2 min read

2022 is a tipping point for suppliers | Interview with Dr. Elouise Epstein

For more than 20 years, Dr. Elouise Epstein has seen and done a great many things in the supply chain and sourcing world! Currently a partner in a consulting firm, Dr. Epstein is also an Adjunct Professor, a Committee Member and a Council Member for several procurement communities, including our very own Procurement Foundry community of over 5,800 sourcing professionals. Oh, and if she wasn’t already busy enough, she found the time to author the book “Trade wars, pandemics and chaos: How digital procurement enables business success in a disordered world”. 

With an eye always on the future, Dr. Epstein looks at how to apply digital strategies to solve actual business problems, primarily in supply chains. Between her many duties, we managed to catch up with her and discuss why she chose procurement, how procurement can withstand this fluctuating and uncertain environment as well as what she will be discussing at our in-person conference, FORGE: ENGAGE, taking place on November 2-3 at The Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas  



How did procurement first come across your radar and what made it become a lifelong passion? 

EE - My start in procurement came in the summer of 2000 when I started working for eBreviate, one of the first reverse auction and RFX companies. Procurement had only been around for less than a decade and spurred by the .COM boom, the early 2000s brought the first generation of digitization to Procurement. So, I didn’t seek out procurement as much as I ended up there, which is common for many of my generation. My passion for the profession has evolved over the years as I have understood just how important procurement is to the enterprise. 


You’ve been with Kearney for over 20 years – tell us a bit about what you do there and what is your specialist focus? 
EE - My area of specialty is helping clients design digital procurement & supply chain strategies. My work is focused on future-back, which allows me to integrate future disruptions and technological advancements into today’s approaches.  
I am not encumbered by legacy technical debt or historical decisions. In addition to my strategy work, I spend a good part of my time conducting research into the supply chain profession. These insights inform my future looking perspectives that I write about in my writing and public speaking. 


This year you launched a book called “Trade wars, pandemics and chaos: How digital procurement enables business success in a disordered world”. What is the number 1 impact the supply chain is seeing now in this disordered world? 
EE - Supply chain disruptions are everywhere and will be for the foreseeable future. Everyone is spending time reacting from one crisis to the next. This is the result of decades of cost as the primary factor in supply chain design. As we have learned the hard way, maximizing cost over resiliency (or other strategic factors like ESG) does not work in a disordered world.  


“2022 is a tipping point for suppliers” – what makes you say this and what should companies prioritise in their relationships with suppliers? 
EE - Suppliers are the critical component to building tomorrow’s supply chains. We need to treat them as partners instead of interchangeable commodities. As we learned during the pandemic, today’s commodity can quickly become tomorrow’s strategic advantage. All too often suppliers and their contributions are overlooked or undervalued. 


You are giving a keynote and a no-nonsense workshop on understanding digital at Procurement Foundry’s ENGAGE event in Las Vegas. What should attendees expect from your sessions? 
EE - My ENGAGE sessions are going to be a fun and informative look at how we build 21st century supply chains. I will be focusing on specific topics in digital literacy, cyber security, practical ESG, and supply chain platforms. 
As both a researcher and an educator, I like to demystify buzzwords and abstract concepts and make them tangible and relevant. Using my dry wit, my goal for every presentation is for attendees to walk away with a clearer understanding of how to embrace and thrive in the digital revolution. 


To meet Dr. Epstein, and network with 250 other sourcing professionals, join us in Las Vegas this November at FORGE: ENGAGE.  

Find out more and secure your pass here





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