08 Dec.

Our People, our stories - East Asia: Dec 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are facing different kinds of challenges and started new ways to deal with them. Starting from February, we will have different alumni from East Asia region to share their insights and stories in the newsletter and monthly What's On in 2021.


Bring Supply Chains into the 21st Century
Ms. Nicole Tretwer

We are deeply interconnected
In September 2021, we are at almost 24 months since the beginning of the Co-Vid19 pandemic - I graduated with the Global MBA in July 2018 and was fortunate enough to still enjoy the graduation ceremony with most of my Hong Kong intake in Manchester. At the time, I had just recently started my new role as head of logistics APAC for a large vertically integrated jewellery retailer and little did I know how much our world was going to change 18 months from there.

From panic runs to the supermarket and fights over toilet paper rolls, to repetitive waves or tsunamis of infection rates, some of them accompanied with harsh lock-down measures and restrictions on public life; to the discovery of how truly interdependent we are in this global world with the worldwide collapse of supply chains regardless of industry.

 So, what are my learnings?

In hindsight, I was fortunate to have been raised in a humble environment and have never forgotten. Appreciate the little things and engage with your loved ones - the restrictions refocused everything on the most important aspects of life.

We learned to be more human at work. I took this with me when interacting with my colleagues, making sure to enquire about well-being and being an active listener to their troubles. We are a very fragmented continent in Asia, so while one side was coming out of a wave, the other was succumbing to it.

Celebrate every victory, no matter how small the success - we have achieved so much while struggling with adapting to the new work environment, coping with closed schools and battling cabin fever during lock-downs.

The future of supply chains is digital
Retail brands are fighting tooth and nail to reinvent themselves, stay relevant. Supply Chain has historically always been the poor cousin, with a strong focus on driving costs down and staying lean. Now, we are learning the hard way this is not sustainable.

Grappling with the new reality, we realise we need to spread our sourcing across several geographies to secure the product and components flow. We understood to diversify our revenue streams to avoid relying too much on one channel; Omnichannel is the hot new topic.

All of this needs to be underlined by modern information and communication platforms. Email and spreadsheets are so yesterday. We need to be able to anticipate, sense and shift our flows at the push of a button.

There is a modern world for Supply Chain out there and it is imperative we invest in the new technologies available. Supply Chain should no longer be a cost-saving exercise, but a competitive advantage. Companies need to understand this and elevate the importance of Supply Chain to its appropriate relevance. This will require making some tough decisions on investments and shedding legacy systems that cannot keep up with the requirements of a modern world.

We need to bring Supply Chains into the 21st Century.

In the end, what use is it to have the most beautiful product designed, if you cannot get it into your customer's hands?

*The views and opinions expressed in this section are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial positions of UoM East Asia Centre.

Manchester Global MBA Alumna: Ms. Nicole Tretwer

VP BD Integrated Logistics

A result-driven and solutions-oriented leader with a University of Manchester MBA, a take-charge personality and +18-years of experience in a broad range of roles in business management. Embraces and drives change. Coaches teams to go beyond with an entrepreneurial edge.
Lived and worked across four continents and seven countries, from Costa Rica, Central America to North East China.

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