Why is Supply Chain Such a Great Career Path?

Supply Chain Career

When I started my career the term “Supply Chain” had just been coined. As such it was many years before I actually heard of the term “Supply Chain Management”.

Regardless I pursued my interests and took on an increasingly diverse set of progressive jobs as time went on. Now as I look back on my career virtually everything I did falls under the banner of Supply Chain management.

Given the phenomenal opportunities that Supply Chain offers for personal and professional growth it is a career path which I highly recommend to anyone.

What is it about Supply Chain that makes it such an appealing career path?

Something for Everyone!

Every person has different interests, motivators, personalities, goals and objectives in selecting their jobs and careers.

Some people want physical activity, some want something more intellectual or analytical, and still others want some combination of both.

Some people want a very structured job while others want something with variation. Some want to do work that is more transactional while others want work that is more project based.

Some people have University degrees and some people have high school education. Still others have professional certifications and accreditations.

Some people like to focus on one area and develop an expertise therein. While others want to try working in many different areas.

Some people are motivated by opportunities to manage, lead and get promoted. Yet still others are happy to be positive contributors in whatever task they choose to perform.

The fantastic thing about working in Supply Chain is that there is literally something for everyone. Supply Chain is so broad based and extensive that anyone choosing this career path can find something to fulfill their goals and objectives.

What Makes Supply Chain Special?

A core reason why Supply Chain is so appealing is because of the tremendous breadth of what it is and what it encompasses.

In our article “What Exactly is Supply Chain Management?” we look at 10 different definitions. While there are many choices, all of which have great elements, we will refer to this definition provided by https://searcherp.techtarget.com/definition/supply-chain-management-SCM

“Supply chain management (SCM) is the broad range of activities required to plan, control and execute a product’s flow, from acquiring raw materials and production through distribution to the final customer, in the most streamlined and cost-effective way possible.

SCM encompasses the integrated planning and execution of processes required to optimize the flow of materials, information and financial capital in the areas that broadly include demand planning, sourcing, production, inventory management and storage, transportation — or logistics — and return for excess or defective products. Both business strategy and specialized software are used in these endeavors to create a competitive advantage.”

This definition gives a great overview. Supply Chain involves planning, execution, physical flows of goods, the flow of information, processes, financial management, sourcing, logistics, procurement, manufacturing, distribution, logistics, repair and recycling, business management and much, much more.

No matter what your interests are there is likely something very attractive to you about some, many or all aspects of Supply Chain.

Job Diversity

Given the tremendous breadth of what Supply Chain is it follows that the number of jobs is equally diverse.

In most companies Supply Chain jobs include planning, strategic procurement, logistics management, fork truck operation, dispatching, scheduling, inventory control, assembly, processing, maintenance, planning, buying, sourcing, packaging, quality control, inventory management, space planning, supplier management, capacity management, lean, process design and transformation, I/T systems development and management, repair and recycling, expense management and financial controls, resource planning, analytics, cash flow management, training and education, and much more.

These jobs could involve working in a Warehouse, Distribution Centre, Manufacturing operation, or in an Office environment, or all of the above.

Supply Chain also spans virtually every industry. Manufacturing and Distribution based industries are obviously built on Supply Chain. But even industries such as Banking require Supply Chain skills for planning, supplier sourcing and management, process design, information flow management, procurement, and cash management. And obviously Supply Chain consulting is a huge and growing business.

An Incredible Skills Development Platform

Given the diversity of jobs, industries and roles available in Supply Chain it follows that there is an equally extensive opportunity to develop a massive portfolio of personal and professional skills.

Planning, analysis, scheduling, time management, risk mitigation, management, real time problem solving, decision making, leading, change management, process development and design, project management, presenting, financial management, conflict resolution, and negotiating are just some of the skills that any Supply Chain job will develop in you.

Supply Chain often offers the opportunity to learn to work with people not only in your own company but in other company. You may have the opportunity to work with people from different cultures and in different countries all around the world. The opportunities for interpersonal skills development and networking are enormous.

A Career Path for All

Every person has their own interests and vision of career success.

Career success does not mean having to move up the Corporate ladder. If someone is happy and motivated by working in a certain area, at a certain level, then Supply Chain offers that opportunity.

Alternatively if someone wants to progress into Management positions and move up into Executive roles then Supply Chain offers that opportunity as well. Increasingly the success of companies is based on the performance of the Supply Chain, and with that recognition comes opportunities with more and more Supply Chain leaders reaching CEO and COO positions.

Most  supply chain companies present opportunities for students to apply what they learn and get familiar with how supply chain management works. Among them  is an internship. Students work as interns to get work experience despite the time limit.

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A Brilliant Future in Supply Chain

With advancements in Digital Technology Supply Chain is on the cusp of significant changes for decades to come.

Technologies such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Predictive Analytics, 3D Printing, Autonomous Vehicles and Drones, and more all provide the foundational elements to make revolutionary changes in Supply Chain.

As discussed in our article “Quantum Leap to the Top 10 Skills in Supply Chain of the Future” we reflect on these technologies and the demands it will make on Supply Chain Professionals in the future.

It will not be sufficient in the future for Supply Chain people to know only how to manage the basics. In the future Supply Chain leaders will need to become adept at understanding, designing and managing end-to-end global Supply Chains. They will need to be able to make holistic, educated high level decisions in real time. And they will need to be proficient in understanding and applying these technologies to greater uses.

And when you consider the differentiators in running businesses today you will see that at their core is Supply Chain leadership. In E-Commerce for instance the demands for rapid delivery and perfect execution across the entire customer experience are all based on Supply Chain systems and process design.

On top of that demands on Supply Chain and its professionals will evolve as discussed in Imagining the Supply Chain of the Future . The level of expertise and leadership required in, and of, Supply Chain will become so much more sophisticated that more and more companies will outsource some portion of their Supply Chain operations. We call this Supply Chain as a Service (SCaas).


Supply Chain is a fantastic career path for anyone. For many people their interests, desires, and goals will change over time. A great feature of Supply Chain careers is that there are so many options and directions that as your goals change you can easily change within Supply Chain.

Any company in any industry will be reliant on Supply Chain for its success. Think about the Costco Supply Chain for instance. The need to introduce more people to Supply Chain and the wealth of opportunities for their personal development, as well as their ability to drive businesses forward, will shape the future of economies around the world.

Originally published on June 11, 2019.

Cover image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

2 thoughts on “Why is Supply Chain Such a Great Career Path?”

  1. Excellent article. This provides young professionals in SCM good information to think about their future career choices as well.

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