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Ivalua NOW 2020 (dispatch 3): SIG’s Dawn Tiura champions leadership, digital change to succeed in coronavirus era

05/06/2020 By

In these uncertain times, business leaders must get ready to help others overcome fear, create a new future and get through the death, social change and business disruption that the coronavirus pandemic has wrought, said Dawn Tiura, the President and CEO of Sourcing Industry Group (SIG), at the Ivalua NOW 2020 online conference Tuesday.

In her keynote address about leadership, change and digital transformation in the coronavirus era, she painted an ominous picture that there will be no return to normal — but she offered an optimistic outlook for people who are willing to embrace change.

“We usually build our future on past experiences, but none of us have gone through the COVID crisis,” Tiura said, advocating that business leaders must imagine a new future and guide people there.

“People will stay in remote work, some people won’t get on planes,” she said. “Others will not offshore (their work) or will bring manufacturing closer to home.”

Learn and lead

Tiura said the worst thing to do in uncertain times is to sit still. She offered leaders a checklist of ways to take care of their staffs and businesses now and in the future:

  • Be empathetic
  • Be positive
  • Consider ways to help homebound workers with their childcare and children’s schooling
  • Be ready to deal with more COVID-19 sicknesses and deaths
  • Provide more training, and leaders can take the courses side by side with their teams
  • Support home/remote work with the proper resources, like computers, screens, chairs and other items
  • Work in the trenches with your staff

Taking care of each other also means taking care of businesses, Tiura said. She encouraged leaders to take a high-level view of the situation they’re in and imagine what it will take to succeed.

The leaders will need to believe these visions of the future and will be tested by employees. Tiura said change-management researchers once said that companies needed three years to adopt new work practices or else they’d revert back to old ways of doing their jobs. With technology, the adoption of change likely happens faster now, but if the leaders don’t support that change, believe in it and live it, then the workers won’t buy into it.

Digital transformation

Ivalua’s web address itself showed how technology can overcome challenges created by the coronavirus, which forced the cancellation of procurement conferences throughout the spring and into the foreseeable future.

In advocating for digital transformation of businesses, Tiura said the crisis has highlighted how important procurement and supply chains are.

It’s now easier to make the case for technology that increases visibility, secures the supply chain and reduces risks for businesses.

“Accelerating digital transformation is key,” she said. “We need to fix broken supply chains and improve sourcing.”

Since procurement knows the shortcomings and bottlenecks of their own companies, it is in the best position to help improve them, she said, adding that paying attention to recent events is key.

She said it took major computer hacks of corporations before she heard of cybersecurity clauses being put into contracts. And she had seen force majeure clauses in contracts but not for pandemics like this. Those things will change too as we build this new reality.

“I’ve seen horror movies, and I never thought a global pandemic was actually ever going to be a reality in my lifetime,” Tiura said. “So we’re leading people in uncertain times … and we have to start reimagining what this world is going to be post-COVID.”