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Help Wanted: Supply Chain Leaders in Retail

Photo: Courtesy of Charles Etoroma

There is a shortage of skilled executives entering supply chain management (SCM). This shortage is costing businesses annual earnings. To address the leadership gap in SCM, a growing number of executives advocate the importance of a formal education in SCM and Operations. Finding the right program can lead to a fulfilling career, as well as lucrative job opportunities.

Getting a start

To Dave Clark, senior vice president at Worldwide Operations and Customer Service at Amazon, learned the importance of SCM through a more hands-on approach. “I grew up in a family business and actually learned to drive on an old, beat-up yellow fork lift in the warehouse of my parents carpet store,” he explained. “I loaded and unloaded trucks in the mornings when I wasn’t in school and had spent some of my formative years, as a result, in a warehouse environment.”

As he worked through his undergraduate days at Auburn University, his role as the logistical coordinator for the university’s band taught him the value of back-of-house supply chain. “Ensuring the right stuff gets to the right place at the right time has always been a large part of my life,” he added.

Importance of a formal education​​​​​​​

A formal education in supply chain and logistics provides professionals with the technical and analytical skills required to design, coordinate and manage supply chains. Furthering one’s education also provides a solid business foundation while developing crucial strategic thinking and leadership skills. As supply chains increase in speed, complexity and geographic reach the value of smart, passionate supply chain professionals continues to rise.

“Developing successful technology driven supply chains capable of the performance customers now expect is now a requirement for organizations and the people who have those skills and can delivery results are in high demand,” said Clark. “Recent graduates looking into supply chain roles can find leadership opportunities and make a direct impact on customer experiences all while solving interesting and complex problems.” 

Developing the right skills 

SCM is a career path with plenty of job opportunities available, but Clark said organizations are looking for specific skills. “At Amazon, we look for candidates who have strong ownership, customer obsession, who are wicked smart and love using analytics to drive decision making,” Clark added. If you have your MBA and aren’t sure that the supply chain is the right path for you, Amazon has a program called Pathways that rotates the new MBA hires through different business operations. It’s an opportunity to discover SCM in real-world business situations. 

“Impacting the day-to-day and moment-by-moment operations to create value for customers is a rewarding experience for any supply chain leader,” Clark said. “Future-looking companies depend on individuals with supply chain and logistics expertise.”

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