Skill Level Appropriate for all
- What do you get if you combine contextual knowledge, subject matter expertise, and a strong professional network? You get a supply chain manager with stellar career prospects. So let me introduce you to the professional development dashboard I use to coach my teams and to guide my own development. Let's break professional development goals into three categories, contextual knowledge, subject matter expertise, and your professional network.
Contextual knowledge is your understanding of what's happening around you. This starts with understanding the general environment, and being familiar with current events. You can build your knowledge of the business environment with resources like Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, and CNBC. You also need to understand what's happening in and around your organization. That means knowing your strategic objectives and who your competitors are. Finally, you need to know what's happening in your department, and the projects and programs you're working on.
Subject matter expertise is your knowledge of your profession. For supply chain professionals, that can include tools like supply chain information systems. You also need to understand the rules of our profession, like industry regulations, customs requirements, and Incoterms. And in order to communicate with one another, we need to share a common language. Knowing the jargon helps you collaborate more effectively. Some of the best ways to build subject matter expertise are by reading, taking courses, and earning professional certifications.
The last area for development is your professional network. The first group of people you need to pull into your network are your peers, the people who are horizontal to you in the organizational chart. You also need to build relationships with people at other levels in the organization. If you're a manager, this includes the people who report to you, but it also means you need to connect with the people you report to and their bosses. Last but not least, you should build relationships with professionals outside of your company.
In my experience, the best way for supply chain professionals to network outside of their organization is by getting involved in professional associations. All of them have local meetings and large conferences where you can meet lots of people in a short period of time. Building a career is an ongoing journey, so you need to have a plan to keep yourself on track. By focusing on building your knowledge of the environment, growing your subject matter expertise, and expanding your network, you can be sure that you'll be staying current with the changes that are happening around you.
And you'll be prepared to take advantage of opportunities along the way.