Guide to Becoming a Chief Supply Chain Officer

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Of the many exciting and lucrative career paths in supply chain management, the position of chief supply chain officer has emerged as a common career goal among supply chain management professionals. The supply chain has a direct impact on the success of an organization and supply chain managers are responsible for maintaining a flexible and receptive team that can respond to problems and disruptions as quickly as they arise.

Here, we further explore the position of a chief supply chain officer: how you can become one, the necessary education and skills required to do the job, and the important role it plays in the supply chain.

What does a chief supply chain officer do?

As supply chain professionals started making their way into the C-suite, the chief supply chain officer role emerged. But what does a chief supply chain officer do? The chief supply chain officer maintains executive leadership over the entire supply chain management team. In this capacity, you become a key stakeholder in the end-to-end supply chain, including sourcing, procuring, planning, manufacturing, and distributing of products and services.

Chief supply chain officers regularly work with business leaders, managers, employees, and partners to determine how the company can better serve its customers and improve operations. Traditionally, chief supply chain officers create a supply chain strategy that improves efficiencies and reduces costs. Today, chief supply chain officers must also develop a supply chain strategy to increase revenue. Better service delivery, increased revenue, and the growth of supply chain manager roles is a result of the supply chain transforming through the use of AI and machine learning.

The role of the chief supply chain officer is also heavily rooted in the global supply chain. It's more important now than ever to have strong supply chain managers, as the global supply chain is molding into a hybrid between the global and local level. In order to maximize efforts and increase revenue, every moving part must be closely examined and improved upon.

Steps to becoming a chief supply chain officer

Supply chain management touches virtually every industry, and, depending on the size of the company, supply chain executives are needed to oversee supply chain operations, including the global supply chain and end-to-end supply chain. While certain industries—such as clothing and retail—are more prominently noted as part of the supply chain, other unsuspecting industries are linked as well, including the healthcare industry. With the supply chain market trending up, some companies are appointing their first chief supply chain officer—sometimes named a chief procurement officer—in the history of the company.

The steps to becoming a chief supply chain officer begin with understanding what the role entails, including expectations. When a company hires a new chief supply chain officer, the position reports directly to the chief executive officer, who has high hopes that there will be great improvement and success in the appointment. As changes occur in supply chain businesses, the need for a new supply chain manager arises. Since 2019 alone, the following chief supply chain officers have been appointed:

  • Macy's: In April 2019, Macy's appointed their first ever chief supply chain officer, Dennis Mullahy. Mullahy will "oversee the entire product journey, including global sourcing, inventory management, store and ecommerce distribution, transportation, indirect procurement, supply chain systems, sustainability and supplier diversity."
  • US Foods: In May 2019, US Foods appointed Timothy Connolly as their new executive vice president and chief supply chain officer. Connolly will "oversee the supply chain organization, including safety, warehousing, transportation, supply chain strategy, operations, continuous improvement, and labor relations."
  • GE Healthcare: In January 2019, GE Healthcare named James Borzi as their new chief supply chain officer. Borzi will "oversee the company’s supply chain strategy, with manufacturing operations and assembly sites in over 20 countries, to improve supply chain security, increase productivity and drive greater reliability and quality from suppliers."
  • Hain Celestial: In April 2019, Jerry Wolfe joined The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. as chief supply chain officer. Wolfe will be "responsible for leading the company’s supply chain organization, including supply chain planning, logistics, contract management, continuous improvement, plant operations and procurement."

Given that the chief supply chain officer is an executive-level position, the career path includes extensive education and years of experience. Many begin their career as a supply chain manager, or logistician, and work their way up as a senior supply chain manager. Regardless of the path you take, it's important to ensure you have the proper educational foundation in order to achieve optimal success in your job.

Education needed to become a chief supply chain officer

To become a chief supply chain officer, you need at least a bachelor's degree. However, while the education needed to become a chief supply chain officer is not uniform across all industries, as the supply chain evolution turns further toward automation and efficiency, most employers expect a master's degree. This is especially true if the company also names you the executive vice president. Thus, if you want to advance in the field and increase your earnings, a master's degree is a great way to do so. You can also obtain a master's degree in a supply chain discipline if your bachelor's degree and work history don’t include supply chain curricula.

Whether you're interested in entry-level positions or would like to start at the level of an operations manager, your level of education and knowledge of supply-chain management and the end-to-end supply chain can impact your ability to meet the desired job qualifications and increase your salary. According to PayScale, having a supply chain management bachelor's degree can earn you an average annual salary of $61,000, whereas a supply chain management master's degree can earn you an average salary of $74,000. PayScale also outlines the following career path toward a chief supply chain officer:

Best programs for becoming a chief supply chain officer

The best programs for becoming a chief supply chain officer include an online master's degree, such as the online MS in Supply Chain Management (MSSCM) from the UT Haslam College of Business. Haslam's online MSSCM teaches all aspects of the end-to-end supply chain and is taught by supply chain professionals. A renowned supply chain management program is critical to your success as a supply chain management professional, as it will teach you how to develop, implement, monitor, and manage supply chain logistics and operations.

As a chief supply chain officer, you get close control over inventory management and assisting company operations in becoming more sustainable. This includes analyzing inventory to ensure purchasing and movement are in coordination with the lifecycle of the materials to reduce waste. Chief supply chain officers can also work with suppliers and help educate and support them so they have improved working conditions and a better livelihood, which not only produces higher quality raw materials but also helps the environment.

Becoming a chief supply chain officer provides an enormous opportunity to truly make a difference in the world and the environment.

Start your supply chain career at the UT Haslam College of Business

If you're interested in becoming a chief supply chain officer, Haslam offers an excellent MS in Supply Chain Management, which is offered completely online. Additionally, Haslam also offers an Executive MBA for those who want to earn their degree while applying the knowledge in the classroom to make an immediate impact on their organization.

This means you have the opportunity to advance your career, or change careers entirely to the supply chain industry, without putting your life on hold. Haslam offers a wide variety of resources for online MSSCM graduate candidates, such as the Global Supply Chain Institute (GSCI), which is recognized around the world. While completing your online MSSCM, you'll be taught by and have access to expert faculty members.

Learn more about the GSCI and Haslam's online MSSCM today.