On My Way Home and All the Better for Leaving!
By Philip Stoten, SCOOP Founder
On February 13th 2020 I arrived back in Australia from sunny California. I’d seen my friends and colleagues at APEX. My wife and I had shared my son’s birthday with him in Palm Springs, and I’d even squeezed in a weekend with my daughter and her partner, now fiancée, in New York City. Happy days!
I had no idea it would be two years before I’d be overseas again. In fact, I would have found it hard to predict I would be in one country for much more than two months at any given time. For the last twenty-five years of my life travel has been a part of what I do, and perhaps even a part of who I am. Prior to arriving in Australia in 2018, I had lived in London, Los Angeles, Guadalajara, Montreal and Milan in just three years.
Then out of left field came COVID-19 and changed everything. I spent my first full year in a single country for nearly three decades. And I loved it. We learned new skills and we developed new solutions. As a marketing and strategy consultant focused on manufacturing and supply chain my first thoughts were for the impact of COVID on our customers’ businesses and of course on what we could do to improve their marketing processes and help them meet the challenges of the pandemic and its associated disruptions.
I didn’t need to worry. An industry as creative and innovative as manufacturing adapted quickly and SCOOP adapted alongside it, creating new lead generation and thought leadership solutions when trade shows were hard to find. We learned to use zoom and other platforms to communicate and to network.
Anyway, my year in one country turned into two, thanks to living in one of the most locked-down countries on the planet and to the complexities of international travel and border control. Fast forward to late March this year and more than 750 days in one country and I was ready to travel again, visiting friends, family and factories in Europe and visiting seven countries in five weeks. I saw my mother, my siblings and my kids in the flesh for the first time in more than two years, and it was great!
What I realized, perhaps remembered, was that travel broadens your horizons, opens your eyes, and your mind, to what makes us all different. And it is that diversity of people, culture, and thinking that makes us all richer and more capable. Embracing and enjoying the cultures of different countries, different people and different businesses is a truly uplifting experience that can help make us more tolerant, more creative and more effective in what we do.
I visited several EMS companies in several countries on my travels and was reminded of how different they are from place to place and how they all reflect the culture and the industry of their management, their ownership and their location. This rich tapestry of differing business, with idiosyncratic behaviors, differing cultures and habits are what make the manufacturing and supply chain industry so interesting. They reflect their geography, the demographics and the economic pressures and advantages of their locations.
The world is changing culturally and geopolitically and that makes a big difference to everyone including the manufacturing industry. We are seeing constant disruptions that sometimes challenge globalization and even suggest we should be more insular. And whilst I do see huge benefit to shorter more regional supply chains, I also see the broader value of a global community. As consolidation occurs in our industry, we don’t need to create huge global organizations that look the same everywhere. We need to respect the place in which we manufacture and look to learn from the people there and to get the very best for each and every geography, culture or idiosyncratic behavior.
Whilst I enjoyed my enforced break from travelling, I am delighted to be back on the road again, learning from everyone I meet and from every city, company and factory I visit. With travel back on the agenda, I plan to be more selective of where and when I get on a plane, but I am delighted to be back meeting people face-to-face, or sometime mask-to-mask.
I say embrace change, embrace disruption and most of all embrace diversity