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Supply-chain management has recently shown up in countless publications as a hot concentration for MBAs. In this field, "You source goods, you make them and you get them to the consumer," says Amy Cathey, executive director of the MBA program at University of Tennessee—Knoxville. UT, which launched a full-time supply chain program in the 1980s, welcomed its first class of global executive MBA students specializing in this field in January. Estimated job growth is one reason the field is booming, partially fueled by technology changes in an ever-evolving global market. The lifetime for electronic products is measured in months – not years – which means companies must constantly reconfigure their supply chains, says Michael Hugos, author of "Essentials of Supply Chain Management" and a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. New grads may land jobs such as purchasing managers, logistics managers or consultants. To prepare for these positions, they'll have to be selective about the classes they take in school.
After studying supply chain excellence for a year, I do not think that companies can start with process. I think that the application of generic processes without a sound understanding of supply chain strategy has been a mistake for many companies. I believe that the best companies propel themselves forward with a clear understanding of supply chain strategy, a well-defined multi-year roadmap, and an unobstructed view of how to make trade-offs on the supply chain effective frontier shown in Figure 1. They invest in talent and they have a sound understanding that the best supply chain is not the most efficient. Instead, they understand that the most effective supply chain balances the trade-offs of growth, revenue and costs while managing working capital, corporate social responsibility and asset strategies. These trade-offs are made based on the corporate strategy. Companies that shine and are good at delivering value through their supply chains focus on the trade-offs at the top of Figure 1. This is in contrast with companies that are laggards and only look at the waste, or the symptoms of poor performance at the bottom of this figure. Leaders understand there needs to be balance and that the policies for channel strategy, product portfolio management and supplier development strategies make a difference. They also understand that supply chain excellence requires the mastery, or the knitting together, of complex processes into a complex system. As shown in Figure 1, it must be managed as a complex system.
Hours per week:
Advice for students:
The procurement profession is slowly starting to 'take off' amongst the working population. However I find this competitive 'deliver or die' field very rewarding. "My main challenges lay around identifying my strengths and weaknesses as a student in procurement and applying this knowledge to my work. To gain the same respect, there is an unspoken pressure to perform to a higher level as a Supply Chain Manger "I guess, in short, my advice would be: • Be focused on the desired outcome; • Identify your strengths and weaknesses as a student in this field; • Strike a balance between your work and personal life; • Don't give your critics any material to work with; and • Celebrate your successes!"