According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), supply chain jobs are expected to grow 22 percent by the year 2022. Additionally, the BLS projects this increase to be double the rate of all other professions combined. One of the major reasons for this growth is because there is a strong need in modern business to acquire, allocate, distribute, and deliver products more efficiently in order to meet increasing customer expectations. Secondly, organizations are realizing that growing and maintaining net margins is becoming increasingly difficult through sales alone. The combination of these factors has placed supply chain operations on a much higher pedestal in today’s business environment. While there is no question that the next decade will place talented supply chain professionals in high demand, organizational leaders need to quickly start asking themselves one simple question, “Where do we find a supply of good talent?”
Most organizations will turn to colleges and universities when they are in need of young talent with a specialized skillset. When finance, marketing, or information technology departments are looking to hire for new positions, it generally makes sense for them to hire people who have finance, marketing, or information technology degrees. Why should it be any different when hiring for your supply chain?
Fortunately, academia has caught on to the importance of supply chain management (SCM) disciplines, and new degree programs are emerging in business schools everywhere. It is becoming increasingly common to see curriculums that are generalized or specialized in the areas of SCM, operations, procurement, distribution, logistics, and transportation. In fact, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) website currently has a college and university listing of 220 schools in the United States that offer programs focused on these disciplines. For more information, visit the CSCMP website at http://bit.ly/1jKHhjw.
Here are five steps to help you recruit students and establish your organization as an employer of choice.
1. Find a program that fits the needs of your organization.
First, it is important to understand that not all of the SCM and logistics programs are exactly the same. Some may have a stronger focus on warehousing and transportation, while others may specialize in procurement and inventory management. There are even a handful of schools that focus specifically on wholesale or industrial distribution. Research a few schools in your area to see which ones could help meet your current and future supply chain talent requirements.
2. Develop strong relationships with the faculty and staff.
Once you have chosen a school or two that fits your needs, it is essential to begin developing a relationship with the program faculty as soon as possible. Generally, they offer a wealth of information and will help you understand how their students can assist in solving your supply chain challenges. The faculty can also be great allies during the recruiting process because they can usually point you towards the best and brightest students.
3. Attend all career fairs and events.
Each semester, most schools will host career fairs and other events that are great ways to interact with students and faculty. Many supply chain programs will have some sort of student organization or club that organizes networking events, golf tournaments, facility tours, etc. It is important that you regularly attend each of these events with a well-marketed table or booth so that the students perceive you as a strong potential employer.
4. Hire interns for summer and part-time jobs.
One way that organizations can start integrating new supply chain talent is by providing summer internships and part-time work for students enrolled in these programs. This is a great way to inexpensively bring new people into your organization without making a full-time commitment. Internships work especially well in the HVACR industry when many organizations can always use some extra help during the busy
5. Join the advisory board, if available.
Many university programs will bring together an advisory board that usually consists of employers who regularly recruit their students. This collaborative process gives the faculty some great insight on industry challenges, as well as feedback on the quality of their students and classes. Once you have established a strong relationship with the program, ask to be on its advisory board so that you can have an opportunity to influence the program content and curriculum towards your own supply chain needs.
Industry associations can be a great resource when organizations need to recruit some more experienced supply chain professionals. The following associations are focused on supply chain disciplines and can be great networks for finding top quality people.
• Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI);
• Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals(CSCMP);
• Warehousing Education & Research Council (WERC);
• American Society of Trans portation & Logistics (ASTL);
• Materials Handling Industry of North America (MHI);
• Institute for Supply Management (ISM);
• The Association for Operations Management (APICS).
Each association generally has chapters across the United States who will host networking and educational events in your area. Generally, these events are open for association members and non-members to attend. Once you get plugged into these networks, there will be a strong likelihood of finding potential supply chain leaders for your organization.
Another benefit of these associations is that they offer certification programs and other educational resources to sharpen the skillsets of your current employees. If hiring new people is not an option, they are a great resource help educate your organization’s supply
WHAT’S AT STAKE
In the near future, it is very likely that many of the most valuable people in your organization — and on your payroll — will be the ones who can build and lead a modernized supply chain. As customer expectations increase, and business models are forced to change, organizational leaders will need to assess whether or not they currently have the right talent to keep up with the pace. Ultimately, the success and future sustainability of your organization will require some urgency on one important factor — getting the right people on the bus.
In today’s modern business environment, organizations across the globe are feeling increased pressure to provide products to their customers faster, more accurately, and more visibly than ever before. Additionally, customers are expecting high- speed service levels, as well as a competitively low cost. These new customer expectations have quickly created a phenomenon in the business community that has placed the operational functions of procurement, distribution, and logistics in the forefront of executive boardroom discussions everywhere. Over the past decade, executives and academics alike have come to realize that there is a strong need for the emergence of a new business discipline – supply chain management (SCM).
WHAT IS SCM?
In simple terms, SCM involves the entire process of buying and moving products. In other words, it is a combination of operational business functions that move goods into and out of an organization. The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) gives this definition for SCM.
“Supply chain management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and all logistics management activities. Importantly, it also includes coordination and collaboration with channel partners, which can be suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers, and customers.
Once senior executives begin to understand the overall concept, importance, and need for SCM within their organization, the next step is to begin developing a strategy for supply chain improvement. Recently, Harvard Business Press published a book called “The New Supply Chain Agenda: The 5 Steps That Drive Real Value,” which focuses on five key areas that organizations must address in order to achieve supply chain excellence.
- Pick the right leaders and develop supply chain talent.
- Keep up with supply chain technologies and trends.
- Eliminate crippling cross-functional disconnects.
- Collaborate with suppliers and customers.
- Implement a disciplined process of project and change management.
As you are reading this article, organizations everywhere are scrambling to find talented people who can lead their supply chains successfully into the future. Effective supply chain executives are now expected to have exceptional leadership, communication, and business skills, combined with an education and/or proven work experience in SCM.
Many organizations are finding a qualified talent pool at many of the universities that are now offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in the SCM disciplines. Also, it is becoming more common to see employers who require professional certifications from organizations like The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), The Institute for Supply Management (ISM), or The American Society of Transportation & Logistics (AST&L).
Over the past decade, technology has become one of the key drivers for supply chain improvements in many organizations and is continually changing the business environment at a rapid pace. Supply chain technologies can generally fit into one of four separate categories: software, e-business technologies, visibility and productivity, and process advancement.
Senior executives must always be aware of the common and leading edge technologies that exist, while also being able to understand them at a high level. A common mistake that many organizations make is trying to integrate supply chain technologies without fully understanding the technology itself, and also how their current business operations need to change once the technology has been implemented.
One of the biggest challenges that organizations currently face is to align each of their functional departments toward behaviors that benefit the firm as a whole. It is not uncommon to see many companies stuck in the silo mentality, while unknowingly incentivizing their functional departments to work against each other.
Organizations that have a strong understanding of SCM create an environment that encourages communication and collaboration between all functional departments. Leaders will generally develop metrics and incentives that drive behaviors to benefit the entire firm, while also integrating sales and operations planning (S&OP) processes into their yearly planning routine.
When examining relationships between suppliers and customers, it is not uncommon to see a one-sided oppositional relationship instead of a collaborative partnership that is mutually beneficial to both parties. One of the biggest challenges in modern SCM is overcoming the old business practices of withholding information and trying to keep suppliers and customers at arm’s length.
In order to make collaboration successful, all parties must be committed to devoting time and energy to the relationship while maintaining a positive opinion that collaboration can deliver significant business results. Next, many organizations find it helpful to use tools like the Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, and Replenishment (CPFR) model that are designed to help facilitate the collaboration process.
Supply chain improvement projects will often affect many functional departments within an organization, which makes it necessary for senior executives to have a solid understanding of how to lead and manage change. Often times improvement initiatives fail because leadership simply does not create a culture that uses disciplined project and change management principles.
In many cases, the most difficult challenges of supply chain improvement projects are generally overcoming the people issues and not necessarily the technical problems that arise. This is why it is a necessity for SCM executives to have extremely strong leadership and communication skills in order to lead people through all of the operational changes that are happening in their organization.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
SCM has grown to be one of the most valuable business disciplines in today’s modern organizations. In fact, it is now common to see people with supply chain expertise becoming key players on C-level executive teams and even promoted to CEO. Failure to recognize the power and importance of SCM will certainly put any business at risk for future sustainability. Ultimately, it will not be long before every organization’s supply chain starts to become one of two things — a competitive weapon or an Achilles’ heel.