Supply Chain Manager

The Job and What's Involved

As a supply chain manager you would plan and organise the transfer of goods and materials from manufacturers and suppliers through to customers. You could also be known as a logistics or distribution manager.

You could manage distribution operations in a variety of organisations, for example a major retailer. Alternatively, you might work for a logistics contractor that specialises in shipping goods on behalf of other companies.

Your responsibilities would include:

  • Planning delivery timetables.
  • Monitoring stock levels using computer databases.
  • Tracking the movement of goods through depots.
  • Overseeing the ordering and packaging process ready for dispatch.
  • Looking at ways to improve supply networks.
  • Overseeing the arrival of shipments.
  • Managing clerical, administrative and warehouse distribution staff.
  • Monitoring performance and making sure targets are met.
  • Dealing with staff recruitment and training.

You would work closely with purchasing officers, warehouse staff and transport clerks to make sure goods and materials arrive at the depot as scheduled, are in good order, stored correctly and dispatched to customers on time.

You would usually work between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. You may work evenings and weekends on a rota basis, or be available on-call to deal with emergencies. Some companies run 24-hour operations involving shift work.

You would normally be office-based in a distribution warehouse or depot.

Starting salaries for graduates can be from £18,000 to £22,000 a year. Experienced managers can earn between £25,000 and £40,000.

Senior supply chain managers can earn up to £60,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

According to Skills for Logistics, long-term developments, particularly with the expansion of freight traffic in the south-east, are likely to continue to drive demand for distribution support services.

Typical employers include warehousing and distribution firms, manufacturers, freight forwarders, major retailers and charities.

Education and Training

The most common route into supply chain management is to take a foundation degree, BTEC HNC/HND or a degree in:

- Logistics
- International transport
- Supply chain management
- Transport management
- Geography

To search for courses, see the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website. You should check with course providers for their exact entry requirements.

Another option would be to start with a company in a related job, for example as a transport clerk, and work your way up through to supervisory and management levels.

If your potential employer has overseas operations, it may be useful to have foreign language skills.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

With a degree, you may be able to start training with a larger employer on a graduate training scheme. These are structured programmes lasting from a few months to two years. During this time, you would have placements in several company departments, gradually taking on more responsibility.

Some of the exams to consider are:

Postgraduate degrees – transport planning, supply chain management and logistics.

NVQ's – in Logistics Operations Management Level 3 and Integrated Logistics Support Management Level 4.

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT UK) also offers certificate, diploma and advanced diploma courses in Logistics and Transport. They also have a continuing professional development (CPD) scheme for their members.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A supply chain manager needs:

  • Good planning and organisational skills.
  • The ability to motivate and lead a team.
  • Good spoken and written communication skills.
  • Good problem-solving and maths skills.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Confidence in using computer packages such as spreadsheets and databases.
  • The ability to work under pressure and to meet deadlines.
  • Good geographical knowledge.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, you could progress to senior planning jobs and consultancy work.

Get Further Information

Skills for Logistics,
14 Warren Yard, Warren Farm,
Office Village, Stratford Road,
Milton Keynes MK12 5NW
Tel: 01908 313360

Chartered Institute of Logistics
and Transport (CILT UK),
Logistics and Transport Centre,
Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road,
Corby, Northants NN17 4AX
Tel: 01536 740104

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