What is a Supply Chain Manager?

Also known as: Supply Chain Administrator, Global Supply Chain Manager, Supply Chain Supervisor.

A supply chain manager is a manager who is responsible for the management of equipment, hardware, and other logistical details of a company or a company’s division. It is their job to manage all of the steps needed to purchase raw materials; deliver it to various points throughout the business; ensure that the company makes enough of its product to meet customer demand; and deliver the output to the right destinations on time.

Such managers must be responsible for every step along the way, from raw material to finished product. If they does their job properly, there will not be much fanfare since everything is going as expected. However, if they are not able to capably do the job, the effects will be felt all throughout a company, from salesmen to customer service people to any types of field service personnel.

Supply chain managers have typically not been regarded as one of the more glamorous management positions. However, they occupy an important role in a firm’s overall management and strategy. Indeed, with technology advances in recent years they have become much more important and much more valued - and as a result, much better compensated than in the past.

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What does a Supply Chain Manager do?

Supply chain managers must oversee the import or creation of raw materials to be used by the company. They must be able to track the materials as they are combined, shaped, and altered to form new products. They must be able to monitor these items all throughout the product development process in order to ensure that adequate supplies are on hand. Lastly, they must develop a delivery system that will ensure maximum product creation and optimal shipments to customers or other manufacturers for further use.

Typically, the manager also needs to be well versed in process management and development to have an adequate understanding of how the company functions. Ideally, the manager will be able to bring in fresh ideas that allow the company to deliver its products at higher quantities or at a faster rate to the market. These ideas might be as simple as reallocating employees within certain areas to bringing in advanced technology to do a better job of tracking hundreds or even thousands of materials and parts.

How to become a Supply Chain Manager

Applicants for this sort of job must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a business or management role. Nowadays, however, a master’s degree is becoming a more sought-after qualification for this position, especially a Master’s in Business Administration. If this degree is accompanied by a concentration in operations, supply management, engineering, or finance, the applicant will be held in even higher regard going forward in the hiring process.

Typically, applicants will be working in positions that roll up to a supply chain manager role in order to become qualified for this specific opportunity. These positions can be but are not limited to business analysts, developers, presales professionals, network engineers, and security experts. Having an internship in one’s background on an application can be helpful to illustrate general experience and for getting a start on the corporate ladder to eventually get to this position. Any job application must show, beyond any internship, at least three to five years of experience in one or more of these types of roles to be seriously considered on a job application to move up to the management role.

Field certifications, in addition to an advanced degree, will also assist the applicant when seeking this type of position. Two of the most common ones are the CPM (Certified Purchasing Manager) and CPIM (Certification in Production and Inventory Management). Software certifications in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software such as Oracle or SAP will also provide a big advantage over other applicants seeking the same position.

Lastly, an applicant will need to demonstrate the ability to multitask and to lead other people well. Quick action and careful monitoring are needed on a daily basis, and the ideal applicant will need to be able to juggle the day-to-day responsibilities, long-terms plans, and perpetual management of his or her employees and product/material lines.


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