The last few years of trying economic times have left big business and small businesses alike scrambling to stay competitive in a crowded marketplace. There are only so many marketing and sales strategies that can be deployed to counteract slumping sales-- especially when a business is also plagued by internal inefficiencies.
Sometimes, a competitive edge can be found in streamlining processes.
And, in the lean years following the 2008 recession, business turned to supply chain management and logistics solutions with renewed vigor.
In 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek's Victoria Taylor highlighted a growing interest among college students in studying supply chain management. Interest that, in some cases, even inspired the creation of new programs to satisfy the increased need for instruction and guidance in the niche.
Three years later, are those eager-- and now well-educated-- students making an impact on the business climate? The answer is a resounding yes, proving itself through a wide array of telling changes within the industry.
In her Bloomberg article, Taylor had cited a rise in average salary for supply chain management MBA from $98,200 in 2010 to $103,664 in 2011 as proof of the escalating demand for skilled professionals.
In 2014, Supply Chain Digest notes that the median salary for a supply chain management MBA holder has risen to an impressive $115,000 with signing bonuses that are often in the $10,000 range. Even examined as a standalone indicator, the fact that companies are willing to pay more for supply chain professionals speaks volumes as to how important the position has become.
In another telling note, companies have also started actively partnering with colleges offering supply chain management programs, snapping up their best and brightest students at job fairs before graduates even have a chance to peruse the job market.
A Greater Crop of Professionals
In 2011, universities were only just beginning to experiment with the idea of supply chain management as a viable, self-supporting program to add to their catalogs. Today, schools across the country are offering dedicated supply chain programs, ensuring that employers have easy access to local talent upon graduation.
A well-stocked talent pool is helping to further encourage the trend of business embracing supply chain management as its own job, and not necessarily a facet of an existing employee's position. Big names like MIT, Purdue and Rutgers are throwing their hat in the ring, betting alongside employers that their MBA graduates will achieve fame and notoriety by forging a strong and versatile supply chain.
Supply chain management and oversight was once an area primarily handled by existing employees that showed promise in those endeavors. The new trend for large companies like Panasonic and Johnson and Johnson, however, has been creating and maintaining specific positions for those trained in logistic solutions and low cost sourcing, with the degree to prove it.
No longer content to have risky judgment calls on material sourcing and logistics solutions development placed in the hands of non-specialized employees, companies are relying on the graduates of these specially-created MBA programs. They're now counting on the newly-minted professionals to guide them through a hyper-competitive marketplace without needing to slash prices and create deep-discount sales just to stay in the game.
Partnering with talent that's capable of devising and deploying profit-boosting logistics solutions is no longer the think-outside-the-box approach of 2011: it's a must for any business that either wants to blaze a trail or needs to cut their competitors down to size.
As more players enter the marketplace, the need to examine costs and provide high-quality goods with a minimal budget will continue to drive focus on supply chain management--and the talented graduates who hold that job title.