Considering Supply Chain Management Training? Expert Advice for New Students

When we asked who would be the best person to advise students considering supply chain careers in Manitoba, Rick Reid was the obvious choice.

Rick is the Executive Director of the Supply Chain Management Association of Manitoba (SCMA MB).

The SCMA is Canada’s largest association for supply chain management professionals, with regional offices all across the country. To date, the Association represents 7,500 members working in sourcing, procurement, logistics, inventory, and contract management. 

If you work in supply chain, chances are you're a member of the SCMA.

In this interview, we talked to Rick about what makes supply chain and logistics such a smart career choice right now.

We got his take on how the SCMA partnership with Herzing College works, and how it benefits students—plus, his best advice for breaking into the industry right after college.

Thinking about studying supply chain management this year? Here's what you need to know, straight from an expert.

 

Rick, tell us a bit about your role with the Supply Chain Management Association of Manitoba? How long have you been active in this field?

As Executive Director, I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Institute. My role also includes:

  • Delivery of member services
  • Managing the Institute’s education program
  • Developing and managing partnerships with outside organizations, like Herzing College

I have been in my current role for the past 4 years.  Prior to that, I have roughly 25 years of supply chain experience working in both the private and public sectors. 

 

Herzing College lists SCMA as a "program partner" for the Supply Chain Management & Logistics Diploma. How does the partnership benefit Herzing students?

The partnership gives Herzing the right to deliver the official SCMA Supply Management Training Program. The SCMA-approved curriculum forms the basis of Herzing’s Supply Chain Management and Logistics Diploma. That means students who complete the program at Herzing receive the SCMA Diploma in Supply Management. 

This ensures that the training Herzing students receive is not only transferrable, but recognized, all across the country. Herzing students also receive a Student Affiliate Membership with SCMA Manitoba as part of their tuition.

The membership gives students access to SCMA Manitoba events (dinner meetings, courses/seminars, and facility tours) at reduced member rates.  More importantly, it gives Herzing students the opportunity to network with supply chain professionals in the area - a key advantage when you're just starting out in the field.    

 

There is strong demand for supply chain and logistics professionals in Manitoba. What do you believe is creating jobs in this field?

I believe the demand is being driven by necessity.  Increased competition, from domestic and international sources, is putting downward pressure on profits, while at the same time, costs are going up.   

More organizations are beginning to realize that, in order to meet these challenges, they need to improve the performance of their supply chains. This starts with having trained staff capable of managing costs, maximizing value, mitigating risk, and improving the overall competiveness of the organization.    

This is what effective supply chain management is all about.

 

What entry-level career opportunities exist in Manitoba for graduates of Herzing's Supply Chain Management program?

The level of training provided by Herzing is appropriate for many supply chain roles. Graduates will find work as logistics clerks, purchasing agents, procurement specialists, and contract negotiators...just to name a few. You don't need a university degree to build a successful career in this field.

Related: What Can You Do With a Supply Chain Management Diploma? 5 Options for New Grads

 

What should Supply Chain Management students know about the SCMP Designation Program? What are the advantages of getting this designation after completing the Herzing diploma?

Here's the key advantage: the SCMP Designation is the most recognized, and widely held, supply chain management credential in Canada. 

It is an excellent program for people seeking to transition from tactical roles (buyer, analyst, inventory coordinator, etc.) into more strategic leadership roles (Purchasing Manager, Materials Manager, Supply Chain Manager, Director, etc.).  In other words, completing the designation will open doors to higher paying, more challenging roles.  

(To learn more about the SCMP Designation, and see a list of pre-requisites, click here)

My advice for Herzing graduates is to focus on using their training to improve their performance, while at the same time, learning as much as possible about how their company’s supply chain works.

Being good at your role, and getting positive results, will create opportunities to move into leadership positions (either inside your company or elsewhere).

Get a few years of experience and build a positive track record. Once that happens, it’s a good time to contact the SCMA Manitoba office about transitioning to the SCMP Designation Program. 

 

In your opinion, what are the top reasons to pursue a career in supply chain management & logistics, right now in Manitoba?

The greatest advantage is the abundance of opportunities in the field. Business realities (higher costs, lower profits, increased competition, etc.) are forcing companies to do more with less. 

As an organization, if you can deliver your goods or services faster, cheaper, and more consistently than your competitor……you have a competitive advantage. That’s where supply chain management and logistics comes in.

Supply chain represents HOW your organization delivers those goods or services. Over the past five years, I’ve seen a change in the type of supply chain professional companies are looking to hire.

No longer are they looking for someone to simply cut purchase orders. They’re looking for professionals capable of making good business decisions with a track record of getting positive results.

There is always opportunity for someone who fits that description. The other advantage is flexibility. 

It’s not uncommon for people to have to deal with a job loss at some point in their career. As a supply chain management professional, your skills are transferrable to any industry. This flexibility is particularly helpful when life happens, and you must look for a new role. 

 

Any last words of advice? What else should students know about getting started in supply chain management?

There are two main pieces of advice I always tell new students in this field:

Number one, it’s about results. 

Having a diploma will open doors, but doesn’t automatically make you successful. Students need to focus on applying what they’ve learned in the workplace. They should measure their performance relentlessly.

What can they do to reduce/recover/avoid costs, improve efficiencies, reduce/eliminate risks, or maximize value? They should always know the value they bring to the table so they can answer the question “Why should we hire you?”.

Number two, it’s about networking. 

I always tell students they should spend as much time “getting in front” of people as they do studying.  Being the best at what you do is useless if no one knows about you. 

Certificates and diplomas validate your knowledge, but it’s relationships that create opportunities. Too many students think their diploma alone will get them a job.

In reality, they’re competing with hundreds of other candidates with similar training.  By getting in front of people, students can demonstrate how they're able to solve problems, and meet the needs of a potential employer.

Herzing students can start the networking process at their internship, and keep it rolling throughout their careers. Industry connections are the key to opening new doors, and challenging yourself to keep growing.

And finally, I'd like to say best of luck to all of this year's Supply Chain Management & Logistics students!

A big thank-you to Rick, for taking the time to talk with us, and share some truly helpful advice with our readers.

 

Want to learn more?

Are you considering a career in supply chain management and logistics? Your next step is to speak with Admissions, and get information on training, job options, and how to begin.

Chat live with an Advisor right now. Or click below to explore the Supply Chain Management program and request more information. We're here to help!

Learn More About the Supply Chain Management Program

 

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