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Supply Chain Matters Guest Posting: A Perspective on Supply Chain Management Skills in Demand

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The following Supply Chain Matters guest posting comes from Bronwen Hann, the president of Argentus Talent Acquisition, a specialist recruitment firm based in Toronto, Canada that finds Supply Chain Jobs for superstar candidates. (Twitter: @ArgentusTalent)

 

As a boutique recruiter who has specialized in supply chain management recruitment for more than 12 years, my firm is on the front line of the skills shortage that Supply Chain Matters continues to identify in its ongoing commentaries. We’re seeing an across-the-board shortage in qualified candidates for the many positions that organizations are looking to fill. There’s still a perception that supply chain management is a blue-collar transactional function within a company. In fact, supply chain management has rightfully achieved a seat at the board room table. This disparity between perception and reality makes it so that candidates with the right mix of technical, analytical, strategic, and presentations skills are in extremely high demand.

As the baby boomer generation retires over the next 7-10 years, this demand will only increase. On the other end, young people are simply not aware that supply chain management is an excellent career with huge growth potential. Every single company that brings a product to market has a supply chain, and yet high schools and universities aren’t doing enough to market the field to young people. The field has become so advanced that there’s a much higher educational and technological requirement that employers seek. These factors combine to make it so that young people aren’t graduating with the degrees and skills that employers are looking for. At the same time, many people who are already in the field often don’t have the formal education in supply chain that companies want to see when filling more strategic roles.

Here’s an example of a type of role that’s really hard for us to fill right now: a Supply Chain Analyst. Companies want people with 3-5 years of experience, with a blend of analytic, strategic, and presentation skills. They seek people who can do analytics, but also interface with stakeholders in a meaningful way. We’re seeing many candidates who have great technical skills, but less strong interpersonal and communications skills. Companies want high performers who have the potential to move into strategic sourcing roles, and these “soft skills” are what sets those candidates apart. In our recruitment practice, they’re also hard to find.

There are a few things candidates can do to market themselves and add appeal to employers. One would be to focus on continuing education by earning professional designations in different functions within the supply chain. In addition, they should spend time honing their “soft skills:” networking, writing, communication, presentation. These assets show potential employers that you’re both well-rounded and eager to advance your career.

Note: Supply Chain Matters extends an invitation to other global based recruitment professionals who cater to recruitment of supply chain management talent to submit other guest commentaries that reflect on filling required skill gaps from employers.  Send an email to: info <at sign>supply-chain-matters <dot> com with your ideas.

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  1. Nicholas Lozano says:

    This article displays a realization of a underlying issue that many companies face when trying to grow their supply chain with newly minted graduates. The lack of a national infrastructure of supply chain education leaves those graduates with less polish than those of their accounting and finance companions. The advancement of the field itself requires a vast understanding of technical, analytical, and personal skills from a education system that is still in its infancy in creating a foundation to build off of. I believe that the first institution to invest heavily in creating a top flight supply chain department that learns to adapt and change with the variable demands of the supply chain world will be rewarded with the most coveted and sought after gradutates by the top logistical companies. This will require a well-rounded syllabus and equal stressing on the technical, analytical, and communication aspects of business, instead of merely focusing on the logistical aspect of supply chain. Needless to say, a number of bases will have to be covered, but in the end the dividends will be seen by the university, the graduate, and the company.

  2. Bob Ferrari says:

    Nicholas,

    Thanks so much for sharing the academic perspectives for preparing students for rewarding careers in supply chain management.

    I totally agree with the statement that the advancement of the field requires a vast understanding of the technical, analytical and personal skills required in today’s workplace settings. I would add that from my perspective, colleges and universities need to also broaden the curriculum to include more a more inter-disciplinary focus that blends functional and team leadership skills.

    Dividends will indeed be paid to those institutions that broaden the skills curriculum.

    Thanks again for sharing your comments.

    Bob Ferrari