October 2019 | Commentary | Smart Moves: Supply Chain Careers & Education Advice

Five Tips to Achieve Career Success

Tags: Supply Chain Management, Logistics, Supply Chain

Debbie Lentz, President of Global Supply Chain, RS Components and the Electrocomponents Group, 034 5 720 1201

The beauty of working within the supply chain is that it touches nearly every aspect of a business, which opens up huge career opportunities.

Regardless of the career path you opt for within the supply chain, and like any job you embark on, to achieve success you need to work hard. Here are five tips for achieving supply chain career success:

1. Experience = opportunities. Progression in any industry requires hands-on experience. While knowing theory is important, putting that knowledge into practice is a skill that has become desirable to employers.

One of my first jobs was in a customer service department for a food and drink manufacturer, where I was taught the value of understanding customers. I progressed to the inventory operations team and was given the opportunity to continue my studies and work toward an MBA. These opportunities and experiences meant I had a wide range of skills that were favorable to future employers

2. Maintain knowledge of the industry. Stay on top of upcoming conferences and look at opportunities to speak at these events. Not only will this deepen your knowledge but it is also a great way to network and get recognized. By showing what you bring to the industry, you'll become someone who businesses want to employ.

Don't underestimate the power of online networking. The internet provides a breadth of opportunity, whether that's creating a blog, interacting through social media, or contributing articles to industry publications. Should you know the area you want to home in on in your career, keep this as a focus of your online networking activity.

3. Get your voice heard. Be vocal about what you want from your business and know the skills you need to get there. Being open with your leadership team about your ambitions and where you want your skill set to grow will help you get the support you need to achieve your goals.

Working abroad had always been an ambition of mine, for both my career and my family. I knew that to achieve this I needed to network and openly discuss these goals. I built relationships with my company executives and aired my desire to work overseas. In doing so, once a position became available, I then had their full support to go for it.

4. Make purposeful career movements. A sideways career move could look like moving to a different position within your current company, or moving to a new company but keeping a similar job title, salary, or even responsibilities.

I quickly found that to get to where I wanted to be in my career, and in order to work myself closer to the top, I needed experience working in the manufacturing sector, which I'd not yet done. My drive and determination to be successful led to my decision to take a life-changing but lateral career move to a job 4,000 miles away in Zurich in order to gain this experience even though this was a position with far fewer responsibilities.

Taking the risk paid off as this ended up being a pivotal career move. This move is part of the reason why I have the position I hold today and the career experience under my belt.

5. Aim high. The supply chain within any industry is broad. You, therefore, need to understand what the "top" looks like in the position you aspire to. Once you know this you can move toward translating this directly to your personal career path to get there. To move up the ranks, you need to gain more responsibility.

If you are at a crossroads in your career path, mapping out a clear plan is a great place to start to achieve your long-standing ambitions. Don't rule out lateral career moves, seek support from a mentor, and the top of the tree will start to become more achievable.






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