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Career Story: Supply Chain Manager For An Office Products Supplier

Supply Chain Manager For An Office Products Supplier

Job Title: Supply Chain Manager

Type of Company: My company manages the supply chain for large, geographically dispersed merchandisers of office supplies, print consumables, stationery, etc. Our customers buy these products from our company to save money and time on low-value purchasing.

Education: BS, Physics, James Mason University •• Continuing education C.P.M. (Certified Purchasing Manager)

Previous Experience: In my early twenties I was a sign shop foreman responsible for production scheduling, incoming materials sourcing, finished goods production and monitoring. After a job change, I worked my way up to purchasing and production scheduling manager for a manufacturer and distributor of personal care products.

Job Tasks: My primary role is to ensure a quality supply of the product categories that we support for our customers (office supplies, IT/data supplies, business print/stationery et al.) This role includes not only the sourcing of quality suppliers, but of logistics and delivery arrangements using both our own fleet of delivery trucks and third-party carriers such as UPS and FedEx and less well-known common carriers.

Costs need to be monitored closely to ensure the company's competitiveness in the marketplace, and profitability on the balance sheet. This job takes a high level of data analysis skill, and negotiating skill with suppliers and carriers. Finding creative ways to eliminate costs throughout the supply chain, instead of simply telling suppliers "lower my costs," is a key requirement. This is often done in collaboration with suppliers to ferret out redundant processes, eliminate damages by increasing packaging, etc.

I have a staff to recruit, motivate and train. Part of my responsibility is to make sure I'm dispensable -- I need to ensure my staff is continually developing their skills and are capable of taking my job.

I provide leadership in my areas of expertise to the other departments in my organization. These include sales, executive management, finance/accounting, and customer service.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job are developing my staff, watching their capabilities and confidence grow and helping them set and attain goals they never dreamed of; finding "win-win" areas for cost savings; seeing happy customers.

The worst are meetings that drift off course and turn counterproductive; sales vs. operations political maneuvering; and carriers who behave unprofessionally (e.g. truck drivers who walk into a customer's building with a lit cigarette).

Job Tips:
1.) When pursuing a job, research and think about the company you are interviewing with: what might be the "pain points" with their current supply chain, and what can you bring to the equation to relieve some of this pain?

2.) Listen + listen + listen = learn.

3.) Business analytics courses (financials, data, MS Access) are strongly desired in this field.

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