Why Work in Supply Chain Management and Logistics?

Business… It’s one word that encompasses so much and can branch off in so many directions. Let’s take, for example, supply chain management and logistics.

A role that is so important in the world of business but doesn’t ever get the recognition it deserves. Well, not until a global pandemic hits and the word ‘supply chain’ pops up because people can’t get the products they are accustomed to in the timeframe they are used to getting them in.  

Supply chains really do make the world go around and are a necessity to any thriving business.

Marc Directo is Chief Operations Officer at Nix Sensor, a Hamilton, ON born company that creates colour sensors. The Nix Pro colour sensor allows customers in 50 countries across the globe to use this little device to pinpoint colour becoming today’s leading colour management tool. 

“As for a supply chain, when it works well, people don’t notice,” Directo jokes, but people do notice when there are empty shelves without product or when you order something and the delivery time is months away.

At Nix Sensor, they have a few employees who are solely dedicated to supply chain management and their role is to understand the timing of deliveries so that the products can get into consumers’ hands.  

Directo points out that China has periods in the year where they shut down, so you need to know these things to make sure you are prepared for them. 

“The supply chain has the potential to cripple a business if you don’t plan properly,” he states. 

Melissa Hardeo, an instructor of the Supply Chain Management program, who has worked in the industry for 24 years now, agrees.

Hardeo points out that one of the biggest parts of the job is planning, as you need to have a timeline of how you place orders. She emphasized that Covid has changed things a bit, but in general, a supply chain can pre-plan up to two years in advance. 

She used the example of a tennis ball. A simple product that can be found in all sporting goods stores, but when you break it down there is so much involved. From the fields where they grow the rubber trees to the textiles made for the outer shell, to the adhesive used to hold both parts together; not to mention the logistics of shipping all of these supplies, assembling them and then getting them loaded onto a vessel to come to Canada, then be tested, bagged and finally arriving on store shelves. 

There are a whole lot of steps involved to get something from concept to production through to delivery, and yet a great supply chain ensures the consumer doesn’t even notice.

Hardeo stumbled upon her first supply chain job as a student looking to pay her tuition. She simply saw an ad, applied to it and 24 years later, she has never looked back.

“There is so much room to grow and so many directions to travel in,” she points out. “So many skills are shared across the board so you have the basics to move in the industry.”

For such a pivotal part of business, it is shocking how small the supply chain teams in these companies are, but both Hardeo and Directo appreciate that there is so much room to learn.

Hardeo also pointed out that one of the perks of the job is getting to experience opportunities before anyone else so she can make suggestions and explore new ways of doing things.

It sounds like a very stressful job, with a lot of planning that might keep you up all night, but Hardeo feels the opposite.

“It allows a great work-life balance. It’s very flexible depending on what you are looking for as our teams are spread out across the world,” she states.

In general, Hardeo works six hours a day, from about 5pm – 11pm as she is dealing with Asian markets and a different time zone. It allows her flexibility to have time with her family while also working in a career she loves.

She considers anyone who is willing to learn and who is curious by nature to be a great candidate for the job. “You don’t have to be great in every subject like math or economics, you just need to be curious as to how it all works and you will succeed.”

“If you can grocery shop, you can do supply chain management,” Hardeo laughs. 

Hardeo is still as passionate about the job as when she began and still sees so much potential for growth.

“In the next 15 years, we could be shipping product to Mars to start creating colonies,” she laughed. “It used to be Asian markets that I enjoyed but imagine working on projects for Mars?”

I must admit that I am right there with her. The whole idea of a career in supply chain management is fascinating and the room for growth and career advancement has me sold. 

Supply chains make the world go round and if Hardeo has it right, they might make life on other planets possible sooner than later.