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A Career in Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management as a concept has been widely accredited to a Booz Allen consultant named Keith Oliver, who in 1982 defined the concept as follows: “Supply chain management is the process of planning, implementing, and controlling the operations of the supply chain with the purpose to satisfy customer requirements as efficiently as possible. Supply chain management spans all movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, and finished goods from point-of-origin to point-of-consumption.”

The work

Supply Chain Management (SCM) is a relatively new management discipline and has developed from bringing together more traditional roles of buying, transport, freight forwarding, manufacturing and retailing.  It is increasingly making use of technology such as internet, satellite communications, radio frequency identification (RFID) and global positioning systems (GPS).

The skills

SCM is complex and requires a wide range of skills:

  • Numeracy
  • Analytical abilities and strong problem solving skills
  • IT skills – general business software and specialist business software such as esourcing, eprocurement, customer relationship management (CRM) and modelling tools
  • Technical knowledge of a specific area, eg, transport or warehouse operations
  • Team management
  • Motivational skills
  • Communication skills, including Influencing and persuasion skills
  • Commercial skills

Entry requirements

It is possible to enter the profession straight from school or college either via direct entry to an employer or by taking up one of the apprenticeship opportunities that exist in supply chain management, so it is worth visiting the Apprenticeship websites to see what is available (there are separate sites for each of the four nations):

There is a range of graduate opportunities with retailers, manufacturers and third party logistics providers and these are mostly advertised either directly via the company’s own website or via dedicated graduate recruitment websites. 

Salary and career development

Salary levels will vary according to the job role.  On qualification, apprentices will earn in the region of £13,500, and the salary for graduate schemes with retailers, manufacturers and third party logistics providers is in the range £18-25,000.

As SCM is a relatively new management discipline, most senior supply chain managers have honed their skills in more traditional discipline such as retailing, buying or operations management in a manufacturing environment and then progressing to a more overarching role in supply management.

Membership of a relevant professional body will support individuals as they progress up the career ladder and provide a variety of opportunities to network and to acquire professional qualifications.  There are specialist degrees in supply chain management at undergraduate and post-graduate level, which provide the academic background to support and inform practical experience.


There are number of employers who employ supply chain managers, these include:

  • Retailers
  • Manufacturers
  • Third party logistics providers
  • Consultancies
  • Government departments and agencies


For more information on the supply chain management careers visit the following websites:

Registered Office:

Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road, Corby
Northants, NN17 4AX
Main Switchboard: 01536 740100

Company Registration Number: 2629347 
(A Company Limited by Guarantee)
Charity Registration Number: 1004963

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