Business Simulation Suite

Supply chain management is an exciting, complex and rewarding career path.

Paul Alexander

4 min read

Banu Lokman, Senior Lecturer in Operations and Systems Management, and Paul Alexander, Teaching Fellow in Procurement, Supply Chain and Operations Management, explain why supply chain management is an exciting and globally important career choice.

What is supply chain management?

Simply put, supply chain management is the task of getting things to people when they need them, at a price they can afford.

A supply chain joins the dots between firms and customers. Anything you wear, the food you eat and the energy you use got to you because supply chain experts made it possible.

Think about Covid-19. The selection of manufacturers for vaccines, the way they are made and distributed, right up to the injection in your arm, all reflect supply chains in action. Consider the UK fuel shortages in the summer of 2021 – it was supply chain expertise that made sure petrol reached the forecourts after the shortages. Every time you order from online retailers, they use innovative technology in their logistical operations to make sure your purchase arrives at your front door.

Why is supply chain management important?

Supply chain management is regional, national and global – it is everywhere. Without it, the wheels of industry and the economy would grind to a halt. Many aspects of our day-to-day lives depend on the ability to manage supply chains successfully within a global economy.

Supply chains are a key part of the UK economy, contributing over £127 billion and employing 1.7 million people – around 5 percent of the workforce (LogisticsUK Report, 2021).

Yet, according to DHL – one of the biggest supply chain management companies in the world – there aren’t enough supply chain managers to meet demand. A degree in Business and Supply Chain Management could set you up to fill the talent gap.

If you can persuade, influence, get on with people and solve complex problems in a collaborative way, supply chain management could be the career for you. The skills you develop could also open up careers in business, HR or Finance. And there are lots of career opportunities, including inventory management, transport management, production management, and procurement management.
Paul Alexander, Teaching Fellow in Procurement, Supply Chain and Operations Management

What do supply chain managers do?

Supply chain managers are responsible for the movement of goods, from manufacturers and suppliers to the customer.

As a supply chain manager, you'll oversee and manage every stage of the production flow, from purchasing the raw materials to the delivery of the final product.

You'll ensure the right amount of product is made at the right time, as well as coordinate the storage of the product. Organising the movement of goods from distribution centres to customers and stores involves forecasting trends and managing inventories.

What skills will I learn on a supply chain management degree?

On a business and supply chain management degree, you’ll develop analytical methods and technical skills to improve decision making. You'll learn risk management, strategic management, logistics management, and how to procure goods and manage supply lines. You'll use professional software, systems and tools, and explore the ethics and sustainability of global supply chains.

You can apply these skills to a variety of areas such as vehicle routing, scheduling, facility location, assignment and resource allocation problems.

As well as technical skills, you’ll learn soft skills such as leading change, building effective teams, persuading, influencing, and relationship management.

What career can I have if I study supply chain management?

If you can persuade, influence, get on with people and solve complex problems in a collaborative way, supply chain management could be the career for you. The skills you develop could also open up careers in business, HR or Finance. And there are lots of career opportunities, including inventory management, transport management, production management, and procurement management.

It’s an exciting, complex and well-rewarded career path. At entry level, as a graduate, average salaries are around £24,337. Salaries for supply chain executives rise to an average of around £30,420 and supply chain analysts can earn an average of £34,601 and supply chain planners, £29,984. The average salary for supply chain managers is around £46,998.

I first chose BA (Hons) Business and Management, but I really enjoyed the Business Operations module, so I switched to Supply Chain Management from my second year. The modules are all really fun and interesting and the staff are all great and know their subjects really well.
Georgia Meredrew, BSc (Hons) Business and Supply Chain Management student

What demand is there for supply chain managers?

There’s an increasing demand for graduates who have the technical skills in mathematics, statistics, and operational research to help improve decision making and reduce costs. And if you want to work abroad, opportunities are plentiful in emerging economies like China and South Africa, where there is a lack of qualified supply chain management professionals.

A supply chain management degree will equip you with the knowledge and skills to prosper in a world that needs supply chain and logistics expertise more than ever.

Right now, the UK Government has around 1,000 vacancies in procurement alone, before even considering wider global supply chains. Developing the right skills on an undergraduate degree will give you choice and potential to progress successfully in whatever sector you’re interested in.

Do I need work experience to work in supply chain management?

It’s a good idea to get work experience while you study to improve your employability.

On our Business and Supply Chain Management degree, you can do a paid placement year with local companies like IBM and Boeing to get valuable experience on the job. And you'll be taught by academics who have supply chain industry experience. You can also improve your global employability by spending a year abroad at a partner university in Europe, Asia, Australia or North America.