allowing candidates to work on a schedule that suits their needs. This is especially helpful in cities like LA, where timing can make or break the commute time based on heavy traffic and weather conditions have a reputation for being extreme.

Post-pandemic, many candidates are still looking to relocate south to cities like Tampa due to lower costs of living and a desire to be in less crowded spaces, so providing competitive relocation bonuses is another way to lock in specialists in critical hubs who are well-versed in weather risk and can protect a company’s revenue stream.

Talent is needed beyond the coasts

Yet, the coasts are not the only area that businesses need to invest in for weather risk management in the supply chain – they also need to look inland.

Cities like Dallas, which have become a hub for logistics and digital supply chain companies, also experience inclement weather.

In these more central hubs, hiring for roles within network optimization for warehouses not only reduces costs across distribution networks, but improves efficiencies that are critical for businesses when riddled with supply chain disruptions from weather.

Similar to Tampa, these candidates are also looking for workplace flexibility, and 67% of businesses said their flexible working policy has helped attract top talent – a valuable way to draw these individuals into inland hubs such as Dallas or Denver that play a critical role in the supply chain ecosystem.

Protecting the future of supply chains

All supply chains and businesses benefit from investing in specialists that know how to mitigate weather risk – but for locations that are especially vulnerable to extreme weather, hiring the right individual is a must.

Investing in verticals within route planning, procurement, data analysis, and network optimization is key to protecting a business’s bottom line when poor weather strikes. If the recent weather is any indicator of what these hubs will experience in the foreseeable future, companies must act quickly and employ the right talent now before disaster strikes again.

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