Distinguished Lecture Series featuring John Karani

On Sept. 2, 2022, the chairman of the Kenya Institute of Supplies Management, John Karani, shared lessons on the institute’s “Journey Toward Supply Chain Management Professionalism.” It was the final event in CARISCA’s 2021-2022 Distinguished Lecture Series.

Six times a year, CARISCA invites top supply chain scholars and leaders to deliver presentations. These Distinguished Lectures give faculty and students access to inspiring role models, the latest ideas and approaches in supply chain research, and practical guidance for conducting and publishing research.

Karani provided an overview of how the supply chain management profession has evolved in Kenya since 2007, when the Kenya Institute of Supplies Management was created. Starting as a transaction-driven discipline, it is evolving into one driven by business strategy.

KISM’s vision is to develop empowered, competent and ethical supply chain management practitioners. The field needs “big-picture, entrepreneurial thinkers,” Karani said

The top two challenges the profession faces are corruption and stakeholder perceptions, Karani noted. Corruption arises from having a multiplicity of stakeholders with vested interests. It needs to be countered by strengthening values and ethics within the profession, he said.

Stakeholder perceptions are a top challenge because less than 10% of stakeholders and chief financial officers view supply chain management staff as leaders, according to a 2016 survey Karani cited. Many stakeholders view the procurement department as “paper-pushers.”

“We need to position ourselves as strategic rather than tactical,” Karani said.

“I look at this as a ministry,” he added. “What legacy do we want to bequeath to the next generation? Let’s elevate our game.”

About the speaker:

John Karani is passionate about entrenching integrity and credibility in the supply chain management profession. He also is committed to developing and inspiring the next generation of professionals.

In 2020, he was overwhelmingly elected to chair the Kenya Institute of Supplies Management in its inaugural election. The KISM’s mission is to train, register, license, discipline and regulate supply chain management practitioners throughout Kenya.

Karani is among the most seasoned Pan African supply chain practitioners. He led supply chain management across Africa for major blue-chip multinationals, including Coca-Cola, for over 27 years.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business/managerial economics from the University of Nairobi and an MBA from United States International University – Africa.