Developing and Positioning Yourself for Career Growth

One thing I've noticed when recruiting sourcing experts in the past -- and indirectly getting involved in hiring today for some of my friends and clients more recently -- is that the best candidates tend to negotiate the comp thing quite well. And this goes for guys and gals at all levels in organizations (and both practitioners and consultants alike). But for some of us who are more analytical and quantitative in our comp negotiation approaches, asking for more money does not come naturally unless we can back it up with benchmarks or other third-party verified negotiating points.

For these types, there's good news, as Supply and Demand Chain Executive recently published an article that talks about how "supply chain and logistics positions are experiencing record growth across nearly every industry ... [and how] logistics positions such as warehousing, distribution and transportation no longer suffice alone ... the interlink between all facets of the supply chain are just as important, from the product development and procurement functions through the delivery of the product to the end-user.” In addition, the piece notes that "the need for more specialized managers, especially those familiar with import/export, international logistics, customs brokerage and supply chain integration" is key.

If you've got a specialized skill-set in the Spend Management world, it's worth strutting your stuff to maximize your earning and career advancement potential. I've always contended that those with dual skill sets are often the most invaluable and have the best point of negotiating leverage in comp negotiations. I know this will sound corny, but back when I was in college, I was a dual major: English lit and history (odd, I know, for someone in my role today). But more important, I learned the key to earning an "A" was to write English papers for history courses (e.g., a literary interpretation of a period in history) and history papers for English (e.g., the literary landscape during a war). Even though I thought I was shoveling it with these things, I had big name professors -- some really big name ones -- eating it up. It even got me into graduate school in history when I was an undergraduate, pursuing two degrees at the same time.

Where am I going with this? In Spend Management, those who feel equally at home talking about a subject from multiple perspectives (e.g., operations and IT) are those most likely to excel and advance their careers more quickly. It's straddling the fence -- and building comfort in more than one group or discipline -- that is one secret to rapid career growth. Take the case of global sourcing in manufacturing. If you understand it from not just a sourcing perspective, but from a manufacturing (e.g., lean, Six Sigma, supply chain) point of view and an import/expert perspective (e.g., trade finance, customs brokerage, logistics, etc.) you’ll be super dangerous relative to your peers. And you'll be able to write your own ticket in today's world, a place where the intersection of skill sets and knowledge matters much more on the executive level than a single frame of reference.

As a final note for this post, I often get asked if credentials (e.g., CPM) matter when it comes to getting a job and moving up. In short, while like a degree from a top university they might help you get in the door for a certain job, they will do nothing for your career advancement -- at least in my experience -- once you're in a position at more sophisticated organizations. At that point, it's about what you do everday -- not about what you know. And for your everyday job, I believe that you're far better off reading blogs like this, top notch analyst reports, and industry and business publications to stay in the loop than you are cramming for some exam or attending a course just to get continuing education credits.

Jason Busch

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