Opportunities in logistics

Opportunities in logistics

P Chandiran discusses career opportunities in supply chain management

Opportunities in logistics
Supply Chain Management (SCM)is gaining more importance in the industry today. Organisations like to have more focused professionals, who can understand, evaluate and improve the performance of extended supply chain, connecting their organisation with other supply chain partners. Similarly, the logistics sector is growing moderately and many professional warehousing and transportation services companies are entering into our market. There is a large gap that exists between supply and demand of supply chain and logistics professionals in these areas.

A few institutes are developing managers for the areas mentioned above, and that is not enough. Prospective candidates who want to join management institutes do not look at Operations or SCM as a career option. Even though the logistics sector is growing, the number of executives and the amount of technical knowledge in the sector are quite low. But in the manufacturing part of the curriculum, people have an understanding of different technologies so that they can find a natural way to enter those sectors. In the areas of logistics, there is a great need for education, but there are not enough institutions that offer training in logistics.

Management institutes and other professional institutes mostly do not have a separate course like PGDM in Supply Chain Management. Mostly, these institutes offer PGDM with specialisation in Operations and SCM. In most of these institutes, SCM is part of a dual specialisation that is being offered. In this context, management institutes and the teachers should look at better ways of imparting knowledge, skills and attitude (KSA) to prospective SCM Professionals.

Knowledge

The curriculum for SCM should be updated and revised to meet the industry requirements. As a teacher and researcher, I see SCM is still evolving and the practices are not still streamlined. Students are asked to select one industry and study its supply chain in detail. They study in terms of their financial performance, assets turnover, supply chain length, cash-to-cash cycle time, inventory performance, IT implementation and use of analytics in supply chain decision making.

Students should do field studies related to supply chain. They can study the length of the supply chain for a product, routing and scheduling of deliveries and pickup for retail stores and manufacturing, routing and scheduling for online stores, routing and scheduling of people for software companies and educational institutes. Games also can be used to enhance learning for students.

Skills

Analytical skills are very much part of any SCM curriculum. Basic skills in the area of statistics, mathematical modelling, spreadsheet usage with Excel and Excel solver are a must for the students. Problem-solving skills and decision-making skills can be imparted by using many case studies. The case studies should focus on supply chain problems in different industries. The different courses offered in the area of operation and supply chain should be loaded with relevant case studies so that students get exposure in solving different supply chain and logistics issues.

Attitude

Ethics and discipline are very important for supply chain professionals. Ethics and values should be imparted to students through cases, competitions and by the institute’s ethical practices. Responsible procurement should be part of the course on sourcing. Green practices and importance of environment should be inculcated through activities, visiting bio-reserves and awareness programmes.

Now that Goods & Service Tax (GST) has been in effect since July 1, it will have a strong impact on logistics and supply chain sectors. In this dynamic environment, there are a lot of opportunities for supply chain professionals. Due to the strong growth of e-commerce, there is a need for professional managers in distribution and logistics.

Warehouse managers are in strong demand in different sectors. Supply chain and logistics consultants are required in different industry due to implementation of GST in India. Indian companies are investing in developing supply chain software to support local industry. They are in need of general supply chain professionals with some exposure to supply chain activities.

Third party logistics companies are in great demand and they, in turn, require professional managers. Many start-ups (such as those in the area of truck aggregation) and other related areas are growing, hence providing strong employment opportunities. There are always opportunities that exist in core manufacturing for supply chain operations and logistics. Due to strong growth in supply chain analytics, people with supply chain and logistics knowledge and skills are strongly preferred for this role also.

Specialisations & courses

There are courses which concentrate on only trade logistics. These courses cover areas like shipping & logistics, import and export documentation, road and rail logistics, and port operations. Some courses cover end to end supply chain operations which include operations, inventory, infrastructure, warehousing, information technologies, and procurement & sourcing. There are some courses which gives more importance to quantitative approaches and analytics in supply chain and logistics. These courses give strong foundation for people who like to do certifications like CSCP (Certified Supply chain Professional) and CPIM (Certified Professional in Inventory Management).

Remuneration & opportunities

Operations normally pay less initially in any sector. Supply Chain is part of Operations but today with increasing demand for SC professionals, the remuneration is on rise and on par with any other management professionals. Supply chain management professionals should have both knowledge and skills to manage operations. People who have reached lower middle and middle level in organisations are paid better than others. Huge opportunities are waiting for SC professionals due to changing environments.

(The author is associate professor, Loyola Institute of Business Administration, Chennai)
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