Careers in Logistics and Supply Chain Management (SCM)
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Types of Job in Supply Chain and Logistics
There are many job types in supply chain and logistics, so to simplify things, it’s best to categorize them in some way.
Supply Chain Planning
Planning is necessary at just about every stage in the supply chain, and if aptitude for a planning role, there is a wide range of possibilities in front of you. Here are some of the planning roles that you could aim for:
- Supply Chain Planner: Typically a management role with responsibility to analyse supply chain performance and develop strategies for improvement.
- Demand Planner: This role involves forecasting and estimating future demand for a company’s products, and working with multiple supply chain functions to meet it, while also avoiding over-supply.
- Production Planner: As a production planner, you would focus on the manufacturing or production processes within your company, working with demand planners to ensure optimal levels of manufacturing output are maintained and aligned with demand.
- Capacity Planner: This position is similar to that of a production planner, but might be a broader role, since the focus is on all elements of a manufacturing operation rather than process alone. The objective of a capacity planner is to optimize manufacturing or production capacity through process, design, resource procurement, and collaboration with supply chain partners.
- Logistics Resource Planner: Typically an entry-level logistics role, a logistics resource planner is responsible for coordinating human resources and warehouse/transportation-fleet assets to fulfill customers’ orders in line with the company’s service promise.
- Load Planner: This appointment is narrower in scope than that of a resource planner, and focuses mainly on compiling customer orders into truckloads and planning efficient delivery routes for the transportation fleet.
Except for the supply chain planner role, all the jobs in the list above will likely have a linear career path, up to a point, perhaps including planners’ positions at entry level, and progressing to planning manager and maybe even planning director.
Manufacturing and Production
It’s easy to forget that the production environment is as much a part of the supply chain as logistics is.
Possible jobs in manufacturing, which are essentially supply chain roles include:
- Production Operative, Supervisor, or Manager
- Maintenance Operative, Supervisor, or Manager
- Quality Manager
- Production Planner
- Purchasing Manager
- Production Warehouse Manager
Sourcing and Purchasing
Procurement, sourcing, and purchasing functions are part of the inbound supply chain, which is a great place to gain an understanding of how sales, service, and inventory management, and logistics mesh together in balancing supply with demand.
In procurement especially, you are likely to be involved in building contractual agreements with suppliers engaging in commercial negotiations over product price, supplier service, and accountability for inbound transportation of the purchased goods.
Jobs involved in this aspect of supply chain management can comprise:
- Strategic Sourcing Manager
- Purchasing and Inventory Clerk
- Procurement Manager/Specialist
- Commodities Manager
- Category Manager
Logistics and Transportation
The management of logistics is perhaps the “face” of supply chain management, concerned as it is with the actual movement of materials, goods and just as important, but rarely mentioned, information. Jobs in logistics can range from manual, such as warehouse operatives and truckies, through clerical, like transport administration, supervisory and managerial, to senior management positions.
You could consider any of the following jobs in logistics and transportation:
- Logistics Administrator
- Logistics Manager
- Transport Administrator
- Transport Manager
- Reverse Logistics Manager
- Warehouse Administrator
- Inventory Controller
- Warehouse Manager
- Logistics Director
Other Supply Chain Careers
Aside from the planning and operational careers covered in the previous article sections, many different roles exist that can provide an exciting and satisfying supply chain career. Some examples include:
- Supply Chain Solution Design Analyst: Responsible for analysing a company’s supply chains and designing solutions to improve performance.
- Supply chain Finance Management: This is similar to other corporate finance functions, but specializing in the control of supply chain expenses. This type of job typically exists only in larger enterprises.
- Supply Chain IT: Larger companies also have IT departments dedicated to providing and managing technology for supply chain functions. Some enterprises have IT departments exclusively serving the logistics function.
- Sales Roles: Ocean, air, and overland carriers, 3PLs, and 4PLs all sell logistics services to support customers’ supply chain operations. That means they all have sales functions. A sales role in a logistics service company will expose you to every aspect of supply chain operation and management, as you have to understand your customers’ supply chains, and the role your employer plays in supporting them.
- Project Management: Projects are critical to all areas of industry, supply chain and logistics being no exception. If you like your career to be varied and challenging, a job in logistics or supply chain project management can be an ideal choice. Again, this is a role typically found in larger companies or in enterprises that provide logistics services.
- Supply Chain Consulting: If you like lots of variety, you might want to think about joining a consulting firm that specialises in supply chain and logistics. A consulting career will see you working on hundreds of different projects for a multitude of companies. However, it is a good idea (although not obligatory) to gain some experience of working in supply chain management before you take a consulting position.