Supply chain management involves the management of a network of interconnected processes involved in the delivery of products and services required by end customers in a supply chain. It spans all the movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, and finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption.
Due to misconceptions around the nature of the work – the idea that it has to do with labour, manufacturing, and trucks – supply chain management has traditionally been a male-dominated profession. However, times are changing and so is the demographic of the job. In fact, research shows companies with higher number of female directors and supply chain managers tend to perform better financially than those with lower numbers.
This is largely due to the fact that the world of supply chain management has evolved over the past few years from the physical movement of goods to a strategic managing of goods, processes, and services using cutting-edge technology, analytics, and robotics. It has to do with multi-tasking, problem-solving, and collaboration – areas in which women excel.
Interested in working in supply chain management? Besides a natural aptitude for the analytic skills mentioned above, these factors will impact on your chance of succeeding in this demanding but satisfying field:
- STEM-focused education. Supply chain managers tend to come from mathematical, commerce, or engineering degrees – education that is traditional skewed male with a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Having one of these degrees (and the skills that comes with it) could stand you in good stead.
- Aptitude for technology. With changes in digital technology have come changes in how certain professions are carried out, and that includes supply chain management. The use of technology has changed the way we do business, placing a higher value on analytics, virtual process management, and problem- solving through collaboration. These are skills particularly suited to women who may easily exercise them across a number of different fields, from marketing to finance.
- Workplace experience. When it comes to managing processes like those in a supply chain, many organisations tend to promote from within, focusing on individuals that have experience on a junior or entry level and have worked their way up the ranks. Do not be discouraged from applying for supply chain management positions if you do not have the specific role-related experience. Many women do not have industrial or engineering experience but they might have related experience such as in merchandising or procurement. This could help you to ‘cross the aisle’ into supply chain management.
- The ability to handle change. The supply chain in any organisation is a dynamic thing – it grows and changes in line with internal and external demands. There are always new technological advances, demands from customers, shifts in the team, market changes, and regulations to understand and implement. You will need to be comfortable with working quickly and changing direction and strategy to match your situation. If critical problem-solving and creative thinking in real time interest you, you’ll handle the pressures of supply chain management better than those individuals who battle to think outside the box.
- A need to make a difference. Women often enter professions such as teaching or nursing because they want to make a difference to their community. If you want to make a difference to people’s quality of life, supply chain management can provide you with a fulfilling career ensuring that people receive the goods and services they need (on time and intact) to ensure a better quality of life.
Looking for a position? If you think you have what it takes to work in supply chain management, contact us and we can help you find the perfect job for your skill set.
Looking to hire women into your supply chain? We can do the legwork for you – we are recognised as a major source of quality staff for the supply chain industry and are used by more than 2000 South African companies.