Review multiple career paths (matrices) for operations professionals, including planning, project management, logistics, purchasing, and education. Look at ways to match your interests and abilities with the requirements of different jobs.
- Working in supply chains is fun. But the field is so broad that you need to make your own choices about where you want to go and how you're going to get there. Let's take a look at a range of jobs across the supply chain, and how you can navigate through them to create your own career. You can break most supply chain roles into three functions: purchasing, logistics and operations. For retail companies, operations involve running the stores. For manufacturing companies, operations involves running a factory.
And for distribution companies, operations is basically the same thing as logistics. In each of these functions, there are career ladders. The first rung on the ladder are associates. The next rungs are supervisors, managers, directors and vice presidents. The top of the ladder will be a chief supply chain officer or a chief operations officer. The higher you go up these ladders, the more money you'll earn. But there are also fewer jobs near the top, so it becomes harder to advance.
And the higher you go, the more important it is to understand how your function interacts with the other functions in the supply chain. So rather than climbing one ladder, it might be better to think about mapping your career with a matrix. Moving both horizontally and vertically will give you insights and credibility that make you a stronger candidate for senior roles. While some of the skills required on each career ladder are unique to that function, others are equally valuable on all of them.
For example, knowing how to use spreadsheets and analyze data is a critical skillset on all three ladders, and so are project management and leadership. Where can you get the skills to be successful in a supply chain career? Well, of course this site is a great resource. You can check out my courses as well as the courses by Eddie Davila, Steven Brown and others. You can earn a certificate or a degree from a community college or university, or sign up for advanced online programs like MIT's MicroMasters in Supply Chain Management.
You can also get certified by all of these professional associations. They provide certifications for supply chain professionals. And don't forget about hands-on experience. You can get experience through a job, but you can also get it by volunteering with non-profit organizations. No matter where you are on your professional journey, there are lots of career opportunities in logistics, procurement and operations. Keep honing your skills and seeking out practical experience, and you can have a very rewarding career as a supply chain professional.