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Fueling Talent Into Supply Chain and Logistics

A discussion about the talent gap in supply chain management – and what 3PL Transplace is doing about it – with Adrianne Court, chief human resources officer, and Blake Whicker, a graduate of the company's New Grad Professional Development Program.

The field of suitable candidates for a career in supply-chain management is “alarmingly sparse,” says Court. The issue is becoming a top concern for Transplace, as well as the logistics industry as a whole.

To address the problem, Transplace developed its New Grad Professional Development Program. It provides recently graduated candidates with “front-line experience” in serving key accounts. Whicker, for example, has been assigned to the Microsoft account in Seattle.

For Transplace, the choice lay between stealing talent from others or developing it in-house. The new grad program allowed the company to tackle the talent shortage from within.

During Court’s first year at the company, she focused on key issues of leadership and accountability. They were addressed in part at a monthly leadership forum. Over the past two and half years, she says, Transplace has reduced its attrition rate by more than 50 percent.

Whicker originally was interested in going to law school. Subsequently, his interest was caught by the supply chain and logistics field, and Transplace specifically. He was drawn to the company’s policy of rotating employees through multiple roles. “You don’t just learn about them from an academic perspective,” he said. “You actually get to do them…. The accountability you’re given is second to none.”

New hires are followed closely by the executive team, says Court. Within their first six to eight months on the job, they give a presentation to upper management about their experience to date and their work on special projects. “You know that you’re a team player,” says Whicker, “and you know that you’re valued.”

As a career, Whicker says, supply-chain management has been “unfairly maligned as boring and dry. It’s completely the opposite.” The trick is to convince college students that supply chain can be a rewarding career path.

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