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Trends in business come and go, but there will always be a need for skilled supply-chain managers, says Dan Cassler, logistics technology program manager at the University of Houston. He offers a look at the current and future job market, and what it takes to succeed in that competitive environment.
Just about every college graduate faces a tough job market today. Nevertheless, the field of logistics continues to offer good career opportunities, Cassler says. Entry positions are available in the range of $30,000 to $40,000 a year.
While the discipline of logistics isn't going away anytime soon, the requirements for the job are constantly changing. Companies today are looking for students with a high degree of expertise in technology. They need to know about basic applications such as Excel, PowerPoint and a variety of database programs. In addition, an attractive candidate should be able to work in a cross-functional team, the very essence of supply-chain management today.
Each company has its own method of training new hires in logistics. It's the university's job to equip students with a wide-ranging knowledge base. Cassler says students should be taking introductory courses in law, purchasing and procurement, along with advanced courses in statistics and sales. In their final year at the University of Houston, they work with an real-world company to solve a particular problem. The partner then grades their effort. "We really hope the business will employ our graduates when they're finished," he says.
There are plenty of issues to be solved, as companies labor to improve their supply-chain processes. The focus, says Cassler, is on optimization. Managers are keenly interested in how save money, boost efficiency and improve customer service. In addition, they're addressing the issue of sustainability, by way of measuring a supply chain's carbon footprint.
"Supply chain now has become issue number one," says Cassler. "It's a hot button with executives." Companies are on the lookout for managers who can optimize costs while getting product delivered on a timely basis.
"It's all about the bottom line," he says. "Today, with the economy being what it is, everybody's trying to cut cost. When the economy comes back, the opportunities will double."
To view this interview in its entirety, click here.
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