What Every Supply Chain Graduate Should Know

Congratulation you just received your degree in supply chain management. You have chosen a rewarding, challenging and oftentimes frustrating profession. The business schools do an excellent job teaching the theory of supply chain management but it never comes close to simulating the real world experience. Without fail every graduate I’ve trained or mentored was more than mildly surprised at both the simplicity and complexity of the profession. Here are some of the comments of new supply chain professionals.

  • The position is nothing like how it was portrayed in college.
  • Did I really need a degree for this?
  • Business processes are not as robust as portrayed in college textbooks.
  • Does the organization recognize all the waste and inefficiencies?

If you’re a seasoned professional I’m sure that sounds familiar.

Below are eight points of observation that should help smooth your transition from college to the business world. At end of article are ten actions for growth in the industry.

  1. Job proficiency obtained by 80% percent on the job training, 10% common sense and 10% other.
  2. While college prepares you for negotiations, forecast modeling and other higher level activities much of your time will be spent on lower level activities such as expediting and resolving reoccurring supplier issues.
  3. Unless you’re an exceptional student or a part of management leadership program starting salaries are typically much lower than you would expect. However there is room for growth once you obtain experience.
  4. You will oftentimes be asked to perform the impossible such as obtaining year over year cost reductions from single source supplier. It can be done. Monkeys have also been known to fall from trees.
  5. Many times you will find the biggest barrier to negotiation is your own company’s procedures. Replacing a bad supplier in some organizations can be arduous taking years of red tape to approve a replacement. Changing suppliers can be as difficult as getting rid of a bad public school teacher.
  6. Remember you don’t choose what to buy you buy what was chosen. If you want to choose what is purchased you need to be in Engineering, Design, Maintenance or whatever silo that actually requires the product.
  7. Most meetings are useless, deal with it.
  1. Finally know that ERP software is still in the last century. Don’t expect it to perform with the ease and intuitiveness of the apps your accustomed from this century.

Secrets for Growth (Not in any particular order)

  • Master the ERP Software. You might become a member of a small exclusive and needed group.
  • Become highly proficient with Microsoft Excel. You will be surprised at the lack of needed reports for analysis in organizations. Top notch professionals create their own reports with exported data.
  • Become a good presenter your college speech class was more important than you probably thought.
  • Take advantage to tuition reimbursement programs if offered.
  • Join professional organizations to network and stay up to date with industry.
  • Keep resume updated and handy.
  • Be open to relocating or switching companies as opportunities arise.
  • Know basics of accounting and finance this is the language management.
  • Have a balanced home and work life. Be cheerful and understand the needs of others.
  • Develop the skill of creating a sense of urgency without panic.

Hope this helped. Please feel free to comment and add to the list!

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