Executive Briefings

Supply Chain Talent is the Missing Link in the Race for Supply Chain 2020

Recently, I have been speaking about the global supply chain talent shortage in countries with over a 30-percent unemployment rate. The discussion of the lack of supply chain talent in countries where the attendees are struggling to find high-paying jobs feels awkward. For many, it almost seems surreal. They are fighting so hard for jobs for their families and friends. They are consumed by the fight. To hear someone talking about a talent gap in a field of high-paying jobs with good benefits is difficult for them to conceive. But, it is true.

Supply Chain Talent is the Missing Link in the Race for Supply Chain 2020

Last year, we conducted a study of supply chain talent. The quantitative study was fielded in August 2012 with 75 respondents. We are currently re-fielding the study to understand how the market is changing. We are trying to understand how this issue is changing year over year to help supply chain leaders better manage their teams.

The key survey findings from the Supply Chain Insights survey of 2012 are:

Mid-management positions are the largest opportunity for supply chain talent. These are largely planning positions within global multinationals. While many hear the term talent shortage and automatically think about the influx of new graduates and the shortage of students coming out of schools, college graduates do not solve the problem. Companies are seeking people with 5 to 7 years of experience in supply chain management. The shortage stems from four factors:

"¢ The Passing of the Baton. The retirement of baby boomers is a major factor. The first and second generations of supply chain professionals are retiring.

"¢ Growing Opportunities. Greater opportunity for people with strong supply chain skills. With the outsourcing of manufacturing and the growing complexity of global supply chains, the basics of supply chain management matter more than ever. Those that have deep understanding of the design and execution of supply chain processes are being presented with new opportunities.

"¢ Demand is Greater than Supply. The greatest talent shortage is in the areas of Africa, South America, China and India. These countries have not been able to bring new graduates to market at the pace of demand. The most developed talent is in the areas of North America and Europe. The greatest demand is in emerging economies.

"¢ Outsourcing Increases the Need. As companies have outsourced manufacturing and become more dependent on suppliers, there is a greater need for planning. Companies need to better translate and synchronize demand and supply to manage tight supply in the face of volatile market opportunities.


The answer is training and the availability of cross-functional assignments. Companies will no longer be able to "retread" planning employees, hiring opportunistically from other companies. There are just too few to go around. When I started the book Bricks Matter, it took three months on average to fill a demand planning position. When the book was published nine months later, the average time to fill a position was nine months.

"¢ Re-skilling is Necessary. Training is Essential. The processes and technologies over the past three decades delivered inflexible supply chains that have not been able to balance growth, costs, cycles and complexity. The processes are not equal to today's challenge. Complexity is increasing. It will grow at an increasing pace. In parallel, growth is stalled, and inventory levels for every industry, except consumer electronics, is growing. (Most of the progress in cash-to-cash cycles has come from tightening terms with suppliers and lengthening payables.) In the first three decades of supply chain management, leaders have talked about "collaboration" and building the "end-to-end" supply chain, but in reality, companies have pushed waste and cost backwards in the supply chain decreasing financial resiliency. Supply chain innovation is an opportunity to drive differentiation and brand loyalty, but only when the processes are designed from the outside in, from the customer back. There is a need for companies to train employees to think differently. In the words of one supply chain leader, it is time to "learn the processes from the first three decades, to unlearn them and rethink/deliver processes that can help companies deliver on their brand promise."

"¢ Executive Understanding. Change Management. A Need for Leadership. One of the largest barriers to using supply chain as a competitive advantage is the understanding of the executive team. As long as the term "supply chain" is used to refer to a function with limited capabilities within a greater organization, the opportunities to build the end-to-end supply chain advantage will be limited.  With increasing need to deliver on corporate social responsibility objects, the traditional management of supply chain as limited function, as opposed to the redesign of end-to-end processes, will be a barrier to growth. An example is corporate social responsibility (CSR). Today, over 90 percent of companies publish a corporate social responsibility document, 74 percent of companies tie some element of corporate social responsibility to a marketing claim, but only 20 percent are focused on the redesign of the end-to-end process from the customer's customer to the suppliers' supplier to deliver on the promise. There is a gap. Most companies are focused on traditional supply chain processes within the "four walls" of the enterprise. Talent, and the building of the next generation of supply chain talent, is not one of the highest priorities.

We are currently fielding a second study to see if things are getting better or worse. What do you think? We would love to hear from you. How do you see the state of supply chain talent? We would love your thoughts on the topic by filling out the 2013 survey. Click here for the link for the survey.  

We will be sharing the results of our upcoming study with all respondents in our August newsletter and in our webcast, click here.

Source: Supply Chain Insights


Keywords: supply chain jobs, supply chain talent management, supply chain expertise, supply chain knowledge bank, supply chain management

Last year, we conducted a study of supply chain talent. The quantitative study was fielded in August 2012 with 75 respondents. We are currently re-fielding the study to understand how the market is changing. We are trying to understand how this issue is changing year over year to help supply chain leaders better manage their teams.

The key survey findings from the Supply Chain Insights survey of 2012 are:

Mid-management positions are the largest opportunity for supply chain talent. These are largely planning positions within global multinationals. While many hear the term talent shortage and automatically think about the influx of new graduates and the shortage of students coming out of schools, college graduates do not solve the problem. Companies are seeking people with 5 to 7 years of experience in supply chain management. The shortage stems from four factors:

"¢ The Passing of the Baton. The retirement of baby boomers is a major factor. The first and second generations of supply chain professionals are retiring.

"¢ Growing Opportunities. Greater opportunity for people with strong supply chain skills. With the outsourcing of manufacturing and the growing complexity of global supply chains, the basics of supply chain management matter more than ever. Those that have deep understanding of the design and execution of supply chain processes are being presented with new opportunities.

"¢ Demand is Greater than Supply. The greatest talent shortage is in the areas of Africa, South America, China and India. These countries have not been able to bring new graduates to market at the pace of demand. The most developed talent is in the areas of North America and Europe. The greatest demand is in emerging economies.

"¢ Outsourcing Increases the Need. As companies have outsourced manufacturing and become more dependent on suppliers, there is a greater need for planning. Companies need to better translate and synchronize demand and supply to manage tight supply in the face of volatile market opportunities.


The answer is training and the availability of cross-functional assignments. Companies will no longer be able to "retread" planning employees, hiring opportunistically from other companies. There are just too few to go around. When I started the book Bricks Matter, it took three months on average to fill a demand planning position. When the book was published nine months later, the average time to fill a position was nine months.

"¢ Re-skilling is Necessary. Training is Essential. The processes and technologies over the past three decades delivered inflexible supply chains that have not been able to balance growth, costs, cycles and complexity. The processes are not equal to today's challenge. Complexity is increasing. It will grow at an increasing pace. In parallel, growth is stalled, and inventory levels for every industry, except consumer electronics, is growing. (Most of the progress in cash-to-cash cycles has come from tightening terms with suppliers and lengthening payables.) In the first three decades of supply chain management, leaders have talked about "collaboration" and building the "end-to-end" supply chain, but in reality, companies have pushed waste and cost backwards in the supply chain decreasing financial resiliency. Supply chain innovation is an opportunity to drive differentiation and brand loyalty, but only when the processes are designed from the outside in, from the customer back. There is a need for companies to train employees to think differently. In the words of one supply chain leader, it is time to "learn the processes from the first three decades, to unlearn them and rethink/deliver processes that can help companies deliver on their brand promise."

"¢ Executive Understanding. Change Management. A Need for Leadership. One of the largest barriers to using supply chain as a competitive advantage is the understanding of the executive team. As long as the term "supply chain" is used to refer to a function with limited capabilities within a greater organization, the opportunities to build the end-to-end supply chain advantage will be limited.  With increasing need to deliver on corporate social responsibility objects, the traditional management of supply chain as limited function, as opposed to the redesign of end-to-end processes, will be a barrier to growth. An example is corporate social responsibility (CSR). Today, over 90 percent of companies publish a corporate social responsibility document, 74 percent of companies tie some element of corporate social responsibility to a marketing claim, but only 20 percent are focused on the redesign of the end-to-end process from the customer's customer to the suppliers' supplier to deliver on the promise. There is a gap. Most companies are focused on traditional supply chain processes within the "four walls" of the enterprise. Talent, and the building of the next generation of supply chain talent, is not one of the highest priorities.

We are currently fielding a second study to see if things are getting better or worse. What do you think? We would love to hear from you. How do you see the state of supply chain talent? We would love your thoughts on the topic by filling out the 2013 survey. Click here for the link for the survey.  

We will be sharing the results of our upcoming study with all respondents in our August newsletter and in our webcast, click here.

Source: Supply Chain Insights


Keywords: supply chain jobs, supply chain talent management, supply chain expertise, supply chain knowledge bank, supply chain management

Supply Chain Talent is the Missing Link in the Race for Supply Chain 2020