Companies See ‘Massive Shift’ in Search for Supply Chain Talent

The growing role of technology and the impact of globalization are creating demands for skills beyond traditional oversight of supply chains.



Companies are finding that the growing complexity of supply chains has a significant consequence: hiring the right people to build and manage the expansive operations is more difficult than ever.

Industry experts say an understanding of technology and an ability to work in a global environment are increasingly important in the supply chain, forcing managers to look for people with a rare mix of specialized skills to manage this crucial aspect of their business.

With a wealth of data now available to help predict demand more quickly, for instance, companies can save large amounts of money by keeping less inventory on hand. But such savings require technological savvy and an ability to corral and analyze the large amount of data that comes in from growing markets around the world.

“The supply chain industry is undergoing one of the most massive talent shifts we have ever seen.” Cisco Systems Inc. Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Operations John Kern said at a recent conference for supply chain executives in Phoenix. Supply chain operations used to be a collection of jobs under logistics and procurement functions, and managers were charged with executing leadership decisions. Now, companies are consolidating these functions within high-level leadership, pushing the positions up the executive ladder while also looking for wide-ranging skills to construct global and complex supply chains, said Peter L. O’Brien, head of the global supply chain practice of executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates.

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