What Does My Supply Chain Career Look Like?

Professional Growth | September 12th, 2018

The career path of the typical supply chain professional today looks much different than it did just a decade ago. With supply chain’s vital role in today’s global business ecosystem, the supply chain professional is no longer simply the “purchasing person.”

Supply chain jobs and duties include a vast range of functions, including demand planning, fulfillment, inventory control, logistics, sourcing and warehousing.

Previously, entry-level professionals were not even trained in supply chain concepts. They were normally recent college grads who wanted a foot in the door at a company, with plans to move into marketing or other departments as soon as possible. Naturally, this scenario tended to be a source of friction between younger professionals and experienced supply chain professionals.

Happily, the supply chain industry and its career paths are much different today. Entry-level professionals getting into the industry have typically studied supply chain concepts and are choosing supply chain over other career paths.

Buyer and planners

Globalization and outsourcing have conspired to produce supply chains that are much more intricate and essential to company profitability. Supply chain optimization can push cost of goods and inventory down, driving profits up.

Due to that modern reality, the visibility of supply chain professionals within companies has risen significantly. Supply chain staff aren’t just placing purchase orders; they’re driving value throughout the entire company.

Even entry-level supply chain professionals can get a 360-degree view of the business they work for through their daily job duties. Buyers and planners routinely work with finance, product development, marketing and other departments. That type of visibility can be priceless to a young professional attempting to determine what’s next on their career path.

Middle management

Middle management is a true inflection point in the typical supply chain career path. Prior to this point, a supply chain doesn’t have an established specialization. An analyst, buyer or coordinator all have a much wider range of career possibilities than someone who has spent a few years as a purchasing manager or inventory manager.

However, if you’re in supply chain middle management and have been doing it for a handful of years, your future isn’t necessarily set in stone. Consider asking your employer to change your title to ‘supply chain manager.’ This avoids the appearance of specialization, broadening your career horizons. Or, perhaps you are already managing the supply chain and you simply need your job title updated.

Supply chain director

A supply chain director has probably held several supply chain positions and are considered the company’s supply chain expert. They have probably held multiple entry-level roles and multiple roles at the middle management level, resulting in a deep knowledge of purchasing, strategic sourcing, inventory control and other areas.

While this is the last title most supply chain professionals will ever attain, large companies often have upper executive positions that focus specifically on the supply chain.

Find a Supply Chain Job Today!

At ZDA, we regularly help ambitious supply chain professionals move up their career ladder. Please contact one of our top supply chain recruiters today to find out how we can help your career!

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