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What is Supply Chain Management?

30 Mar 2017
Laura Brownhill


With dissertation deadline dates looming large and graduation gowns being ordered, you've probably already started to apply for various graduate schemes and entry level roles. But have you considered Supply Chain management?

It's probably something that never crossed your mind but as business gets ever more competitive and organisations search for every possible benefit there are real opportunties for those with an analytical mind to carve out a very succesful career in Supply Chain Management. 

We had a quick chat to a few of our clients to uncover exactly what companies are looking for in their supply chain recruitment.  

What is Supply Chain Management?

A supply chain as a ‘set of organisations directly linked by one or more upstream and downstream flow of products, services, finances, or information from a source to a customer’, which is a fairly complicated way of saying it's the management of a companies supply chain.

The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Chain ( further describes it as involving ‘buying the goods and services that enable an organisation to operate’ as well as ‘sourcing and managing the movement of raw materials into an organisation’.

Typically roles within the Supply Chain function:

  • Buying
  • Category Management
  • Procurement
  • Contracts
  • Planning
  • Materials Logistics
  • Inventory
  • Operations
  • Warehousing
  • Customer Service
  • Supply Chain

What skills do I need?

Organisations will be looking for you to demonstrate a variety of skills through your CV and Covering Letter. Traditional procurement skills such as financial management, contract management, cost reduction along with basic negotiation skills will always be fundamental to the procurement process. However in today’s strategic procurement environment, the most successful individuals combine these skills with good relationship management skills - listening, understanding and communicating.

We asked a number of industry professionals to list the main points that they look for when reviewing CVs for their supply chain programmes/entry level roles.

Analysis, Judgement & Problem Solving

When we chatted to Aker Solutions on what they looked for in their graduate applications, Barry Mole, former Operational Development Manager, advised that he seeks individuals who are highly analytical and very task orientated in order to hit deadlines.

Highlighting extracurricular activities you've been involved in whilst at university can often provide great opportunities for you to showcase where you have utilised problem solving skills. Part time work, volunteering and travelling can also provide you with scenarios where you have had to trust your judgement – so make sure you can relate this to the job description.

If you’re looking for some help on how to structure your answers when you get to interview stage check out our blog on competency based interview.

Business, Financial or Commercial Degree

Typically candidates who have a Business, Finance or Commercial Degree tend to be classed by employers as having the ‘ideal’ background for graduate/entry level supply chain roles. However if you have a slightly different education background, don’t let this deter you as previous work experience in a supply chain or commercial role is seen to be hugely advantageous.

Negotiation and Communication Skills

Many clients identified the need to feel comfortable putting their employees in front of suppliers in meetings; someone with great communication skills who would be professional and able. There is a strong customer focus within supply chain roles, so employers look for a high degree of work performance from candidates in order to meet their operational challenges.

Again thinking about situations outside of a work situation which will allow you to provide examples of interpersonal skills for applications and interviews.

Enthusiasm for Supply Chain

This might seem like an obvious point, but having a well thought out answer to this question can really make your application stand out. Take the time to consider why you want a role within supply chain and what attracted you to this career path. Conducting additional research into the Industry and showing a desire to grow and develop your expertise whilst having a good idea of supply chain and its demand, will all benefit your application.

There are fantastic, diverse career paths for those looking to embark on a career within supply chain. Coupled with the training and courses available from The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Chain, there are plenty of options for personal development from early stages and throughout your career.

If you’d like to discuss your supply chain career, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Supply Chain Senior Recruiter, Laura Steel.


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