Becoming a director of supply chain operations can be a promising career for individuals who are interested in planning, logistics, manufacturing and distribution, in a wide range of industries.
This career guide provides a look into the director of supply chain operations position, including typical education and training requirements. No two jobs are alike in this growing field, where employment is projected to increase steadily through 2018, according to national data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2011.
While director of supply chain operations can be a rewarding career choice, it is reasonable to expect competition for the most desirable positions. Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research regarding actual job growth rates, which can vary according to location, education and experience.
What is Supply Chain Operations?
Supply chain operations consist of all the steps required to bring a product to market. The director of supply chain operations is often required to manage wide-ranging aspects of the manufacturing process, such as procurement, delivery and warehousing of materials, inventory control, and distribution of finished goods. These professionals also forecast demand, analyze inventory and troubleshoot issues that can affect supplies. The director of supply chain operations applies practices to respond to business challenges and help to advance organizational goals.
Why Supply Chain Operations Matter
Everything you wear, eat and use each day comes through a vast, physically interconnected web, or supply chain. Directors of supply chain operations ensure that it functions properly and is as efficient and cost-effective as possible. The global nature of today’s business environment, along with the increasing use of lean manufacturing principles, means this field is growing in complexity and level of responsibility.
The director of supply chain operations often provides both strategic direction and daily tactical support for an organization’s supply chain function. Typical job duties include creating supply plans, monitoring sales forecasts to identify any effect on the supply chain, implementing waste reducing strategies, and developing supply chain management procedures. These professionals may also be required to develop vendor relationships, negotiate with suppliers to minimize raw materials and transportation costs, and develop processes to track performance.
Where Can I Find Jobs in Supply Chain Operations?
Jobs in supply chain operation exist in nearly every industry, across the globe – includingFortune500 companies. The field offers positions ranging from entry level, such as supply chain analyst, to executive level, such as vice president of supply chain management. The qualifications required to break into this field often transfer across industries. Here are several sectors that routinely employ directors of supply chain operations:
- Manufacturing: According to the Council of Supply Chain Professionals (CSCMP), 27.6% of the organization’s members are manufacturers, as of November 2011. These include, but are not limited to, food and beverage makers, chemical manufacturers, electronics firms, pharmaceutical companies and building materials manufacturers.
- Financial Services: Many large financial firms hire supply chain operations specialists, in positions such as head of trade products development and director of supply chain finance.
- Distribution: Wholesalers and distributors are an important link on the supply chain, and require skilled professionals to serve their customers’ needs.
- Information Technology: IT is another field where directors of supply chain operations find career opportunities with software developers, peripheral suppliers and more.
- Healthcare: Healthcare is the fastest growing industry in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Typical positions include surgical tech material manager or executive director of hospital supply chain.
- Retail: Opportunities in retail include jobs like supply chain accountant and director of store design procurement.
- Logistics: Many firms use the services of third-party logistics (3PL) firms. Some of the jobs available include customer service manager, freight broker and supply chain capacity business analyst.
Director of Supply Chain Operations Education Preparation
The qualifications required to enter and advance in this field will vary according to the specific industry and employer. Directors of supply chain operations come from a variety of educational backgrounds.
- Associate’s Degree: It may be possible to secure an entry-level supply chain position with an associate’s, or two-year degree. Most employers will require a strong background in finance, accounting and business administration, and typically require knowledge of distribution operating systems, as well. Advancing in the supply chain field will likely require a bachelor’s degree.
- Bachelor’s Degree: Most supply chain management positions require at least a four-year bachelor’s degree. Certain positions might require a degree in finance, business administration or a related field, while others require a technical background in information technology, engineering or a related field. Advancing your career in supply chain operations may require additional work experience or an advanced degree.
- Master’s Degree: Qualifications for advanced supply chain positions, such as director of supply chain operations, may include a master’s degree in supply chain management, or a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). These advanced degrees typically take an additional one to two years beyond the bachelor’s level.
In addition to the appropriate educational background, employers hiring for the director of supply chain operations position may also be looking at candidates’ interpersonal and business skills, personal attributes and industry knowledge.
Potential Salary for Director of Supply Chain Operations Positions
According to a 2010 national survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, the median annual salary for supply chain directors was $96,450. Because salary potential may vary depending on location, education and experience, prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research to determine actual earning potential.
Director of Supply Chain Operations Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement
To achieve success as a director of supply chain operations, it’s important to have a good grasp on the following areas of business:
- Knowledge of raw materials, distribution of goods and manufacturing processes.
- An understanding of business and management principles, leadership strategies and strategic planning.
- Familiarity with the principles of transportation.
- Strong mathematics skills.
- Knowledge of economic and accounting principles, along with forecasting and analyzing data and financial information.
- The ability to manage people, build teams and communicate effectively.
Most director of supply chain operations positions will require industry-specific knowledge, whether you’re competing for a position with a food and beverage manufacturer or a healthcare organization. In addition, prospective employers will typically seek out individuals with the following personal attributes and business-related abilities:
- Strategic leadership skills.
- Strong interpersonal skills.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
- Strong analytic and problem solving skills.
- Ability to work in a fast-paced environment.
- Attention to detail.
Advancement in this field usually comes after gaining the necessary work experience or obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Some employers offer tuition assistance programs that could enable working professionals to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Is a Director of Supply Chain Operations Career For You?
If you enjoy planning, analyzing and organizing multiple tasks and have an interest in manufacturing and logistics, you could be a great fit for a director of supply chain operations career. Now that you know the requirements, why not start planning your path in this exciting and fast-moving field?