Ridge stresses supply chain preparedness in ProMat Keynote

Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security, welcomed attendees to ProMat 2011 with his keynote speech

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“If you are successful, America will be successful,” and with those words Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security, welcomed attendees to ProMat 2011 and to his keynote speech, titled “Fortune Favors the Brave: The Net Gain of Supply Chain Security in a Risk-Based World.”

Ridge confessed he is no supply chain expert, but he suggested similarities between domestic security imperatives and those of modern business.

“You deal, as I did as secretary, with the forces of globalization: communication, transportation, finance, you name it,” said Ridge. “I can make a straight-faced suggestion that the complexities in your world are just as big as mine were, between natural disasters, geopolitical conditions and vendor issues. We bring the same process to identifying these risks and managing them before they manage us.”

Investments in disaster preparedness, operational redundancies and risk mitigation in general, said Ridge, are not merely insurance policies that one hopes never to cash in.

“Risk management is not only about asset preservation, it’s about value creation,” he said. “Security is not just an expense. There is a return on that investment.”

The balance between security and efficiency can be a difficult one in the business world, said Ridge, but the potential impact of security on profitability and reputation cannot be underemphasized.

“Reputation is built in inches per year, but is lost at feet per second,” said Ridge, who encouraged the audience to have frank discussions about threats to their businesses, with risks stated in terms of consequences rather than events.

“In the airline industry, for instance, were they thinking about a volcano, or ‘what happens if for some reason we can’t fly?’” Ridge asked. “I hope you’re willing to take the lead and have that discussion. You simply can’t leave things to chance.”

About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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