Supply Chain has lived a revolution over the last decades

In the last decades, Supply Chain has started to play a key role in its contribution to stakeholder value. Supply Chain functions have strongly attracted quality talents. This evolution was backed by the academic world launching especially dedicated Supply Chain programs.

The struggle to attract the best in class has started reinforcing the need to use professionals in this particularly difficult process.

Until 20 years ago, Supply Chain used to be a department where most people landed because no alternate option was left to them: Finance was too complicated, Sales & Marketing too superficial, and Production was far too technical, no to mention ICT!


So in this context Supply Chain was a second choice made by managers run out of inspiration.


In most companies, there were hardly a few functions (Purchasing, Production Planning, Warehouse and Inventory management) not necessarily belonging to Supply Chain. For example, Purchasing could report to Finance, Planning to Production, etc …).


Due to the lack of understanding of the complexity of the Supply Chain functions, their job descriptions were usually rather superficial and no specific expertise was required in their recruitments. And cherry on the cake, the level of expectation seemed rather low (probably due to a lack of perception of what was Supply Chain all about!).


This situation called some inevitable side-effects like poor compensation package, credibility too seldom absent, job recognition, frustrations of all kind ...


To complete this rather disappointing picture there was no academic schooling specifically Supply Chain oriented to improve the quality.


Supply Chain has undergone rapid and deep transformations


Over the last decades, Industries and services have undergone enormous transformational change in all aspects of their operations. Some of the transformations directly came from the market driven by a number of factors like:

  • Product range: they have undergone a strong diversification with a major impact on inventory management techniques
  • Customer focus: Clients have become more and more demanding, expecting an increasing range of services along with the delivered products
  • Market segmentation offering adapted communication, extended services and guarantee, etc …
  • Globalisation has had a heavy impact at every step of the chain: raw materials sourcing, subcontracting as well as Finished Goods distribution
  • Constant increase of Supply Chain budget has reflected this evolution. This department was in charge of more and more company’s costs and expenses
  • Acceleration of technology’s evolution directly applicable to the Supply Chain function

The above transformations have boosted the demand for talents in Supply Chain.


The corporate communities have become substantially more successful thanks to their Supply Chain allowing them to install credibility in their answer to the above challenges and convince of their capabilities.


As a consequence, the Supply Chain has engulfed more and more talents seeking top career opportunities.


In over 20 years, those successful Supply Chain organisations have managed a gradual but fairly solid evolution going from simple “flow” controller to responsible of the entire cycle.


Their Supply Chain scope has substantially grown and largely diversified in terms of functions. To prove the complexity of the scope, I have listed here-below some of the Supply Chain related functions. I am quite sure you will want to add some more to: After Sales, Contract Management, Customer Service, Demand Planning, Distribution, Forecasting, Forwarding, Inventory Management, Interco sourcing, Logistics, Order Entry, Open Innovation, Operations Planning, Market intelligence development, Materials Management, Production Planning, Procurement, Production, Purchasing, Supplies Management, Supply Chain modelling, Transport, Warehouse.


In addition, the job description of each of those functions has been considerably extended.



Impact on the recruited profiles


Supply Chain is now recognised by the top management and everybody is convinced of their very active role in providing solid competitive edges to shareholders.


The Top academic world (INSEAD, IMD, Cranfield University, etc ...) has done its duty in creating SC specific programs. Some key professional organisations have increased their influence like The Conference Board, SCOR, European Logistics Association …


Because of the Supply Chain specificity, the ideal profiles were those of T-shaped Managers capable to combine in depth knowledge of their techniques with a broad vision of their surrounding.


The most wanted talents show strong soft management skills, understand the nuances of complex alliances and are capable to negotiate and convince at any level.


Those profiles are still in demand globally even if the Supply Chain has managed to attract some top talents. The struggle to find highly skilled Supply Chain talents is expected to continue its growth in the coming years.





The struggle to attract the best in class has started reinforcing the need to use professionals in this particularly difficult process.


The art of identifying, attracting and retaining the best needs to be carefully addressed more than ever in a much professionalized way for the demand is far greater than the supply!

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