Ralf Seifert

Ralf Seifert
Many supply chain executives worry about things like inventory, facilities, and channels of distribution, while the real challenge is decision making and having the right processes and information in place to inform such decisions.
Ralf Seifert

Ralf Seifert's primary research and teaching interests are operations management, supply chain strategy, and digital transformation. His work lies at the heart of one of the most important topics currently facing organizations as supply chains come under strain due to multiple global changes. He has also worked on industry analysis, competitive strategy, and new venture formation.


Seifert says supply chain management has grown tremendously in importance in recent years, and the agenda for supply chain executives has expanded massively. They must now address topics such as digital transformation, supply chain resilience, and sustainability in addition to worries around cost pressure, inflation, and new geopolitical constraints.


Recent supply chain tensions have been triggered by strong demand for goods at a time of significant supply chain disruptions. It is not clear if the world will ever return to a situation in which just-in-time inventory management is seen as the holy grail. Executives will have to master more profound supply chain transformations to safeguard future operations, he says.


Seifert is Director of IMD's Digital Supply Chain Management (DSCM) program, which addresses both traditional supply chain strategy and implementation issues concerning digitalization trends and new technologies. He also teaches in IMD’s MBA and Foundations for Business Leadership (FBL) programs and has designed and directed numerous company-specific general management programs.


He has actively coached more than 60 project teams and served as a consultant and speaker for various multinational companies. Based on his work with companies, he has co-authored more than 50 case studies on a wide range of organizations including adidas, Hema, Hilti, HP, LEGO, L'Oréal, Unilever, Sky Germany and Tetra Pak, and this work has been recognized by multiple international case awards.


Seifert has more than 100 articles and international conference presentations to his credit, including articles in prestigious journals such as Production and Operations Management, Operations Research, European Journal of Operational Research, IIE Transaction, Research Policy, and the International Journal of Production Economics.


He has also co-authored three managerial books. His most recent title The Digital Supply Chain Challenge: Breaking Through, published in 2020, acts as a handbook for supply chain executives faced with the challenges of being expected to understand all aspects of their companies' business while navigating the bewildering array of options presented by supply chain digitalization. His previous books focused on strategic supply chain management and on the obstacles encountered by technology start-ups.


Alongside his role at IMD, he is a tenured professor at EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, where he has held the Chair of Technology and Operations Management since 2003.


Before joining IMD, Seifert studied and worked in Germany, Japan, and the US. While in the US, he consulted for Hewlett-Packard and served as a teaching and research assistant at Stanford University. In Germany, he worked for Booz & Company (now Strategy&), McKinsey & Company, and Freudenberg & Co. His studies included one year as a visiting scholar at Waseda University in Tokyo.

Selected publications

Limiting the impact of supply chain disruptions in the face of distributional uncertainty in demand (Production and Operations Management, 2022)

What now for supply chains? Inflation, e-commerce and over-stocking are all driving change (I by IMD, 2022)

Supply chain: Cracking down on the bullwhip effect (Supply Chain Movement, 2022)

Tesla supply chain: From cautionary tale to role model (I by IMD, 2022)

Supply chains aren’t broken, it’s more a question of demand (I by IMD, 2021)

Can AI deliver tangible benefits to demand forecasting? (IMD, 2020)

The Digital Supply Chain Challenge: Breaking Through (IMD, 2020)

Strategic Supply Chain Management (Routledge, 2012)

Nurturing Science-Based Startups: An International Case Perspective (Springer Verlag, 2008)



Winner of EFMD Case Writing Competition Awards (2003, 2009, 2012, 2018 and 2020)

ECCH Case Award winner (2006 and 2011)

Production and Operations Management Society award (2004)



Diplom Ingenieur degree (Mechanical Engineering)

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology


Master's degree (Integrated Manufacturing Systems Engineering)

North Carolina State University


MS (Management Science)

Stanford University


PhD (Management Science)

Stanford University

Digital Supply Chain Management
For experienced executives working in procurement, supply-chain management and operations who want to develop an agile, customer responsive and profitable supply chain. Here are your key program benefits:
Foundations for Business Leadership
For professionals wanting to develop cross-functional business skills to become an effective general manager/ business leader. Typical profiles include: Country Manager, Regional Manager, Business Lead, Functional Manager, Department Manager.
Orchestrating Winning Performance
IMD's signature program, OWP, brings you the latest business trends, thought leadership and insights to revitalize your business, drive innovation and lead you forward. Fully customizable schedule. For executives and teams.
All IMD programs
Ralf Seifert's Publications
Wistful cosmetics: Designing supply chain resilience
Case study
L'Oréal: The beauty of supply chain digitalization
Case study
Supply chains aren’t broken, it’s more a question of demand
I by IMD
No, AI has not killed supply chain management
I by IMD
How a semiconductor shortage was a surprise late entry to the pandemic chaos
I by IMD
Industry 4.0 and COVID-19: why the pandemic might have provided a clearing in the woods