As a Thunderbird alumnus, I like to highlight the successes of other "TBirds" whenever possible. So I was delighted to find that the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal interviewed TBird graduate '98 Mark Zafra as part of their "How I Got There" series (which I recommend following). Even more relevant to this blog, Mark works in the supply chain field.
I recommend reading the interview, but I thought I would just provide my own comments on his answers to "How you can get there, too":
Best Advice:"If you want to be in supply chain, you should learn to be good at negotiations and be able to say 'no' to people that are aggressively trying to sell you things," says Mr. Zafra. "It is also critical that you can work with a variety of levels -- in supply chain you'll often deal with entry level people up to very senior people." My comments: Negotiations are definitely important, not just in purchasing from vendors, but also in working with your customers, both external and internal. To his last point, I agree wholeheartedly--the more comfortable you are in switching from warehouse floor to boardroom and vise versa, the more successful you will be in supply chain management.
Skills you need: Along with technical knowledge of the job, you need "a passion for negotiation and financial analysis and people skills," offers Mr. Zafra. He also recommends working with shipping and receiving employees. My comments: Having worked with shipping and receiving employees in Japan distribution centers, I can't agree more with the recommendation and its value. The appreciation and understanding of the job you gain is invaluable.
Degrees you should go for: If you know you want to work in logistics, consider studying supply chain issues says Mr. Zafra. And, he says, go for a B.A. in business or an M.B.A. with classes in logistics. My comments: Having had an Art major in undergrad, I transitioned at the MBA level--so I have the same recommendation.
Where you should start: Consider a career as a buyer, planner, logistics analyst or a financial analyst, recommends Mr. Zafra. "Supply chain is critical with companies that have a tangible product," says Mr. Zafra. That includes things like computers, clothing, or food. "Manufacturing companies especially need good supply chain people," he says. My comments: Also, it doesn't hurt to consider a supply chain IT vendor like Manhattan Associates as well.
If anyone is interested in Thunderbird, please feel free to write me anytime. I would be happy to share my thoughts on the school.