So you want to become a Supply Chain Manager? We can’t say we’re surprised, as the supply chain landscape is developing at an accelerated (and highly attractive) rate. With the increasingly complex and multi-faceted work on offer, both pay and positions within supply chain are becoming ever more lucrative. In fact, depending on experience and industry, senior supply chain jobs now offer anywhere between £40 – £85k within permanent roles and as much as £350 – £500 per day within interim positions.
With much of the UK’s top talent now focusing its attention on supply chain, competition for high-flying jobs is fierce. So, to help you become a Supply Chain Manager and win the average starting salary of £42,500, we’ve compiled a list of actionable tips for climbing the supply chain career ladder.
Start with an accomplishment-based CV
The days when supply chains were thought to be blue-collar business functions are long gone. It’s a well-recognised fact that supply chains are essential not only to the operational success and sustained profitability of companies, but also to the very infrastructure of consumer societies. With that in mind, the CV of an aspiring Supply Chain Manager needs to demonstrate just how much impact your work makes.
So, put your worth on the table with a CV that takes the focus away from duties and responsibilities and on to your specific, value-added achievements. ‘Functional’ CVs are still far too common in supply chain, and the plain fact is that a functional CV is not concrete enough to win anybody a senior job. Hiring managers don’t want to see a job description, no matter how impressive. They want to see metrics, numbers and quantifiable figures that prove the difference you made within each supply chain role. Include statistics and data that show precisely how much you’ve managed to reduce inventory turns or achieved savings so that you’re always demonstrating rather than describing.
With a CV that is accomplishment-optimised, you will put yourself in a drastically improved stead for winning a sought-after Supply Chain Manager role.
Never stop growing your technical skills
As globalisation ramps up the complexity of supply chains, new technology is regularly being developed to help manage ever-expanding international networks. All supply chain professionals are now expected to have at least a basic level of technical skills. To be a Supply Chain Manager, you don’t necessarily need to have in-depth expertise with multiple IT systems, but you do need to have knowledge of the various technologies available and a willingness to learn.
For example, many businesses are in the process of moving away from traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and into cloud-based collaboration platforms. Whilst you wouldn’t have to be an experienced user of such platforms, awareness of next-generation technology tools is important. Employers are looking to hire supply chain professionals who can orchestrate their networks of trading partners in a way which is efficient and scalable, and technology is a big part of this. If you can demonstrate that your knowledge of cutting-edge tools is current, you’ll show your genuine interest in the field as well as your potential to save the business money further down the line.
Diversify your areas of expertise
Supply chain management is everywhere. To be considered for a Supply Chain Manager role, it’s not enough to be a specialist within your niche field alone: you also need a flexible skillset to complement the principal functions of the role. Though you still need to know how to handle essential tasks such as inventory management, warehousing and logistics, you also need to be able to formulate strategy and play an influential role in product segmentation, relationship development and business forecasting.
A successful Supply Chain Manager is essential to each aspect of putting products into consumers’ hands and as such must be able to coordinate the end-to-end supply chain process. This means that if you truly want to land those top tier supply chain jobs, you need to sharpen your process expertise as well as your functional competence. Embrace cross-functionality and get to grips with the complexity of your company’s structure, getting actively involved with as many aspects of supply chain as you possibly can. Only by doing so will you build the comprehensive knowledge base that set Supply Chain Managers apart.
Keep a focus on simplicity
The very intricacy of supply chains can make it difficult to work with simplicity in mind. However, as Apple’s first marketing brochure says: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. As a Supply Chain Manager, it is your job to cut through the complexity and strip out any unnecessary products or procedures – in doing so reducing costs and streamlining process.
In your bid to secure maximum resource utilisation, you need to have the kind of meticulous attention to detail required to supervise things like production capacity issues, order schedules, raw material distribution and warehousing space limitations. However, to win a management role, you also need far-reaching vision that can review and simplify these processes, implementing value-added changes wherever necessary.
Hone your communication skills
Leading supply chain professionals not only influence stakeholders, they’re also increasingly a part of boardroom decision-making. For anyone aspiring to be a Supply Chain Manager, this means that you need to be comfortable communicating and reporting at C-suite level. As well as your ability to get out on the floor and talk about fleet-truck efficiency and delivery schedules, you also need to speak an executive language and report on everything from P&L to cash flow.
Plus, successful negotiation is integral to senior supply chain jobs. Supply chain leaders must be able to foster effective, productive and ultimately profitable relationships with suppliers, negotiating and managing contracts to achieve significant savings. This cannot be achieved without excellent interpersonal skills, and so any professional looking to climb the career ladder should focus on compelling communication.
Always be action-driven
In order to operate successfully in a constantly shifting and pressurised market, supply chains need to be fast-paced and agile. In turn, Supply Chain Managers need to respond quickly, calmly and competently to any sudden demand changes or unanticipated supply disruptions. Those who succeed in supply chain demonstrate a ‘can-do’, process driven and results focused attitude: get this right and you’ll soon get your promotion.
Becoming a Supply Chain Manager is an ambitious goal, but it’s also one which is achievable for the truly committed professional. With supply chain jobs currently booming, now is the time to sharpen your focus and work your way to a red-hot role.