What Skills Do I Need To Work In The Supply Chain Industry
It depends on the role. The great thing is that supply chain roles demand a diverse range of skill sets, so the chances are you already have some skills that would help you be a success.
Good skills to have if you want to work in a supply chain management role include:
- The ability to seek out and identify trends in data
- Forecasting based on data
- Problem-solving skills, with the ability to be pragmatic and think on your feet
- Change management, especially in roles where you’ll be managing in all directions
On top of these skills, a commitment to continuing professional development is also vital. The global supply chain landscape is changing by the minute, so your skills and knowledge must remain sharp, too.
The Supply Chain Always Bounces Back
The bottom line is that new supply chain technologies are always emerging. So even when drastic global supply chain disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic occur, the supply chain always manages to bounce back. In fact, according to Forbes, the way businesses can best mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is by starting with implementing more resilience and intelligence into their respective supply chains. Some of the ways that supply chains have been re-imagined in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic include the acceleration of the digital supply chain, the placement of a stronger emphasis on the mapping of suppliers, and through the implementation of more sustainability in supply chains.
Ready to jump in to a career in supply chain management? Check out the UW Foster School of BusinessMaster of Supply Chain Management Program.
This post was originally published on October 22, 2018 by Victoria Pinheiro, MSc, and updated on January 31, 2020 by Olga Jimenez.
What Is The Role Of The Supply Chain Worker
Before we go any further, let us try to define the role of supply chain workers:
In the simplest terms, those connected to the supply chain industry are involved in one way or another in contributing to or managing the process of making or procuring goods and ensuring they reach the end-customer on time and in good order, with customer satisfaction and profitability being a priority.
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Supply Chain Management And Logistics Career Paths
According to data from the APICS Foundation, most supply chain professionals hold multiple roles across the supply chain as they advance in their careers. The nonlinear nature of the field of supply chain is a result of the importance of understanding supply chain processes from end to end.
However, thats not to say that supply chain professionals cant choose to specialize in one domain. In the image below, find a few examples of the possible supply chain management career paths.
As shown in this image, its possible to stay in one function of the supply chain or move across different areas as you move towards the c-suite. For example, you can start your career as a logistics resource planner, move up to logistics manager, then logistics director, and lastly enter the c-suite as chief supply chain officer.
At their core, these flexible pathways rely on fundamental business, operations, and project management skillsall of which are excellent entry points into the field. Areas like marketing and information systems also offer valuable transferable skills that, paired with supply chain fundamentals and other critical skills, prepare professionals to thrive in supply chain roles.
“Companies want people with diverse backgrounds. Theyre willing to train someone with an information systems background and turn them into a supply chain manager.”
Learn how to navigate the many career paths within supply chain management.
Procurement And Strategic Sourcing
The work environment varies depending on the role, and it can span between two extremes:
- Purchasing, quality assurance, planning, order processing, and production are usually in offices requiring minimal physical exertion, with little exposure to hazardous working conditions.
- Transportation, materials management and control, shipping/warehousing/distribution are usually in a shop floor environment, requiring physical exertion, with possible exposure to hazards.
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Prepare For A Career In Supply Chain Management
Whether you need a degree to back up a decade of experience or your background is in business and a new career interests you, you can advance in supply chain management with UNC Greensboros online programs.
The Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and Supply Chain Management prepares students for a career in the sourcing, production, and distribution of goods and services worldwide. You can earn your degree fully online through the concentration in Supply Chain Management.
If you have a bachelors degree in any discipline engineering, marketing, economics you can earn a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Supply Chain Management. This fully online graduate certificate program is 12 credit hours.
About Supply Chain ManagementThe BS in Supply Chain Management teaches you how to plan and organize for day-to-day operations, from how much material youll need each day to who needs to deliver them and when.
Your job is to plan what you need for the foreseeable future and maybe six months from now, says Dr. Larry Taube, associate professor and undergraduate programs director of the Bryan School of Business and Economics.
Supply chain management is about managing all the raw materials that go into production, transferring those materials into finished goods, and delivering them to customers on time, he says.
What Opportunities Are There To Gain Work Experience
You have a handful of options, depending on your situation:
- If you’re studying supply chain qualifications or are at college or university and considering a supply chain career, look for an internship. You will find internships on all the leading global jobs websites and LinkedIn, or you may write to specific companies asking if they offer such opportunities. If you’re studying a particular supply chain qualification, your education provider may provide a pathway to internships or work experience, too.
- Short-term internships may be available if you’re considering a career change, although these may be difficult to organise if you’re still working elsewhere.
- If you’re looking at moving roles with your current employer to work in supply chain, ask them about opportunities to try out different business areas and discuss your interests. Many employers even offer job swaps and similar initiatives to help employees explore career development opportunities.
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The Industry Is Growing Fast
Supply chain opportunities are expanding from both ends, from global sourcing of goods to distribution, sales, and fulfillment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that supply chain jobs are on the rise at twice the rate of all other jobs in the US. And, this isnt just a domestic trend. Shortages of skilled professionals have been reported in Hong Kong, China, and other Asian countries.
Better Living Through Sustainable Supply Chain Management
Professionals in supply chain management are becoming more and more important. Stiff competition and a push toward sustainability have necessitated inventive management. Despite the fact that many traditional manufacturing and trade roles are disappearing, supply chain managers are in high demand. A supply chain management education is the most effective foundation to launch your career in this exciting sector.
To follow a supply chain career path means possessing the soft skills and necessary qualifications, at undergraduate or graduate level. With Nexford, you can complete these courses from wherever you are, alongside your current work. Take the first steps in developing your skills for a successful supply chain management career.
Ready to get started? or book a call with our friendly Nexford Advisors!
About the Author
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Career Paths With High Demand: Supply Chain Management & Logistics
Supply Chain Management & Logistics is essential to industries worldwide, in fact, the supply chain industry is responsible for $26 trillion per year globally and is only forecasted to increase in demand. This industry requires focused, driven and smart individuals who are organized. There are not enough qualified people for the amount of jobs that are available since companies allocate a large percentage of funds towards their product being manufactured, moved and stored. Although Supply Chain Management has been around for decades, it has evolved with the demand for new products and booming industries.
Globalization is the reason for the expansion of the supply chain demands since companies are outsourcing their manufacturing to other countries to cut costs. However, this creates a more complex supply chain which means supply chain management needs to be educated properly to keep up with the more complicated system to make the correct decisions. Therefore, SCM is needed now more than ever to supply companies with quality products and services in a timely manner.
Does this career sound exciting? Here are a couple signs you have a bright future in this industry:
Are You Looking For The Right Talent For Your Organization
Supply Chain Canada, Ontario Institute has 4,000+ members, 2,000+ CSCMP recipients and a larger supply chain community of 10,000+ supply chain professionals. Get your job opening viewed by an engaged and high intent audience. Choose from a pool of experienced and highly skilled supply chain professionals. Dont let the supply chain talent shortage deter you from building a team that manifests growth.
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What Do You Learn In A Bachelors Or Masters Degree In Logistics & Scm
Logistics and Supply Chain Management degrees can be extremely valuable when looking for a job in this field. Whether to pursue this subject at Bachelors or Masters level depends on your specific educational background and career goals.
If you are already set on a career in Logistics or Supply Chain Management, taking a specialized undergraduate degree is a smart bet. These programs will enable you to acquire much more in-depth knowledge early on. This can give you a step-up on other students who take a more generalized Bachelor with only a few electives focused on Logistics or Supply Chain Management.
In addition, any SCM or Logistics Bachelor will still include subjects from other essential business areas in the first year or two, such as finance, marketing, and economics. However, by pursuing a more specialized degree, it will be harder to change careers later. Although, you may be able to adjust your curriculum if you become interested in a different career path, or if you decide to specialize in a particular sphere of SCM.
Overall, a typical Bachelors in this field will cover some or all of the following topics:
- Business Administration, Management, Accounting, Strategy
- Operations Management, Quantitative Business, Optimisation
- Supply Chain IT, Business Intelligence, Data Analytics
- International Trade, Law and Customs
- Cross-Cultural and Business Communication
- Sustainable Logistics, Corporate Social Responsibility
- …and more
The Ultimate Guide To Supply Chain Management And Logistics Careers
If youve been thinking about starting or transitioning into a career in supply chain or logistics, theres never been a better time.
Since the COVID-19-induced global supply chain disruption, organizations have turned focus to improving the efficiency and resiliency of their supply chains, increasing the demand for skilled talent across all levels.
In this guide, youll learn why a career in supply chain offers tremendous room for growth, tips for breaking into the field, and skills that can help you accelerate advancement.
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You’ll Improve Your Soft Skills And Enjoy Career Development Opportunities
There are some industries where working in them does little more than ensure that you’ll only ever do that job for the rest of your life.
In contrast, because you need such a diverse skill set to work in supply chain management, you’ll be working on your soft skills and developing as an individual every day.
Not only will this enhance your internal career development opportunities, but it’ll make you a more attractive candidate for recruiters if you ever decide to go and work elsewhere.
Diversity Of Supply Chain Roles
When you work in supply chain management, you could be:
- A procurement manager, working alongside supply chain planners sourcing raw materials
- Working in warehousing
- Involved in delivery fulfilment, either in terms of bulk freight or customer deliveries
- Overseeing optimisation of the broader value chain
This list could go on and on!
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Can I Do A Logistics Graduate Scheme
Within the retail sector a number of big-name companies offer graduate schemes in logistics, supply chain and distribution.
Department store Harrods provides a 15-month distribution scheme for those with a passion for retail logistics. You’ll gain an insight into shop floor functions and supply chain operations, with six months spent with the retail team in store and nine months spent working with the Knightsbridge and Thatcham distribution teams. You’ll also complete a management training programme.
Morrisons accept graduates with a 2:2 onto its two-year logistics and supply chain programme, where participants get to explore every aspect of international supply chains from forecasting, distribution planning and working in distribution sites, to merchandising and space planning for products.
Find out more about retail graduate schemes.
To catch the attention of employers you’ll need to show some experience of logistics and supply chains, either through previous or part-time work in the retail sector, industrial placements on your course, or through internships and work experience. Demonstrating strong commercial awareness and knowledge of the company will also stand you in good stead. Enthusiasm and attention to detail will also set you apart from the competition.
Top Strategies To Making A Career Change To Supply Chain
A career in Supply Chain can be fun, creative, rewarding, and smart for the long-term businesses will always need supply chain professional to manage information flow & product flow of their products, no matter what else changes in consumer behaviour or industry trends.
As the world quickly transforms and career paths are changing at the speed of light, you may find yourself interested in a supply chain career even without much formal training in it and thats normal. These days, not everyone ends up making a career in their college or university major. Personally, I was started my career as Textile Engineer before I decided to do my Masters in Management of Production from Chalmers University of Technology.
You may be working in a competency such as finance, manufacturing or warehousing yet want to switch to Supply Change Management. It may seem daunting and even inconceivable to take such a leap of faith without feeling as though there must be some sort of qualification to be done in order for the move to be successful.
Not necessarily, as proven when I hired someone called Scott Williamson as a distribution manager during my time as a Supply Chain Manager at one of my previous jobs in the UK.
At the point of interview, Scott was team leader technician, the natural first question I put to him was with no experience of supply chain why should I hire you.
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A Day In The Life Of A Supply Chain Manager Is Never Boring
Perhaps youve had jobs where you felt that every day dragged on, and you couldnt wait for the shift to be over. With a career in supply chain management, you can expect every day to be unpredictablefor better or for worse.
You often serve the role of firefighter as there are any number of events that create a crisis for those working in supply chain, says Bryce Bowman, founder of People First Planning. With so many moving parts, theres lots of room for scrambling. Bowman says a plant could go offline for unplanned maintenance or a critical shipment from a vendor could be delayed. These events often require you to take immediate action to minimize their impact, and you will have little advance notice.
I have operated a machine myself to keep the process moving, says Mike Wolfe, director of operations at Delgado Stone Distributors. When we have a deadline to meet, we make sure we meet it. No one wants to let the team or customer down.
While it can be challenging at times, this aspect of the career is also a highlight, according to Bowman. Your workday will often look quite different than you had envisioned when you left for the office that morning!
Robert Freeman Procurement Expert
Procurement, sourcing, and purchasing functions are part of the inbound supply chain, which is a great place to gain an understanding of how sales, service, and inventory management, and logistics mesh together in balancing supply with demand.
In procurement especially, you are likely to be involved in building contractual agreements with suppliers engaging in commercial negotiations over product price, supplier service, and accountability for inbound transportation of the purchased goods. Jobs involved in this aspect of supply chain management can comprise:
- Strategic Sourcing Manager
- Commodities Manager
- Category Manager
Entry level jobs in this functional area are often managerial, and therefore can make a good start point if you are a college or university graduate. As you look to reach a more senior level, you might seek promotion to become a regional or national Head of Procurement, Head of Purchasing, or Head of Strategic Sourcing.
Jobs at the giddier heights of sourcing and procurement include Director of Procurement or Director of Purchasing, or if you want to continue to the highest level, Chief Procurement Officer.
Alternatively, you can strike out for other areas of supply chain management at just about any stage. Its not at all uncommon for sourcing professionals to move sideways into logistics management or upwards to become supply chain executives.
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Building A Career In Supply Chain Management At Toyota
Last summer, I worked at Toyota North America as Buying Co-Op in Purchasing Supplier Development, where I had the opportunity to work on several projects, including pre-production sourcing. I learned a lot about purchasing, but most importantly, I learned the significance of maintaining good relationships with suppliers. At Toyota, theyre seen as partners rather than vendors, and that makes all the difference. Toyotas main pillars are Respect for People and Continuous Improvement. I got to see first-hand how these two principles played a significant role in how the company operated, and I knew that this was the kind of company culture I wanted to be a part of when I graduated. This past September, I was extended a full-time offer at Toyota North America upon graduation, and I started the first week of July. Even with all the chaos, its an exciting time to be working in the automotive industry!