Supply chain and logistics is a key part of the UK economy. With factors such as the use of cutting-edge technologies in many areas, & the importance organisations place on creating robust supply chains, it’s an increasingly popular career path open to all graduates. Read on to explore whether it’s a career path for you and pick up tips on how to get into the sector.
In December 2021, we held a panel event ‘How to get into Supply Chain Management and Logistics’ for Social Science and Law students. Our alumnus speakers joined from organisations including EY, Rolls Royce, Roche, and Suntory Beverage & Food. So with industries from food and drink manufacturing, to engineering, and pharmaceuticals represented, the event offered an insight into the breadth of roles available.
Build good foundations for a successful career
Supply chain touches almost every aspect of a business, so it’s good to understand the impact of procurement across all organisational aspects.
- There are a variety of graduate schemes including supply chain, procurement or general operational management that offer you good, varied experience. There are plenty of graduate entry planning and analyst roles outside of graduate scheme cycles too.
- Ask yourself what excites you about the journey you are on – if you have passion/energy for something you can latch onto the career path.
- Take opportunities when they come or try and make those opportunities if they don’t present themselves – one panellist successfully pitched for the creation of a new job as could explain how it met a business need.
- Moving between different departments and roles can give a better grounding for senior roles.
Bridge the gap between university and your first graduate role
- Build your network of mentors because there are lots of pathways in supply chain and logistics. The people you network with will grow with you so will serve you well. That’s part of the fun of it.
- Connect with employers with supply chain, logistics and planning functions – panellists shared examples of meeting influential connections at careers fairs.
- Arrange an information interview with supply chain professionals before applying – get an understanding of how processes & systems work.
What do hiring managers for supply chain roles want
- Curiosity & a growth mindset – asking why an organisation are doing something & can genuinely demonstrate they are interested & want to learn from the business.
- Understands the business – knowing what’s good for one company doesn’t necessarily translate to another – take an industry by industry, company by company approach.
- Statistical data analysis and modelling experience – particularly for planning roles, you’ll be faced with qualitative & quantitative data. There won’t be a straightforward correct answer, so your research methods and related modules will help.
- A clear personal brand – demonstrating what makes you different from the person sat next to you, and how the organisation can exploit that to their advantage.
- Ability to tell a compelling story – in a supply chain job there will be times you’ll need to convince a group of people that the project is going to support profitability & meet the strategic goals. They are looking for similar skills at interview.
- Software knowledge – consider getting familiarity with enterprise resource planning software (ERP) used to manage day to day business activities like supply chain, procurement, and project management.
Familiarise yourself with emerging industry topics
Consider the fundamentals you need to have credibility in; hot topics will vary across different industries.
- Panellists highlighted how Brexit and the Pandemic have impacted supply chains and put a spotlight on the function within businesses e.g. lots of risk management related work generated.
- Supply chain operations are having to adapt to the role of digital and technology developments. A lot of work to be done in cloud-based computing and machine learning. It’s going to revolutionize traditional FMCG supply chains.
- Examples from the aerospace industry included reducing waste/transportation and moving towards more sustainable fuel.
- FMCG – competitiveness is intrinsically linked to consumer behaviour. Organisations will lose market share if not in tune with consumer preferences and expectations. Consider finding out companies, often publicly available, sustainability targets and their environmental impact.
Find out more
Use LinkedIn to research and network with professionals – our LinkedIn resources will help you do this.
Blog written by Karl Anton (Faculty Employability Adviser).