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In-Depth Jobs


Issue no 30, 21 - 27 October 2023

Supply Chain Careers

Adapting to a Digital Frontier

 

Dali Agrahari

Prateek Singh

 

The world of supply chain management is not just about moving products from point A to B; it's an exciting puzzle where strategy, innovation, and resilience come together. This article intends to give you an exhaustive analysis into the incredible career opportunities this field has to offer.

 

A smartphone in your hand, a cup of coffee on your table, or even the shirt on your body; these everyday items have traveled across the globe before reaching you. The global supply chain is an intricate web of manufacturers, suppliers, logistics, and distributors that ensure products are available when and where we need them.

Now, imagine a world where this web is disrupted. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of global supply chains. Disruptions in production, transportation, and distribution led to shortages and delays. Suddenly, "supply chain resilience" became a buzzword.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity, and in the context of supply chains, it means adapting quickly to disruptions. Achieving supply chain resilience involves strategies like diversifying suppliers, using advanced technology for real-time tracking, and maintaining strategic stockpiles.

But why is resilience so important? Think about the climate change-related disasters, geopolitical tensions, or even the unpredictable nature of global events. Resilience ensures that the show goes on, no matter what. In the world's quest for supply chain resilience, the demand for skilled professionals has become more imperative than ever before.

Supply chain management has become a dynamic and multi-disciplinary field that requires a wide range of skills including but not limited to areas such as Logistics, Data Analysis, Sustain-ability and Environmental Science, Digital Technologies like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Risk Management, and Global Business Regulations.

Seizing the Opportunities

So, how do you seize the career opportunities in this ever-evolving field? Here's a roadmap:

 

Education: There are many premier universities and institutions, both public and private, which offer degrees or certifications in supply chain management, logistics, or related fields. These programs provide a strong foundation for your career.

Internships: Most often, internship is a mandatory component of a degree programme. It's a great way to learn the ropes and make connections.

Upskilling/Continuous Learning: Supply chain is a dynamic field, and the ability to pivot and embrace new ideas is crucial. Staying updated with the latest trends and technologies through online courses and workshops gives you an edge over your competitors.

Colleges and Courses

Here's an indicative list of colleges and institutes across India where you can pursue degrees in supply chain management and related fields. These institutions offer a variety of programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, allowing you to tailor your education to your specific career goals. Whether you're interested in logistics, supply chain management, or related fields, these colleges provide comprehensive courses to equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in the industry.

Institution

Admission Mode

Qualification

School of Business, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies.

Merit-based and entrance exams (CAT, CMAT, NMAT, XAT, MAT, UPESMET)

Minimum 50% marks in 10+2 for UG

Minimum 50% marks in graduation for PG

SASTRA University

Merit-based

Minimum 50% marks in 10+2

KL University

Merit-based

Higher Secondary/Intermediate (10+2)

Amity University

Merit-based and entrance exams (CAT, MAT, XAT, NMAT, GMAT)

Minimum 50% marks in graduation for PG

Dr DY Patil University

Merit-based

Minimum 50% marks in 10+2 for UG

Minimum 50% marks in graduation for PG

Alagappa University

Merit-based and entrance exams

Minimum 50% marks in 10+2 for UG

Minimum 50% marks in graduation for PG

Mysore University

Merit-based

10+2/ ITI/ Diploma/ 2-year pre-university course of Karnataka for UG Bachelor's degree for PG

Jain University

Merit and entrance test (JET)

Completion of 10+2 for UG Minimum 50% marks in graduation for PG

Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management

Experience and Personal Interview

Bachelor's degree in Science, Commerce, Engineering for PG           

Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies

Personal interview

Minimum 50% marks in graduation for PG

Loyola Institute of Business Administration

Personal interview

Minimum 50% marks in graduation for PG

Presidency University

Entrance examination (CAT/XAT/MAT/CMAT/ ATMA/KMAT)           

Minimum 50% marks in graduation for PG

BIMTECH

Entrance test

Minimum 50% marks in graduation for PG

 

India's Focus on R&D in Supply Chain Management

Supply chains have become increasingly complex due to global competitiveness and economic crises. This complexity calls for innovative solutions and strategies to streamline operations, reduce costs, and enhance efficiency. As part of the Skill India initiative that aims to train Indians in different industry-related jobs and create an empowered workforce, the government has set up Centres of Excellence in Logistics and Supply Chain Management across the country. These Centres mainly focus on R&D for innovative solutions to help supply chain professionals adapt to evolving global dynamics, such as trade regulations, geopolitical shifts, and changing consumer preferences.

The Centres of Excellence in Logistics and Supply Chain Management have been tasked to undertake Research and Development activities to make the logistics sector more cost-effective and competitive, generating new employment opportunities and boosting exports. Additionally, the Centres also aim to enhance India's engagement with global markets, expand outreach, and contribute to the country's economic growth.

The inception of the 'Centre of Excellence in Logistics and Supply Chain Management' signifies a monumental leap towards addressing the intricacies and potentialities of this dynamic sphere. Armed with the latest in cutting-edge research methodologies, the Centres have embarked on a mission to unravel the intricate tapestry of contemporary supply chains, a landscape rife with complexities and nuances. The Centres do not merely engage in academic pursuits; they disseminate erudition of the highest order, enriching the intellectual milieu and fostering a deeper understanding of this multifaceted discipline.

Moreover, the Centres boast a commitment to nurturing a cadre of adept professionals, armed with the most contemporary insights and tools that the world of supply chain management has to offer. By means of meticulously crafted training programs, they aspire to mold individuals into experts of this field, ready to navigate its intricacies with finesse.

Furthermore, the Centres emerge as an advocate for the digital age, championing the cause of digitisation, analytics, and the integration of IoT and AI into the intricate web of supply chain operations. In doing so, they seek to fortify the capacity for real-time monitoring and analysis, thus ushering in a new era of data-driven decision-making.

The Centres have been functioning with unwavering commitment to sustainability and the creation of green supply chains. Their research endeavors stand testament to this commitment, aligning seamlessly with global environmental aspirations and goals.

The Centres extend their arms in collaboration, forging partnerships with industry stalwarts, national bodies, and international organisations. Through these alliances, they aspire to nurture innovative solutions, meticulously tailored to meet the ever-evolving demands of the intricate supply chain-an arena that serves as the lifeblood of economic growth and global trade.

New Avenues in Supply Chain with Promising Career Growth Potential

Artificial Intelligence (AI): The Future of Supply Chain:  In today's fast-paced digital world, speed is the name of the game in supply chain management. The ability to make quick decisions, reduce cycle times, operate with efficiency, and continuously improve processes has become paramount. Fortunately, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful tool to meet these challenges head-on, and it's here to stay, promising significant transformation in the years to come.

According to a global estimate, supply chain management firms anticipate doubling the level of machine automation in their processes over the next five years. Simultaneously, spending on Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Platforms is expected to grow from $1.67 billion in 2018 to $12.44 billion in 2024, indicating a remarkable 40% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in just seven years.

The disruptions caused by the pandemic have vividly demonstrated the significant impact of uncertainties on supply chains, emphasising the importance of smart contingency plans to navigate through these challenges effectively. Learning AI can help supply chain professionals and aspirants tap into the following areas of specialisation having immense potential for career progress. 

Accurate Inventory Management: AI-driven supply chain planning tools excel in handling vast amounts of data, enabling quick analysis and interpretation of datasets to provide timely guidance on supply and demand forecasting. Some advanced AI systems can even predict consumer habits and forecast seasonal demand, helping to minimise inventory costs while anticipating future customer demand trends.

Warehouse Efficiency:  AI-based automation enhances the efficiency of warehouse operations. These systems can retrieve items from warehouses more rapidly and accurately than humans, simplifying complex procedures and speeding up work. This not only saves time but also reduces the need for a large workforce, resulting in cost savings.

Enhanced Safety: AI-driven tools can analyse workplace safety data, identify potential risks, and provide manufacturers with information to ensure worker and material safety. They can also record stocking parameters, update operations, and proactively address maintenance needs to ensure secure and compliant warehouses.

Reduced Operations Costs: AI systems minimise human oversight errors and workplace incidents, leading to error-free, high-productivity operations across various supply chain aspects, from customer service to warehouse management. Warehouse robots, powered by AI, offer increased speed and accuracy, ultimately reducing operational costs.

On-Time Delivery: By reducing dependency on manual efforts, AI systems streamline processes, making the entire supply chain faster, safer, and more efficient. This improved efficiency facilitates on-time deliveries to meet customer commitments, removing operational bottlenecks along the value chain.

Futuristic Job Roles in Supply Chain

The rapid pace of digitization, automation, and the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in supply chain management is reshaping the job landscape in this field. Several futuristic jobs and roles are emerging as a result of these technological advancements. Here are some of the key roles to watch for:

 

1.      AI Supply Chain Analyst: These professionals leverage AI and ML algorithms to analyse massive datasets, uncover insights, and make data-driven decisions to optimise supply chain operations. They focus on predictive analytics and demand forecasting to reduce costs and enhance efficiency.

2.      IoT Supply Chain Manager: With the growing use of IoT devices and sensors in supply chains, these managers oversee the implementation and management of IoT solutions. They collect and analyse real-time data from IoT sensors to improve inventory management, track shipments, and enhance overall visibility.

3.      Blockchain Supply Chain Specialist: As blockchain technology gains traction in supply chain management, specialists in this field ensure the secure and transparent recording of transactions and events throughout the supply chain. They focus on traceability, authenticity, and compliance.

4.      Supply Chain Automation Engineer: Automation engineers design, develop, and implement robotic and automation solutions within warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities. They work on automating repetitive tasks, optimising material handling, and increasing operational efficiency.

5.      Data Scientist: Data scientists in supply chain management use advanced statistical and machine learning techniques to extract valuable insights from large datasets. They help in optimizing.

6.      Supply Chain Sustainability Manager: Sustainability is becoming a critical concern in supply chain management. These managers focus on making supply chains more eco-friendly by reducing carbon footprints, minimising waste, and ensuring ethical sourcing practices.

7.      Supply Chain Digital Transformation Leader: These professionals drive the digital transformation of supply chain processes within organisations. They identify opportunities for automation, AI, and ML integration, and oversee the implementation of digital technologies.

8.      Supply Chain Cybersecurity Analyst: With the increasing reliance on digital systems and data exchange, cybersecurity analysts focus on protecting supply chain networks from cyber threats and ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of data.

9.      Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Supply Chain Specialist: AR and VR technologies are being used for training, maintenance, and visualisation in supply chains. Specialists in this field work on implementing AR/VR solutions for tasks such as remote maintenance and employee training.

10.  Supply Chain Network Designer: These professionals use advanced modeling and simulation techniques to design and optimise supply chain networks. They assess factors like transportation routes, warehouse locations, and production facilities to enhance efficiency and reduce costs.

11.  Supply Chain AI Ethics Officer: With the increasing use of AI, ethical considerations become essential. These officers ensure that AI and ML algorithms are used responsibly, ethically, and in compliance with regulations, mitigating potential biases and risks.

12.  Supplier Relationship Manager (SRM) 2.0: SRM professionals are evolving into more strategic roles, using data analytics and AI-driven insights to strengthen supplier relationships, optimise sourcing strategies, and mitigate supply chain risks.

13.  Supply Chain Digital Twin Manager: Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical supply chain components. Managers in this role use digital twins to simulate and optimise supply chain scenarios, enabling better decision-making and risk management.

The future of supply chain management is undeniably tech-driven, and professionals in this field need to adapt to these changes by acquiring digital skills, data analytics expertise, and a strong understanding of emerging technologies.

(The authors are career coach for science and technology related entrance exams. Feedback on the article can be sent to: feedback.employmentnews@gmail.com)

Image courtesy: (iStock Images)

Views expressed are personal.