Supply chain analyst career path has emerged as one of the most popular supply chain career options in last decade or so. The importance of supply chain management in overall business management has increased significantly. Combine this with the increasing complexity of supply chains and you can explain why various organizations are looking more and more for specialists who can leverage data to help improve supply chain performance.
Despite its popularity, the amount of resources and guidance available to students interested in supply chain analyst career path is very limited. There is an ever increasing lack of clarity on the roles of analysts and the lack of standard nomenclature doesn’t help either. I always read graduate students and freshers asking questions like “what does a supply chain analyst do?”, “how do I break into a supply chain analyst role?”, “what do my potential employers look for in an ideal candidate?”, “what does an ideal supply chain analyst resume look like”, on various forums. But nowhere do they get comprehensive guidance on pursuing a career as a supply chain analyst.
Companies in most sectors including automobile, CPG, retail, e-commerce, consulting etc. look to hire graduates for entry level supply chain analyst jobs. However, it is important for graduates to understand what skills are required for an analyst position and how they can build those skills while in college so that they can land a job in an analyst role straight out of college. So, I have created a comprehensive guide for supply chain students who are interested in pursuing a career as an analyst.
In this guide, I will cover, various topics related to the supply chain analyst career path:
The question that gets most commonly asked is: “what does a supply chain analyst do?”. So, here is the answer: A supply chain analyst is responsible for analyzing the flow of goods through the supply chain in order to identify gaps and issues in current operations and processes. The analysts further use analytical techniques to identify ways to improve the supply chain performance. Sounds like a textbook answer? Let’s get into further details.
Analysts play a critical role at every stage of supply chain management, be it: raw material sourcing, production planning, inventory management, demand planning, distribution planning or even network design. The role of a supply chain analyst includes gathering data, analyzing data, communicating with supervisors, peers or subordinates and finally enabling decision making. This should make it a little clearer.
Let’s take one specific example. A supply chain analyst working in demand planning function is responsible for creating and maintaining forecast models for the customer demand, incorporating business intelligence and forecast information gathered from different functions like sales, marketing etc.
You will get a deeper understanding of the role of an analyst when I will discuss various supply chain analyst jobs in the next section.
As mentioned earlier, supply chain analysts play a role at different stages of a supply chain. Analysts are involved in managing sourcing, production, inventory, network and almost every supply chain activity. There is a lack of standardization (as you normally see in the consulting industry) as far as the analyst positions in various companies are concerned. However, I have listed out the popular entry level job roles for supply chain analysts:
There can be many more supply chain analyst positions based on the nature of business and company, organization structure and so on. However, these are some of the most popular supply chain analyst positions in the industry.
Generally, a supply chain analyst works in multiple roles within the supply chain before moving to positions of greater responsibility. For example, an analyst might work in demand planning, production and inventory roles before progressing to senior positions. As you gain experience and demonstrate your capabilities to the organization, you will progress to a senior analyst, a supply chain manager and maybe even a supply chain leadership position. The exact career progression will depend on your capabilities as well as your organization.
Now that you have clarity on the role of an analyst within a supply chain organization, it’s really important to understand the skills required for the job. Even though there are many skills required for success in analyst positions, however I have listed 5 most specific and important skills here:
Apart from these skills, the supply chain analysts also need to have a strong understanding of supply chain management including functions like sourcing, production, distribution etc. Companies generally look for a combination of these skills and supply chain knowledge for hiring in analyst positions.
I have already discussed how ability to analyze data is among the most important skills required for a successful supply chain analyst career path. However, in order to analyze data, analysts leverage various analytical capabilities. SAS had published a report on various levels of supply chain analytics and here are the 8 different analytical capabilities:
While standard reporting is considered to be the most basic analytical capability, optimization is considered the most advanced one. Based on the nature of role of a supply chain analyst, he/she leverages one or more of these capabilities. For example, a supply chain modeling analyst will use predictive modeling and optimization more frequently than analysts involved in managing operations.
An important component of supply chain analyst career path is the salary details. In fact no career guide can be said to be complete unless it covers salary part for the concerned job roles. As per salary.com, the median annual supply chain analyst salary in United States is $71,609, as of May 31, 2016, with a range usually between $61,921-$85,116. However, the salary can vary depending on a number of factors like:
You can check websites like Indeed.com and Salary.com for more details on the salary part.
Job hunting is not easy and most students struggle with this part. Now that you have idea about different aspects of a supply chain analyst career path, I will share some tips which will help you build a perfect supply chain analyst resume.
The biggest challenge that most supply chain students face is related to their lack of experience. It’s not easy to go straight from your education to working as a supply chain analyst. However, there are ways to gain experience and make your way into a professional supply chain analyst job over time. Following are some tips that will help you overcome your lack of experience in the field:
Apart from lack of experience, you also need to get other aspects of your profile right. “Maintain a good GPA” is the first basic tips that anyone will give you. You need to develop and highlight relevant skills like analytical skills and communication skills.
If you follow the tips that I have shared, you will not just have a perfect supply chain analyst resume but you will be able to stand out as a candidate for supply chain analyst jobs. I am not an expert on job search or interviews but you can get some tips in the two articles listed below:
So, if you love playing with numbers and if complex problems excite you, supply chain analyst career path is the right option for you. So, are you ready to launch your career as a supply chain analyst? If yes, focus on building the right skill sets and getting right experience to stand out as a candidate.
Wishing you all the best for your career!
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Baidhurya is a supply chain analytics trainer and the author of a supply chain bestseller on Udemy. Before starting out as a trainer, Baidhurya worked in the industry as a supply chain consultant where he executed multiple high value network and inventory projects for clients which include top 5 retailers in the world.