Jul 072015
 


Supply Chain Manager: Searching for talent to deal with the new challenges

PhD. Desirée Knoppen, Professor and Department Head Operations Management and Information Systems

PhD. Desirée Knoppen, Professor and Department Head Operations Management and Information Systems.

Jobs in Supply Chain Management change. And they do so in an incredible pace, driven by widespread adoption of digital and mobile technologies, the customization of operations to different customer segments and sales channels, and the increased appreciation of supply chain risk. Major shifts occur in middle and senior management levels and refer to a change from a tactical/technical focus to a more interpersonal and relationship management focus. New jobs are about communication, decision making and teamwork. Coordination of multiple internal functional areas as well as multiple partners in a network has become the core of activities.

Coordination of multiple internal functional areas as well as multiple partners in a network has become the core of activities

Are companies able to attract and retain talent to deal with these challenges? Positions needed to manage these challenges demand higher salaries than they did a few years ago (PwC 2014 CEO survey). Georgia Tec University, a renowned American university, recently announced in their website that half of the nationwide employers have an open job in Supply Chain Management for which they cannot find qualified candidates. A study of 100 executives from global companies across 11 industries goes further, and reports that within the next few years there will be six available supply chain jobs for every qualified person to fill them .

A study reports that within the next few years there will be six available supply chain jobs for every qualified person to fill them

Educational institutions have responded to this (foreseen) shortage by developing undergraduate majors, MBA concentrations and entire programs in Supply Chain Management. While in the US by now a vast amount of programs is being offered, these programs are still scarcer in Europe. Basic capabilities to be developed in such programs refer to both cognitive/analytical as well as emotional capabilities. In the latter respect it is about leading oneself, before being able to lead others and more specifically, to lead teams. Or, in other words, how to take decisions in the design, planning and execution stages of the supply chain, that are optimal from an analytic standpoint but at the same time optimal from a Supply Chain people management standpoint.

When attending the ‘Annual Meeting Decision Sciences Institute’ in Tampa (Florida) last November, I had the opportunity to share a morning jogging session with a former coronel, who had served under Rumsfeld. He vividly recalled how staff members trembled when they had to provide well founded and extremely concise answers to questions posed by the secretary of Defence during planned as well as emergency meetings. The situation did not allow for mercy when the provided answers were not being liked by the boss. Higher education, on the other hand, should provide a “friendly” environment and the opportunity to practice the art of decision taking including justified and concise answering during a debate, without the penalties inherent to the before mentioned example.

 

Post written by PhD. Desirée Knoppen, Professor and Department Head Operations Management and Information Systems.

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