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What is Supply Chain Management? Why is it so Sought After?

All activities that are part of managing demand and supply make up Supply Chain Management. From the stage of procurement of raw material to the stage of final distribution of finished goods, all processes involved fall under the purview of Supply Chain Management.

A Supply Chain Manager must be able to manage aspects of inventory, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, along with managing people and expectations. It is required of such a manager to ensure visibility of the product, to guard against losses along the distribution channels before the product finally reaches consumers, and to showcase strong sense of responsibility and commitment for not just maintaining but increasing revenue.

With increasing globalization, markets for products are expanding beyond geographical borders. Increasing competition has also increased the need to do better. From the first stage of raw material procurement, this competition starts; for obtaining best quality and cost combination, raw materials are procured from vendors across countries. These factors have necessitated better management of supply chains. Globalization, therefore, has made the career sought-after, placing it among the fastest-growing fields today. Supply Chain Management can be taken up for any of many different sectors – for example, fashion, healthcare, and non-durable goods.

Qualifications for a Career in Supply Chain Management
As roles in Supply Chain Management are becoming more important, being qualified is becoming increasingly important too. As work is carried out in a global market, the structure of demand and supply has become more complex. Thus, formal training is a must; it is seen as crucial even for entry-level jobs.

At the undergraduate level itself, training in Supply Chain Management is offered; there are degrees specifically designed for making students domain-ready or in other cases, there are concentrations on offer at the undergraduate level. In case this undergraduate training is not acquired, MBA offering specialization in Supply Chain Management can be taken up post gaining some industry or functional experience. In fact, a number of employers prefer a graduate qualification.

Pursuing certifications and actively seeking knowledge-expansion will lend edge. Gaining insights into logistics and transport management is necessary, especially in view of the way transportation and logistics companies have revolutionized the entire work. Aspect-specific learning, cross-functional understanding, and exposure to statistics, economics and geography-related details are needed.

Skills for a Career in Supply Chain Management
Decision-making skills hold supreme value. These skills aid in planning, and in determining optimum ways of and amounts of production. Providing the right product at the opportune moment is of paramount importance. Skills at innovation are also helpful since these will matter in enabling visualizing new products.

As strategies for supply chain are necessary today, skills at analyzing and strategizing are vital to a career in the field. One must be able to understand which markets to target for greater revenue and to assess and decide upon the quantity to be made available per market.

Management skills are crucial to ensure availability of products across markets. In managing transport networks, tactfulness is also needed. Good communication skills are important for dealing with all people involved, and also, the will to listen to and help customers is important. One must be able to connect well with people from different geographical and cultural backgrounds. One gets an added advantage from possessing some knowledge of different cultures and languages.

Skills in technology are needed to effectively manage the work in the global market. Procurement, production and sales become easier to handle if one is proficient in handling ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) tools. Needless to say, an eye for detail, teamwork skills, ability to handle stress, and ability to effectively lead are necessary skills for this career.

Hierarchy in Supply Chain Management Career
Better qualification, as always, leads to better opportunities. Exposure and experience improve prospects over time. Usually, entry-level positions require handling some aspect of the work – such as looking after inventory, tracking products, planning to some extent, overseeing packaging, managing supplies, and providing customer service. A target qualification can help lend opportunities for some strategizing work as well.

Wider exposure in a chosen aspect is gradually gained, and responsibilities are gradually increased. Some years of experience is necessary for excellent handling of logistics, transportations, operations, etc. As responsibilities mount and one begins to monitor staff as well as targets, leadership experience is secured, opening up the paths for better future roles.
As Supply Chain Manager, multiple charges are handled that shape one into a true leader and team player. Excellent performance here can take even further. A desired position is that of a Consultant, guiding others on taking right business decisions and on streamlining processes through leveraging own practical experience and learning. The role of a Consultant in this field gives the opportunity of working with varied companies from varied geographies, and thus enables great professional development and personal satisfaction.

Pros of a Career in Supply Chain Management
This career gives the chance to make contribution to the economy, and is therefore satisfying for a leader. The field is a blessing for people desiring variety and newer opportunities all through. One gets many growth opportunities when engaged in this. One can gain wider exposure and greater professional maturity through availing of opportunities to explore workings of different sectors. With the right skills and attitudes, one can go really far and achieve heights of glory.

Also, the chance to work in teams provides new lessons everyday and so does the chance to lead people. Exposure at such a wide level helps gain many perspectives and expand the circle of thoughts. Thus, if learning gives one satisfaction, this career will be hugely advantageous.

Cons of a Career in Supply Chain Management
With so many advantages and opportunities on offer, this career becomes demanding. In the face of intense competition, one cannot afford to be slack. Moreover, slackness can cost too dearly because others’ work is dependent on one’s.

The career demands all-time availability. Too much diligence and too many responsibilities can become very stressful and negatively impact the will to work. Constantly being faced with challenges and new situations can add to the stress too.

Having to constantly deal with people and give positive turn to negotiations can get harrowing. The weight of teammates’ and customers’ expectations can become bothersome. Thus, this career is for those who can handle the immense pressure, stress and competition, and still emerge victorious through years of dedicated work.

Who is a Career in Supply Chain Management good for?

Anyone who possesses the requisite skills and the requisite strength of mind for a challenging career has the potential to excel in Supply Chain Management. One who loves new learning and new situations will thrive in this career. Self-motivation, discipline, and the right accumulation of attributes will gift a rewarding journey.

• Walmart
• Dell
• Amazon
• Apple
• McDonald’s
• Coca-Cola
• H & M
• Intel
• Cisco Systems
• Samsung Electronics

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