While Jennifer Ulrich’s article shows the rising importance of an education in the strategic sourcing industry, and the growing number of dedicated programs available at colleges and universities nationwide, there are still a large number of schools that do not offer such a dedicated program. What programs then, outside of dedicated strategic sourcing and supply chain curricula, offer the skills and learning environments needed to excel in the strategic sourcing and procurement industry? What is the degree makeup of a current strategic sourcing department?
The staff of Source One was as good a group of any to survey. They come from myriad backgrounds, both professionally and educationally. They were asked what courses of study they pursued and the ways in which they felt that education helps them in their current positions. Here are some of their replies:
“I pursued a marketing degree and then an MBA. My previous career, IT asset management for a large pharmaceutical company, provided more useful information that what I learned in school. In addition to the IT and procurement knowledge, my previous job allowed me to develop more high-level skills such as building relationships with clients and suppliers.”
“I majored in risk management and insurance. Since we’re dealing with identifying risk exposures, severity, and frequency of a particular risk, the lessons taught on thinking outside the box and assessing situations from a number of different scenarios have proven very helpful.”
“My education includes a B.S. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and an MBA in Finance. Professionally, prior to Source One, I managed a district of nine stores for a major U.S. retailer. There, I was able to train and develop a team of managers to maintain their focus on daily tasks that produced direct results while concurrently developing strategic plans for long term growth.”
“My major was in Operations and Information Management. The skills I took from that that affect my job daily are strategic thinking, how to develop a consultative approach, business process analysis, and analytic abilities.”
“I’m currently studying management with a minor in mathematics. The management background gives me the tools to look from a people/organizational perspective, while the math background has taught me to look at a situation from a numerical/quantitative perspective. Additionally, math has taught me the importance of using all the tools at hand to solve a problem – sorting through them to find the ‘best fit’.”
- Strategic Sourcing Intern
“The course of study I followed was Apparel Design, an education that encouraged me to look at business opportunities with an open mind. Coming from an artistic background, it is critical to look at each opportunity holistically while allowing for innovative and potentially out-of-the-box thinking.”
“One key takeaway from my education — a major in Political Science with a minor in Russian – is the ability to prioritize and structure tasks and action items. Professionally, with a background in transactional logistics and logistics sourcing, I learned the importance of deadlines, SOPs, and effective communication measures.”
“The skills from my education, a bachelor’s in business administration & management information systems, that help me the most in this industry are the liaising between and unifying business, finance, and information technology constituencies to ensure all parties’ requirements and objectives are met.”
The variety of degrees held by our strategic sourcing professionals is astounding – everything from theater majors to law school graduates – as is the variety of professional backgrounds. Absent specific collegiate training in strategic sourcing and procurement, each person interviewed still gleaned a particular, and useful, skillset from their individual backgrounds that makes them an asset to the company.
As strategic sourcing and supply chain curricula grow in popularity, the temptation to hire only from those majors will be strong. Keep in mind, however, the range of skills and talents you pull from in your daily operations to succeed in this industry that very likely didn’t come from a dedicated program. Variety is the spice of life.