Supply Chain Manager of the Future

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“Management Development and the Supply Chain Manager of the Future” by J. Mangan and M. Christopher (2005) aims to bridge the gap between current offerings of knowledge providers (eg. universities), current capabilities of users (eg. students and managers) and buyers (aka. companies).First it seems to be a good idea to get an impression of the demographics of the current supply chain managers. The Supply Chain Management Research Group at Ohio State found in a study, that nearly 95 percent of the supply chain managers are male, median age of managers 39 and about 20% have an additional professional qualification (eg. APICS). It’s also quite interesting to note that the average time the managers worked in the field of supply chain management is about 18 years combined with a high job rotation.

It is also highlighted how these SC-professionals gain the foundation of their knowledge.

In decreasing order of frequency: formal college, in-house training, seminar / workshop, ‘on the job’, and in-house training with an external trainer. Three major institutions are identified to support the professional education. First, so called professional bodies (like CSCMP), second, tertiary education at universities and lastly, publicly funded centres of excellence (like The MIT – Zaragoza International Logistics Program).

The authors argue that the current business transformation processes lead to a special need for experience and education for supply chain managers (this is taken from Christopher, 2004). For example:

The transformation from supplier-centric to customer-centric SCM, leads to the design of customer-driven supply chains, therefore a manager needs market understanding and customer insight.

In their own research they asked the provider-side (universities) what key changes they see to enhance the education. These are the main topics:

  • Specific logistics competencies are required for emerging markets.
  • Courses need to be more practical.
  • Multimodal nature of logistics and SCM needs to be highlighted more.
  • Need to differentiate between different learners.
  • Focus on processes and flows.
  • In-class exercises.
  • Best practice exists within certain companies.

The goal is to train the future supply chain manager to acquire the knowledge in the following areas:


  • Finance
  • IT
  • Management / Strategy
Logistics & Supply Chain Management
  • Operations
  • Focus on processes / flows
  • Legal, security and international trade
  • Multimodal logistics
  • Logistics in emerging markets
Competencies / Skills
  • Analytical
  • Interpersonal
  • Leadership
  • Change management
  • Project management

On the plus side the article summarizes the literature about the key qualifications, knowledge and skills which are necessary for supply chain managers to cope with the requirements of a changing business.

But on the other side the research part seems to be unilaterally focussing on the provider side, and there especially on the universities. Not only is one of the three randomly selected (?) public funded institutions located at the Hull University (home of the lead author), but also one of the research questions “What are the optimum approaches for career development?” was posed only to the provider side. I guess the result (Masters degree is listed first) does not come as a surprise.


Mangan, J., & Christopher, M. (2005). Management development and the supply chain manager of the future The International Journal of Logistics Management, 16 (2), 178-191 DOI: 10.1108/09574090510634494

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