January 31st, 2017

Carving a Path as a Supply Chain Professional

Say the phrase, “I’m a supply chain professional” to the average person and he or she might respond with, “That’s cool, but what do you do?”

Sure, we all know that there’s a process for getting our favorite products from the point of raw materials to store shelves or front porches. But what many people don’t realize is that for every execution of this process, there is a group of supply chain professionals behind the scenes making it happen.

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Which Path is Best to Become a Supply Chain Professional?

The career path of a supply chain professional varies. Most people graduate from college and start in entry-level supply chain jobs, while others work their way up as they go and learn the ropes on the job. Some effectively garner the required knowledge and skill sets along the way and still others shift over from related careers.

Professional association APICS lists several options for individuals who are interested in charting a successful path in supply chain. According to Peter A. Bolstorff, the organization’s executive VP, results of a recent survey of supply chain professionals helps paint a clearer picture.

The APICS study focuses on understanding the common career pathways. The study calls for an analysis of backgrounds, education, job experiences, and responsibilities of supply chain professionals. The results, as seen in the Infographic: Paths to becoming a supply chain managerreveal that there are many ways to gain the knowledge required for a supply chain manager position. It turns out that successful supply chain professionals come from varied backgrounds with diverse levels of education and experience.

The Supply Chain as a Business Asset

In profiling today’s supply chain professional, APICS finds that the field is dynamic, growing and increasingly complex. As a result, supply chain professionals are in high demand. Currently, the typical supply chain manager is a male (76 percent versus 24 percent female) aged 35 to 54, making between $75,000 and $149,999 annually.

According to APICS, most supply chain managers are with companies that have more than $2.5 billion in annual revenues. Also, 63 percent of those firms view supply chains as “a business asset and a way to achieve business goals.” Put simply, supply chain and logistics proves to be much more than an afterthought. Supply chain and logistics is seen as more of a strategic initiative that impacts the bottom-line.

Supply chain managers handle various job functions. From inventory control and transportation/logistics to sourcing and purchasing, these supply chain professionals do it all. The bulk of supply chain professionals hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In addition, a notable 50 percent hold degrees in business or supply chain management.

Sticking Around

In assessing the career longevity of the typical supply chain professional, APICS concludes that 60 percent have been in the industry for 15 years or more, with most starting in the following positions:

  • Supply chain (25 percent of professionals start their careers here)
  • Manufacturing (22 percent)
  • Engineering (12 percent)

It’s important to note that a supply chain pro’s education doesn’t end when he or she graduates from school. According to APICS, 79 percent of these professionals participate in some form of continuing education.

A recent survey captured the most popular continuing education options for supply chain professionals. Of those surveyed, supply chain strategy (54 percent), supply chain fundamentals (22 percent), and leadership development (20 percent) won out.

More to Come

There’s no question that the logistics industry is a key driver of economic development and business growth. This is a reality that’s not going away anytime soon.

We’re seeing increasing complexity due to globalization, virtualization, and regulation. These changes create a need for more talent. “And better talent,” writes SCDigest’s editorial staff in If You are in Supply Chain, You Made a Smart Career Choice.

The supply chain is a very good place to be for talented individuals. If you think you have what it takes to fill a roll in the supply chain, apply here.




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