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Big Link, Long Chain: How to Become a Supply Chain Manager

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If you want to work in the logistics industry there are many opportunities to be found. For those looking for a fast-paced and challenging career, becoming a supply chain manager may appeal. You could already be an experienced lorry driver looking to move up or you might be entirely new to the sector, but either way your route to the destination might look something like we describe below.

The Position Defined

Firstly, let’s clarify exactly what a person in this position does – because it’s quite a good deal more than simply subcontract transport work, although that can be one aspect of the job. Here’s the official explanation from the National Careers Services:

“SCMs organise the movement of goods and materials from suppliers and manufacturers to customers.”

It’s a pretty broad remit, but when you break it down into day-to-day tasks it becomes a little clearer.

What Will I Do?

How your day looks will depend, of course, on where in the ‘chain’ you’re employed. But you may undertake any or all of the following on a daily basis:

Recruiting and managing new staff
On-going training of staff
Product selection
Negotiate with manufactures and suppliers
Plan for the strategic movement of goods
Track shipments of goods
Subcontract transport work
Liaise with retailers
Forecasting and inventory
Improve supply chain networks (e.g. better ways to subcontract transport work)
Meet performance targets
How Do I Get There?

As any driver knows, there are usually multiple ways to get to a destination. The career path to supply chain manager can be through university, an apprenticeship or, as many people do, you can work your way up the ranks to the role.

If you choose to go to university to get your qualifications, a degree in logistics, transport management or supply chain management will help. Depending on whether you go for a foundation degree, a higher national diploma or a regular degree, you’ll need between one to three A levels.

If the idea of an apprenticeship appeals you’ll need four to six GCSEs (including English and maths) for an advanced programme, and some college qualifications for a degree apprenticeship.

For those looking to dive straight in to the workforce, starting out as a transport clerk is a great foot in the door and you’ll learn to do things like subcontract transport work or deal with suppliers and manufacturers. In the meantime you can also do work-based training courses through the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

What Do I Need to Succeed?

Some of the practical skills you’ll need include:


The ability to think analytically
Proficiency in a range of computer software programmes
Excellent customer service and attention to detail
Solid leadership skills
Strong business management
Knowledge of delivery, manufacturing and production processes
A Career with Great Prospects

There is no doubt that this kind of career path has huge prospects and qualified candidates with extensive industry experience can expect to be able to move into consultancy and senior planning jobs further down the line. Sounds like a pretty good career plan, doesn’t it?
About author: Desiree Michels

Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides a valuable service to subcontract transport work, matching loads with available vehicles. It is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.

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