Exploring Careers in Operations and Supply Chain Management

While accounting, finance, and marketing (and professional roles within each), are essential to the success of any business, many other areas of focus within a business setting lay the foundation for all of these. Have you ever considered a role in Operations and Supply Chain Management?

Professionals working in the field of Operations oversee the assembling, creation and eventual distribution of products to consumers, and are responsible for determining the allocation of resources. This process begins with the acquisition of raw materials and concludes with the distribution of finished products and is called a Supply Chain. Much of the work of an Operations professional involves conducting research on improving the logistical and budgetary efficiency of supply chains to contribute to the overall success of the company (i.e. how to produce more of a product for cheaper, or how to produce more of a specific item in the least amount of time possible).

While the Foster School of Business offers a formal undergraduate option in Operations and Supply Chain Management, many of the skills needed to become an Operations professional can also be learned through internships, or through other educational programs, such as the Certified Supply Chain Professional program, offered through the Association for Supply Chain Management. Further, master’s degrees in Operations and Supply Chain management are also available at many colleges and universities nationally, including the UW Foster school, and are open to students whose undergraduate degrees were not in business.

Some possible roles within Operations and Supply chain management function of any business include Supply Chain Analysis, Project Management, Supplier Management, Plant Manager, Productivity Analysis, and Production Control. Each of these roles engages with a different step on the supply chain. What they have in common is that they each incorporate both people management and a focus on using data to improve existing systems. To be successful as an Operations professional, you will draw upon both interpersonal skills such as verbal and written communication, as well as technical skills, such as using Excel.

To gauge your own possible interest in Operations, it is best to start considering what stage of the process in which you would have the most interest. For example, some roles focus on the storing and transportation of finished products, while others involve connecting with third party agencies to determine how much of each raw material may be needed to produce the needed amount of a product. If you think you would thrive in a highly organized space and enjoy the challenge of improving the effectiveness of highly structured systems, a career in Operations and Supply Chain Management may be a great fit.

By Eli Heller
Eli Heller Career Coach Eli Heller