Why Pursue a Career in the Supply Chain Industry, Anyways?

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For the past two years, the supply chain ecosystem at large has seen lots of disruptions: pandemics, natural disasters, resource shortages, global trade conflicts, and other unpredictable events. There will always be disruption of some sort and these are testing different organizations’ resiliency, flexibility, and agility from the company’s operations and finance to its organizational structure.

While the global supply chains are dealing with disruption, no crisis is going to waste but will accelerate the future and the new generation of leaders in supply chain will need to live with a foot into the future, to be successful in running the supply chains of the world in a sustainable and cost-efficient way.

Why pursue a Career in the Supply Chain industry, anyways?

There are multiple angles to look at why the supply chain industry is a very happening industry, perhaps similar to what the IT industry was a few decades ago. 

Just by reading the daily news, supply chains are present more than ever, and this is because of their impact on individual large MNCs, or entire industries’ profit numbers – if we look at the chip shortages, and on economies overall. Supply chain industries are linked to multiple industries and they enable the innovations created to be converted into real economical impact. The 2018 article by Harvard Business Review, explains with a very clear example relating to the semiconductor invention and the role the supply chains played:

Think, for example, about the semiconductor, a general purpose technology, which went from an invention developed in the supply chain by Intel to be in almost every consumer technology imaginable. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a government and industry partnership called SEMATECH identified technical barriers and developed a roadmap for diffusing semiconductor technology, in what is considered one of the most successful industrial policy interventions in recent years. In fact, our analysis shows that semiconductors are sold to over 60% of U.S. industries.

Citing one of our Leaders in Supply Chain Podcast guests, Ivanka Janssen, Chief Supply Chain Officer of Philips, Episode #122: Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics Podcast

“I believe that supply chain and logistics is the future. That is where the competitive edge is going to be created if you’re able to really orchestrate the supply chain in such a way that you’re extremely agile, fast, and always have the customer at heart in everything you do.”

2022 workforce surveys show that most people look for fulfilling and meaningful careers, where they can make a positive impact on the world or local communities. 

Radu Palamariu, Managing Directors Asia Pacific and Europe, of Alcott Global, said in an interview:

If our supply chain fails, our business crumbles, so it’s probably never been a better time to be a supply chain executive or logistics executive and, at the same time, it’s probably never been a harder time to keep your people because ultimately there’s going to be plenty of options and everybody’s fighting for the same talent.“

There are clearly many challenges that supply chain industries are faced with, and this just means that there are so many opportunities to make a difference. From the entry-level to the top management of supply chains, there is so much purpose in the work contributed by each individual. In a connected world, it is because of the smooth supply chain operations, that basic supplies are available in the stores and supermarkets, that medicines and medical devices are reaching their destinations while traveling in conditions aligned to their technical specifications.

The supply chain, in most MNCs, are large organizations that include a variety of roles from the more traditional ones, in the factories, and warehouses to very new roles with an emphasis on technologies that support the well functioning of the supply chains through planning, visibility, and real-time inventories.

Going further, the operations and supply chain context has changed so much in the past years, that in the near future, it might become a straightforward career path from a Chief Operations Officer (COO), or Chief Supply Chain Officer (CSCO) roles to CEO. According to Radu Palamariu, Managing Director Asia Pacific of Alcott Global and Francisco Betti, Head of Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production at World Economic Forum, in an article published in Forbes, in 2021, this makes total sense for three reasons:

    1. Operations and supply chains make or break businesses
      We live in a time of disruption, where businesses need to be resilient, and flexible to innovate, in order to be successful.
      COOs and CSCOs have already experienced the need to build organizational resilience and lay foundations for growth and new business models
    2. Leading digital transformation
      COOs and CSCOs are currently leading the major technology integrations into the companies’ operations, to increase productivity and growth, offer a better customer experience, and progress on the way to net-zero. Well, this checks pretty much the missions of pretty much all large organizations.
    3. Addressing balanced stakeholder capitalism
      Measuring companies’ performance based on top-line and bottom-line is transforming into a performance balanced between sustainability, revenue, and people. “COOs and CSCOs are delivering on the balanced stakeholder capitalism promise and imperative. They not only know the importance of this promise, they also know “how to” transform businesses in order to make it happen.



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