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Supply Chain

High Demand for Supply Chain Professionals in the Manufacturing and Retail Industries

Because of advancements in digital technology and an increased focus on supply chain risk and globalization, supply chains are expanding in scope and the need for top talent has increased with it, and companies are having to pay more for the right people. By Patrick Burnson

In compiling the annual “Salary Survey” for our publication Logistics Management, we discovered some significant new trends in the search for new talent.

Tisha Danehl, Vice President of Ajilon Professional Staffing in Chicago, says that a recent survey done by her firm indicates that demand for supply chain professionals in manufacturing and retail have “gone through the roof.”

Furthermore, she says, women are finally breaking into the top echelons of what had been a male-dominated industry.

In this exclusive interview with Supply Chain Management Review, she expands upon the findings.

What were the most startling findings in your salary guide?
Overall, we expect to see salaries increase by 2.9% in 2017, up from the projected 2% for 2016. With the industry poised for growth, there will be many opportunities for those looking for a career within the supply chain and logistics industry.

Tisha Danehl, Vice President of Ajilon Professional Staffing

“Companies are having to pay more for the right supply chain talent”Tisha Danehl,
Vice President of Ajilon

As you had mentioned, the sweet spot is at the manager level for salaries and we are seeing the same thing. With the increase in demand for those mid-level roles, such as Demand Planner, companies are having to pay more for the right talent.

Read: Overcome the Skills Gap in Logistics

What about average salaries?
The average base salary for some of the most in-demand positions, such as Supply Chain Managers and Logistics Managers, is $111,994 and $104,705, respectively.

The fastest-growing positions, however, include Demand Planner (a mid-level job with a salary range of $50,649-$86,160), Purchasing and Procurement Clerk (an entry-level job with a salary range of $32,051-$54,397), and Logistics Analyst.

What new career trends in logistics seem to be emerging?
We’re continuing to see an increase in demand for supply chain and logistics talent. Thanks to advancements in digital technology and an increased focus on supply chain risk and globalization, supply chains are expanding in scope and the need for top talent has increased with it. With big data driving insights, many companies are seeking analysts with mathematical and data driven backgrounds to determine how to best use data to predict trends.

We’re also seeing the need for candidates with technology backgrounds who can understand the causes and effects on operations and how to best use digital developments to streamline processes.

Supply Chain & Logistics - 2017 Salary Guide
Supply chain and logistics activities include oversight in areas of purchasing, transportation, inventory and warehousing. Professionals within the field use software to plan and track the movement of goods, but also to manage functions such as procurement, inventory management and supply chain planning.

Workers in high demand not only execute strategies to minimize costs of moving goods through the supply chain, but also understand management and customer needs while identifying additional areas for improvement.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in this complex sector:

Out With the Boomers
Median salaries decreased from $95,000 in 2015 to $90,000 in 2016, according to Logistics Management’s 32nd Annual Salary Survey. The publication attributes this drop to a “youth movement” within the sector, as Baby Boomers retire and Millennials move in to take their places.

“The sweet spot in all this can be seen in the silo comprising young, upwardly mobile managers who may expect to see earnings rise from $58,000 at age 35 to $87,800 by the time they reach age 44,” notes Executive Editor Patrick Burnson.

Logistician Environment & Outlook
For logisticians, who manage how a product is acquired, distributed, allocated and delivered over the course of its life cycle, median annual wage was $74,260 in May 2015.

Employment is projected to grow at 2 percent through 2024. In coming years, candidates with previous experience using logistical software or doing logistical work for the military are expected to fare the best.

Download the Study: Professionals New Perspectives - 2017 Salary Guide


Can you talk about the so-called “soft skills”?
While a background in mathematics, statistics and data analysis are in high demand, employers are not discounting the importance of soft skills. The ability to communicate well with senior management is crucial as analysts not only need to identify trends, they need to effectively communicate what those trends mean and how they can be used to solve issues or improve operations.

What advice do you have for those pursing logistics as a career change?
Networking is very strong within the supply chain industry and many people are happy and willing to connect you with others. Many of those networking groups also offer courses and certifications, which will be useful particularly if you don’t have a formal education in supply chain.

What advice do you have for undergraduates seeking to build a career in this business?
Education in this field has evolved tremendously over the past few years. With more than 150 bachelor programs now available, more students are pursuing supply chain and logistics as a career. These students likely won’t have an issue finding a job after graduation as we’re seeing many companies starting conversations with students as early as their sophomore year.

We do recommend that students explore internship options early and often and students with significant internship experience will have an advantage over their peers. Networking groups within the supply chain and logistics industry can also be very useful with many people happy and willing to help connect others. Your alumni networking group is a great place to start.

Finally, why is this a good career for women?
As with many industries, the supply chain industry has made a significant effort to close the talent gap and bring more women into leadership roles.

The non-profit organization, AWESOME, is dedicated to advancing women’s leadership in supply chain and provide opportunities for networking and collaboration. The supply chain industry as a whole offers unlimited opportunities for women and encourages women to pursue a career within the industry.

Related: Are You And Your Company Prepared For A Supply Chain Talent Crisis?

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About the author
Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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