Are you ready to step out of your silo to share skills and expertise freely with other areas?
Dr. Alexis Bateman, Director of Sustainable Supply Chain at MIT, believes that a career in supply chain has the potential to be varied and exciting. “I’ve been able to bring new insights and fresh thinking [to my role] and in some ways I wish I’d found supply chain earlier in my career,” she says. And she is clear that an open approach to ideas and people could be the key to an upward career trajectory.
Many people and Many Views
The variety that’s embedded in a career in supply chain comes, in part, from the departments of the organisation with which the function needs to interact. Alexis loves the way that this collaboration exposes her to many different points of view. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to interact with so many people,” she says. “Almost everyone has something to teach me.”
Alexis describes her sustainability and supply chain role at MIT as one of working with people from different disciplines who have a variety of conceptual experiences. She believes that working across organisations can really help us to think more broadly about issues and projects.
The opportunity to work in a team with many perspectives is something that Alexis sees as being a key part of a supply chain professional’s role. From engineers, technicians, analysts, and strategists, every discipline and perspective can be part of a supply chain team. Close collaboration and problem solving, she says, is just what’s required when you’re working to improve sustainability.
When she’s leading teams at MIT, Alexis’ role is to make sure these roles are aligned, and voices are heard equally. In her experience, “all voices are there for a reason and unique perspectives can push a project forward or enable the team to think of something really innovative.”
Get Out of Your Silo
“A silo view of the organisation and consequently the topics covered in learning and development is the wrong way to progress a supply chain career,” warns Alexis. She advocates against a heads-down, staying in your comfort zone approach. In her experience, where someone broadens out their perspective to think about how they can apply their expertise and knowledge, a range of opportunities to progress will appear.
Alexis urges people to think more broadly about what they do next. “In supply chain, expertise can really be moulded to different positions,” she reports. And the good news is that, in her experience, having an open mind can be a chance to advance your career.
Thinking about your supply chain career trajectory is something that Alexis would encourage all supply chain professionals to do. Supply chain looks at the organisation from many different perspectives: sustainability, logistics, procurement, last mile, and this means that are many roles where different expertise is required.
“There’s so much upward mobility in supply chain,” she says, “from Chief Supply Chain Officer all the way to the CEO.” Alexis is optimistic about the opportunities that are out there for supply chain professionals who love variety and are prepared to broaden their experience and their skills.
Making Variety Part of What you Do
So how can you seek escape the silo and understand the world and the variety of opportunities out there? Alexis has these tips that you can use to embed the search for different into your routine:
- Read a lot – try to fit lots of reading into your life;
- Read daily – set a slot aside each day when you make time to read;
- Read about different subjects – it doesn’t always have to be about supply chain;
- Listen to podcasts – they’re a great way to absorb new information particularly when you’re on the move.
Why not embrace variety into your life by becoming a reader and podcast listener? Follow Alexis’ tips to unlock the potential for success in your supply chain career that could take you right to the top.