May 2003 | How-To | Ten Tips

Boosting Your Logistics Skillset

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Is your job secure? With outsourcing at an all-time high, logistics and transportation professionals are pressured now, more than ever, to keep their skills sharp and their resumes up to date. Todd Provost, general manager of California-based Management Recruiters of Dana Point, offers these tips for boosting your skillset in the ever-changing logistics industry.

1. Be a joiner. Getting involved in logistics organizations is the perfect way to make contacts and improve your understanding of the industry. Become a member of The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, The Warehousing Education and Research Council, The American Society of Transportation & Logistics, or any other industry association.

2. Enroll in continuing education courses, supply chain MBA programs, and other certificate programs. Go to any online search engine and type "MBA logistics and supply chain management education." That will serve up a selection of universities worldwide offering MBA programs in logistics and supply chain management. Consider factors such as location, program format, the school's reputation, and the real-world applicability of courses when selecting a school.

3. Look to stand out. Obtain industry-specific credentials, such as a Customs Brokers License or Certified Purchasing Manager certification. Sharpen your technical skills by taking computer courses to become proficient in database management, presentation software, word processing, or industry-specific software programs such as warehouse or inventory management systems.

4. Attend conferences. Go to conferences in your industry and attend speaking engagements featuring logistics leaders. Check out trade publications for lists of upcoming events. Offer to be a speaker at an industry event if you are particularly skilled in a specific area.

5. Find a mentor. The best way to learn more about the industry is to find someone who has been there, done that. Learn from that person, then turn around and mentor someone else. According to one management adage, it's easier and faster to get promoted if you have trained and groomed someone to take your place. One great personal asset is the ability to develop people.

6. Keep abreast of logistics information technology. Nothing changes faster in this industry than IT—RFID is just one recent example. Keep on top of technology. Know what kind of improvements these supply chain and logistics systems are making. Basic PC skills are a must, but you may also have to be proficient in SAP or other specific software systems.

7. Know the requirements for your career track. A professional whose goal is to become executive vice president of global sales for an international supply chain transportation company, for example, will take a different career development path than someone striving to become vice president of logistics IT solutions for a technology company. A person whose dream job is procurement director for a food manufacturing company will take yet a different path.

8. Keep your resume updated.Your resume should note all promotions and certifications you earn, as well as educational courses completed. As your professional accomplishments become more significant, continue adding them to your resume.

9. Get acquainted with the industry trade publications. Trade publications are a great source for understanding what is going on in the industry—new products, career courses, job opportunities, industry trends. Most trade publications offer their content online and in print, so you can choose to subscribe to a publication, or get articles and information from its web site.

10. Develop your leadership, financial, and people skills. Today's world is fast-paced, with instant information and a global playing field that changes daily. Besides cash flow, the greatest factor contributing to a company's success and profits is the talent of the people on its team. Help develop that talent by becoming proficient in both written and verbal communications. Learn different management and coaching techniques; become skilled in the foundations of successful negotiations; and learn how to read financial reports and cash flow statements.

Dale Carnegie offers superb training programs in human development, with courses focusing on coaching skills, communication skills, customer relations and customer service, decision-making, delegation skills, empowerment, and facilitation.

Finally, knowing what you bring to the table—the deliverables—is key. Ideas are the first step to making an impact, but implementing and executing on ideas is the critical part.

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