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How is Supply Chain as a domain ?

This question is for all the Supply Chain Professionals. How do you find this domain in terms of job prospects ? How did you get certified and gained work experience in this field ? Please share your experiences and any insights you can offer. Thanks.

#supply-chain #logistics #logistics-and-supply-chain #supply-chain-management


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Komal Gupta’s Answer

Supply Chain is a great field to work in. It has many elements and you could chose to be in any area.  Since ecommerce is really booming I do think this field will continue to grow. Great job prospects in this area. You could be involved with planning, forecasting, procurement, transportation, warehouse management etc. I started off as an engineer working at service center as Lead Engineer doing procurement as well. My interest in supply chain peaked then and I did a MBA specializing in supply chain. I have transition to procurement and hence supply chain completely at this point of time.  

I would suggest doing a degree specializing in supply chain or choosing more classes that revolve around this area. Interning in the supply chain area will help when you look for a fulltime career in this field as well. Once you get a job in a particular area of supply chain I would suggest keep switching roles so you get a broader experience in supply chain.


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Baker’s Answer

I am in agreeement with previous responses and add the following:

1 - Since you are a student, look into a SM program. Some universities don't offer this, yet it is becoming common and should be pursued if possible. If not available to you, then Business, Finance, or Industrial Engineering are my preferred UG degrees
2 - Try to get broad experience early. The posts above are about specific portions of SCM, yet there are many more disciplines to consider (procurement, inventory management, P2P, IT, eSourcing, etc). Try to get multiple roles in logistics, buying, material control, etc. This will help you achieve manager level opportunities

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Nick’s Answer

Hey Chadni,

The answer varies largely on the path you are interested in taking in Supply Chain and also location. My experience comes from working at the largest 3PL in the states, with my direct sites being in Columbus, Ohio.

There are many paths in Supply Chain that one can take. The best entry point from my experience is as an Operations Supervisor, which you can get into with just about any Bachelors degree, with more ease as a specialization in business. This starts you in the warehousing side where you will learn the basic operation of a warehouse building a team of associates and working to continuously improve your departments. From here you can continue down a long path of operations or split into an analyst position, inventory, and project management. There are also many entry level positions on the corporate side such as procurement, sales, and forecasting. There are many paths to go into, it just depends on which piece of pie you want to take a bite out of.

Second is location, which is dependent on which path you want to take from that mentioned above. If you go down the path of warehousing and operations, then you will easily find a position in any of the shipping hubs throughout the United States. Though warehouse are typically just outside of the city to stay away from congestion or near airports. If you follow the other side of Supply Chain, then those will be in just about any city.

I hope this helps and don't hesitate to ask more questions!

Best,

Nick

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Steve’s Answer

Supply Chain is a great career. Good for you to have a 4 year degree and yes you can earn a Supply Chain degree at colleges like ASU, or NC State.

Important for you to enjoy working with people (supplier contacts and internal stakeholder at your future company) as well as be ready to perform both tactical and strategic tasks during your day. The most compelling buzzword in Procurement/Supply Chain is Category Management even though it's been around for 20 years now. Category management is all about starting with a category like Consulting for example, gathering market intelligence on the category including supply (suppliers out there) and demand (buyers everywhere) side. Build out your category strategy and get input from your management along the route. Test your strategy with your tactical sourcing team (if you have one) to see how it will fit and work in the day to day operations. Check out Indirect Category Management on google for kicks and you be able to download and view all kinds of material that will be helpful to you in your quest to master the category.

Enjoy getting ready for a future role in Supply Chain category management.

Steve recommends the following next steps:

Check out Arizona State University - Supply Chain degree program.
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Joseph’s Answer

My best advice is that you seek education and job opportunities that not only include Supply Chain and Economics focus but also Information Technology. In my experience, what really differentiates Supply Chain professionals is a great understanding and experience in enabling processes via technology solutions. Many functions are being replaced by automation, marketplaces, business networks, crowd sourcing, etc... so the bridge between Supply Chain and technology is where I see the job opportunities going.

In my personal experience, I was able to take my expertise in procurement and sourcing and position myself on technology deployment projects related to optimizing these processes. This led to me owning the entire procurement transformation for my company which included people, process and technology. Now I advise companies on how to do the same. This would not have been possible without my experience in change management and technology enablement. I am also seeing a lot of old school Supply Chain focused companies starting to embrace procurement technologies as more become available to help with the collaboration between buyers and suppliers. Tactical processes will be automated so it is critical to position yourself on more strategic and high impact opportunities.

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Katy’s Answer

I personally specialize in forecasting but have managed warehouses, been a planner, worked logistics and expediting. I find the field exciting and rewarding but it can be stressful at times as Supply Chain Management is critical to any organizations success.

If you are looking into entering this field, I would advise starting in a planner or procurement role to begin to understand the general flow of product and the principles behind it. Things like inventory control, lean, safety stock planning and prioritization are all areas one must focus on and be good at in order to be successful in supply chain. Six Sigma training is also a plus.

A person entering this role should be a strong communicator who is able to prioritize and see long term. The field is one with infinite opportunity and I foresee it growing as we move into the future. From a forecasting perspective there is a high demand for people who are able to gauge risk against reward. Key characteristics would include the ability to handle stress, excellent communicator, ability to prioritize and see the big picture, long term thinker. The ability to disarm in stressful situations is also a big plus.

Good luck!

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David’s Answer

There are a ton of different areas of Supply Chain that you can work in/toward. From inventory, procurement, warehousing, transportation, category management, and international trade. Supply Chain groups are a essential part of any company and it takes a well oiled team to ensure its success.

Historically, I think experience has been the primary driving factor, but education and now the vast amount of certifications available are also a strong requirement for many roles in supply chain. My advice is to at a min if this an area you want to pursue a career in begin with a degree and work in the field for a few years then seek out certifications in areas that interest you.

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Janice’s Answer

Supply Chain is a good start for your career because Supply Chain Management Careers are some of the most expansive and diverse disciplines within the business world. Activities include demand planning, supply planning, procurement, order fulfillment, inventory management, logistics, manufacturing etc. Supply chain management professionals oversee materials, sales, information and finances as products or parts make their way from supplier to manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer to consumer. In addition to all the advancement potential in the industry, the earning potential is also looking bright.

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Hassan’s Answer

Supply chain is a fantastic domain and it is very exciting one too, however, supply chain alone wouldn’t bring a niche skill for you as there are many SCM graduates.

You should definitely look into additional areas like technology l, sustainability or risk, these are for the future of supply chain

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David’s Answer

There are a ton of different areas of Supply Chain that you can work in/toward. From inventory, procurement, warehousing, transportation, category management, and international trade. Supply Chain groups are a essential part of any company and it takes a well oiled team to ensure its success.

Historically, I think experience has been the primary driving factor, but education and now the vast amount of certifications available are also a strong requirement for many roles in supply chain. My advice is to at a min if this an area you want to pursue a career in begin with a degree and work in the field for a few years then seek out certifications in areas that interest you.

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Meng Joo (MJ)’s Answer

It's underrated. It's not high profile nor flashy, but it is critical in any company's operations. As we move into the digital age it increasingly becomes a differentiator & competitive advantage, especially in industries with leaner margins and high complexity. It's amazingly complex (people don't think about how much goes into making it work), but smooth operation is absolutely critical. Requires some structured thinking and ability to deal with complexity and changes - always challenging and rewarding


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Jake’s Answer

Supply chain as a domain is going to be extremely active with supply chain professionals being very valuable for a long time. The reason is – emergence of globally distributed outsourced manufacturing (Intel, Apple etc), 3PL operations (Fedex, UPS) and eCommerce with global customers (think Amazon, Alibaba).
Supply chain has Planning and Execution components and you could make your way through either paths. Personally I would recommend starting in the Execution space (Procurement, Order fulfillment, Warehousing operations etc) so that you get a good idea of how processes are executed. Then moving into the planning and forecasting space would provide a good grasp of the gaps between the two to really become an expert at it.
Companies like Amazon and Walmart excel at fulfillment operations and processes since that’s the lifeblood of their business. So working in their operations fulfillment centers would provide useful insights. However, once you understand the processes, you should start looking at other companies where you can employ the knowledge gained from these mega corporations (otherwise you are likely to stagnate).
There are multiple ways to get certified in supply chain. Check out Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) from APICS – a highly respected certification. In Canada, check out the SCMP (supply Chain management professional) certification from Supply Chain Management Association. There could be universities offering similar certification too.
One of the main things to do is stay engaged and network in the supply chain community locally where you can interact with professionals from the domain and take advantage of any warehouse visits etc that will allow you to get best practices in the domain. Another activity to research leading Supply chain management tools and find out how they enable better supply chain practices. Check out SAP’s Integrated Business Planning solution as an example.

Hope this helps and good luck with your future goals. Feel free to ask any more clarifying questions.
#supply-chain #apics #scma #sap-ibp

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Leonardo’s Answer

Short answer: Amazingly Complex. If you like to improve and optimize environments and process that is an amazing place to be! Digital Evolution is bringing a lot more possibilities to Supply Chain and projects of simulation that used to take a year to be done can now be done in weeks. That bring a completely new dynamic and new business discussions. I have been working in supply chain for 12 years now in different areas: Procurement, Supply Chain Optimization and Logistics Optimization and i love it !

Leonardo recommends the following next steps:

If you want to explore a little bit more supply chain on the ground, discover what kind of companies receive group visits and ask for joining a group. It is a great experience and an awesome way of starting your professional network :) Hope it helped!
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