Having racked up eight years of experience in supply chain to date, Conley talks about what drew her to the industry. The wide-ranging nature of supply-chain management was a major factor, she says. Currently her role centers on project management, a job that reaches into multiple aspects of Caterpillar’s business.
Having initially pursued a career in industrial engineering, Conley didn’t consider supply chain as a possibility during her early years of education. It was only after coming back to work for Caterpillar, following the obtaining of a masters in engineering, that she became aware of the opportunities in that area. “I got bit by the supply-chain bug after all,” she says.
A specific degree in supply chain isn’t absolutely necessary for pursuing a career in that discipline, Conley says. Students can supplement their knowledge through a number of certification programs and outside educational courses.
Conley cites adaptability as a key trait that successful supply-chain professionals must possess. “It’s not just about how you approach a problem,” she says. “It’s how you engage people. You have to be able to work across disciplines, countries and cultures.”
Adaptability, of course, is an essential element of supply chains as well. “It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re changing who you are,” says Conley, “but you’re finding different ways to approach and market people. You have to be able to recognize potentials and obstacles, and find ways to maneuver around them.”
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