Educating today’s supply chain professionals

A different set of professional qualifications is needed in response to the changes in the global marketplace. The traditional MBA is challenged by the need for more practical oversight and management of a variety of business areas.

“As organisational structures advance and evolve, new and often challenging talent requirements arise,” explained Abe Eshkenazi, CEO of APICS (USA) at the recent 38th Annual SAPICS Conference for supply chain professionals. “We need to ensure that we have the right competencies needed to achieve organisational goals.”

Move supply chain management from the back office to the boardroom
Supply Chain Management (SCM) should be a strategic imperative in every organisation. It is a critical differentiator; no longer a function relegated to the back office. Supply chains are becoming part of the corporate business model – as important to finance and marketing as to production.

Because of global and local transparency trends, customers and suppliers are playing a more active role at every stage. SCM therefore needs strategic, functional, and operational efficiencies to be effective.

“To achieve this we need to identify, train and retain talented staff which will allow us to gain competitive advantage,” said Eshkenazi.

Invest in SCM people during tough economic times
For supply chain management to have a critical and positive impact on the bottom line it is necessary to develop and educate people to enable them to operate great supply chains.

“Don’t let talent development and professionalisation slip due to tough economic conditions,” warns Eshkenazi. “In supply chain management your number one asset is people as successful supply chains are based on individual successes.”

Employees will stay with companies that are concerned with and invest in their professional development. Once tough economic times turn around again, the companies with the best workforce will gain field quicker than those that didn’t develop their talent pool during the tough times.

What many find surprising is the wide variety of knowledge and skills supply chain professionals need to have; technical expertise alone is no longer enough.

Compliment technical skills with technology skills
While supply chain subject matter experts still must have solid technical expertise, they also need other skills and experience to close the gaps created by the changed marketplace.

Technological advances in supply chain management have increased the speed of change, and individuals must be able to understand and use the technology instead of shying away from it. This adds another level of complexity to the training required to ensure competitive supply chain management.

“Supply chain managers also need global business leadership skills to enable them to understand and negotiate supply chain elements irrespective of the location,” said Eshkenazi. “Problem-solving, international work exposure, and cross functional management skills are also of great importance.”

Make careers in supply chain management as desired as those in executive management
Eshkenazi identified a lack of knowledge of supply chain management as a lucrative and satisfying career as one of the areas hindering supply chains as strategic imperative.

“We need to have people coming to educational institutions looking for a career in supply chain,” said Eshkenazi. “This is part of the focus areas for organisations such as APICS and SAPICS.”

SAPICS is the exclusive Premier Channel Partner for Sub Saharan Africa of APICS, a provider of research, education and certification programs that elevate supply chain excellence, innovation and resilience.

Certified supply chain professionals will be able to makes significant contributions towards the sustainability and success of their employers.

Certifications as Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Supply Chain Operations Reference Professional (SCOR-P), and in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), and Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) are currently available.

Eshkenazi reminded the audience: “The development of individuals is not an option, it’s an imperative.”