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Career Paths in Supply Chain Consulting

 
#1 Career Paths in Supply Chain Consulting
06/07/2006 22:03

Aussie to deleted (#0)

G'day!, I'm from Sydney, Australia and currently considering a Supply Chain Management (SCM) role at a global consulting firm. I have gain consulting experience in the areas of e-procurment and B2B integration from government and at a IT vendor. I am very keen to move into a global consulting firm, but would like to know more about SCM from those currently working at consulting firms.

SCM would be my natural progression given my current work experience and the best way to leverage myself to enter consulting firms, but one of my greatest fears is that if I ever decide to leave SCM consulting, my options would be to consider roles such as 'Warehouse Manager' and manage box packers :P

My career goals is to move in a leadership position within a consulting firm or in a general management role within industry.

I would really like hear from SCM consultants, what your career paths has been or career plans are. As well the positives and negetatives of SCM compared to other streams in consulting in the current market.

P.S. I didn't mention the name of the consulting firm I am considering because I didn't want to lead the discussion into which firm is better, but more interested to know more about SCM in general.

Cheers & Thanks

Aussie

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#2 RE: Career Paths in Supply Chain Consulting
07/07/2006 09:59

A to Aussie (#1)

Hi!

i am quite new in supply chain consulting as i ve been in the sector for sth less than 3 years.....i am not in a global but i am in no1 national firm.........

aussie, i ve given the transition from consulting to industry and versa quite a thought myself.........as u probably know the transition from consulting to industry is quite easy while the versa is definitely more difficult...............if u have a proven truck of many projects in sc consulting u ll be asked by many firms.........so regarding ur fear, if the transition from consulting to industry means a warehouse manager position then definitely u shouldn't do the transition...........it's like u rank urself lower..........definitely the transition when made should mean a placement in a higher rank, in the highest ranks in supply chain in industry..........otherwise u re not ready yet for the transition, and u ll immediately keep urself back................from consulting or high levels of supply chain in industry u have many options and the progress will be easier, but the route from warehouse manager would be more limited, and difficult.....it's possible to stuck there.............

hope i helped...........:-)

A

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#3 RE: Career Paths in Supply Chain Consulting
08/07/2006 04:15

Aussie to A (#2)

Thanks for the reply A!

Do you find the Supply Chain industry interesting and enjoyable? And are you looking to build a long term career in SCM?

I get the impression that SCM is quite a specialist area compared to other consulting streans such as Strategy, CRM and F&PM that attract a greater variety of clients such as High Tech, Financial Services, Telecoms etc....Where SCM is probably limited to manufacturing, retail and logistics companies. Do I have a fair impression or am I wrong?

I am only few years out of my undergrad degree and I have really just fallen into the SCM path. I am at stage on deciding whether to continue with SCM and build upon my current experience and work my way up OR to change direction.

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#4 RE: Career Paths in Supply Chain Consulting
08/07/2006 15:51

A to Aussie (#3)

hi aussie!

firstly sorry for my english, not my mother language as u ve noticed:-)

well aussie, first of all i find consulting in general interesting and then scm consulting.............

my main degree was in engineering (and btw i believe that logistics is mainly engineering:-)) but based on my personality and the working environment i ve thought that a more "outward" professional direction would be best for me...............

so yes i d love to have a long term career in consulting........meaning that i like more the positives it gives u than the tirement or the high demands or any other negatives........

my ultimate goal is to become better, and invest in myself in the higher race i can...........so consulting fot me is a great school.......my long term objective is to establish sth on my own or be a free lancer or working with companies in rates and rythms that it will be similar to free-lancing...............

what u should always have in mind, whatever direction u choose is that u should always have open ears and open eyes, and be flexible.............so can u really say for sure that u ll have a long term carreer in scm??................i am just sth less in 3 years in scm consulting and many times already i ve had to "divert" from my "narrow" direction........to give u an example, i ve had to be involved to supply chain and logistics investments, to learn about the law stuff of clients such as all their characteristics, the processes of tranformation, to analyse financial statements, to be able to talk the "language" of every level in every company i get into, and countless more...........i ve never considered all them a "direction" but consulting involves knowledge, and sometimes rounded.....and u have to invest to this knowledge outside from ur working hours...........so always be open mind, whatever u choose be sharp, open minded, and visionary..........

yes i intend to stay in scm consulting and in management consulting in general...........in north east europe, from balkans to turkey, middle east, all this circle, but this is just a personal choice.............

btw there can be logistics and supply chain in many more sectors, like public, or tourism, or agricultur, or sports, and so many..........

i can't compare it with other sectors as i don't know them, but ausie the main is to choose sth that matches ur personality, cause otherwise u ll be no good at, and be open minded and visionary always!..........

A

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#5 RE: Career Paths in Supply Chain Consulting
20/07/2006 13:14

Swami to A (#4)

Hi Aussie,

I joined a Supply Chain IT firm and worked up my work to a Solution Architect and then decided to join industry. A big career blunder I am regretting 3 years down the line

My learnings

* Supply Chain is a very narrow field .. in any company, the most a supply chain specialist can aspire to is to be the functional head of a support function in the company.

* It takes longer to rise up since you are not the first in queue when rewards ( read promotion, bonus ) are going to be doled out

* Its a cost function not a revenue function .. meaning the value you are bringing the company is in cutting costs including people. Difficult for cost functions to rise up fast in an org.

* Supply Chain attains extra prominence in companies struggling to keep margins . They need operational excellence even more, but such companies cannot afford to pay

* It becomes a introverted function .. while others are going out to meet customers, you are sitting inside moving boxes left and right. It gets boring after a while

I want to get back into consulting as its more intellectually stimualting ( a cliche I know ) but working with the calibre of people in my company ( a very large Fortune 200 European company ) , I am always seeking people outside of my function for intellectual stimulation.

One move you could think of it to branch into IT / product management of supply chain solutions, pre-sales , sales in IT companies and hope to grow. But I dont see a great future in shipping boxes and predicting how many boxes need to be shipped beyond a point.

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#6 RE: Career Paths in Supply Chain Consulting
20/07/2006 14:57

P to Swami (#5)

I find this an interesting thread....

My background is engineering degree (& like A at times I like to believe that engineering is at the heart of everything ;-) ) and then joined the ranks of 'industry' doing 6 years in FMCG supply-chain/ops roles (some of which did involve box packing!). I am currently finishing my MBA and off to start a heady career in consulting - which although I am off to a generalist top firm I will have a bias towards SC/ops projects as this is where I can add value to clients from day 1.

Anyway, I hope that is enough about me to put some context around my reponse.

Strategic imperative of Supply-Chain:

Supply-chain although traditional viewed as an area of importance only to manufactuering et al. is increasingly able to apply its concepts to most business sectors. Taking supply-chain at its widest view, it can include concepts such as: Lean, 6sigma, product development reverse logistics. Although SC areas have been traditionally viewed as a cost to businesses they can be the source of tremedous competitive advantage in all stages of the product/market lifecycle. This is increasingly the case with issues such as globalisation, increased emphasis on the environment (global warming, international logistics, waste, recyclability etc). As for Swami's comments although finance and marketing are the traditional routes to the top, there is an increasing trend towards those with, at least, some SC experience.

Supply-Chain Management roles:

Now for the jobs bit: There is some managment of box packers. I have done this and actually it gives you a fantastic insight into a reality of business + is a fantastic area to develop people management/leadership skills.

IT has a major role in SC.. (SAP, ERP, MIS etc.)....BUT.... supplychain is about much more than this. The IT is an enabler of supplychian mangement but the real heart of the business area is about analysis, decision making in the face of uncertainities and people (mostly it is about people). The interesting work in SC is about fundamentally changing the way a business operates to deliver imporved 'service' to the 'customer'. This is a rewarding and challenging task and gives access to the top tiers of an organisation. (I know as I have done some of this before).

As I have said before the IT part of supplychain is an enabler, but the actual process need developing before overlying an IT architecture or you just solidify old process and old problems.

IT roles in supplychain management tend to lead to 'support funcitons' as Swami indicates - as this is were the narrow IT expertise is needed.

Aussie, I see your background is in supplychain IT. If you were to go into consulting I would seriously consider taking a move away from IT as your core area of focus. I would leverage your knowledge and get into the more strategic & hands-on (non-IT) aspects. This will sell better going back into industry as you will not be solely IT focused. Broad Knowledge/experience will get you a higher ranking/paying/stimulating job.

Apologies for the monologue ;-)

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#7 RE: Career Paths in Supply Chain Consulting
27/07/2006 03:15

Aussie to P (#6)

Thanks Swami and P for sharing your experience and insight into the industry.

Both of you have confirmed my concern regarding the nature of SCM. I agree with you P that SCM is an interesting fields as it touches aspects such as Six Sigma, lean manufacturing and product lifecycle development. However I think that eventually in the long term like yourselves, I will be looking to broaden and find other 'simulating' work and not to be just confined to the traditional Supply Chain industry sectors.

So I have decided to look more broadly and see what other avenues of consulting I can take. It will be harder to break in and make the transition, but I thought it will easier earlier in my career than later.

Just to share with you an Australian perspective, alot of the manufacturing businesses are now moving overseas to Asia-Pacific. So alot of the interesting product-to-market development (holistic SCM) type of consulting work will be lost to Asia. My view is that Australian SCM work will be primarily focused on logistics (RFID), strategic sourcing and outsourcing of the procurement function. If you are a keen SCM consultant then I would say Asia is going to a growth area, as asia SCM is under-developed compared to the Western nations.

P, all the best in completing your MBA and moving into a top consulting firm. May I ask, which firm you will be working for?

And Swami, I hope you are able to make the most of your current situation and hopefully be able to transistion into role you find more fullfilling. I do feel for you!

I wish you all the best and success in your future roles!

Cheers

Aussie

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#8 RE: Career Paths in Supply Chain Consulting
02/08/2006 07:43

A to P (#6)

this has proven to be a very interesting thred for me as well.....

i was always very curious to see the situations that consultants in other countries face and i realise that at last some things are the same ...............

i agree 100% with P, in all the points one by one, and i see them every day...........

firstly, i am sorry that i didn't clarify that when i talk about sc consultancy i refer to the strategic one..........i guess i took it for given but i shouldn't........this is the real consultancy for me, IT supply chain consultancy is also for me just a supportive sector.............if u are IT consultant, a good progress would be to move tio higher level of that sort of firms, but u can't easily jump to higher levels of sc in industry.............this is rational cause it consultants have a limited view of the sc.................all the posibilities i refered in my previous posts are definitely for the strategy ones..............

i agree with P for the role of IT in SC...........for example i have a knowledge of various ERP, WMS, etc but only from the side of their capabilities, specifications, their core and substantial characteristics, and how they can in action support the operations of the firm, but until there!i don't need more, and someone shouldn't invest in more unless he has plenty of time, i leave the technical details to it people - consultants..........

and i also support that sometimes we shouldn't look down at the "mgt of the box packing"..........i ve seen many consultants from other firms that they snob such things, but for me is one of the crucial points of the job..............for example, before the design of everything, the analysis of data. etc, i always do a sort of audit of the present sirtuation of a firm...............this in action.............i go to sectors that i am interested in and i have a sight of the action minute per minute..........i listen to people of all levels and sectors.......this may sound silly and someone could say that u can get all the info just from the top management without any view but trust me always th view in action, especially if ur eye is trained by time, can give u an amazing insight to all details and all parameters...........

so aussie if ur qestion regarding the sc was purely as it sc definitely not one with prospects.....

p, all the best with ur MBA from me as well

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