Many companies these days are looking for senior supply chain leaders who have a wide breadth of cross-functional experience and knowledge. To ensure that they are developing people with that type of talent, however, companies must make sure that they are exposing up-and-coming leaders to different parts of the supply chain.
Some companies have gone as far as creating formal rotational programs for high-potential supply chain professional. Typically these programs rotate participants through different positions every six to 18 months, exposing them to a variety of projects across the supply chain.
At the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Annual Conference, a panel of five young professionals who had recently participated in such programs offered advice for making these programs as successful as possible.
Additionally, the program needs to set expectations of what participants' career paths may look like after the program finishes, recommended Garwood. For example, rotational employees might not initially rise up the corporate ladder as quickly as if they would have if they had come out of school and specialized in one area. Instead after completing the program, they may find themselves in a job similar to what they would have gotten right out of school. Participants should be aware of this possibility and reassured that in the long term they will see benefits from participating in these cross-functional experiences.