7 Steps to Become a Supply Chain Manager in 2024

Are you interested in a career as a Supply Chain Manager? 

With the increasing demand for supply chain professionals, now is the perfect time to start planning your path to becoming a supply chain manager. In this step-by-step guide, we will outline the key steps to take in order to achieve this goal in 2024!

The Growing Demand for Supply Chain Managers

With the rise of e-commerce and globalisation, the demand for supply chain managers continues to grow. According to Seek, employment opportunities for supply chain managers will increase by 3.5% in the next five years. This growth is accompanied by trends surrounding the need for agility, rise of automation, a growing focus on ESG and securing insights from greater data integration. 

Step 1: Gain Relevant Education and Experience

The first step to becoming a supply chain manager is to acquire the necessary basic education and experience. Most supply chain managers hold a Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification such as a certificate or diploma. Others hold a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management, business, or a related field.  Globally-recognised qualifications such as those offered by The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport International (CILT) provide an opportunity to achieve the CPL designation.

In addition to formal education, gaining practical experience in the field is crucial throughout your career through an internship or an entry-level position in supply chain. Real-world practical experience provides you with a sound understanding of the industry and enhances your competitiveness as a candidate for higher-level positions.

Step 2: Develop Key Skills

In addition to experience and qualifications, there are specific skills that employers tend to look for in a supply chain manager. These include:

Supply Chain Management Skills

Supply chain managers must excel in overseeing the end-to-end flow of goods and services, ensuring efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and meeting customer demands.

Supply Chain Planning Skills

Supply chain managers need to develop strategic plans to optimise resources, production planning, manage demand, and mitigate risks.

Project Management Skills

Effective project management skills are crucial for supply chain managers to execute process improvements, implement new technologies, and handle large-scale initiatives.

Inventory Management Skills

Inventory management skills involve maintaining the right balance of stock, minimising carrying costs, and ensuring products are available when needed.

Negotiation Skills

Supply chain managers use negotiation skills to secure favourable terms with suppliers, resolve disputes, and collaborate with partners.

Analytical skills

Supply chain managers must be able to analyse data and make strategic decisions based on that data.

Communication skills

As a supply chain manager, you will be working with various teams and stakeholders, so strong communication skills are crucial.

Problem-solving skills

Supply chain managers must be able to identify and solve problems quickly and efficiently.

Leadership skills

As a supply chain manager, you will be responsible for leading and managing a team, so strong leadership skills are essential.

Step 3: Network and Build Relationships

Networking is an essential skill in every industry and supply chain management is no exception. Actively engaging in networking activities, including attending industry events, joining professional organisations, joining associations and connecting with fellow supply chain professionals on platforms like LinkedIn can play a pivotal role in your career development.

These efforts not only build a strong foundation for professional growth but also open doors to a range of opportunities.

For example, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport membership offers global networking opportunity with over 30,000 supply chain professionals across the globe.

Step 4: Stay Up to Date on Industry Trends and Technology

The supply chain industry is constantly evolving, and it is important to stay up to date on the latest trends and technology. In a 2023 report, KPMG note key trends in the supply chain include ESG initiatives, advanced robotics and automation, and building a supply chain workforce with a digital mindset. Staying ahead of the curve through monitoring changes within the industry is key in equipping yourself with knowledge to succeed.

Step 5: Consider Specialising in a Specific Industry or Area

Though a fundamental understanding of supply chain management is valuable, specialising in a particular industry or niche can enhance your competitiveness for specific job roles. For instance, if your career aspirations lie within the realm of the oil and gas industry, honing your knowledge and acquiring hands-on experience in this specific sector can set you apart as an attractive candidate in the eyes of potential employers.

Step 6: Apply for Supply Chain Manager Jobs

After you have acquired the requisite education, experience, and skills in supply chain management, the next step is to actively pursue supply chain manager positions. In this phase of your career journey, it’s essential to fine-tune your application approach. Tailoring your resume and cover letter to each specific job opportunity is crucial. This customisation allows you to emphasise the relevant experience and skills that align with the requirements and expectations of each position you’re applying for. 

Step 7: Continuous Development

Achieving the position of supply chain manager marks a significant milestone in your career, but it is by not the endpoint of your professional journey. Continuous learning and growth should remain at the forefront of your career strategy. To thrive in this role, it’s crucial to stay current and adaptable in developing continuous improvements within the field of supply chain management. This involves attending relevant conferences and workshops to remain aware of industry trends, pursuing certifications to solidify your expertise, and actively seeking out new challenges and opportunities within your organisation.

Conclusion

Becoming a supply chain manager takes dedication, education, and experience. By following these steps, you can position yourself for success in the field of supply chain management. As you embark on this journey, remember that the path to success in supply chain management is a continuous process of learning, adapting, and staying agile in a rapidly changing global business landscape. If you’re interested in advancing your career in supply chain management, explore courses and programs at AcademyGlobal.

By Ariel Utama, Associate, AcademyGlobal

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