Creating Your Personal Brand…

In this article, Creating Your Personal brand by Chuck Durney read about what you need to do to be successful in your supply chain career. Building a personal brand requires you to not only possess, but continue building competencies in your leadership style and qualities and being a cross functional business expert. It also requires you to solidify your reputation. Chuck provides excellent insight into what steps can be taken to move you forward in your career through building a personal brand. It is an easy, informative and career enhancing read. Chuck is Senior Vice President, Business Development for BeamPines Inc, a Talent Management firm based in Manhattan, and has plenty of real world experience to share.
If you want to get noticed by others regarding your career, then how well you do your job is the most important factor. But these days, doing your job well doesn’t just mean getting the results; it also means “how” you get them. Creating the “personal brand” that sets you apart and makes you unique starts with job performance but then extends to the skills you have or are learning, and “how you perform.” The last few years have seen some key skill sets become necessary in Logistics and Supply Chain functions. The following represents some practical suggestions to enhance your career in these functions. Avoid concentrating on the “next” job/position without first meeting or exceeding current goals and objectives. This may sound like basic advice but employees are too easily drawn into the competitive nature of modern business. Personal goals must be coupled with a realistic approach that requires proving yourself at every step on the ladder. Skipping a few steps on your way to the top may be appealing but it allows too much room for error. You can probably come up with a list of colleagues over the years that spend more time looking for the next position by “political” or other means that were not job focused. If these efforts were transparent to you, sooner or later, others will notice them as well. The skills necessary to succeed, your educational backgrounds and your personal characteristics are a constantly evolving portfolio. Building a career in Logistics and Supply Chain still calls for a “bottom line” approach. However, competition for the Senior Managers, Directors and VP positions is now more competitive then ever due to mergers, acquisitions, the economy, and general business conditions with your company as well as your competitors. Adding to the competition is the type of people entering the field. The caliber of people has continued to improve since Supply Chain/Logistics became recognized as a key business contributor that can and will affect the “bottom line” on a daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly, and long term basis. Therefore it has been upgraded in most successful organizations, regardless of size. We’re not all going to be the VP of Supply Chain. However, being a Director or Manager of a key functional area will require some skills and competencies that may or may not have been part of Logistics in the past. Inventory/Distribution/Customer Service/Transportation etc. are what an individual who selects this career needs to master; and these skills are still important ingredients for success. Leadership competencies, however, are becoming the key desired trait as Senior Management looks to see how the job is getting done and who is “promotable” as part of the company’s “succession planning.” Everyone at every level is a leader and as such, the type of leader you are and the way you approach getting things done through others is going to count. Below you will find some of the competencies and skills requirements that have emerged over the past few years. The first group relates to leadership.

Leadership Competencies:
  • Every team needs a leader and Boomers are retiring. As everyone finds new opportunities to climb the ladder, companies need to decide who they will bring up. Will it be you? Demonstrating abilities to listen, provide feedback, train and develop others will be vital to your company’s success and your own job description.
  • Selection of qualified people – What better thing to say about a manager than “he/she selects good people.” Prepare for interviews; know what skills and personal characteristics are needed to be successful in the position. Frame your questions so that the response can be evaluated properly.
  • Team Development/Communication – Again, the cross functional aspect of Logistics makes building a team a very key element to success. Does the team have clear expectations? Are there team goals? Is every member of the team aware of the goals?
  • RelationshipBuilding– There is no better function in the organization to build relationships than Logistics. Marketing, Sales, IT and other areas depend on you.
  • Stress-Management/Handling Crisis – Is there a function that handles more major disruptions on a regular basis than Supply Chain? Probably not, so have emergency plans in place. How you handle and communicate during a crisis will determine your reputation.

Cross functional Competencies:

  • Procurement expertise – Most of us have experience with 3rd Party (Transportation/ Warehousing/DistributionCenters) negotiations. However, end-to-end supply chain experience is becoming one of the skill sets that companies look for. Purchasing goods (raw materials) and services is now a requirement in many organizations.
  • Global expertise – Many products/materials sourced out of the USA today make knowledge of the “foreign supply chain” a requirement. (Mexico, Far East, other emerging nations). The move of “call centers” that are part Customer Service to India and other places make the Supply Chain person possibly the only “international” employee in the company.
  • New quality initiatives – Experience and expertise in systems like Lean Six Sigma that crosses the entire organization.
  • Manufacturing exposure/experience – Since it is now considered part of the “Supply Chain” knowledge of JIT and demand planning become an important element for the Logistics professional.
  • Financial Expertise. Understanding the deeper impact of capital, cost of inventory, cash flow and how these relate to the current conditions in yur business are paramount.
  • Language skills – Important due to “outsourcing” to other countries. These as well as experience in all the “previous” logistic career path functions

Some easy steps to building your reputation:

  • Become a better Leader. Define and evolve the type of leader you are.
  • Build and foster good relationships across the board. Life will send you plenty of enemies. There is no need to go out looking for them.
  • Always return calls that are requesting information. Simple advice, but very relevant to the previous and following tips.
  • Become involved with your customers. Team up with a sales person and make a sales call.
  • Volunteer for projects/task force outside of your immediate area of responsibility.
  • Read! Read more about the industry you compete in. Stay current with your competitors. Branch out into other functions.
  • Keep your skills current. Hone your presentation skills. Plan and prepare for meetings/interactions so people leave a meeting feeling good about you.
  • Take performance reviews to heart. Not just reviews from your boss. Ask others that you trust for feedback regarding your overall performance or how you handled a particular situation.
  • Join and participate in professional organizations.
  • Document your accomplishments by sending reports, emails. Management likes to be kept abreast of status.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask the Manufacturing person, the Marketing person, the Finance person. Ask the HR person.
  • Be a mentor and a friend to those who have the potential and desire to get ahead. Help the young assistant brand manager or the finance analyst make sense of what you do.

All in all, the world isn’t getting any simpler, just smaller and more competitive. If you want to get ahead, you must learn to survive in the new ever changing environment where how you do is as important as what you do.

About the author: Chuck Durney is Senior Vice President, Business Development for BeamPines Inc, a Talent Management firm based in Manhattan. Chuck has had both line and staff responsibilities with companies like Nabisco, Johnson & Johnson and, prior to joining BeamPines, held the unique position of Vice President Human Resources & Logistical Operations for Krups North America. He can be reached at cdurney@beampines.com or (973) 455-1117.

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