Re-visiting the Career Lattice Concept

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Re-visiting the Career Lattice Concept

by Brett Marshall – Corporate Head of Quality at Zuellig Pharma

As the 2nd anniversary of COVID-19 related country and global shutdowns rolls past us it has been an interesting opportunity to pause for reflection upon key takeaways of the last two years.

Supply chain has become a topic for mainstream media, local, regional and global disruptions to supply chains spurring focus on agility and resilience. And the acceleration of digital transformation for much needed transparency of end-to-end product and service flows, that need to address the changing consumption patterns and expectations of consumers.

Image source: Rebecca Vineyard,” What Is Employee Experience vs Employee Engagement?”, 13 October, 2019

One of the greatest changes we have recognised, is the dramatic change in focus on the need for employee engagement. Not just because over the past two years “work from home” and “hybrid work arrangements” have given employees the opportunity to revisit who they are and where they are going. But because the importance of connection between people and teams has evolved through increasingly remote working relationships. Further, there is an increasing understanding of the need to support diversity, equity and inclusion and create safe working environments.

This is an important strategic need for an organization to address. The war for talent, has long been fought in Asia, as the region continues to be a power source of global growth, and as a result demand for talent often outstrips supply. Add to that the increasing level of regulatory restriction and cross-border movement constraints for foreign workers, and the impacts of “the great resignation”, underlines the importance of talent retention to expanding capabilities and building the intellectual capital of the business.

In IDC’s recent presentation “Your Supply Chain Roadmap: IDC’s Predictions for 2022 and Beyond”, Stephanie Krishnan shared that “By the end of 2023, chronic worker shortages will prompt 60% of APEJ-based supply chain organizations to prioritize automation investments resulting in productivity improvements of 20%.” Stephanie went on to add that “In some cases, it is not only about shortage of workers, but also skills and competency requirements that allows organizations to build future capabilities.”

And this is not an “HR thing” – the responsibility for building the organizational capability sits both with leaders and mangers, as well as the employees and team members of the organization.

For a number of years, we have had in place a set of technical competencies which were enhanced by the company’s leadership competencies. For our team members we mapped their training needs based on those competencies and then integrated those training needs into the Individual Development Plans (IDP) of each team member.

We communicated the responsibility of the managers to engage with their team members at least two times per year for discussion on that plan. Two years ago we recognized that we had established a robust template for those discussions. But that the development windows were restricted to 12 months, an important component of the IDP, being able to articulate a career aspiration was also somehow limited to current areas of work of the team member.

So we understand the importance of having clear frameworks in place to help facilitate achieving the aspirational goals of our employees and team members. In addition supporting the added depth of existing competencies and acquisition of new competencies across a broader scope of such areas as Quality Assurance and Control, Regulatory, Supply Chain, Digital Transformation, Human Capital Management, Sustainability, Finance and Budget are crucial to compliment enterprise capabilities.

But an additional component which drives the quality to the conversation with a team member, is their ability to define their own aspirations and their willingness to take on learning above and beyond what the company may provide, A shared responsibility for learning and to support learning agility. A mutual understanding of the career growth journey is far from being just a ladder but a multi-directional experience that will create a strong engagement and meaningful relationships.
Which is why I was so interested this week to have the opportunity to revisit the concept of the “career lattice”. I suddenly realise this was a really nice visual characterization of how career growth through the acquisition of competencies and skills needs to take place for the future.

Image source: Cathy Benko, Molly Anderson, Suzanne Vickberg,”The Corporate Lattice – A strategic response to the changing world of work” Deloitte, 1 January, 2011


This development approach is important to our employees and team members and an important strategic investment in the future capabilities of our company. Working in Quality, my team is responsible for the Quality Management System we implement across the region and in the markets we operate.

One of my favourite sayings is that “The architects of our QMS in the future are the team members we have today”. The QMS is an important tool because it helps to translate international quality compliance requirements into processes and ways of working for the execution arm of our business in supply chain, logistics and operations. It is important to anticipate the changes that will be needed in the QMS in the future so that process change and subsequent training requirements can be planned for minimum disruption and optimum efficiency to the business and in the timeframe we choose, not have imposed upon us.
The QMS of the future needs to be able to accommodate all the changes we see in our working lives today – regulatory, supply chain, digital transformation, human capital management, sustainability – which are impacting our people, processes, infrastructure, systems, and technologies.

So our people now and in the future, must have the necessary competencies and skills, built through sustained engagement with business, supported by transparent models for career progression, to mutually achieve desired success in purpose and performance.[vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”]About the Author” heading_tag=”h5″ alignment=”left”]

Brett Marshall is the Vice President of Quality & HSSE at Zuellig Pharma, one of the largest healthcare services groups in Asia with a mission of making healthcare more accessible. He is a strong advocate of change for the Quality landscape in Asia. He actively drives more effective risk management in the Cold Chain, Supplier Management and digitisation opportunities driving to Industry 4.0 in the Quality space..


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