Supply Chain Manager Job Listings Analysis
IndustryView | 2014
Once a niche field in business administration, supply chain management has exploded in popularity—and necessity—as large firms seek to optimize their intricate, globalized supply chains.
To borrow a popular industry phrase, supply chain managers are on the front lines of ensuring that products “get to the right place at the right time and at the right cost.” They need to be intelligent, organized and possess superb communication skills. The position pays well (the average salary for supply chain managers is $92,000), and there are a growing number of openings: between 2012 and 2022, the number of logisticians (a closely related job title) is expected to grow 22 percent.
To better understand what employers are looking for in supply chain managers, we analyzed 200 job listings from firms ranging from e-commerce giant Amazon to synthetic rubber manufacturer Zeon Corporation. Here’s what we found.
On average, employers want supply chain managers who have at least seven years of experience in the field. Often, employers also noted in their listings that they wanted supply chain managers who had at least two years of managerial experience.
Fewer than 10 percent of job listings required two to three years of experience. On the flip side, one job listing from major defense contractor Lockheed Martin required candidates to have at least 20 years of experience.
Several listings noted that years of experience required could be reduced if the candidate had an advanced degree—typically a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Although supply chain management is a relatively newer academic field of study, more and more business schools are offering an MBA degree with a concentration in supply chain management, prompting the Wall Street Journal to dub it the “hot new MBA” in an article from June 2013.
Given the demand for supply chain managers, it makes sense that many employers would want to fast-track fresh, competent MBA graduates into the middle management position. In all, 17 percent of employers stated a preference for candidates with an MBA.
In most cases, however, employers only required a bachelor’s degree, with 11 percent stating that equivalent work experience could be substituted for a degree.
Unsurprisingly, of the employers who stated specific undergraduate majors in their job requirements, supply chain management (SCM) and business were each cited by 46 percent of employers. Many employers (21 percent) also indicated that an engineering degree would be suitable. Degrees in finance and science were each listed by 8 percent of employers.
Forty-one percent of the job listings we analyzed specified proficiency in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, and 21 percent specified proficiency in materials requirements planning (MRP) software. SAP and Oracle were the most commonly specified ERP systems named in the job listings, at 15 and 8 percent, respectively.
In all, 37 percent of employers specified some sort of professional certification in supply chain management. But there was a greater preference for certification from the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) over the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the two leading trade groups in the industry. One-third of employers specified certification from APICS, whereas only 13 percent specified certification from ISM.
Now, this isn’t to suggest that one certification is better than the other—the certifications both organizations offer are specialized and tailored toward different areas in the broad field of supply chain management.
APICS offers two certifications: Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) and Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP). CPIM is more specialized, geared toward professionals who specialize in inventory and operations and focusing on technological aspects, while CSCP is much broader in scope, encompassing all aspects of the supply chain.
In comparison, ISM offers its Certified Professional in Supply Management certification, which is similar in scope to CSCP, but has more of an emphasis on management. The certification(s) a candidate chooses to pursue should depend on their interests and career goals.
Beyond the standard duties of a supply chain manager—intense data analysis, demand forecasting, warehouse optimization etc.—the job listings we analyzed also expressed a strong preference for candidates with prodigious communication and negotiation skills. Not only do supply chain managers oversee subordinates and work closely with the executive management of their firms, but they also have to interact and negotiate with customers, vendors and suppliers—and often have the authority to execute significant purchasing decisions.
In total, 56 percent of employers want candidates with strong written and verbal communication skills, and 48 percent want candidates with strong negotiation skills.
One-third of the job listings we analyzed indicated that candidates could expect to spend a significant amount of time traveling, either domestically or internationally. Of course, the supply chains behind even simple products such as clothes or food can be extremely complex. As such, the supply chain manager must periodically visit the various links in the chain, wherever they might be, to ensure everything is operating smoothly.
And some positions certainly require more travel than others. Of the listings that provided an estimated amount of time that the candidate could expect to travel, nearly two-thirds indicated 25 percent or more. On average, candidates for these supply chain manager positions can expect to travel nearly 30 percent of the time.
For people unfamiliar with the supply chain management profession, the question “Do you even lift, bro?” might seem like an inappropriate thing to ask in a job interview. But for some supply chain managers, it comes with the territory. We noticed that a small but noteworthy number of listings (7 percent) indicated that candidates need to be able to lift an average of 36 pounds. There can’t be too many professions out there where having an MBA and being physically fit are both required.
Supply chain managers must possess a unique skillset: They not only have to be incredibly organized, analytical and possess a deep breadth of technical skills, but they must also know how to handle people and negotiate deals. And on top of that, they must have a solid background in the field of supply chain management.
So it’s no wonder so many firms are struggling to fill these positions, which are growing fast in numbers. According to a recent survey of supply chain executives conducted by consulting firm Supply Chain Insights, 54 percent indicated that filling middle-management roles—i.e., supply chain managers—was the most difficult, due to a talent shortage. Indeed, a 2012 report indicated that there will be as many as 270,000 unfilled supply chain jobs every year until 2018.
The growing awareness of supply chain management as a lucrative and stable career path has prompted many universities to adapt. Between 2008 and 2013, the percentage of universities worldwide that offer programs in SCM has more than doubled: from 6 percent to 13 percent, according to a 2014 report.
We analyzed 200 job listings for supply chain management positions from a diverse set of firms. If you have any questions about this report, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.