China's manufacturing sector is evolving rapidly and that imposes fresh challenges on China-based supply chain managers as they seek to better serve globalised markets.

To help address these challenges, US networking giant Cisco has teamed up with Fudan University to create the Cisco-Fudan-Stanford Supply Chain Leadership Institute, which has officially launched its first training programme.

This week-long programme provides intensive training designed to help participants gain the skills necessary to operate as global leaders.

About 40 senior executives from multinational and local companies in China became the first participants in the week-long programme, which aims to help them find ways to improve their supply chain management capabilities.

A major emphasis will be on what is required to transform the traditional supply chain that makes and delivers products into a “value chain” that provides competitive advantage to a company and its customers.

As labour costs start to rise in China, the country's manufacturing sector knows it will to find ways to compete with emerging manufacturing nations on factors other than pure cost.

Improving product quality will help China move up the value chain but it require China-based companies to pay a lot more attention to supply chain issues.

Based at Fudan University, the CFS Supply Chain Leadership Institute is sponsored by Cisco and jointly developed as a collaboration between Cisco, the School of Management at Fudan University (FDSM) and the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Cisco's involvement in the initiative may surprise outsiders but Cisco is recognised as having one of the best supply chains in the world by industry leaders, including AMR Research, which ranked Cisco fifth in its recent Supply Chain Top 25 listing.

The School of Management at Fudan University (FDSM) has accumulated a solid foundation in the academic research of supply chain and logistical management. The Stanford Global Supply Chain Management Forum is a leading research institute that advances the theory and practice of excellence in global supply chain management.

Professor Hau L. Lee, an internationally known supply chain management scholar and director of the Stanford facility, is a faculty member with the new CFS centre. He said: “China is a rapidly developing new economy, which presents a varied set of developmental challenges and opportunities in terms of supply chains.”

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