As we are working “in the weeds”, every day, we often lose sight of how critical our function is. We, at The Mpower Group, do a lot of Strategic Sourcing and Supply Chain Management training as one of our service offerings because WE KNOW the value of a strong Supply Chain. I guess it has just taken the rest of the world a little time to catch up . . . . . .
There was an article in the Wall Street Journal last week “Hot New MBA: Supply-Chain Management” which describes the increasing demand of employers to hire people with supply-chain expertise. For many, many businesses, their supply chain can be the difference between success or failure. So having the right, skilled resources in place is a critical success factor. But let’s be real here . . . this is not NEW, but it is clearly a move in the right direction.
I do have a few words of caution for employers . . . . . . as you know, a college degree in any discipline is helpful BUT it is not a silver bullet. To be a strong supply chain professional there are skills beyond “Supply Chain” which are important. It is those strategic competencies like problem solving, change management, communication, collaboration, business acumen, etc. that are true differentiators when hiring any professional. These are also the skills that are often missing in the Supply Chain Management curricula offered today. I have written about this quite a bit because I am a strong proponent of integrating those critical strategic competencies into the functional (supply-chain) competencies – see Could Supply Chain Skills Return America to Prosperity?. So, I would advise employers to target graduates from programs that are integrating those skills or use professional training firms to provide those skills.
Since most companies cannot or should not replace their entire staff with recent grads, investing in professional supply chain training is a great investment. But be sure to select a training firm that does two things:
- Integrates strategic competencies with the functional, supply chain skills
- Requires application of the new skills to ensure that the learning sticks AND is applied
If these two points sound intuitive, they are BUT they are seldom followed. As with everything else, companies spend millions of dollars in implementing solutions but very little in ensuring that those solutions are adopted by employees – AND ADOPTION is where you actually get a return on your investment. Think about all the training you have attended and reflect on what, if any, you actually applied when you returned to work – probably very little. By the way, the same can be said for hiring talented, supply-chain grads. If you do not provide them opportunities to apply what they learned in school you will not benefit, as an employer, from their skill set. In addition, those supply chain skills will not be sustained if they are not used.
The good news is that the rest of the world is starting to recognize what we already know – supply-chain management is an important function and requires a unique set of skills to be successful. Universities are gearing up to meet the demands of employers that recognize the value of supply-chain management. As supply chain professionals we need to insist that our employers provide us with the training we need to round out our skill set and also provide us the opportunity to utilize those skills. I think supply-chain can be an exciting and rewarding career. I am encouraged to see that others are recognizing that as well.
Don’t forget The Mpower Group when you are thinking about investing in your employees . . . . we are the best!
Please join in the conversation . . . . . . .