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    Who is managing our Supply Chains?

    Career Patterns, Success Factors & Talent Development of today's Supply Chain & Logistics Managers

    “Supply chain faces a severe shortage of talent at a time when the demands on the profession have never been greater” (Cottrill, 2010).

    While managers in traditional functions focus on developing strong expertise to become “specialists” in their own discipline, supply chain managers are different animals: They have to possess deep cross-functional understanding of various business fields, strategic decision-making and communication skills as well as strong analytical and IT skills in order to manage the manifold tasks they are facing on a daily basis.

    Although the globalization has increased the complexity of the supply chains, companies are facing a significant undersupply of talent as indicated by thousands of SCM job offers on online job platforms. Surprisingly at the same time, little is known about the persons responsible for managing our supply chains due to the lack of scientific research on that topic.

    We at Kühne Logistics University pursue a two-year empirical research in cooperation with McKinsey &  Company to gain in-depth knowledge about supply chain managers. Since launching the study in winter 2013, we focus on five key research questions:

    • What are the career patterns of supply chain managers and what do these patterns imply?
    • What are the success factors of supply chain managers within the firm and how can they advance their careers?
    • What is the perception of supply chain managers’ function within the companies and how can they bridge the gap to other functions?
    • How can supply chain managers promote the understanding of their function in their company and highlight the importance of their tasks?
    • What are the career opportunities of supply chain managers from a HR talent management perspective and how should they be structured to develop and retain their employees?

    In order to gain research insights we use a mix of surveys, interviews and secondary data. Based on the study we hope to provide valuable implications to the supply chain community. Those could be guidelines for young SCM professionals to succeed in their career, recommendation for companies to select future employees or ideas for company-internal talent development programs.