MS, system manager, supply chain operations | Sinai Chicago
JHC: What is the most interesting/challenging project you’ve worked on recently?
Elizabeth Sanchez: In early 2020 I was tasked with evaluating our south campus central supply department to identify areas of opportunity. I quickly noticed there was room for improvement to eliminate excess inventory, reduce purchase order costs, retrain/cross train staff and reset PAR levels for our A, B, C items. I had a timeline of three months so we would be ready for our annual physical inventory.
Then, COVID-19 began to peak and I immediately realized this would be a challenge because our focus was now on securing PPE and managing the panic and uncertainty that came along with it while still proceeding with the intended timeline for physical inventory.
JHC: What projects are you looking forward to in the next six to 12 months?
Sanchez: The implementation of a new ERP system. A new ERP system will introduce some much-needed benefits to the organization such as improved order accuracy, better invoicing and collection tools to increase revenue faster and real-time information for superior reporting and planning.
I have been a part of other ERP system implementations in the past and though they can be a lot of work and mentally draining the benefits are well worth it.
JHC: What is the biggest challenge/change facing health care supply chain professionals in the next 5 years?
Sanchez: Massive disruptions in the chain and being able to build resilient supply chains. The COVID-19 pandemic deeply challenged supply and demand on an immense scale everywhere.
Many hospitals did not foresee the plethora of supplies and equipment that would be impacted by the pandemic. It was not just respirators and PPE that were in short supply. Even now, we continue to see supplies such as needles and syringes on MBO due to COVID. These extreme demand spikes really stressed, and in some cases broke, supply chains.
It quickly made clear what needed to be examined and remedied. Supply chain professionals now must make it a priority to build strong vendor relations, have accurate visibility into the chain and be able to change their strategies if necessary in order to overcome unexpected challenges.
JHC: What are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?
Sanchez: Having excellent communication skills, being open minded to change and having integrity. Successful leaders must communicate effectively on all levels of an organization, whether it’s having a 1-on-1 conversation with direct staff or addressing an entire department. They need to get their point across by being clear and concise. By being specific, the end receiver understands exactly what the expectation is. This leaves little to no room for ambiguity.
They also need to have an open mind and embrace change.
Too often, leaders fail to see that their industry is evolving or changing, and before they know it, it’s too late for them to steer direction and keep up with current trends. That’s why it’s extremely important for leaders to be adaptable and prepared should they need to adjust their strategies in order to take advantage of emerging trends and opportunities as well as tackle unexpected challenges.
Finally, successful leaders must possess integrity. I believe this is too often forgotten, but it’s so essential to have.
If you are leading people, then you are being looked up to for direction and to set the example for those reporting to you. In order to lead teams in the right direction, the leader must hold themselves accountable and responsible for whatever faults or short falls that may occur. They must own up to their mistakes and always be consistent. This will help build credibility and ultimately help them gain the respect and confidence of their employees and peers.
JHC: How do you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
Sanchez: By taking on challenges and not being afraid to take risks. I know it can be a bit frightening to step outside one’s comfort zone, but I realized that every time I did, I not only gained knowledge from the experience but also built confidence and resilience.
Of course, taking risks and pushing the envelope means that there may be room for failure and mistakes to occur, but as long as you learn from the mistakes and remedy them, then the experience being gained is only helping you grow as a leader.