Supply chain management can be a satisfying career path for those who enjoy planning, organizing, and problem-solving. A 2020 survey by the Association for Supply Chain Management reveals that 88% of supply chain professionals have a positive outlook on their careers. Furthermore, a majority of respondents would recommend this career to their peers.
If you are interested in working in the supply chain industry, you may choose to enroll in a master’s degree that focuses on supply chain management. Before deciding to pursue this type of degree, you’ll want to learn about available career opportunities.
What Is Supply Chain Management?
Supply chain management is the oversight of material flow, cash flow and information flow within an organization and across other companies.
Supply chain managers are responsible for coordinating the logistics of all aspects of the supply chain—from the sourcing of raw materials to the distribution of the finished products. As part of their supply chain management definition, the five key parts of the supply chain:
- The plan or strategy
- The source
- Delivery and logistics
- The return system
While one of the main focuses of supply chain management is improving the cost-effectiveness of a company’s supply chain, this is not all that supply chain professionals do.
Supply chain managers also go across functional silos to understand how marketing strategies may affect logistics, manufacturing, and procurement,” This might include looking at how the company’s financial situation may affect supplier contracts, or how exchange rate fluctuations may affect incoming material flow.
Why Is Global Supply Chain Management Important?
Global supply chain management incorporates the logistics of sourcing, manufacturing, transporting, and distributing products outside of a company’s base country.
The two aspects of global supply chain management are particularly important for operations and supply chain management students to understand. Firstly, global supply chains can have a profound effect on strategic decision-making, demanding interdisciplinary knowledge.
For example, international companies need to ask themselves if they should move toward global sourcing for existing products. How should you organize the logistics? If a 15% tariff is added or if a country’s border is closed, what will the implications be for your suppliers, employees, and customers?
The second essential aspect of global supply chain management is acknowledging that different regions will have different ways of operating. For example, manufacturers of auto parts in China may describe their quality standards in different measurements than U.S. automakers. This can create a challenge for brands looking for suppliers overseas.
Who Is a Good Fit for Global Supply Chain Management?
How do you know if studying global supply chain management is right for you? many MBA students who choose to specialize in supply chain management share a few commonalities.
Many of students are either looking to strengthen their business knowledge to move up the ladder in an organization for a specific career area path or are looking to broaden their business knowledge for a role change because there are so many career opportunities within the supply chain industry, it is common for students to take supply chain courses even if they are specializing in a different field.
What Skills Are Taught in the Global Supply Chain Management Specialization?
The MBA program with a specialization in Global Supply Chain Management teaches three key levels of capabilities:
- Basic concepts, tools and business models
- Analyzing complex business situations and formulating strategies
- Managing teams
Most classes in the Global Supply Chain Management specialization include team projects or assignments that allow students to interact with and learn from one another. Since supply chain professionals frequently have to coordinate with both internal and external teams, it can be valuable for students to have the experience of managing different work styles, schedules and viewpoints.
What Does the Future Hold for Supply Chain Management?
The pandemic highlighted some of the shortcomings of supply chains, with shortages of some products like toilet paper and hand sanitiser. As the economy recovers from the pandemic, many parts of the world are seeing significant shipping delays as the global supply chain struggles to keep up with increased demand.
Ongoing shortages and delays emphasize the need for supply chain professionals to be prepared for disruptions.
Supply chain management can be a challenging career, but ultimately, the future looks bright for those who are able to be adaptable and strategic. “I think it’s our job to train our students to think more openly and broadly, so they know how to make a difference in events like the pandemic,”
What Is the Job Outlook for Supply Chain Managers?
According to the statistics, hundreds of thousands of supply chain jobs go unfilled each year due to a lack of qualified candidates. This presents a big opportunity for students who pursue a supply chain management degree.
Demand for supply chain talent is rising. This is especially true for new talents who have an understanding of current technologies and emerging business models.
Some common job titles for those with an MBA with a focus on supply chain management include:
- Supply chain manager
- Purchasing manager
- Inventory planning specialist
- Production planner
- Operations Manager
- Supply chain leader
- Project manager
- Lean manager