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Senior supply-chain executives expect individuals today to possess a number of core competencies, says Ecklund. They must display global business acumen, transformational capabilities, the ability to deal with integrated business systems and a complete understanding of "the whole concept of how the value chain ties to supply."
Local expertise in global markets is especially critical. Ecklund cites the example of Kraft Foods, which has moved from a reliance on American expatriates to the hiring and training of more nationals in various regions.
Some of the biggest gaps in supply-chain talent today are related to problem-solving abilities, global leadership skills, business experience in worldwide environments, and customer relationships. "Supply-chain executives don't spend enough time out with customers understanding their challenges," Ecklund says.
Successful companies today are shifting their emphasis from cost-cutting to quality management and communications. "Think about what a supply chain does," Ecklund says. "It accounts for around 60 to 70 percent of cost in a company structure. It controls most of the inventory and the majority of physical assets, and is absolutely essential to companies accomplishing their business strategies and success."
How can supply-chain executives close the gap and transform their own careers? There's no single answer, says Ecklund. It begins with an organization's ability to assess its own competency. Companies need to know how to reach beyond their own environments to obtain "an objective view of their capabilities." They should be investing in specialized support, career development and executive education. "There are four or five different things that people can look at to address the gap issues," he says.
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, international trade, inventory management, supply chain planning, supply chain careers, customer relationship management
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