Supply Chain

How to Start a Supply Chain Management Career

Sponsored by, Unilever

If you’re interested in logistics and operations, chances are you’ve come across the concept of a supply chain. What is a supply chain? It’s a series of processes that takes a product from the manufacturing plant to the consumer. This can apply to anything from clothing to electronics. In order for supply chains to function properly, they require management and operational support. To find out more about supply chain management and how to start a supply chain management career, we sat down with Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky, the president of Process & Strategy Solutions.

Here’s what you need to know to start a career in supply chain management.

Pick an area of supply chain management that interests you.

Because supply chains involve so many moving pieces, being able to focus in on one specific element of the supply chain is key to finding a position that will be a good fit for you. “Pick an area of supply chain that interests you and begin to read up on it,” Dr. Kalina-Kaminsky suggests. This will give a feel for that particular area, while also helping you to determine whether it’s something that you want to pursue.

Do your research.

Once you’ve narrowed down your focus, do some research on your chosen area. “Read blogs, take classes and engage in discussions in person as well as online,” Dr. Kalina-Kaminsky says. Getting a full picture of the work involved while also building your communication skills will go a long way towards making you a competitive candidate in the field.

Find your niche.

Although knowing the ins and outs of the field you want to enter is a crucial part of starting a career in supply chain management, it’s also important to figure out your niche and work on carving out a position for yourself. “Dig to figure out what is valued,” Dr. Kalina-Kaminsky explains. “Figure out how you can fill a niche, and go for it.” By determining what gaps you can fill, you’ll be more likely to show potential employers that you’ve thought carefully about your chosen career and that you’re looking to add value to an organization.

Demonstrate your value.

Once you’ve figured out your niche, the next step is to demonstrate your value. This is one of the keys to getting hired in any industry but it’s especially important in an industry like supply chain which relies heavily on strategy. What’s the best way to demonstrate value? By showing that you have what it takes to get the job done. “Managers often hope to find those who can a) communicate with other professionals effectively, b) make decisions using data analysis, and c) understand the ‘big’ picture,” Dr. Kalina-Kaminsky explains. In fact, by being able to show that you have a clear understanding of the processes required to keep the supply chain functioning and suggesting ways that those processes can be tweaked to improve operations, you’ll be able to convince potential hiring managers that you can face challenges head-on and be a valuable asset to an organization.

Supply chain management is an exciting field with plenty of opportunities for recent grads who are interested in logistics and operations. And because of its broad scope, there are many areas that could fit your interests. In order to figure out if a supply chain management career is right for you, it’s important to find an area that interests you and to find a way to stand out from the crowd. By doing your research and demonstrating your value, you’ll be sure to impress potential employers and find a role that fits you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How Do I Get a Job in Another City or State? and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake.