“How do I swap careers into Supply Chain” or “How do I get started on a career in Supply Chain”
I get a lot of people asking me this type of question from all over the World.
Often they’ve been working in a specific field for a few years like IT or HR and want to switch direction. Or, they might be studying at University and want to focus more on Supply Chain.
So here is the advice I generally give.
Firstly, be clear on what you want to achieve. What kind of career do you want to develop and where would you like to be in 10, 20 or 30 years time?
If you want to be the CEO of a Multi National Corporation (MNC) then a Supply Chain career might not be the best choice. CEOs have often worked in Finance or Law, rather than Supply Chain.
But of course for talented individuals there are always exceptions. A good friend of mine, Mark Powell, developed a very strong and impressive career in Supply Chain and become the CEO of a Major National Retailer. (The Warehouse Group) He has since moved on to various Board positions. But I think it’s the exception rather than the rule. And he is quite an exceptional character.
So first of all. be clear on your goals.
Then if you are set on a career in Supply Chain, which can be very rewarding in its own right of course, there are a few ways to get into it:
1. Core Education.
If you are already on a course of study, try to move into more Supply Chain related topics/subjects, as this will help with job hunting.
2. Additional Education.
Look at supplementing your core education with well recognised courses in Supply Chain related subjects. One of the best known and recognised is APICS. They are represented all over the World. But if they are not in your country, look at other local options, or maybe online education programs. (I have one but it is not certified.)
3. Work Experience.
It’s always hard to get that first job isn’t it? But don’t be afraid to start low down the ladder just to gain experience. 6-12 months working in a warehouse is valuable experience. And working with a 3PL company (3rd Party Logistics) will give you exposure to different industries.
4. Focus of Interest?
And think about your interests in Supply Chain, as you could take a few different career paths, such as:
- IT. Focusing on Supply Chain related systems such as WMS, TMS, S&OP and the like.
- Finance. With a focus on accounting, contract costing and performance.
- Operations. Moving up through Supervisor, Manager to Supply Chain Director. In terms of operations, starting off in the warehouse is probably better than starting off as a driver. It will give you more opportunity to progress.
I hope that gives you some ideas at least.
But I’m not really a career adviser! So do make sure you talk to a few different people to get a range of perspectives.