CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
October 19, 2018
Direct Connection
Direct Connection

Selling the "supply chain story" to the next generation

It's up to us to get the message out to students that supply chain management is a cool career.

One of the most critical issues facing supply chain leaders today is the growing talent shortage. There just aren't enough qualified young people entering our field. Many of the students in our colleges and universities aren't even aware of the supply chain management (SCM) profession.

Those who are peripherally aware of it may mistakenly think of it as dull—managing trucking schedules or warehouse operations. But we know it's so much more than that! What we, as supply chain leaders, need to do is overcome undergrads' misperceptions by sharing with them the excitement and opportunities that await them in a career in supply chain management.

Television and the movies are saturated with productions about the glamorous lives and careers of lawyers, doctors, and detectives. But supply chain management is just as exciting, just as interesting, just as sexy.

There are more forensic scientists entering the field today than we'll ever need, thanks to shows like "CSI: NY." How many bright young minds could we recruit with a series titled "SCM: San Diego" or "Supply Chain Confidential"? Each week, we would see young people jetting around the globe, sourcing raw materials in South Africa, designing a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Singapore, or leading a team of logistics experts in Paris charged with moving designer goods to markets in every corner of the world.

Supply chain management is exciting! What other career offers a young professional the opportunity to travel the world, work with the latest technology, and collaborate with partners across the entire spectrum of business? It's a fast-paced, challenging, and constantly evolving profession, not to mention financially rewarding. Advancement opportunities are plentiful. Supply chain management is a meaningful career as well. We make significant contributions not only to our companies, but also to our communities, the environment, and to society as a whole. I won't hold my breath waiting for Hollywood to produce a film or television program showcasing the adventures of a supply chain vice president, so it's up to us to spread the word. Let's get the message out to students that supply chain management is a cool career. Contact the career office of your alma mater and volunteer to speak to student groups. Invite young people to your local CSCMP roundtable and spend some time talking to them about the profession. CSCMP is doing our part as well. We're promoting supply chain management as a career choice to the best and the brightest in our institutions of higher education. We offer a wide range of programs for students and young professionals to get them started in SCM, too.

The talent shortage affects us all. It increases our costs with regard to hiring, training, and retaining talent. And, when there's more demand for workers than supply, we aren't able to grow our businesses.

Students need to be turned on to supply chain management, and to how important it is to every company and to the global economy. They need to know that a career in SCM is their chance to make a difference, make some money, and embark upon the adventure of a lifetime.

Rick Blasgen is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).

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