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Supply Chain Leadership: A Skill You Didn’t Know Your Business Needed

Supply Chain Leadership

Prior to 2020, we’d become accustomed to having everything we ordered delivered in days, sometimes even within a few short hours. 

But then, the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the entire supply chain and logistics system as we knew it. 

Now, entire shelves are often empty when you venture to the grocery store and major brands such as Starbucks have had to take certain items off the menu for the foreseeable future. No one can quite agree how long it will take for the supply chain issues stemming from COVID-19 to return to normal. 


The pandemic isn’t the only thing that has disrupted supply chains. Extreme weather conditions including the wildfires in both the American West and Australia, flooding in major parts of Europe and China, and other instances across the globe caused by climate change are impacting what resources can be sourced and further impacting the already crippled supply chains across the world. 

One example of this is lumber: nearly 25% of the lumber in North America is sourced from Canada, which has been reeling from severe drought and wildfires. An industry already ravaged by supply chain issues due to the pandemic has faced even more strife because of climate change. 

While a person cannot control the weather nor can they individually eradicate the pandemic, having effective leadership in the face of these disruptions can help a company make it through, and even possibly thrive, despite these unavoidable events. Having strong leadership can be the difference between your company surviving or succumbing to these trying times. And strong leadership is built through a solid education. 

What Does Good Supply Chain Leadership Look Like?

Good supply chain leadership comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be dependent on the size of the company. But one thing that overlaps in both large and small companies is that good supply chain leaders are able to blend the human side of the supply chain with the logistics side. 

Essentially, these leaders don’t forget that a large component of supply chains are the people. Good supply chain managers are able to manage the relationships of their employees without sacrificing logistic production. Programs like Montclair State University’s general MBA teach individuals how to lead people, not just companies on both a small scale and large scale level.

The personal relationships developed aren’t just with those who work as part of the supply chain directly, but also those in other industries and departments that the supply chain is involved with or who could be part of it in the future. Having successful relationships is critical to the success of a supply chain leader. 

Small vs. Large Scale Company Leadership

  • At a small company, the supply chain leadership often falls on the owner who either does all of the supply chain logistics themselves, has a small team they oversee who helps, or sources out the projects to freelance subcontractors.
  • A large company often has an entire department dedicated to its supply chain. This involves teams for development and execution, research and design, transportation, market research and sometimes further divided teams. Sometimes these types of departments can be overseen by a supply chain manager or even the Chief Executive Officer in some instances. 

In-Demand Supply Chain Leadership Skills

Due to the changing nature of technology, supply chain operations are constantly evolving and growing. Understanding how supply chains are changing is critical to the overall success of a company. This also means that the skill set that a successful supply chain leader must have is also changing. 

IT and Automation 

Significant improvements in technology have meant that aspects of the supply chain that previously didn’t incorporate technology are embracing it. It is becoming further integral in all aspects from the floor of a factory to the logistics department. 

In factories, automation is being used to decrease the amount of human error, thus streamlining the supply chain process. Amazon, for example, has introduced Amazon Robotics, which creates robots that can pick and pack purchases without human assistance. Similarly, in logistics, automation can ensure that there are no expired products or other similar issues. These two parts of the supply chain are not the only ones where automation is becoming the norm, but they are two of the more significant sections. 

Understanding how IT and automation are part of the supply chain and being able to problem-solve when issues arise involving them is key to the success of the supply chain. 

Economics and Market Analysis

Companies are realizing how important it is to have accurate data not just on the company itself, but also the market in which you reside. Understanding the technology around market research and analysis is vital to being able to lead your company to the top of the market. 

This is an area where a business analytics MBA can help you to stand out and excel. Understanding the analytical side of businesses and the supply chain is critical to being a strong leader.

Budgets and Cost Analysis

Understanding the budget you are given and how to analyze your costs and decisions in a business is vital. Being able to quantify and point out how exactly you could positively impact the budget is a vital part of being a business leader. 

Innovation

Innovation is extremely important within supply chain leadership. Innovation can allow you to thrive when typical production is halted due to instances such as extreme weather or a global pandemic. 

Being innovative can be beneficial even in a typical environment without major world events occurring. Innovation can help to lessen costs, improve employee environments, and do countless other things. Being able to innovate is a key part of being a good leader. 

What exactly is innovation within the supply chain? It means finding ways to improve that may be outside of the traditional box. This could be incorporating advancements such as 3D printing or even virtual reality in an effort to streamline the systems in place. Organizations such as the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals even offer an award for strategic innovation within the supply chain. 

Becoming a Supply Chain Leader

According to McKinsey and Company’s research into supply chain management, it takes, on average, those in the supply chain 8.8 years to reach an executive leadership position and that the number of those who hold graduate degrees is significantly higher than in other similar industries. This means that earning a master’s degree, such as an MBA from an accredited and acclaimed institution such as Montclair State University, is crucial to improving your potential. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the job growth for Logisticians, under which supply chain executives fall, to rise by 30% between 2020 and 2030. That is nearly 22% higher than the average of all other professions. 

With this knowledge in hand, those interested in supply chain leadership positions can feel secure in knowing that there is a wide-open job market and that the best way to ensure you reach the points you wish to is by earning your MBA. 

Becoming a supply chain leader takes time and commitment, but it is feasible with the right education and training. Montclair State University offers an online MBA program designed to provide you with the necessary skills to lead in a variety of different fields, in particular, supply chain. Montclair State offers two different specializations that may benefit those looking to lead in the supply chain field: their general MBA and their business analytics MBA. Email us or call us today with any questions you may have about our program. 

Contact Information


Toby Burris
Montclair State University
Student Recruitment Manager

973-655-6015
onlinemba@mail.montclair.edu

Do you have questions about the online MBA? You may find it helpful to watch a webinar hosted by Student Recruitment Manager, Toby Burris.

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