TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | Contributed Content, Singapore
Karen Speirs

5 skills every regional supply chain manager in Singapore must have


Supply chain management, is a powerful new source of competitive advantage for many organisations.

As defined by the APICS Dictionary, supply chain management is the "design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain activities with the objective of creating net value, building a competitive infrastructure, leveraging worldwide logistics, synchronising supply with demand and measuring performance globally."

It integrates manufacturing, operations, purchasing, transportation and the distribution into a seamless process. In addition, supply chain management is also required to embrace and link third party partners such as vendors, suppliers, carriers into the process as well as forecast, process orders and plan production and scheduling.

For this reason, supply chain is viewed as one of the most challenging and rewarding discipline to pursue.

However, there are many differences within supply chain management particularly between a regional role and a local role. If you think a regional role in supply chain can offer you better career opportunities and wider job scopes, you might want to look at some of the important skills required before considering a switch.

Regional exposure

This is one of the most important key requirements employers seek for when hiring for a regional role. The core concept of supply chain management is the ability to increase efficiency, drive projects and better support the business.

This of course, will require you to have an understanding and the ability to manage the difference policies as well as logistics procedures of different countries. You will also need to demonstrate your capability in managing multiple markets and multicultural teams.

Cross-functional collaboration

Part of the responsibilities in supply chain management is to work in collaboration with other functional teams and to ensure on-time, quality deliverables.

In order to achieve successful results, you will need to have a close engagement and communicate well with other teams as well as internal stakeholders. It is also important to understand the different cultures and the ability to manage the expectations of team members from other countries.

Align with segments’ strategies

The rapid growth and development of organisations particularly within a booming economy only means an ever demanding business environment. With competition high among businesses, organisations understand it’s important to deliver before competitors to gain a competitive edge.

Being in a regional position, business planning and strategies will encompass a larger scope and your flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of businesses.

At times, global headquarters might implement change to business models and when this happens, you will be expected to collaborate with regional teams, adopt these changes and apply it to your responsible markets.

Be part of the global SCM team

Unlike a local role, supply chain management in a regional perspective encompasses a wider range of objectives and activities. Not only do you have to put into consideration the local programmes and processes, you will also need to define the metrics and programmes to measure and improve the regional supply chain management performance.

In addition, you will be required to drive global initiatives, plans and programmes in support of global business strategies and drive the implementation of local, regional as well as global projects. You must be able to strategically customise these projects according to the needs and relevancy of the local market to achieve global targets.

Manage different time-zones

The perks of a regional role for some, is the opportunity to travel around the world. Even if the opportunity is minimal, chances are you will need to hold conference calls with team members from other countries.

Perhaps you’ll have to be at the office at 4 am to hold a call with your US counterparts or maybe stay past midnight in the office for the call. With this in mind, it is extremely important that you have the flexibility to adapt yourself to different time-zones or compromise your rest time for work.

Of course, in addition to all these afore mentioned skills there will be other mandates in the supply chain management role such as English communication skills and the ability to travel frequently.

However, be it a regional or a local role, there are some skills that many employers agree are necessary for professionals in this role.

These include but not limited to:

Technical Skills

  • Sales and operations planning
  • Hands-on knowledge of the supply chain process and its activities

Negotiation Skills

  • Ability to analyse supplier market and identify a supplier that is consistent with business strategies for purchasing and materials management
  • Ability to develop a negotiation plan
  • Able to influence and create a win-win situation

Communication Skills

  • Ability to liaise with all levels within the company and external parties
  • Ability to communicate effectively and coherently with stakeholders and other staff
  • Demonstrate a cooperative approach to resolve issues
  • Analyse problems to root cause and then communciate the corrective action
  • Communicate quality issues via the correctly defined business process

Mangerial Skills

  • Project managemet skills
  • Ability to mange varying priorities concurrently
  • Ability to delegate at an appropriate level to achieve accountabilities
  • Strong sense of ownership and problem solving ability
  • Ability to ensure effective leadership and management
  • Ability to analyse and manage change

When you’ve checked yourself against this list and find yourself meeting the requirements above, you know you are ready to make your next career move. Start talking to a specialist consultant and see what they can do for you.

Find one that specialises in your industry so that they can help you differentiate your niche within job market and target only what is relevant to you.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Karen Speirs

Karen Speirs

Karen Speirs is the Manager of the Procurement and Supply Chain divisions at Robert Walters Singapore. Robert Walters is an award-winning business and one of the leading international recruitment consultancies.

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