MSc Supply Chain Management & Purchasing: a 2012 graduate talks about the industry


This article is written by Jessica Neumann, MSc Supply Chain Management & Purchasing graduate of the 2011-12 class. After her MSc graduation, Jessica returned to Germany (her home country). She is now working as consultant for Accenture in their Operations Management Consulting division, consulting clients on integrated planning & fulfillment as well as supply chain excellence topics.

Below, she discusses the field of supply chain management and gives some pointers for those considering getting into this fast-moving area of modern business:
Supply Chain Talent – A 4**** star recipe that gives you a taste of the skills you will be hired for

We all live in a globalised world. Not so much of a surprise to somebody who lives in the 21st century. Yet, for a company serving all of us in this interconnected world, this situation can be challenging. In fact, it is one of the main reasons that led to the birth of the supply chain function. Its main goals could be translated as´tackling complexity´ and ´creating visibility´. Now don´t laugh, this may sound simple but it actually isn´t. And because companies are still growing and things are getting more and more complex, they will need you soon.

If you are thinking about becoming a supply chain professional in the future, there are a few things you might want to reflect on 
Think about your future employer’s profile. What do today´s global players look like?
These companies make billions of turnover every year and ship thousands if not millions of product units a month. They operate in 100+ countries and can be found in all industries. You are one of their x thousand customers or will be one of their many thousand employees. Big numbers are their business. 
They are also highly complex creatures and need visibility and a good command over their cost. Why? Time is money and profit is king. Now supply chain kicks in: It´s on most CEO’s agendas these days, known as one of the most effective drivers for savings.
That said: working in supply chain management, you will find yourself in a big, turbulent world.

Supply chain hot topics and your potential area of expertise
Supply Chain Risk Management, Supplier Relationship Management, Distribution & Logistics Network Transformation, Cost Efficiency, Forecasting & Demand Consolidation, Production Planning, System Integration, Strategic Sourcing, Reverse Logistics, Customer Service – the list of supply chain topics is long with new topics emerging every year - Doesn´t that demonstrate an interesting work environment? You will live with a constant, this constant is change.

Now think about yourself 
What are you good at and, more importantly, what are you interested in?
When you graduate, if you are a person with an international background (you will work with people from all over the planet), a foundation of theoretical knowledge with a solid stack of technical terminology (here I´m speaking about the standard end-to-end supply chain concepts and terminology like SCM, SCOR, S&OP, MTO, ETO, ETA, TEU, you name them), you will leave a mark.
Are you somebody who likes to be challenged and is ready to invent something new or rethink existing theories?
You will need these skills to satisfy the supply chain arena’s fast moving environment. Typically, you are a problem solver and number cruncher with analytical skills. You see the big picture. End-to-end means from A to Z and back. You are not scared of computers; ERP will be your new friend. If those characteristics apply to you, then you´re in the right domain.



Make the right choice
Take your time, either by learning on the job or by becoming an academic expert. Supply chain expertise is not something you acquire overnight. It is a chosen path and given the complexity the supply chain world is confronted with on a daily basis, you will have to find your place.
And not all activities are extraordinarily fun: Some are very operational, asking you to do the same job every day, while others are more strategic, requiring the development of unique concepts.
The job opportunities are just as manifold: You could work as a demand or production planner, logistics expert, purchaser, order fulfilment specialist, customer service representative, quality manager, supply chain consultant, warehouse manager – all those jobs are part of the supply chain arena and help to move goods from factory to customer around the globe.


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