The Most Important Skills for Supply Chain Professionals According to Nine Experts

To keep you up to date with critical supply chain skills, Stukent asked CEOs and other business leaders for their best industry insights. From market dynamics knowledge to advanced expertise in tech, there are several skills to look out for if you want to be or hire an outstanding supply chain professional. Or, if you’re a student looking to jump-start your supply chain career, read on!

Here are nine vital skills for supply chain professionals:

  • Knowledge of Market Dynamics
  • Smooth Product Logistics
  • Masterful Negotiating and Interpersonal Relations
  • Ability to Forecast Future Demand
  • Clearly Delivering Presentations
  • Analytical Aptitude in Using Data and Planning
  • Open-mindedness and Adaptability
  • Following a Disciplined Communication Pattern
  • Up-to-date Expertise in Industry Tech

Knowledge of Market Dynamics

Supply chain professionals should understand market dynamics. This is a skill that will help them become leaders in the industry in the future. They should know how the market behaves according to the supply and demand curves. By doing so, they can implement decisions that will contribute to a positive customer experience and, ultimately, to an organization’s success.

No matter the industry and its niches, knowledge of market dynamics will help supply chain professionals adjust smoothly to the developing shifts in customer and consumer buying behaviors. 

This is essential to address the needs of a global market.

Ryan Stewart, Managing Partner, Webris

Smooth Product Logistics

Logistics is vital for supply management, as surges in customer orders can decimate your stock levels when inventory is tight. And those gaps in shelf replenishment can cause stock-outs. All of which can cause lost sales and negative customer reviews. 

I first became interested in logistics as a kid watching how airports and large hotels operate. While the focus of logistics is on the internal movement of goods, it is an essential part of supply chain management when running a multi-brand company serving customers’ various needs across the globe.

Shaunak Amin, Co-Founder and CEO, SwagMagic

Masterful Negotiating and Interpersonal Relations

Skillfully negotiating with customers, vendors, and subcontractors is vital to supply chain professionals. Supply chain managers must be able to build and maintain relationships in order to ensure smooth operations. Negotiating skills are crucial because they help supply chain professionals achieve their goals without sacrificing the best interests of their companies. They can evaluate situations to find the best possible solution and then navigate conflicts to resolve them as amicably as possible.

In this way, negotiating skills help supply chain professionals create working relationships that will last. They can also assert their authority when necessary, and their partners will know that they are serious about the terms of their agreement.

Matthew Ramirez, CEO, Rephrasely

Ability to Forecast Future Demand

One skill that is very important for supply chain professionals is the ability to forecast future demand. This skill allows them to plan for future needs and maintain the correct amount of inventory.

Another important skill for supply chain professionals is the ability to manage and optimize inventory. This skill is important because it allows professionals to ensure that they maintain inventory levels at an optimal level, which can help to improve customer satisfaction and reduce costs.

Aviad Faruz, CEO, FARUZO New York

Clearly Delivering Presentations 

Supply chain professionals must have presentation skills. How they communicate, display confidence, and emotionally connect with a team shows their capability to create a harmonious working relationship with others. Ultimately, they can get their message across clearly and in an organized manner.

Delivering presentations as a soft skill does not outweigh the value of technical knowledge or the hard skills required in supply management. However, it provides balance, especially for procurement teams to become successful in rapidly changing business environments.

Abe Breuer, CEO, VIP To Go

Analytical Aptitude in Using Data and Planning

One skill that is very important for supply chain professionals to have is analytical skills. Analytical skills are crucial because supply chain professionals have to understand and use data to predict and plan. 

By using numbers and logic, supply chain professionals can forecast and make orders for products, packaging, and supplies. Analytical skills allow a person to rely on this data and use it to make the most efficient and cost-effective choices. 

The problem-solving abilities that come with this skill allow a person to execute in the supply chain world and offer them the drive to continue towards success.

Gregg Dean, Cofounder and CEO, Layla Sleep

Open-mindedness and Adaptability

The ability to remain open-minded and adaptable is critical in supply chain management. While with experience, you’ll typically gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t, you cannot get too attached to the rules — things can change quickly.

Every industry experiences small shifts to full-scale disruption, and your ideal supply chain setup that’s optimized today may not work six months from now. Never assume you know it all — keep yourself open to suggestions from those around you or new and improved management techniques.

Jeffrey Zhou, Cofounder and CEO, Fig Loans

Following a Disciplined Communication Pattern

One skill that is overshadowed frequently in the supply chain industry is people management, which an upcoming professional should definitely possess. 

Many supply chain businesses focus on analytical skills and making every process in order, but forgetting that correct communication and passing of messages is equally important.

We should not forget this is a service-based business first, and effectively managing clients, vendors, and partners is key to success. Most companies falter here even if they do everything else right in business. Often, supply chain managers have to be in touch with plant-level labor and directly report to company executives, which means they should follow a disciplined communication pattern.

So apart from developing technical or analytical skills to keep the processes in check, a supply chain professional should also practice soft skills like communication and people management.

Alex Mastin, Founder and CEO, Home Grounds

Up-to-date Expertise in Industry Tech 

The supply chain industry is constantly growing to keep up with the client’s ever-changing needs; hence, one needs to be knowledgeable about the technology involved. 

Having information and the workings of the supply chain facilitating tech sets you on top of the curve in productivity. Tech skills not only ease your work but also push you to innovate and make your field even more efficient.  

Advanced tech skills, when nurtured expertly, eventually position you as an industry leader in supply chain tech innovation.

Yongming Song, CEO, Live Poll for Slides

Hiring outstanding supply chain professionals can be a daunting task. Whether you’re looking to stay current with supply chain trends or upskill yourself, Stukent can help. Or, if you’re an educator, Stukent has two new supply chain courseware to give your students hands-on, real-world experiences that prepare them for the workforce.

To learn more about Stukent’s supply chain products, visit our website.

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