It can be tough when you’re just starting out in the supply chain industry, which is rapidly growing and becoming very competitive. If you’re just starting out in your career, you’re probably going to have to “earn your stripes” before you can move on and move up. Here are four tips on how you can follow a successful career path in the supply chain and logistics field:
1) Visit the frontlines.
Being a successful supply chain professional means you have to leave your cubicle sometimes! Visit the manufacturing lines, talk to the supervisors and even volunteer to help out—so you can find out firsthand what it’s like to fall behind schedule because a critical piece of equipment goes down or you don’t have enough people to cover a shift. You also may be able to see solutions to a productivity problem, or figure out how to streamline processes.
2) Ask questions—or ask for help.
Even if you graduated from a prestigious school, you’re not going to know all the answers when you first get a job. Book knowledge doesn’t always translate to what happens in the real world, plus there’s nothing like solid experience to really educate you. So don’t be afraid to ask questions! And don’t try to do everything on your own, especially if you’re taking on a new task. Working with others will help you come up the learning curve faster, and get your tasks done faster too.
3) Develop relationships.
Yes, technology and business processes are major, but you still need to remember the most important element of supply chain management: people. Get to know your colleagues, your customers and your suppliers. Maintain contact with them, engage in honest communication and avoid surprises. Provide help or favors when requested. In other words, take the time and effort to build strong working relationships.
4) Think like a CEO or CFO.
You need to learn to speak the language of the C suite. If you can’t read and understand an income statement or balance sheet — or understand how supply chain impacts financial metrics — then you won’t understand the value of your role to the company’s executives. If you didn’t take any accounting or finance classes in school, take one now. Read your company’s financial reports to understand the main drivers of financial performance, and then look for ways that better supply chain management can positively influence those drivers.
Still looking to get started in your supply chain career? They always say it’s who you know—so get to know ZDA Supply Chain Recruiting! We have the experience and the connections to help you find just the right job to start on, or help you along, a successful supply chain career path.