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Build a Strong Career in Supply Chain Management

Feb. 17, 2023
Here’s everything you need to know to get off on the right foot.

A career in supply chain management is lucrative and future-proof. At its core, it involves tracking how services and products are manufactured, transported and distributed—an integral part of a highly globalized world. The industry is also ever-growing, with the global supply chain management market valued at $18,445 million in 2022 and projected to keep expanding at a CAGR of 10.9% between 2022 and 2030. As such, it’s an industry that will always be in demand. If you’re looking to build a career in supply chain management, here are a few things you'll need.

The Proper Credentials

Your career begins with your education. That’s why one of the best ways to gain a firm footing in the industry is to acquire a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. You can get a degree in supply chain management, but you can also benefit from a background in business, finance and engineering, all of which are all integral to the industry.

The right education can open up broader opportunities you can use to further solidify your credentials. You can take up internships to introduce you to the industry and help you build a network of meaningful connections. You can also try apprenticeships, which allow you to work closely with experts and understand how to apply the principles you learn in real-life contexts. This helps equip you with the knowledge you otherwise would not have learned in school.

You can become an even more competitive candidate for supply chain management jobs by earning certifications. Getting certified by prestigious institutions like the Association for Supply Chain Management or the Institute for Supply Management will show prospective employers that your skills and qualifications are more than enough to meet industry standards. By strengthening your qualifications in these ways, you can acquire the best opportunities to nab your dream job in supply chain management.

Digital Skills

Supply chain management is an ever-evolving field. To appeal to the most prominent companies in the industry, you must possess the most in-demand skills relevant to the latest developments in the field. Today, modern supply chain companies are adjusting to an increasingly digitalized world by adopting innovative and emerging technologies to heighten efficiency, reduce costs and lower the chances of human error.

Take artificial intelligence, which has been transformative in automating mundane and repetitive tasks. This allows employees to focus on solving problems that require creativity and innovation. Other technologies the industry is using to this end are big data, cloud computing and the Internet of Things.

The increasing use of these technologies means that a marketable supply chain and logistics candidate must have impressive digital skills, as well as a good understanding of IT and technology, to make it in the industry. In fact, the McKinsey survey "Transforming Supply Chains" found that as far back as 2021, 99% of global supply chain leaders needed more digital in-house talent. To meet this need and effectively build a career in supply chain management, you'll have to do more than get the right education for the job — you'll also have to specialize.

Take certification courses focusing solely on what you want to learn, whether it be automation or virtual and augmented reality. Seek mentorship or training from your superiors or secure internships in companies where you can hone your digital skills. Lastly, consider getting involved in projects that use these technologies so you can learn firsthand how they are applied. Your experience in all these endeavors can be used to further bolster your resume and pave your career path in the industry.

Soft Skills

Supply chain management has historically been marked as a highly technical field. But today, most industries recognize the importance of soft skills among their candidates. CNBC states that although hard skills capture recruiters’ attention, your soft skills land you the job. Considering how innovative your solutions have to be and how stressful and competitive your environment may get, good time management, interpersonal skills, communication and problem-solving qualities will allow you to calmly and effectively overcome challenges on the job. The good news is that, like all skills, you can cultivate them over time as you work.

For example, you can involve yourself in as many collaborative projects as possible to hone how you communicate, manage tasks and cultivate your capacity to contribute as a team member. Another thing you can do is step out of your comfort zone and insert yourself into new situations that may be unfamiliar to you. By doing so, you'll learn how to handle stress, conflict and criticism better by pushing yourself to do more.

However, one thing you must do is actively seek and be receptive to feedback from peers or superiors. Being open to criticism helps you understand where you did well, where you can do better and what potential areas of your work you might need to improve. By actively putting yourself in positions that challenge your soft skills, you achieve self-improvement and address future problems more easily.

In short, supply chain management is flourishing in a highly digitalized world. You can start on a long and fruitful career path by understanding how to cultivate the relevant skills.

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About the Author

Christine Donovan

Christine Donovan is a freelance business writer.