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COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way supply chains operate globally over the past 2 years. With consumers becoming more demanding, supply chains have evolved at a faster rate. As such, the demand for supply chain professionals will not diminish and supply chain remains an area that many companies are willing to invest in – even after the pandemic is under control.
While most supply chain professionals are experts in their respective industries, there are certain skills or traits that distinguish the leaders. Here are 6 crucial skills that supply chain leaders need in order to lead a team efficiently and effectively.
Due to the ever-changing nature of supply chain operations, flexibility is an important skill for supply chain leaders. Being flexible will show your ability to respond quickly to external factors such as global freight shortages and delays in manufacturing activities.
On top of that, we often hear supply chain professionals leaving their jobs because of the company’s “messy supply chain processes” or “chaotic sales and operations planning”. As a result, companies are more likely to hire flexible leaders who can work through chaos and establish an effective supply chain process.
2. Technology expertise
The importance of technology can’t be emphasised enough, especially since technology adoption and reliance only continues to grow. As such, it becomes crucial for supply chain leaders to have a certain degree of knowledge in technology (i.e. data system, analytics, coding proficiency). Not only will this allow you to identify and advocate technology solutions that supports your company’s supply chain goals, but it will also help you make smarter and more efficient decisions that have a positive impact on operations.
As a supply chain leader, you will spend a good portion of your time negotiating with internal stakeholders and external business partners. Since supply chain plays an important part in maintaining a company’s profitability – from sourcing raw materials to freight expenses, it will be up to your negotiation skills to maintain healthy relationships with vendors and establish efficient sourcing terms.
4. Ability to keep up with industry & market trends
With the global economy changing rapidly, supply chain leaders need to constantly keep themselves up to date in terms of market demand and supply chain trends. By keeping abreast of the latest industry and market insights, you will be able to predict possible future supply chain situations, adapt to consumer changes, and alter your company’s strategies accordingly.
In fact, there are a number of companies currently looking for supply chain professionals with good business sense; in other words – the ability to stay up to date with the industry and market trends, to fill their supply chain leadership roles.
5. Project management
To succeed as a supply chain leader, you will need to plan and manage various projects efficiently. When it’s done right, project management will allow your team to run smoothly – from changing vendors seamlessly to setting up new distribution centres. It will allow your team to focus on tasks that matter, free from distractions caused by tasks going off track or budgets spinning out of control.
Oftentimes, supply chain leaders must coordinate and work with leaders from other divisions within the company – from finance to IT. Hence, it is important to know how to speak the language of senior executives. If you are discussing topics such as demand forecasting or inventory control, then terms like ROIC, EBITDA, economic profit, and more should be part of your daily vocabulary.
With the ability to articulate complicated concepts into business actions, as well as strong communication skills, there will definitely be better collaboration internally and better negotiation results externally.
To sum up, learning doesn’t stop after you have attained your degrees and certifications. If you want to take your supply chain career to the next level, it is essential for you to constantly improve both your technical and interpersonal skills.
If you are looking for opportunities or market insights within Supply Chain & Procurement, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.
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