August 15th, 2016

How to Cultivate Your Supply Chain Talent Pipeline

Five solid strategies that you can start using today to fill your company’s supply chain talent pipeline 

Once a collection of jobs that fell under an organization’s logistics and procurement functions, supply chain management used to be the domain of corporate managers who were charged with executing leadership decisions.

Now, companies are consolidating these functions within high-level leadership, pushing the positions up the executive ladder, and seeking wide-ranging skills to construct global and complex supply chains, according to WSJ’s Companies See ‘Massive Shift’ in Search for Supply Chain Talent“The supply chain industry is undergoing one of the most massive talent shifts we have ever seen,” said Cisco’s John Kern at a 2015 industry conference.

Pipeline #SupplyChain talent via @ajilon:

Just as supply chain management is gaining stature within enterprises, many organizations are confronting critical shortfalls of talent, according to a recent Deloitte report. “Years of headcount reduction, training budget cuts, and the retirement of highly skilled individuals have hollowed out the ranks of veteran professionals. New graduates, despite the growing number of supply chain programs, emerge from universities in what seems like a trickle.”

Filling the Pipeline

Just because the supply chain talent shortage is in full swing doesn’t mean there aren’t some steps that you can take to keep your company’s pipeline of talented logistics professionals full. Here are five strategies that other companies are already using to shore up their talent stables and push forward with their global supply chain goals:

Create a positive corporate culture.

It goes without say that a positive, nurturing corporate culture can help of all sizes—and across all industries—find, cultivate, and retain valued talent. “By cultivating positive culture within the organization, supply chains can attract skilled, like-minded colleagues,” said the LEGACY Center’s Ruth Lund in Supply Chain Talent Shortage: Increased Supply Chain Complexity Outstrips Traditional Skillsets.“People want to work in a healthy environment. They love it, they absolutely love it.”

Enlist the help of a talent recruiter.

According to Deloitte’s 2015 supply chain survey, more companies than ever see talent recruiters/practices as a viable way to attract new talent. In fact, roughly half of executives surveyed expect their companies to use talent practices more over the next five years, with those who are working for supply chain leaders being “somewhat more likely” to increased their use of outside recruiters.

Explore non-traditional recruiting methods.

Deloitte points to Cisco’s decision to target “passive job seekers” about 10 years ago as one of the company’s best supply chain talent management decisions. It worked like this: the firm approached people who were satisfied in their current positions—but who could be persuaded to take a more attractive position—and then used focus groups to uncover patterns in how they spent their time outside work. Then, Cisco sent recruiters to those places to strike up informal acquaintances with potential recruits. “Today,” Deloitte added, “many more organizations are realizing it will take this kind of out-of-the-box thinking to recruit the talent needed for supply chain excellence.”

Create comprehensive skill and development plans.

In Supply Chain Talent, Our Greatest Resource, the University of Tennessee singled out effective skill and development plans as crucial components of any supply chain talent development approach. “Start by defining the skills needed to be successful in the end-to-end supply chain, in a particular supply chain discipline, and in specific job roles,” advised author Shay Scott, Ph.D. “This requires an ongoing effort by leadership and human resources to align, document, and communicate these skills as supply chains evolve.”

Hire for the overall supply chain.

According to the University of Tennessee, effective organizations view technical mastery as a threshold skill and focus on identifying candidates who can see the overall, integrated supply system. To effectively hire for the overall supply chain, seek out talent that is capable of succeeding in multiple business functions, Scott writes, noting that this approach has the added benefit of boosting retention (e.g., because people will want a career with a company.

By taking these steps, and by putting time and effort into honing your company’s approach to finding and hiring supply chain professionals, you’ll be able to buck the talent shortage trend and continue developing a strong supply chain for the future.

Do you have a pipeline of supply chain talent ready? Check out our interactive infographic for more information on filling the skills gap. 



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