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Key Supply Chain Career Trends: 100th Episode Special

By Published On: April 4, 2024

In the landmark 100th episode of the Supply Chain Careers Podcast, hosts Mike Ogle, Rodney Apple, and Chris Gaffney take a reflective look back at the evolving landscape of supply chain careers, sharing invaluable insights and foresights that shape today’s and tomorrow’s industry. This episode is not just a celebration of a milestone but a treasure trove of wisdom of supply chain career trends for anyone at any stage of their supply chain career.

Introduction to Key Supply Chain Career Trends

The world of supply chain management is rapidly evolving, influenced by technological advancements, changing market demands, and the global economic landscape. In our 100th episode, we dive deep into evolving supply chain career trends, offering a guide to navigate these changes successfully. Whether you’re a student, a job seeker, or a seasoned professional, understanding these trends is crucial for career development and longevity in the industry.

The CEO of Your Own Supply Chain Career

One of the most powerful takeaways from our discussion is the concept of being the CEO of your own career. This mindset encourages professionals to take proactive control of their career paths, leveraging every opportunity and resource available to them. The journey to career success is personal and requires a commitment to continuous learning and growth.

Embracing Agility and the Gig Economy

The gig economy’s rise is reshaping how we think about work in the supply chain sector. Flexibility, agility, and adaptability are now key traits for success, allowing professionals to navigate through diverse opportunities, from traditional roles to consulting and interim executive positions. This shift emphasizes the importance of building transferable skills that can easily adapt to different industry needs and environments.

The Importance of Soft Skills

Despite the technical nature of supply chain roles, soft skills have emerged as a critical differentiator in career advancement. The ability to communicate effectively, lead teams, and manage complex stakeholder relationships is becoming increasingly valued alongside technical expertise. These skills enable professionals to translate complex data into actionable insights and strategic decisions, driving organizational success.

Leveraging AI and Technology – Supply Chain Career Trends

Artificial intelligence (AI) and technology are not just tools for optimizing supply chain operations; they’re also invaluable resources for career development. From enhancing LinkedIn profiles to refining job search strategies, technology offers unprecedented access to information and networking opportunities. Staying ahead means embracing these tools, understanding their potential, and using them to your advantage.

Building a Robust Professional Network

Networking remains a cornerstone of career development in the supply chain industry. A strong network provides support, mentorship, and opportunities that are crucial for career advancement. In an era where connections can be made digitally, prioritizing relationship-building both online and offline is more important than ever.


The 100th episode of the Supply Chain Careers Podcast is a reflection of the journey so far and a beacon for the road ahead. The supply chain industry is at a crossroads, with technology, globalization, and individual ambition driving significant changes. By understanding and leveraging the trends discussed in this episode, professionals can position themselves for success in an ever-changing landscape. As we look forward to the next 100 episodes, the message is clear: the future of supply chain careers is bright for those ready to learn, adapt, and lead.

[00:00:00] Mike Ogle: Welcome to the supply chain careers podcast. The only podcast for job seekers, professionals, and students who are focused on career enhancing conversations and insights across all aspects of the supply chain discipline. This podcast is made possible by SCM talent group, the industry leading supply chain executive search firm.

Visit SCM Talent [email protected]. Welcome to the 100th episode of the Supply Chain Careers podcast. When you go back and listen to the first 99 episodes, you’ll find a wide variety of timeless advice and career stories from a wide variety of supply chain professionals that will help you advance your career.

In this episode, your three co hosts provide their thoughts about the top issues facing supply chain professionals as they advance their own careers. Plus the top issues that leaders and HR professionals face as they hire professionals and develop their supply chain teams. I’m your podcast co host, Mike Ogle.

[00:01:08] Rodney Apple: And I’m your podcast co host, Rodney Appel.

And I’m your podcast co host, Chris Gaffney.

[00:01:15] Mike Ogle: Wow. So 100 episodes and four series within the Supply Chain Careers podcast. I gotta say, when we started this less than three years ago, we had no idea how long this would last. But supply chain is so broad and has so many people in so many different roles developing their careers in so many different ways.

I think we can get to episode 1000 and beyond. That’s a lot of work ahead of us, but

[00:01:41] Rodney Apple: yeah, there’s no shortage of things to talk about as it relates to that intersection of supply chain and talent and that people and HR and careers and leadership, all those things that we have been talking about across the last 100 episodes.

And I think going back to that original seed idea and the concept of how we can be unique and try to intersect supply chain and careers and talent. Yeah, I think our mission statement is advance the careers of supply chain professionals and students while also helping employers improve their ability to hire, develop and retain supply chain talent.

That’s where it all started. I know it’s evolved quite a bit as we thought of new series that we could launch. That original series was really interviewing various leaders working across different industries, different job levels and different functions and providing their unique insights and perspectives, taking us through their career journeys.

What were some of the key lessons they learned? How did they advance their careers to the levels that they did? What were those forks in the road? Who were the key influencers and the wealth of advice and nuggets of wisdom that they provided? And today we’re going to talk about some of those common themes, recurring themes that we’ve heard.

That are foundational to success in a career in supply chain, Mike, you want to lead in with some of these other series called it?

[00:03:16] Mike Ogle: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think what 1 of the things we noticed in some of the feedback that we’d received from people because it really was about a person’s career journey in the beginning.

And we always told them it’s not about your company. It’s not about any particular proprietary things they’re trying to do. It’s not about a specific position you’re in right now, but then we got a little bit of feedback. What about some of the specific positions? So the day in the life series is focused entirely on what is it like to be in that kind of position?

How’d you get there? What do you do? How do you prepare yourself to be successful and get to where you want to go from that kind of position? So that was a great addition.

[00:03:57] Rodney Apple: Yeah, I think because of the diversity of careers in supply chain and jobs, job families, job functions, some of the more common questions that I would get from folks here on the SEM talent group thing on the recruiting side is where should I start my career?

And I think that’s what kind of evolved this too with this series day in the life. And it’s, it can be overwhelming when you start reading the job descriptions and trying to feel like, what, you know, where do I start? And so our goal and intention was to provide these overviews, breaking it down into layman’s terms.

So folks could really get a good gist of what it’s like. And I think that’s been one of our more popular series as supply chain becomes a more popular area for folks to, to launch and build their career. More people are getting to it now than. Probably ever before. Yeah. And onto you, Chris, we, you spawned the leadership series and we know that’s an area that you’re super passionate about and obviously live it and breathe it.

So love to hear how that journey took place.

[00:05:03] Chris Gaffney: Yeah, as I participated. In kind of our original series, obviously, it allowed me to grab common themes and reflect on my own experiences, both as an individual and a leader. And I think what I saw over the course of my career was plenty of people who were capable.

Technically, they had checked all the boxes, but they didn’t advance. Whether to their own liking, or even what an organization hoped they would. And the question was, what was missing? And a lot of it got to elements of leadership. And the way we’ve defined leadership is you’ve got to be able to lead yourself first and be effective as an individual as part of a larger organization.

Organization or a larger team, and then we need people to be led in small groups and then ultimately in larger groups. And I think when you talk about our mission, we’re trying to make sure that as the needs of the industry evolve in terms of talent. Both in volume and profile and whatever we’re providing candidates a perspective on what they need to be able to meet those gap match those needs.

And as you see in the search side, there are things that are always we wish we had more of this in the candidate pool that we see. And I think we hope that the leadership series has and will continue to be part of what differentiates we’ve talked about in that series. Differentiators is a key theme.

And I think we continually believe that these leadership or soft skills, they matter in a technical field

[00:06:42] Mike Ogle: Yeah, I think that’s a, that’s an excellent addition there. And then Rodney, we went ahead and went with the fourth series. That we established to try to give people a little different background as well.

[00:06:55] Rodney Apple: That’s right. Mike, we came up with our most recent, our fourth series, the supply chain talent building and engagement, where we really dive into talent acquisition, talent management, human resources on one side of the spectrum. And then on the other is. The partnership, the collaboration, building capabilities within supply chain organizations, as supply chain continues to evolve and shift.

And the old saying, have the right folks in the right seats on the bus, right? To make the most impact within these companies. So that has been a great series and we’re continuing to expand with episodes and covering various topics that are going on in the work face workforce these days. for tuning in.

[00:07:42] Mike Ogle: Yeah, I think that it definitely leads into one of the first topics. It’s high on my list of wanting to be able to talk about today and that’s being CEO of your own career. Because as Gonzalo Cordova, one of our guests told us in his episode of the Supply Chain Careers podcast, you are the CEO of your career.

Don’t expect HR. Don’t expect your boss to be the one that’s going to push you forward. Take advantage of their resources, but you’re the driver. And Gonzalo also wrote a very helpful book on creating and executing your own individual development plan, try to take you through some processes that are very manageable.

It is incredibly important to understand this isn’t a one time effort as well. You revisit this over and over because you’re really taking steps to get where you want to go. You constantly need new steps. You keep climbing and you’re trying to get where you want to go because conditions change, opportunities change.

Even your own thoughts about what you think you want keep changing throughout your career.

[00:08:47] Rodney Apple: That’s right. You think you are going to be perfect for this job and you’re going to be content. I see this all the time and you get into it and you’re miserable having that intention and doing the proper research, having the right network, leaning on others that have advanced ahead of you.

Um, and I really do think listening to this podcast, going back through, go back to episode one, there is no better way to learn about careers and supply chain than from talking to others and listening to people that have you. Already went down this journey and understanding their trial tribulations, what they loved about their jobs about the roles that they didn’t like and why.

And I think that can help people figure out and hold in on where they really want to start their careers.

[00:09:31] Chris Gaffney: I think the point you make. Rodney, I think is important. We design the series to be. What we would say is evergreen and I really feel like the perspectives that we’ve included over the course of the 100 episodes are really durable.

And I would definitely encourage folks. If they’re looking for a specific perspective, it’s always worthwhile to go back through the episode log and say, there may be a person here that may offer me something that I’m searching for as I’m trying to build out my own journey and be objective around.

Where I need to work on things and, and this is intended back to this idea of you managing your own career as being an independent, open source resource for people to be

[00:10:19] Mike Ogle: able to do that now and going forward. And, and by the way, you can, on the website, you can find the bios, you can find transcripts as well as being able to, to listen to the people.

So if you want to get a little bit more information, that’s always available as well.

[00:10:34] Rodney Apple: That’s exactly right. And, and I think this leads into. We’re all embrace this idea. And I think many people do that work in supply chain, having a growth mindset, being a continuous learner. And I think that’s what this podcast is really all about is it’s just not us talking, it’s having other guests on that are doing most of the talking and hearing just all of these different unique sound bites from across the supply chain spectrum, companies, large companies, small, all the different functions.

All the different kinds of jobs, all the different topics, the emerging topics and things like that. And it’s just a wealth of knowledge again. That’s sits right at that intersection of supply chain and talent. And being intentional about your career is super important. The worst thing you can do is meander throughout your career.

And I’ve, I’ve seen plenty of people that do that. They just show up for work. They don’t have any goals. If they do, they’re not written down. Um, they’re not taking those key action steps to accomplish their goals. Um, they’re sometimes just collecting a paycheck and moving on in life and with not a lot of purpose, and you can easily correct that.

Um, and sometimes we’ve talked about the importance of having mentors. That has been referenced throughout all of our podcasts. And anyway, this is, I think this is just amazing content. And a wealth of knowledge that anyone can go back and listen to, like you said, and either cherry pick the topics that resonate where you may need some help or start with if you’re trying to embark upon a leadership position, Chris has shared.

We’ve almost on 20 episodes of, of leadership topics, lots of good information. What are some of the other trends that we continue to hear about? Uh, Mike, you just covered being in charge of your career. I talked about being purposeful and intentful as it relates to continuously learning, having a growth mindset.

Chris, you plug, you know, the leadership a little bit. I know we’re going to dive into that further.

[00:12:39] Chris Gaffney: I would tell you one that I think is increasingly important. Great. And you can look backwards and have a view of it. I grew up and live in one vertical as a supply chain. I spent a lot of time in food and beverage, and that was perfectly fine.

And in all honesty, people got to eat. So you could stay in that business and be there. But the reality is, and particularly in the United States is that our industry is changing and evolving, and we have big, large, new industries that are coming in. Because of some big macro strategic things, the shift to electric vehicles, whatever alternate fuel vehicles for sure is driving a massive growth in demand for supply chain resources.

And I see as that’s a totally different business, even in automotive, right? The way you build those vehicles, the way you build the battery systems are large industry changes themselves. What I see is a real priority. For supply chain professionals going forward is a very strong focus on agility because there is a likelihood that you are going to need to transfer.

Yes, companies, we have the data on how often people change, but there’s a higher probability that over the course of a 10, 20, 30 year remaining career, you may need to be comfortable. Shifting industries and bringing with you transferable skills and so the specific focus on agility, I think, is a big trend for me.

[00:14:09] Mike Ogle: Yeah, I think part of the agility, it’s really interesting to see how the evolution is going and how much this is accelerated is that the gig work side of things as well, and third parties and partners and virtual organizations it, there are so many things happening at once. Where you build a particular kind of expertise and find that you might be able to market that yourself or as part of a group of people, or that you’re just used to the, uh, hired gun to come in.

It’s gone beyond hiring consultants and third party logistics people. You’re picking up it expertise and how to use. AI or you are a, a specific, somebody, something even as specific as how do you best do, uh, a a supply chain of cans, you know, flowing through a particular beverage industry. You know, somebody has developed an expertise because of that.

School of hard knocks and they develop themselves. So it’s that old, uh, where preparation meets opportunity helps that agility side.

[00:15:20] Chris Gaffney: Yeah, I think you’re right, Mike. And I think that it goes back to the theme about you having to manage your own career. It’s been a thing to say for a long time. In the last 10 or 15 years that there’s a let let lower likelihood that you will spend your career at a single company.

It’s still possible. I talked to somebody last night who’s been at a great company for a very long time. So I don’t say it’s impossible, but it’s likely that the vast majority of people will work 3, 4, 5, in some cases, 10 different banners and and and what that means is even if you’re in a culture where the company cares about fostering that development, It eventually that’s not going to be the case and controlling your own destiny, having your own plan, having your own backup plan, which gets back to your gig point, Mike, I think the reality is that how people as a resource for companies are viewed is going to continue to be volatile.

And the reality is you ultimately work for I incorporated and you’ve got to control your own destiny to the extent you can. And that’s where we say being the most capable person. Being an adult learner, being a continuous learner, being comfortable confronting new things and diving into them, I think is what the most responsible people are going to need to do.

[00:16:43] Rodney Apple: Yeah. And I think, and I know we’re going to be releasing a podcast that we just recorded last week, you and I, Chris, talking about the gig economy within supply chain, we’ve seen this. Evolution already and many other functions in particular information technology, where a lot of it is project based building software.

You finish up, you go to the next project. And so that’s been a pretty common theme. You see it in other areas too, especially like finance and accounting. You’re going into audit. Someone’s books, you get done, you move on to the next company’s books, repeat rents. But we’re starting to see that evolution and.

In supply chain to where folks are leaving the traditional full time 40 plus hour a week, a role with one company and spreading their wings into other companies on a fractional basis. Fractional consulting is one area and smaller companies, midsize companies may not need a full time resource, may not be able to pay for a full time resource.

And we know a lot of people, and I speak to a lot of people that are. Moving into these areas, oftentimes that you’re mid level and up, they may be burning out with on the grindstone and are wanting to finish out their career at a slower pace. So that’s been a trend. And then same thing. Interim executives.

We’re seeing that. Be a popular type of role where you may bring someone in to support a project could be supporting a transformation or even leading a transformation. So we’re seeing those roles become more popular and I think is our baby boomer generation hits retirement the next several years.

There’s going to be a pretty massive pool of people out there. Available a lot of knowledge, it’s getting ready to walk out the door and I think the smartest employers are going to be able to go back in and retain some of these folks on a part time basis to transfer that knowledge while supporting projects and other needs.

Any thoughts on that? Chris or Mike?

[00:18:45] Chris Gaffney: I would say this we’ve talked about the kind of the scales of justice between employees employers are seldom in balance and over my long view and it’s been acute in the last 5 years is those scales go back and forth. And there are times when they are predominantly in the employees favor, and there are times when they are in the employers favor.

And I doubt that’s going to change over time. So I always say to both employees and employers, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security when those scales are in your advantage, because it won’t last long. And I think that the time duration There is never more than 3 to 5 years, and we’re definitely in a period now where it’s probably moving back towards the employer and that time could last for a long time.

And the employers. Could get complacent and place themselves at risk at the next time. We’ve got both of those folks in our audience. And I tell people to accept the fact that pendulum is going to be there. You have to figure out again, in either side of that equation, what am I doing to be successful when it’s in my favor and when it’s not, and for individuals.

Getting to a place where you ultimately say, I have a unique set of skills. They are transferable. They are marketable. That helps me whether i’m looking for a full time job Own company, but it also helps me if sometime someday I would say I can do this as an independent person and do this in more of a nontraditional way.

And we just we generally think that nontraditional path is going to grow. In supply chain, as you referenced to become very prominent in other industry or in other functions, if you will,

[00:20:37] Mike Ogle: right? Yeah, I think that’s excellent advice. Because one of the things that if you have that kind of mindset that you’re always ready to essentially be like a gig employee, you can even do that internally.

You, you can be a little bit of the hired gun and internal consultant and the person who they bring in on certain kinds of projects because there’s an expertise that you’ve developed that’s unique and they, you may not formally be part of the team, they just pop you in and be able to utilize that aspect to, to enhance the team and you move on to something else, even within your own company.

[00:21:17] Rodney Apple: Mike, I would argue, uh, that role exists, especially the larger corporations, you usually hear 2 terms to describe these individuals, the fixer and the turnaround specialist. Uh, and I, I know plenty of people that are called upon whenever there’s a fire and they love running towards those fires. There’s not the kind of people that run away.

And they, that’s what excites them and that’s exactly what they do. So fixers and turnaround people kudos to you.

[00:21:45] Mike Ogle: And it takes a variety of experience in a variety of situations to be able to become the fixer. What to look for and what data to go after immediately and who’s doing what and roles and to be able to figure out.

[00:22:02] Rodney Apple: a All right, quick assessment and the leadership. They, they are typically incredible leaders that know how to come in and assess, like you said, and engage the workforce and figure out how to transform and get it back into a good place. Those are rare individuals that there’s not many people out there that are, that have that capability.

I think that kind of leads into maybe some of the things that we’re hearing about as it relates to skills. I’ve obviously been in this. The recruitment side of supply chain for almost 25 years now. And so it, my have times changed from when I first got into it, there were maybe six universities that had supply chain course coursework or degree programs, if you will.

And now Mike, what was the number we counted the other day? A hundred ish, I think 200 that had, depending on how you count that. Yeah, it may not be supply. For example, it may not be supply chain, a bachelor’s in supply chain. It could be logistics or something closely related. I think that’s what you’re referring or operations management like you teach.

Yeah, yeah, exactly. 1 of the things that has been fascinating to unfold and definitely want to get your perspectives on this. Mike and Chris is. Soft skills versus hard skills. So I go back to where I cut my teeth at the Home Depot. I was brought in there, a fortune 13 helped stand up this huge supply chain organization.

And back then it was everybody had decent soft skills. Most people did. Good communication, good collaboration and stakeholder engagement, but the hard skills, the technology was rapidly evolving and it still is today. The last 10 years or so and going forward, we’ve seen a higher demand and need and I would say lots of complaints from the employer side about the soft skills.

Uh, any of you have any, uh, insights as to why that pendulum has completely shifted?

[00:23:56] Chris Gaffney: Yeah, I don’t, I don’t know about the why, but I guess my, my perspective as I reflect on it is I know people who are really exceptional technically, and in many cases, they can be a strong individual contributor. Or a subject matter expert in an organization, but if they are soft skills are limited, then they are likely.

They’re going to be sitting there and and if some, if that’s what somebody wants, then that may be okay. But I have frequently seen a situation where someone’s technical skills are way above average. But their ability to impact in an organization is limited by their soft skills. And that ultimately Becomes visible in decisions around career advancement and ultimately.

Rewards and that type of thing. It is. It’s becoming more acute. I think in many cases, as some things get more technical, we could think about a field like data analytics and have just had people who were just brilliant at working at ingesting these large, massive data sets, working in very complex and evolving algorithms and getting outputs there.

But those outputs. Are of no use unless they are translated to people who are less technical and more business savvy and need to be part of a decision making process and that’s where I think the people on the business side who are mostly the leadership people in the senior people are going to say.

All that technical depth and insight doesn’t matter if it doesn’t translate into clear guidance for me to help me make a better decision. So I feel like that’s probably why this is coming up. The world is getting more technical, but the business people who are less technical still need and are the ones accountable for making those big, large decisions.

[00:25:55] Mike Ogle: Yeah, you can be just a tool in the company’s toolbox that they call on now and then for a very specific thing, or you can be the mechanic that applies a little bit more expertise conditionally, or you can be the solution provider that can really connect people. Like you’re saying, I think that’s a great way to look at that.

During this short break, we recognize that this podcast is made possible by SCM Talent Group, the industry leading supply chain executive search firm. Visit SCM talent group at scmtalent. com.

[00:26:35] Chris Gaffney: And even in the technical space, right? Eventually there’s a next generation. And if you’re not good at coaching and teaching and learning the next technical person, it’s ultimately going to be a limiter for you. They’re like, Hey, you’re a more senior person. Now, most people don’t want. Single point of failure.

And so we’ve got some Yoda who is great technically, but they’re not great on the soft side that they, you get this, we’re damned. If we do, we’re damned. If we don’t, we do, we have to count on this individual. But because they’re imperfect on the soft side, we got to have kid gloves dealing with them or tiptoe around them.

And then an organization feels like they have a risk because they have a dependency on an individual. So it’s always going to walk back, even in a technical role, you’ve got to do work on this, on the soft side, that may never be your be all and end all. But it will be a limiter for you if you’re not working it.

[00:27:30] Rodney Apple: Chris, what would you say on the leadership side? Obviously you architected our leadership series. What goes wrong? I hear about this a lot in my seat. When companies come to us, we are working on right now, a number of confidential executive searches, and there’s some very common themes that we hear, and oftentimes it’s the leadership style, the servant leadership, or some variations of that.

Tend to work better and I’d say today’s economy, you’re authoritarian dictatorship style command bark orders is, does not work at all. Other things that I hear are strategy versus execution. And what I mean is some in an executive role, you’re typically tasked right with the driving strategy and hitting those objectives and deliverables at the same time.

And so a fire gets. Gets going and some people run into that fired. We talked about earlier with the fixers. Um, and then they fall behind on getting the strategic objectives. Um, those are probably the two most common that I hear. They can’t stick to the strategy or they can’t execute, or they’re just not good at leading and influencing and motivating their teams.

What about you, Chris? What are you seeing and hearing?

[00:28:45] Chris Gaffney: I’ll comment on what you said and that, and I will reemphasize some things that I hear. I do think, as a leader of people, and the people you’re talking about are people who are leading large teams, so they’re leading other leaders. Doing that well goes back to a foundation of how we, how you worked as an individual.

And I think some of those people didn’t invest when they were in an individual contributor on building out their broad set of skills. And some of it may be the self awareness. A big thing that I preach for folks as a individual contributor is you’ve got to get to a point where you can exhibit emotional intelligence around your own self.

Because that emotional intelligence will be super important when you start leading others, that there’s something else going on besides that direct interaction and for you to get the most out of folks, you have to be self aware. If you don’t figure that out, that’s an Achilles heel that gets much worse as you go up in an organization.

And set you up for some of those traps that you talk about in terms of people leading in what is now not a acceptable style. In most places, that dictatorial kind of thing, or it’s my way or the highway kind of thing. I think that comes back to that self awareness kind of piece, which you have to ideally get to as an individual.

Very hard. Once you’ve gotten that first big promotion. You’re no different than the, the singer who has a big hit or the athlete who gets the contract. All of a sudden you’re like, I’m it. Once you think you’re it, it’s very hard to be receptive to that feedback and be a self correcting individual. So I think that’s a path that I think is, that’s a good coaching point.

I think the other thing is, When you talk about having to play different horizons, right? I’ve got to, I’ve got to think long term, but I’ve got to be accountable for execution. When you get to be a leader, you have to have some ability to segment your focus, right? Running the business and changing the business because it’s both are required.

And I think that’s also a skill learned as an individual. Is understanding how you can be accountable to be successful in more than one thing, right? Mike, it has an academic equivalent is can I put equal focus across all my classes? And if I’ve got 5 classes, right? What? Pick a number 4 or 5 to that might really matter in terms of my major or some level of success that get differential focus without losing focus on the remaining 2 that may be an elective or something, but you still have to do the diligence around.

It’s that skill set on being able to prioritize your work, being productive over the course of a day, a week, a month, to be able to partition the time to work on the important and the urgent, that also starts as an individual. And so I definitely think people have to work that early in career and bring that into their time as a people leader.

[00:31:42] Mike Ogle: Yeah, excellent points. Hey, if you don’t mind thinking about taking us on a little bit of a switch over to a topic that we’ve had some feedback on and interest and everybody’s wondering, hey, what happens with AI? How is that going to affect my career? What do I really need to know? And I’ll just start out with saying, as my students are probably tired of hearing generative tools like ChatGPT, which is the first one that kind of pops into their mind and in most people’s minds these days.

It’s just one tool in a big AI toolbox. So it’s a fantastic tool for idea generation or brainstorming, creating lists. And hey, sometimes it’s accurate too, or most times it has accuracy. But one of the most useful things I think that you can do to enhance your career is learn how to refine your queries.

It’s known as prompt engineering. So look up what that’s all about. Try to out some of the tools. I think the generative tools, what they have on basic Google searches, at least so far, is that capability to keep asking questions. Within the context of other questions, a little more conversational in a way of diving a little bit deeper.

So I think I’m still at just a level of two out of 10 and prompt engineering, but every level, it turns out to be a big wow moment every time I successfully try out a new capability. So if you’re not going through and getting some of these wows and trying this out yourself, I think you are going to fall behind.

Partly to Chris’s point there, so there’s lots of rule based pattern matching types of tools that are embedded in all kinds of supply chain software already, and a whole lot more to come pretty soon. So, I don’t know if the 2 of you have some thoughts in this area on AI as well.

[00:33:36] Rodney Apple: I’ll say something about the career advancement side, and there’s a slew of AI tools hitting the marketplace across pretty much every function of business these days.

And so I’ll say this is a common slogan, like Google is your friend. I’ll give you an example. I haven’t updated my LinkedIn profile in quite some time and, but I look at them all the time and I’m starting to see, wow, this is some pretty impressive profiles out there. Incorporating, LinkedIn’s always changing and enhancing the functionality.

But I went out at Google. Like you said, you use the term prompt engineering a minute ago, so I put it linked in profile optimization prompts and it’s found, of course, no shortage of articles on that topic, but at the google doc, copy pasted, like some of the prompts that I liked, fed them into chat GPT fed my profile in the jet chat GPT.

And I just continued to refine it and refine it and while I haven’t had a chance to go in and make the actual updates, I was blown away with what it came back and like, this is way better than probably anything I could ever produce myself. But the key is to give it the right criteria and to continue to play around with it.

If you don’t like what it comes back with. Give it more information. Hey, try it in this tone or this style. Hey, I want this to sound client facing. I want clients to be compelled to want to use my services. I literally said that, right? And then it comes back with more influential type language and so forth.

So that’s just one example. Chris, what are your thoughts?

[00:35:07] Chris Gaffney: Yeah, the term artificial intelligence has been around for a long time. I probably look back in 40 and 50 years as a concept and There were all of this hype cycle has probably been up and down many times in terms of what is the promise of this, a particular in the last 10 years as computing power has gotten closer and closer to being zero cost and unlimited capacity.

It’s been a much bigger hype cycle, but it was still on the close side of things. It was for big corporations. It required very. Very bespoke technical skills. So there was a lot of barriers to entry for smaller companies and for individuals. And that’s where I think the concept of the large language model, generative AI, chat, GPT, BARD, Microsoft co pilot, whatever the branding of it is.

It’s fundamentally different because it is open source and it’s for the masses. So I think in my time in industry, second only to when personal computing became widespread and the mobile phone became as powerful as anything that we could ever have sitting on a desktop or in a laptop. This is probably the next large fundamental shift.

And I think it has the potential to be bigger if you look in the stock market that the money is moving that way, and it’s also moving fast. Okay, what you could do with a gen AI 9 months ago is very different than what you can do today. And it’s highly likely that’s going to change dramatically. And the most.

Progressive versions might cost you 20 bucks a month. Even a student can contemplate. That’s not a terrible amount of money. If I pick my battles, I think the number one thing for us, and I think I’ve, or I’ve talked to a lot of people about it is you have to be in the game. This is not one to. Observe and sit out because it provides a lot of advantages for those who play.

It’s a cheat code that’s legit, right? Because it allows you to do things in a very rapid way that close a lot of. In many cases, the information gaps that we talk about, and a lot of the things that we’ve talked about, particularly in our space around managing your own career, there are no excuses for excellent interview prep now.

There’s no excuses for I’ve got a new project. How do I approach it? You can, it’s like the matrix, the scene in the early matrix where I think they had, they, they ran up to a helicopter and they didn’t know how to fly it. And they said, give me a second. And it’s not to that point yet, but it’s moving in that direction.

And what I coach people on is there are a lot of good uses for it and I think it’s really up to an individual and to companies to say what’s good use of this capability and our audience are good people and they ought to think about basically it taking advantage of all the good uses that this capability is offering and stay with it as it evolves.

[00:38:23] Mike Ogle: I think that brings up a really good point that always needs to be emphasized. I think particularly in supply chain, the best AI so far is the kind that enhances the productivity of people in teams. It’s the assistant. It’s not the kind that is meant to totally replace a person, but. If there is a team of people who do the same thing, then you may not need as many of them, or you don’t have to add more people as you need to increase the workload.

Same has been true of just about any kind of automation that’s been applied to supply chain for years. Find tools that make your best people even better, or even the average or basic performer better. It is an assistant for them. If you can keep your mind on how it enhances people rather than replaces them, I think your company and your career is better off.

[00:39:17] Mike Ogle: 100 percent agree.

[00:39:19] Rodney Apple: While we’re on the topic of trends, looking back over the 100 series, Chris, something you’ve touched on before, this is, and this is how I would say in the risk category for employers. I would argue for practitioners as well is we talk about the broad end to end supply chain and being able to connect the dots.

The supply chain is a system that systemic thinking a lot of folks and this goes back to hard versus soft skills as well. A lot of kids are coming up out of college and they’re going down the. Or corporate career path, which could be in that AI or data analytics and technology. And as you said, Mike, a minute ago, automation, robotics, maybe the sexier side, if you will.

What about operations? We’re seeing major talent gaps in operations as we get called upon to work on VPs of manufacturing or plant managers and especially engineering and maintenance managers. Oh my goodness. If you go down that path, you can go into any. Anything you want there’s no shortage of jobs.

You can go anywhere and your compensation is continuously going up But chris, what are your perspectives on this? You see this a lot that balance between getting that operations experience being in corporate You need you need the context on both sides, right? Yep I

[00:40:37] Chris Gaffney: have wondered in recent years if this was my What I would say old school mindset, and it was not a current reality, and I’ve had some really recent, really good discussions with.

People I consider to be influential who have reinforced my point of view. Okay. So I still believe that for someone who aspires to really reach the heights in the supply chain field, whether it’s in an industry role, or whether it’s in a. Startup entrepreneurial world, the frontline operational hands on experience at some point in the supply chain will be a differentiator throughout your career.

Okay. And my validation for that’s recent comes from 2 folks. 1 is somebody who is. Bought and sold a large business in data analytics and restarted another one. And I literally talked to him in the last three to four weeks and he unsolicited brought this point up. He said, I see data scientists all the time who come to me and they’ve got all the horsepower in the world technically, but they have no context at all.

And. I’m not looking for them to join my firm. So here is an analytics first firm that says the people I want on my team or people who’ve been somewhere and been close to an actual supply chain. I was thrilled to hear that. And then coincidentally, I talked to somebody else who is a serial entrepreneur.

And now is somebody who’s a shark tank kind of advisor in an interesting role and unsolicited. He said the same thing to me. He said, I see all kinds of startups. Ideas coming to me looking for that early funding and that, that, that support to get them started. And he said, if the people who came up with the idea or some consultant, who’s just been bouncing around.

I know it’s not going to work because they haven’t been close to the problem. He said, I want people who have worked at the point of the sword at the coalface on a particular problem and have said, I believe I have a different way to solve that problem. He said, there’s their chances of success are dramatically higher.

I still will bang the drum with students and young professionals that job that you may not Think is not not so sexy. Maybe the best accelerator you can get. And the truth is now I talked to a prior mentee this week, and they’re going to go work in an aircraft plant. Okay. And a lot of people are reticent.

It’s a factory. Why would I want to work in a factory? We got a lot of uh, Beautiful new factories being built in the US, whether it’s chips, whether it’s autos, whether it’s aerospace with the space industry, there’s lots of places. They don’t look like a plant that looked that I grew up in the 80s and 90s.

They’re pretty great places to work and they’re doing. Leading things in the world to say nothing of the distribution centers out there that have increasing amounts of automation every day. And so my belief is young professionals who are willing to take that leap first 5 years of the career. There may be the day may look different.

The week may look different. That investment 5, 3, 5, 7 years of your career there. Positioned you so well for the long run.

[00:44:17] Rodney Apple: You nailed it, Chris. And I go back to some searches just even recently that I’ve worked on. And then this is often those. As we talked about this head of supply chain, whether it’s a V.

  1. or chief supply chain officer, the head hot show in charge and that is the differentiator. We, we have a client that has lots of issues and planning and S. N. O. P. but they’re expanding their operations. They’re at capacity and it’s, it’s finding the leader that’s got that balance. They may not be. Subject matter expert, if you will, in all of the functions, including running the operations.

But those that have purposely and intentionally invested time into, I’m gonna work in a plant, I’m gonna work in a distribution center, I’m gonna work in transportation, and do a stint there. On top of that, they have the soft skills that we’ve covered as well as the leadership chops. And I’ll argue, and maybe we can land on this because it is still super important, they have a network.

They have relationships, they allocate time and space to build, develop, cultivate relationships. And it’s not what you can have all this operational, this corporate, this analytics, cross functional, end to end supply chain experience. But if you don’t have the relationships and the network, that can hold you back as well.

Any thoughts there?

[00:45:35] Mike Ogle: Yeah, I’ll toss something out on that side because I think there’s really two kind of networks that you have to nurture and one of them is the things and ideas network, but of course, the people network is number one. So that’s the obvious one. What roles do they play for you? You map some of this stuff out, you’ll be able to say there are certain people I think that are going to be mentors or peers or a trend or tech whiz that I need to check in with now and then a sounding board, a network builder, you know, look for all kinds of different breadth of the people that you’re going to put in your network.

How often should you touch base with them? Keep in track and manage that relationship, but also groups, which is in a people category. Are there local chapters that you get in with at the associations and national types of things? Volunteer for stuff. You can get into all kinds of opportunities if you’re diving in on a variety of people side of things.

So that’s how you’re going to, you can really grow. I’d say the other kind of network for me is what kind of resources are you surrounding yourself that the Twitter feeds you follow, the publications you read, the podcast you listen to, make sure you’ve got some diversity of that thought as well, because that’s going to help you be able to talk the talk and know the trends and be able to continuously develop yourself.

For me, having both kinds of networks, the people. And the industry information side of things. It’s almost like you should put these on a wall and map them up, but map them out like those crime show like boards with all the twine and connections so that you can really see the picture of what’s in your life.

[00:47:19] Rodney Apple: That’s a, it’s a great point. And as I talk to students that are getting their supply chain degrees and whatnot, trying to figure out what to do, it’s, it’s 1 of the things I always stress to them is 1 of the biggest things you can do outside of studying hard and getting good grades is to go ahead and start and set up your LinkedIn profile.

And go ahead and start adding connections. Go to folks that have already graduated ahead of you that may be working in companies or roles that you’re aspiring or maybe you’re curious about. Get that going now. When you graduate, you have a massive head start ahead of your classmates because you’re going to have people that you can reach out to and engage to learn from.

To network with for many other benefits and in particular, the job search that you’re going to have to embark upon. Yeah, if you’re in a Michigan state in a tier 1 school, you’re going to be recruited at your sophomore, junior year. But for the majority of people that are coming up in the supply chain ranks at 200 other academic institutions that we have counted and they’re continuing to grow in numbers, you’re going to have to have that network and those relationships.

And I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. I’ll continue to. To a harp on this, when I look back at the careers, the people I placed and I’m they’re coming to my mind right now. They were analysts 20 some years ago, went behind the ears, just eager to learn and get in there. They were all very bright. They studied hard.

They had good grades for the most part, and they did well in those lower tier roles, but the ones that really progressed and advanced and got to those head of supply chain, or they’re running procurement or they’re running logistics. They intentionally focused on. Building out to their networks and their relationships and their soft skills and their leadership, their growth, having that growth mindset, that continuous learning.

Those are the people that make it to the top time and time again. Any thoughts there as we wrap up this 100th episode. I’ll close with a

[00:49:16] Chris Gaffney: final point. And I did talk to somebody else this week about getting their first job. And ironically, they got their first job through a connection to a classmate who worked with on a senior project.

And that person graduated one term before them. And this person found out about a role at a company, and they did some legwork, and they found out That this friend of theirs worked on that team, and they said, can you get your resume in front of the hiring manager and put in a good word for me? And that goes back to what you said is a couple of things, and it connects to the network idea, but networks are nurtured through individual connections.

And individual connections start with a 1st interaction, and you never know where that 1st interaction will lead. And if I had to leave our audience with one thing is take care every day of every interaction in your professional life, because people draw conclusions around how you do interact with them.

Do you show respect for them? Do you take care of that relationship? You manage it in a time context or whatever those first impressions matter and they do connect to the other thing. We’ve done the work in the podcast. The reality is people do business with people. They know. Or people who they don’t know.

And so it is a fact that nurturing that network, but starting with every individual interaction is still a massive kind of key point for our audience.

[00:50:56] Rodney Apple: And there’s a quote, Chris, it’s an extremely powerful point you just made. And I think Steve jobs really said it best. And it took me a minute to even figure out what he’s talking about.

But he says, and I’m paraphrasing this, of course, but you can look it up online and I would encourage you to. If you’re listening and haven’t heard this quote, it’s you’re never really going to understand the power of the network and the purpose of doing it while you’re doing it until after the fact, when you trace your steps backwards, that’s when you’ll realize that the benefits and the value that you gain.

But when you start doing it. There’s a lot of people do it at the worst time. Oh, I just got my pink slip. I’m out of work. I better start networking. But if you’ve been doing that all along, you’re going to have a much easier time than having to start on the fly. It’s a very powerful thing that he talked about.

And I think he attributes that to his success as the founder of Apple. Oh, those are both incredible thoughts.

[00:51:51] Mike Ogle: That’s just perfect for where we’re trying to get to with continued podcasts as we’re going forward and try to get to that 1000th episode.

[00:52:02] Rodney Apple: We appreciate everyone that’s listened, and we do encourage you to go back and cherry pick and look back at some of the 100 episodes across these different series.

We guarantee there’s a lot to learn here and all the time from our listeners that I didn’t even know were listening that I reach out to and talk to. So give us a listen, you can go to SEMtalent. com and it’s there on the website and share this too if you’ve got others in your network that you think could benefit.

From our podcast series, the supply chain careers podcast. So again, we wouldn’t be here without your listeners. So thank you for listening and we’ll see you at the next episode.

[00:52:43] Mike Ogle: Thanks for listening to this episode of the supply chain careers podcast. Be sure to listen to other episodes and sign up to be notified when future episodes are released as we continue to interview industry leading supply chain experts. This podcast is made possible by SCM Talent Group, the industry leading supply chain executive search firm.

Visit SCM Talent [email protected].

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