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- Oct. 12, 2006 -


Supply Chain Best Practice Tip: Managing Your Career



The market for Supply Chain Execs is strong, but you need to plan your career path with care to maximize your attractiveness, says one prominent recruiter.



SCDigest editorial staff

The good news: the market for supply chain management talent is hot and likely to remain so for many years.

“I believe the demand for top supply chain executives will far exceed the supply for at least the next 10 years,” Dave MacEachern, head of the supply chain and logistics practice at top recruiting firm SpencerStuart, recently told guests at Georgia Tech’s Supply Chain Executive Forum.

This is a topic we’ll cover in more detail soon, but MacEachern provide tips for maximizing your attractiveness as a candidate for top jobs. While offered from the perspective of managers currently in executive-level positions, they offer great guidance for supply chain and logistics levels at any level hoping to reach the top some day.

Guidelines for Building a Supply Chain Career


  • Map out your career development and fill in the gaps: Companies today are looking for a broad set of skills, covering the whole supply chain. Proactively seek experience across many functions (logistics, sourcing, planning, manufacturing, global, etc.).
  • Work for a company that gets it and invests in it: Naturally, other companies want to recruit from companies perceived as supply chain leaders. As talented as you may be, if you are working for a company that has a mediocre supply chain reputation, it won’t help your cause later.
  • Work outside SCM (e.g., IT/Finance): Such as broad set of skills are now required to manage a supply chain, companies look favorably on those that have experience in related areas. Rollin Ford, formerly Wal-Mart’s head of supply chain, recently took the CIO role in the retail giant, for example.
  • Change industries: While some companies still want deep experience in a specific industry (e.g. retail), the trend is increasingly for companies to value a broad range of industry experience. As a recent example, SCDigest notes Reuben Slone, who led the supply chain transformation efforts at consumer durables manufacturer Whirlpool, more recently took the top supply chain spot at retailer Office Max.
  • Get international experience and live abroad: It goes without saying that companies are looking today for execs with skills in the global supply chain, but MacEachern said there’s often an even greater presence for someone who has actually lived overseas for some time. “If you have lived in China, that may be considered more favorably even if you have visited there 50 times,” he said.
  • Seek out board experience: Companies today are increasingly looking to add outside supply chain executives to their boards. If you get that opportunity, grab it – thinking and working at a board level will be considered highly by companies looking to fill a Chief Supply Chain Officer position.
  • Build your network: Potential employers and recruiters need to be able to find you – the breadth of your network greatly increases the odds.
  • Find a mentor: Identify an exec inside or outside your company who can help show you the way.


Sounds like a solid set of recommendations to us.


What do you think of Dave MacEachern’s list? Anything you would add or change? Let us know your thoughts.

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