Archive for the "Talent" Category


What’s the Best Degree for Supply Chain Management?

What’s the Best Degree for Supply Chain Management?

Supply Chain skills have never been in more demand and the work has never been more interesting. Here’s a look at the best degree for supply chain management.


Highlights:

  • Today’s supply chain professionals need to be well-versed in data analysis, presentation skills, negotiation skills, project management skills.
  • Individual career objectives and educational options can help determine the best degree.

This guest post comes to us from Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in Supply Chain Management and Procurement.

Supply Chain Management was seen as a back-office profession. People tended to rise from shop floors and warehouses into management roles and eventually – for the most high-performing individuals – Senior Director and C-Suite positions. It’s always been one of those fields that people “fall into.” Once they found themselves in a Supply Chain or Procurement job, people tended to look around and see how important it was to the business. They’d experience the fast pace, see the immense ten-dimensional puzzle involved in getting a product to market, the global scope, and be hooked.

It used to be a truism that no teenager decides that they want to get into Supply Chain, even those who had their sights set on the corporate world and not other paths like medicine or law. Supply Chain used to be the kid brother to other, more “glamorous” corporate functions like marketing and finance: misunderstood, transactional, and frankly thankless work.

No longer.

In 2018, Supply Chain Management is a key market differentiator for companies in industries as diverse as consumer goods, retail, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, you name it. Supply Chain skills have never been in more demand in the corporate word, and the work has never been more interesting. Many of the top companies in the world are waging a constant war for Supply Chain talent, with baby boomers retiring and strong economic growth driving demand.  Young people are starting to wake up to the huge amount of opportunity in the field.

Today’s Supply Chain professionals need to be well-versed in data analysis, presentation skills, negotiation skills, project management skills, as well as the know-it-when-you-see it overall skill of “business acumen.” Click To Tweet

At the same time, companies are increasing educational requirements, which makes sense: today’s Supply Chain professionals need to be well-versed in data analysis, presentation skills, negotiation skills, project management skills, as well as the know-it-when-you-see it overall skill of “business acumen.” In our recruitment practice, we’re noticing that more clients are requiring a university degree as a hard-and-fast requirement for jobs.

The requirement often ends there. “A degree.” Which means that there are lots of educational avenues aspiring Supply Chain professionals can take to set themselves apart from the competition. But it can be daunting: should you do an Engineering degree with a focus on Industrial Engineering? Should you do a business degree? A liberal arts degree and then an MBA? Or should you forgo a formal degree and pursue certifications like CSCMP and APICS from industry associations?

It depends. It’s hard to arrive at a definitive answer. Why is that?

  • Individual career objectives vary. For example, someone who wants to pursue a career in sourcing and Procurement will probably be better served by a business degree than an engineering degree. And someone who’s interested in Production Planning, Supply Planning, and/or Demand Planning is probably best served by a STEM degree that features a lot of quantitative analysis.
  • Educational options vary. More schools are offering Supply Chain specialties as part of MBA programs, as well as at the undergrad and college levels. More traditional programs (engineering, business, etc.) are taking steps to prepare students for careers in Supply Chain Management. But options for programs vary based on geography and the grades that any one candidate brings to the table.

That said, we still think it’s worthwhile to give some tips for people exploring their education options in the field. So we put the question to our network of established Supply Chain professionals to see what they had to say.

Here are some of the more insightful responses:

 “Engineering degree with focus in database structures and statistics can equip one with the required skills for this domain. Presently all SCM jobs require one to be able to work with ERP systems so it is nice to have understanding about the underlying concepts.”

The easiest that i can think of is Industrial Engineering which is a mix of Engineering/Mgt/commercial/statistics subjects. My degree in IE was a sound base to launch me into a SC/Logistics career. Then top it off with a certification after gaining some work experience. Certifications without some work exposure may turn to be useless. Certifications should be a source of validation of what you know in the discipline. I do hear there are schools/community colleges these days offering SC/Logistics as a degree. In all, any course that exposes and builds a person’s critical thinking skills is ok to get into supply chain.”

“Best degree would be to start working in a warehouse. Try some scheduling work also if you can. For all the value that a degree gives you, nothing beats knowing how goods flow and how truck drivers get stuff from point A to B. Do this for a year, then worry about which degree to get.”

“1) Chemical/Industrial/Mechanical Engineering 2) Economics 3) Business/Commerce with a major in finance 4) a solid liberal arts education from a university that will propel you into a top business school.

Engineering or Business provide a great foundation for logical, innovative and strategic thinking.”

Hopefully the above comments can help offer some guidance to anyone who’s interested in embarking on Supply Chain Management as a career path. There are lots of paths to go down. But whether you choose the university, college or certifications route, it’s pretty undeniable that more education is never a bad thing.

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Archive for the "Talent" Category


Top 5 Talent Posts of 2018

Top 5 Talent Posts of 2018

Here are our most-viewed blog posts from 2018 about talent, including analysis of industry trends, and influencers you should be paying attention to.

New Year’s is the time for resolutions — personally and within your professional life, as well. Take a look at your company’s track record for identifying strengths and interests within your employees, and hiring and retaining great talent, and evaluate how to improve upon it.

We’ve assembled our top 5 talent posts of 2018. We hope these can be a resource to help your business overcome challenges and achieve your goals for the new year.

Top 5 talent posts of 2018

1. 6 Reasons Your Supply Chain Employees Are Looking for New Jobs

This guest post from Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting examines the most likely reasons why passive candidates seek out new jobs, particularly in Supply Chain and Procurement. It’s not out of a desire for more money as often as you might think. More often than not, it’s the more intangible factors. Read more

2. 7 Supply Chain & Logistics Professionals to Follow on LinkedIn

With LinkedIn Publishing, users are able to create long-form posts and articles to communicate their  subject-matter expertise and interests. Following LinkedIn members gives you access to their profiles, as well as any original or third-party posts they publish on their newsfeeds. So your newsfeed becomes populated with the content the users you follow are publishing and sharing — meaning, if you follow the right people, you get invaluable insight into industry leaders’ thoughts and trends. Here are some of our favorite supply chain and logistics professionals to follow on LinkedIn. Read more

With LinkedIn Publishing your newsfeed becomes populated with the content the users you follow are publishing and sharing — meaning, if you follow the right people, you get invaluable insight into industry leaders’ thoughts and trends. Click To Tweet

3. Top 10 Mobile Apps for Supply Chain Professionals

Supply chain and logistics professionals are finding mobile applications to be a necessary tool these days. In an industry focused on the transport of products and goods, mobile apps are giving supply chain professionals a new freedom from the confines of their desks. Here are 10 mobile apps for supply chain professionals to be familiar with. Read more

4. Top 5 Logistics and Supply Chain Careers

With the talent gap growing wider every day, ambitious current and future supply chain professionals have many interesting opportunities. And not only that — logistics and supply chain careers are increasingly high paying. Here’s a look at five of the top logistics and supply chain careers available to today’s professionals. Read more

5. Industry Report: Supply Chain Management is Becoming Younger, More Educated, More Diverse

A major new survey shows that millennials are moving into the workforce in a big way, changing its Supply Chain’s demographics and disrupting the industry. It’s a far-reaching report with a lot of results busting down stereotypes both about Supply Chain and millennials themselves. Here were some of our biggest, and most surprising, takeaways. Read more

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Why You Should Hire People for Their Superpowers

Why You Should Hire People for Their Superpowers

Great people don’t always focus on expressing their superpowers at work out of a fear of limiting their scope. Here’s how employers can identify and coach employees to work to their fullest potential.

This guest post comes to us from Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in Supply Chain Management and Procurement.

In people management and hiring, we might assume that we’re emphasizing what our employees are best at. “Play to your strengths” is one of the biggest truisms of business, and life in general. If the people we’re managing – or hiring – are talented, we might assume that they’re working to their full potential in their roles. The cream rises to the top in any organization, but how often are we failing to hire and manage talented people based on what they’re truly best at?

A great new article from executive coach Whitney Johnson in the Harvard Business Review details how employers can help their teams play to their strengths. More than strengths, actually: Johnson offers strategies for identifying and coaching employees based on their superpowers – the things that come most easily, the things that those employees are not always willing to boast about.

People sometimes undervalue their own superpowers because the tasks associated with them feel “too easy” compared to hard-won skills. But let people focus on their superpowers and real opportunities for innovation start to spring forth. Click To Tweet

As Johnson puts it, people sometimes undervalue their own superpowers because the tasks associated with them feel “too easy” compared to hard-won skills. But let people focus on their superpowers and real opportunities for innovation start to spring forth.

Often you can spot superpowers in the wild; some people are such high performers that it’s obvious what they’re best at, and they’ve found their way into a role that utilizes those skills. But the HBR article makes the point that great people don’t always focus on expressing their superpowers at work out of a fear of limiting their scope. It’s rare that you find someone who’ll put what they’re truly a genius at on their resume – either out of a desire not to boast, or to present a more balanced profile.

The article identifies some strategies for managers to identify their team’s “superpowers.” They encourage managers to ask their employees a few key questions:

  • What exasperates you? Ask people if there’s anything in their job that frustrates them when other people don’t understand it easily.
  • What compliments do you dismiss? The article makes a great point that people tend to downplay the things that they’re best at – the things that come most naturally to them – out of humility or because they feel “easy.” If someone regularly dismisses compliments around a certain task or deliverable, that’s a sign that thing might be their superpower.
  • What do you think about when you have nothing to think about? In downtime, our brains regularly come back to the things that stimulate us most – the things our minds gnaw at that we can’t let go. Leaders should try to find out their employees’ fixations, because – through coaching – these can develop into passions and ultimately superpowers.

But why stop at coaching and development? We think that companies should strive to adopt this approach for hiring as well: as much as possible they should hire employees for their superpowers, rather than their ability to carry out an over-wide range of tasks.

For example, in Strategic Procurement: is someone particularly elite at communicating and building relationships? Assign them specifically to build buy-in from internal stakeholders across the business, and act as a point-person between those internal clients and the sourcing group. Leave the sourcing to those whose “superpowers” are evaluating the supplier marketplace, or negotiation, rather than structuring your department around a bunch of generalists.

Does someone have a deep understanding of a particular category, for example marketing spend, perhaps from working on the other side of the fence? Hire them for that category. These are just a few examples of how we think companies can adopt the “superheroes” approach to hiring.

Companies should tailor job descriptions towards key deliverables, and consider including the questions mentioned above in the job interview process, as a means of trying to uncover what comes easiest to job candidates – which also happens to be the areas where they’re most likely to innovate.

Budgets, organizational structure, and directives from senior leadership will often be impediments to this approach, but specialization is the name of the game in improving efficiency, which is after all what Supply Chain Management and Procurement are all about.

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Archive for the "Talent" Category


Should You Let Your Employees Work from Home?

Should You Let Your Employees Work from Home?

Considering instituting a work from home policy for your business? Ask yourself these three questions first.

As the supply chain becomes increasingly digital, many employers may be considering implementing a work from home policy. After all, we know one way to attract millennial talent is to allow for this kind of flexibility.

But before you make the decision to open the door to a work from home arrangement, consider these three questions.

3 questions to ask before implementing a work from home policy

1.      Are your employees organized and self-motivated?

Ask any employee who works remotely, and they’re very likely to tell you that working from home makes them happier and more productive. And they aren’t necessarily wrong. There’s certainly evidence to suggest that with today’s technology, there’s essentially no downside to working from home, and it does often enhance productivity.

But working from home isn’t for everyone. Writing for the Harvard Business Review, marketing strategist and Duke University Professor Dorrie Clark suggests that workers considering a work-from-home arrangement first take a moment to introspect and understand how they work best.

According to author Natalie Sisson, “If you’re good at managing your own time, and you’re productive and have discipline, you’ll be able to do work from anywhere. But if you need to be in one place, and you need to go into an office, or need to be surrounded by the same people all the time, it probably won’t work for you.”

2.      Is there a wealth of local talent?

One of the less-often-considered factors when businesses consider remote work arrangements is actually an important potential benefit for employers. Not every location has a tremendous amount of local talent, but that doesn’t have to limit your business. If you’re in an area where finding qualified employees is a challenge, making remote options available can be a big resource — essentially, the world is your oyster!

Not every location has a tremendous amount of local talent, but that doesn’t have to limit your business. If you’re in an area where finding qualified employees is a challenge, making remote options available can be a big resource. Click To Tweet

Consider having remote hires come onsite for training, team-building, or orientation, and make sure they’re equipped to meet the requirements of their positions. Once that initial foundation is laid, and expectations are clear, they can work from anywhere in the world — and save you the office space.

3.      How much collaboration is required?

Are you considering remote work options for positions that require extensive collaboration with other employees? If so, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but it does require some additional forethought.

With the technology available today, remote collaboration should theoretically be a piece of cake. But it’s important that everyone be on the same page about expectations. If remote workers are needed in a scheduled daily meeting, for example, it’s important that that expectation be made clear from the outset.

It’s also crucial to make sure that remote workers are given the resources they need to collaborate with their colleagues, and that they have a good understanding of the technology they’ll be using.

Work from home arrangements can be beneficial for employees and employers alike. But it’s important to consider all the variables to ensure that it’s the right thing for your business.

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Archive for the "Talent" Category


In This Job Market, More Companies are Lowering Experience Requirements

In This Job Market, More Companies are Lowering Experience Requirements

In today’s job market, candidates are in such high demand, companies are posting positions with little or no experience requirements.

This guest post comes to us from Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in Supply Chain Management and Procurement.

On the Argentus blog, we’ve spent the past few months charting the strong job market and its effects on hiring. My, how things have changed. A few short years ago, publications were writing about how employers weren’t bothering to hire for their open positions. Now, candidates are in such high demand, companies are more and more doing something that would be considered radical in the previous economy: posting positions with no experience requirements.

Companies like Microsoft, Bank of America and Github, are in particular relaxing education requirements and looking at candidates who don’t have degrees for positions that would have required a degree during the recession. Click To Tweet

Kelsey Gee at the Wall Street Journal gave some frontline reporting about the talent picture in the U.S. economy, which is beginning to see strong wage growth follow historically low unemployment rates. She charts how more companies are becoming flexible in their hiring process, to the point of doing away with experience requirements for some positions completely. We’ve written before to argue that companies should hire people for their potential – especially junior employees – and in this market it seems that more companies are putting this into practice.  Companies like Microsoft, Bank of America and Github, are in particular relaxing education requirements and looking at candidates who don’t have degrees for positions that would have required a degree during the recession.

Alicia Modestino, an economist at Northeastern University, has argued that in times of recession companies tend to raise job requirements, like in 2008. In times of expansion – like we’re seeing now – companies become more flexible in their requirements to compete for talent, a practice Modestino calls “Down-skilling.”

At first, it might be easy to assume that companies are only doing this for transactional or administrative positions, but the Wall Street Journal interviewed the President of SCM talent group – a Supply Chain Recruitment firm in the U.S. – who said that companies are re-evaluating their requirements for Supply Chain Managers and other strategic positions. He said that his recruitment firm has been turning away clients who want to fish for underpaid or unaware applicants instead of bolstering education, experience and compensation levels in order to compete.

At Argentus, we’re working in the same vertical in Canada. Candidates in our market are in such high demand that we’ve been doing the same.

Anecdotally, we’ve seen a small uptick in roles for high-potential entry level grads in Supply Chain Management – (though still not as many as we’d like to see, with the high number of new grads that come to us!) Companies are becoming slightly more willing to relax requirements on the junior end to hire quickly; in a hiring market as strong as this one, “entry level” can actually mean entry level instead of, paradoxically, requiring at least 3 years of experience. But companies should be more flexible, at least if they want to actually hire instead of kicking tires.

In strong job markets, companies can’t afford to hire the same way they did during a recession. More employees in Procurement and Supply Chain are waking up to their own value, and the strong job market is compounding an already-considerable talent crunch. Hiring managers can’t afford to practice magical thinking in their hiring in this economy – the type of thinking that says, “if we post it, they will come,” or that treats employees like they have no leverage in the process.

The WSJ outlined three options that companies have to keep down hiring costs and secure talent in this market:

  • Offer more money up front
  • Retrain current staff to upskill them for changing requirements, or:
  • Become more flexible in their job requirements.

All three are valuable options, but for some reason the third one has always been a bit of a third rail. Hiring is a risk, and companies don’t want to hire someone who can’t do the job. But just because someone hasn’t done the exact same thing before, or just because they don’t have a degree, or just because they’ve done it before, but in another country, doesn’t mean they can’t do it.

There will always be lots of positions with considerable requirements that can’t be flexed away: a Director of Vendor management who’s conducting a business transformation obviously needs to have done that in the past. A Senior Manager tasked with setting up a totally new Supply Chain needs the deep base of knowledge and connections that certain experience provides. The necessity of strong experience and education requirements makes sense for some positions.

But for a Supply Chain Analyst, or a Buyer role, companies are well-served to relax hard-and-fast requirements and treat applicants on a case by case basis. Assess skills, assess technical and analytical capability, without requiring that candidates fit a specific experiential profile.

In our interviews with senior Supply Chain and Procurement leadership, one thing we hear again and again is that strong business acumen and soft skills – in other words, potential – is more important for junior employees than specific education requirements. So if the Wall Street Journal report is accurate, and more companies are waking up to this line of thinking, you know what?

Bring it on.

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What’s the Cost of Bad Leadership in Procurement?

What’s the Cost of Bad Leadership in Procurement?

Bad leadership in procurement has the potential to sink a company’s reputation, making it difficult to hire at all levels below it.

This guest post comes to us from Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in Supply Chain Management and Procurement.

Everyone knows that a bad hire can be really costly to a business. When you account for hiring, training, and onboarding costs, plus the opportunity cost of not hiring a successful employee – not to mention the impact on workplace culture – hiring the wrong person can set a company back tens of thousands of dollars. This is something that people have written about widely across the vast array of blogs about talent.

But what are the costs of hiring the wrong employee (or employees) at the leadership level of a business?

It’s something we’ve been thinking about recently at Argentus. As a firm that helps companies hire at all levels, we have our ears to the ground about the costs that companies bear when leadership issues have hurt their reputations in the marketplace. So particularly in Procurement – one of our core areas of recruitment expertise – what’s the cost of hiring the wrong leadership?

In short, it’s this: a bad hire at the junior level costs lots of money, but a bad hire at the leadership level has the potential to upset the apple cart and sink a company’s reputation, making it difficult to hire at all levels below it. Having the wrong leader in place can create a noxious effect that filters down into senior managers, managers, sole contributors, and junior employees. Procurement sometimes struggles to get buy-in from executives and stakeholders, and having mishandled leadership can make this task even more difficult for everyone in the organization.

Even if it’s a company with a storied history and a powerhouse brand as an employer, word always gets out if the wrong leadership is in place within any specific function. It means that individuals won’t apply for jobs. They won’t respond when recruiters contact them about certain opportunities.  At a certain point, it becomes hard to find recruiters who are even willing to help hire for open roles at the company. Given that recruiters, especially those who work on a contingent basis, are usually all over clients trying to send them candidates, if a recruiter won’t work with a company, you know something must be wrong.

As we’ve written about a lot, the marketplace for talent in Procurement and Supply Chain is particularly tight in this strong economy. Companies are battling to bring in star performers who can enact business transformations, implement total cost of ownership models, boost their vendor and risk management, and modernize their Procurement as the function evolves for the future. And if your Procurement leadership develops a negative reputation in the marketplace, attracting those individuals becomes simply impossible.

We should clarify what we mean by bad leadership in Procurement.

We all know it when we’ve seen it, but there are a few traits that ineffective leaders have in common: quite often, they’re individuals tasked with leadership of a Strategic Sourcing organization who don’t have boots on the ground experience in Procurement. They often don’t have the war wounds to understand the function from bottom to top. Strategy and vision are important, but subject matter expertise helps leaders gain credibility with the managers and analysts who are expected to execute that vision.

We all know it when we’ve seen it, but there are a few traits that ineffective leaders have in common: quite often, they’re individuals tasked with leadership of a Strategic Sourcing organization who don’t have boots on the ground… Click To Tweet

It’s not absolutely necessary for a CPO or VP of Procurement to have done every job in the function. But if they haven’t, it’s important for them to be able to be humble enough to recognize the subject matter expertise of the people they’re working with – especially if they’re expected to bring changes to the organization. A great leader will admit the gaps in their own knowledge, and work to figure out how they can combine their strengths with those of their team. A bad leader will act like they understand every detail of every Procurement process and category – even if they don’t.

Beyond that, in our experience, the biggest issue with troubled Procurement leadership often comes down to soft skills. For a function that often comes down to negotiation, relationship-building, and getting buy-in, people skills are everything. Ineffective leaders will micromanage, yell, and show a lack of respect for junior employees. How can a leader expect to get buy-in from executives if they can’t build relationships with their own team members? The best leaders in Procurement will empower their teams to pursue cost savings, minimize risk, and increase value without watching them like a hawk.

Leadership is a topic so complex it’s inspired a cottage industry of books and academic research – so we can’t hope to address everything about how to hire effective leaders. But what can companies do to make sure they don’t risk the almost-priceless commodity of their employer brand by installing bad leadership? Be very careful about the leaders that you hire. These individuals should either be subject matter experts, or be very willing to learn from their team-members. When interviewing prospective hires, try to assess their ability to be empathetic and build consensus, and be wary about boasts that they can enact sweeping changes through their force of will alone.

If you can’t, you might be risking more than just the time it took to hire.

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