No matter how well you prepare for a new career, there’s always something unexpected to trip you up and make you wish you were better educated. This is especially true when starting a supply chain career, where success requires skills in a multitude of disciplines.
3 Key Points To Prepare You for Your Supply Chain Career
Before starting a supply chain career, it’s not easy to appreciate just how confusing (as well as exciting) the whole thing can be. This post is intended to prepare you a little; by highlighting three things which many supply chain professionals have told me they wish they’d known before their careers began.
1. The Diversity of Supply Chain Definition
As if it’s not hard enough to know exactly what area of supply chain you want to work in, every company has a different take on what the supply chain is, which functions are involved in it, and how its management fits in to the business generally.
One professional I spoke to recalled how he assumed that starting a supply chain career would be easy, since he’d earned a degree in logistics.
This professional made the mistake of limiting his view of supply chain to the movement and storage of goods and materials: a view which might have been realistic a couple of decades ago.
Today though, with many companies taking a more holistic view of their supply chains, procurement and even manufacturing can fall under the auspices of a supply chain leader, rather than being managed as individual functions.
2. Surprise! Supply Chains Are Not Chains (Any More)
When you’re starting a supply chain career, you might not be prepared for the complexities of balancing supply and demand in a global marketplace. Things have changed a lot over the last few years.
In fact, it can realistically be argued that the term “supply chain” is obsolete, because few supply networks take the simple, linear form that the label seems to suggest.
It’s really more accurate to talk in terms of supply networks, rather than chains, especially when you consider that a single company can have multiple supply chains, each of which may (probably will, in fact) comprise upstream suppliers and/or manufacturers, transportation and warehouse service providers, third and fourth-party logistics partners, and customers.
If you understand this fact before starting a supply chain career, you can at least prepare yourself—by undertaking some extra study if necessary—for the need to interact collaboratively with external organisations and to be comfortable managing activities which your company does not directly control.
3. You Need to Be a People Person
While most published information about supply chain matters is focused heavily on process, best practice and increasingly, the wealth of technology employed in modern supply chain management; there is relatively little which discusses the need to relate to people.
The reality is that no supply chain can exist without the teams of professionals who execute the processes, demonstrate the best practices, and operate all that technology.
I know many supply chain leaders who began their career after graduation, and were initially overwhelmed by the degree to which they had to demonstrate leadership, teamwork, and (the bit which catches most budding supply chain managers out) customer service skills.
Want More Supply Chain Career Tips?
I’ve shared the three insights above because they are all points which have caught new supply chain pros by surprise, as recounted in countless conversations at Supply Chain Leaders Academy events and in the course of my years in logistics and supply chain consulting.
At the Supply Chain Leaders Academy, we help you to avoid supply chain career surprises, by providing pragmatic, real-world-relevant education—the stuff you don’t get round to learning on a degree program.
If you’re an academy member, you can find masses of supply chain career insights, and learn about the people side of supply chain management in many of our 100-plus online eClasses, and at our workshop events held three times per year in Sydney.
If you’re not yet a member, and would like to know more, just contact us online or by phone and we’ll be delighted to answer your questions.