Based in Sydney, Australia, Gattorna has helped to shape the thinking, understanding and practice of logistics and supply chain management globally for more than 40 years. His belief that the supply chain is “all about the people” has influenced many of today’s leading multi-national corporations.

“We are thrilled to give SAPICS delegates the opportunity to learn from a supply chain guru of John’s calibre,” comments SAPICS president Kea Mpane. “Over more than four decades in this vital, ever evolving profession, his writing, teaching, mentoring, presentations and consulting have helped to increase the profile of the supply chain as a key strategic driver of organisational success and profitability. A key focus of his has been on bringing the human element to the forefront of the supply chain. His ‘outside in’ view advocates that supply chains need to be proactively designed from the perspective of customers and the market.”

“We can no longer design our supply chains from the ‘inside out’, where we just hazard a guess or two at what we think customers are saying and thinking, and then develop a particular configuration around that,” Gattorna contends. “Instead, you’ve got to get outside yourself and look at the world and yourself through the eyes of the customer and try to understand what their expectations are.

“Even in the so-called best companies, the focus is often on technology, infrastructure, hard assets, processes, and the like; but they fail to recognise the critical importance of human behaviour and decision making throughout the supply chain,” he says. “At least 50% of the activity in enterprise supply chains is driven by humans making choices and decisions. On the outside, it is customers and suppliers, and on the inside, it is employees, management, and boards of directors. Yet where have we allowed for this major influence in the design and operation of contemporary supply chains?” Gattorna asks.

His commitment to getting inside the customer’s head has earned him the moniker ‘supply chain anthropologist’.

In his latest book, Transforming Supply Chains, Gattorna builds on his outside-in model and urges readers to reinvent their supply chain with the customer at the centre, and to leverage customer insight, heuristics and digital tools to meet rising expectations and adapt in a volatile world. The lessons, insights and case studies in this book, which was co-authored by long-time collaborator, Deborah Ellis, are the focus of his 2020 SAPICS conference presentation.

Transforming Supply Chains is a guide to designing supply chains that fit, and adapt, and bring competitive advantage – whatever your business and whoever your customers,” Gattorna says. “Customers have become increasingly demanding, and the operating environment has become more turbulent and complex. Mature companies wishing to survive and thrive in the coming decades must transform themselves to become flexible and market responsive. They need to reconsider their traditional supply chains and find ways to increase the clock speed of their operation and their decision making without creating more complexity for their staff and partners.

“But where to start this transformation journey? Most of the world’s largest corporations have logistics networks and supply chains that have evolved over time, many based around systems that drive a ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy which does not fit anymore. Most have not kept up with the changing cadence of their markets. This book describes the path to a different paradigm; where a set of tailored supply chains are used for in-built flexibility and adaption as the world changes, and where internal capabilities and digital capabilities are consciously aligned with the customers and strategies they serve,” he explains.

SAPICS Conference delegates can also expect to gain a powerful understanding of how they can use the ‘flywheel’ effect to achieve sustained ultrahigh supply chain performance. For the last two decades, Gattorna has been working with major blue-chip companies, applying his framework and adopting a multi-disciplinary, whole-of-business approach to the design and management of enterprise supply chains. His work has influenced the strategic direction of organisations like Schneider Electric, Ralph Lauren, DHL, Dell, and Unilever. He is currently the Executive Chairman of Gattorna Alignment, a Sydney-based specialist supply chain advisory firm.

“John’s SAPICS keynote will give African supply chain professionals all the knowledge and motivation they need to kick start their thinking about a transformation path for their own supply chains. This is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to learn from one of the global supply chain profession’s most influential thinkers,” concludes Mpane.

Now in its 42nd successful year, the annual SAPICS Conference is Africa’s leading knowledge sharing and networking event for supply chain professionals. Hosted by SAPICS, The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management, it takes place in Cape Town from 21 to 24 June 2020.

For further information or to register for SAPICS 2020, call 011-023 6701 or email Up-to the-minute information is also posted on the SAPICS Conference website: