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CSCMP’s Annual Global Conference: Discussing the Future of Rail in the Supply Chain

Attending events like this year’s Council of Supply Chain Management Professional’s (CSCMP) Annual Global Conference remind me of how complex and dynamic the supply chain industry has become.  When I started my career over 20 years ago, there was no way anyone could have predicted the complexities we have today.

Reflecting on my 20 year career and discussing young professional’s development was how I spent a portion of my time at the conference.   It was such a joy to speak at the Young Professional Event, “Transforming a Good Job into a Great Career 3.0.” Honored to serve on the panel as one of the “seasoned executives,” I shared my thoughts on career navigation, leadership development, and maximizing potential.  Young Professionals are a critical component to the future of our industry and the supply chain profession.   Aiming to develop a satisfying career, as well as highlight their value to our organizations, my participation in mentoring and guiding new professionals in our industry involves combining the synergies of both mature and young professionals alike.   I facilitate these synergies through discussions, coaching, and mentoring.  The dialogue helps young professionals gain fresh perspectives in supply chain opportunities, participate in relevant “how-to” career sessions, and showcase how they positively influence an organization.

I also had the opportunity to moderate the “Rail Logistics Still Delivering Logistics Value after More than a Century” panel discussion.  On the panel, Michael Miller, chief commercial officer at Genesee & Wyoming and Matthew Tobin, vice president of crude oil business development at Kinder Morgan Terminals addressed the impact of crude-by-rail growth on the rail-based supply chain. 

Matthew Tobin started things off with crude market dynamics.  He shared that delivering crude oil to the market engages the entire supply chain; including producers, refiners, rail car manufacturers, rail carriers, terminal operations, as well as the local communities and federal government.  Michael Miller described Genesee and Wyoming’s key role within shale supply chain as moving upstream inputs (frac sand), transloading midstream carloads, and delivering downstream shipments to refineries.  Efficiently managing inventory, maximizing assets and, most importantly, having a way to proactively communicate with supply chain partners was stressed. 

GE Transportation’s role in the crude by rail segment encompasses the technology we provide that allows a “seamless” integration between trading partners and carriers that serve them.  Our ShipperConnect™ platform helps give customers the data they need to help manage their operations and connect this data to the next steps in the rail logistics supply chain.  ShipperConnect is part of the RailConnect™ 360 software portfolio of connected solutions that provides railroads with data-driven insights to address key customer pain points like velocity, fuel, asset utilization, productivity and dwell.

GE is just scratching the surface with the Industrial Internet and the way that will shape the future of the rail supply chain.   GE’s vision is a connected rail enterprise that uses advanced software, powerful analytics, and mobility and visibility to enable better decisions. As GE CEO Jeff Immelt said last week at GE’s third annual Mind + Machines conference in New York, “If you went to bed last night as an industrial company, you are going to wake up in the morning as a software and analytics company. This notion - there is a huge separation between the industrial world and the world of digitization, analytics and software. Those days are over.” 

To achieve change and transform the rail supply chain industry, we need to understand the needs of the people who know the network the best, rail shippers.  The CSCMP Annual Global Conference provided our team and myself the opportunity to understand those needs on a personal level.  I look forward to GE Transportation’s presence at CSCMP for years to come.

-Karen Folino, Senior Commercial Leader, Network and Operations Optimization

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