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ASCM Insights

Supply Chain: From Humdrum to Hype

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We at ASCM have always known that supply chain is groovy lit. But recently, the field has gained the widespread recognition street cred it truly deserves. Perhaps best of all, we’re finally speaking to young people in their language.

An article in Quartz has declared 2021 the year that supply chain managers officially became cool. No more puzzled looks or blank stares when we talk about our jobs; the pandemic has thrust supply chain management into the spotlight, turning it into a headline-grabbing activity. People everywhere now understand that fine line between being able to purchase both essentials and niceties, such as Girl Scout cookies and flowers.

In addition to catching the public eye, supply chain is piquing the interest of college students. In 2020, Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business saw a 20% increase in the number of students majoring in supply chain management compared with the previous year. Similar gains have been observed at both the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University and The University of South Florida (USF). In fact, more than 500 schools now offer supply chain programs, as I told Quartz’s Samanth Subramanian in the article.

“[Supply chain] was a topic that students never understood until they’d had a few years of work experience,” says Kevin Linderman, Smeal’s supply chain department chair. “But now, with all the discussion in the news, it’s become a part of the lexicon. Students, especially undergraduates, are coming in with some idea of what it is.”

Smeal keeps track of company-student contact and interviews for each of its business degree specializations. Last year, interactions with supply chain students were more than triple that of other areas. And these interactions lead to jobs, further proving that supply chain education pays off. More than 60% of this year’s supply chain graduating class from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received offers by the end of 2021. Likewise, all of the supply chain program graduates from USF’s 2021 class had multiple offers before graduation, with average starting salaries between $65,000 and $75,000.

Get the supply chain scoop

Increasingly, organizations are recognizing the value of supply chain professionals — and compensating them for it. According to ASCM’s 2021 Supply Chain Salary and Career Report, the median annual salary is $86,000. Furthermore, job stability is excellent, with 95% of survey participants saying they kept their jobs during the pandemic. And while fewer supply chain professionals received raises amid economic uncertainty, 87% got a cash bonus. Plus, job-seekers don’t have to look for long, as about 50% say they were able to find employment within three months of beginning a search.

Data like this can be key to successfully negotiating your next compensation package; advancing professionally; and understanding how your benefits, job stability and work-life balance compare to others in the field. Of course, fresh data is always best. With that in mind, please complete ASCM’s 2022 career survey by February 27. And feel free to forward this article to a supply chain colleague so they can participate as well. More data gives us all a better picture of how cool supply chain truly is.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted at abe@ascm.org.

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