Hiring Advice; Professional Growth
Professional Growth

How To: Work Your Way up the Supply Chain

In this increasingly global economy, skilled supply chain professionals will be in continuous demand. How can you make sure your supply chain career is following the right path?

If you’re still in school

If you want to get into supply chain management, hopefully your college offers certification in supply chain and logistics, if not a supply chain management program. A well-rounded program will offer classes in the three main areas of supply chain management: manufacturing/operations, purchasing/procurement, and transportation/logistics. Add in traditional business courses plus statistics, which will help with analysis and institutional forecasting down the road. As for foreign languages, Mandarin and Spanish may come in most handy.

If you’ve already started your supply chain career

A “typical” career path, if there is such a thing, often starts with an internship, then an entry-level job. After a few years, you’d move into a position where you manage people, then after a few more years, you may achieve a General Manager or Director position. You may want to pick up certifications in APICS, Six Sigma or SAP along the way—with luck, your employer will pay for them.

The trick is to become well-rounded. Gaining experience in various aspects of the industry is key. You may start in transportation, then try a position in the operations or sales sides to see how their functions fit into the whole. Or look for opportunities to work on a cross-functional team with members from Marketing, Finance, Engineering or R&D. Another way to get important experience is by working with facilities that have locations in a different country or on a different continent.

There are differences between working for a large, national or international supply chain company compared to a smaller, regional one. In a small company you’ll find yourself closer to the vendors and closer to the issues and the decisions that are made. In larger companies, you’ll probably have one function and will need to network and make contacts in order to switch positions.

Do you need to look for another job?

When you’re trying to figure out where to go next, remember that different companies have supply chain functions under different departments. Some have a complete supply chain department, while others place it under Finance or Marketing. And if you want to research the “rock stars” in the industry, you can find out who they are by joining organizations like theCouncil of Supply Chain Management, the American Society of Transportation & Logistics, the Institute of Business Forecasting & Planning and APICS.

Or, one of the best ways to ensure that you’re always in the right type of supply chain job at the right type of company is to partner with an experienced recruiter that specializes in the supply chain industry, like ZDA Supply Chain Recruiting in Denver. Establishing and developing a relationship with us will mean that new opportunities are open to you, sometimes before you know you need them! With our knowledge of the industry, we can help you find the right-sized company that has the advancement opportunities you’re looking for. And if you’re still not sure where you want to go, we can work with you to chart a path. We stay in touch with our candidates, so we are always ready to work with you when you need us. Contact us today for more information!

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