Before the current pandemic, most of us knew very little about personal protective equipment (PPE), unless you worked in mining or manufacturing.  Suddenly, the words “supply chain” were all about getting these vital goods from A-to-B, and in a hurry.

So what do people who work in supply chain actually do?  They plan, buy, make, move, store and sell goods.  Specialists in I.T., risk, supplier performance and sustainability support the entire supply chain, from suppliers to customers.

In supply chain, there are jobs now that didn’t exist 5 years ago. 5 years from now there will be jobs that don’t exist today.  Many of these will involve implementing software solutions and consulting on projects. Some traditional operational and tactical roles are being outsourced to third-party service providers or agencies. It’s the strategic, planning and technology roles that provide exciting opportunities.

Some of the areas that are in high demand:  

 1. Risk management

 No prizes for guessing how this has risen to the top of the pile. Risk management has always been there but in the good times it tends to take a back seat. Risks include political and economic, reputational, extreme events and catastrophes (yes, that’s us), cyber-attacks and data protection.

 2. Technology guru

 Rapid advances in software solutions for supply chain mean that someone in every organization has to be on top of new products and know how they can be applied.  How do you know which one to choose?  There are lots of solution providers out there – someone has to research and evaluate them and cut through the sales hype. Google research will not suffice.

3.  Big-data analyst

“Big data” is a hot topic, how to cleanse it, how to slice-and-dice it and tweak it for reporting and decision-making.  In many supply chains data is often unstructured, out-of-date, wrongly classified and in different formats and locations.  Although statistical analysis seems a backroom sort of job, it is vital to the success of an organization. And it pays well!

4.  Sustainability

This is a catch-all term used loosely to cover a whole range of “green” and environmental issues.  Global leaders are hiring specialists to focus on managing their usage of fuel, water and power.  These companies are running big projects to limit their carbon footprint and reduce emissions and waste.  Refer to reputational risk!

5.  Change management

Implementing new business solutions and supplier changeovers have always been a headache. There is a need for individuals who can manage the “human side” of change when rolling-out change projects to avoid it going off the rails. Things often go wrong in implementation, even after extensive communication.

There are many more exciting career roles in supply chain.  There is probably one out there, waiting for you.