The Next Big MBA Career: Global Supply Chain Management

global supply chain management

It’s no secret that the world of business is global, fast-paced, and dependent on the movement of goods from one location to another.

As these given features of the business world continue to become more pronounced, those who prefer their “i’s” dotted and “t’s” crossed have started taking their rightful places in boardrooms.  Supply chain managers, once considered a secondary or tertiary level of management, have risen to the executive level. In the process, they have become one of the most interesting and lucrative positions in business today.

In a U.S. News article quoting John Fowler, Professor of Supply Chain Management (SCM) in the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, he assuredly states that “the average starting salary for our full time MBAs with a specialization in Supply Chain Management was almost $96,000, with a couple of students in the $120K range.” The question remains, though: what exactly does a supply chain manager do?

Supply Chain Management

What’s most interesting about a supply chain manager position is how it has changed over the years— as J. Paul Dittman writes in Supply Chain Management Review, “Ten years ago, the supply chain leader … was a largely functional role that relied on technical proficiency in discrete areas: knowledge of shipping routes, familiarity with warehousing equipment and distribution-center locations and footprints, and a solid grasp of freight rates and fuel costs.”

And while a supply chain manager must remain on top of such functional knowledge today, the position has become infinitely more demanding, with the supply chain manager dealing with processes, inputs, and outputs both upstream and downstream in the creation of a finished product. Thus, supply chain managers must orient themselves toward traditional logistical concerns, but also concerns about raw materials, manufacturing systems, procurements, and marketing/sales. At its heart, the supply chain management position is holistic and complex, and demands a lot from whoever fills it.

Skills Necessary to Succeed in Global Supply Chain Management

While professionals in the global supply chain management field must hone various skills depending on their companies’ needs, the following are some necessary skills for anyone wanting to get into SCM:

  • Thinking Globally: Supply chains are increasingly multinational in scope, and so the global supply chain management professional must have deep knowledge of suppliers and customers that span continents.
  • Work Sustainably: As sustainable processes become more profitable and more consumers become aware of corporate environmental practices, it is increasingly paramount for SCM professionals to foster and commit to sustainability both upstream and downstream, particularly in the gathering of raw materials.
  • Lead Effectively: As SCM positions become more central to organizational leadership structures, the need for charismatic, savvy, friendly, and collaboratively-minded individuals in such positions grows—and the need for such individuals to be able to work cross-company and cross-industry grows, too.
  • Have a Tireless Work Ethic: As the demands of the global economy never sleep, SCM professionals should expect to work anywhere between 55 and 80 hours per week, though be compensated handsomely for such non-traditional hours.

The Best Supply Chain Management MBA Programs

There are many wonderful programs in supply chain management, but the following are three of the best, according to U.S. News rankings.

  1. Michigan State Broad: Eli Broad’s Masters in Supply Chain Management (MSSCM) is a unique program, as it combines onsite courses and learning with online modules, allowing for a more seamless integration of SCM principles into already-existing work schedules and professional commitments.
  2. MIT Sloan: the Leaders for Global Operations MBA/MS track is among the most elite SCM programs offered, with a defined track for those students who wish to delve deeper into SCM. Companies in the Boston area clamor for students to work on global supply networks after graduation.
  3. ASU Carey: The W. P. Carey Master of Science in Global Logistics (MS-GL) degree is a nine-month program that prepares those interested in SCM for the complex world of global operations and multicultural perspectives.

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About the Author

Jonathan Pfeffer

Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as contributing writer at MetroMBA and contributing editor at Clear Admit, he is co-founder and lead producer of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.

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