Millennials "engaged, enthused and committed" to working in supply chain industry
Millennials are focused, engaged, enthused and committed to working in supply chain management, and consider the sector a sought-after, dynamic and rewarding long-term career choice for professionals in their 20s and 30s.
That’s according to a new report published by industry body APICS and carried out by Peerless Research Group.
“The results of the report are eye-opening, especially when compared to the more senior supply chain professionals in leadership positions, who were part of a previous study from APICS and SCMR in 2016,” said APICS CEO, Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CAE, CPA.
“We see that more millennials started their career in supply chain, are moving around less, are highly satisfied with their jobs and see more opportunities for advancement in the field.”
Seventy-five percent of survey respondents began their careers in supply chain management.
This is in stark contrast to Gen X and Baby Boomer supply chain professionals, who didn’t plan for or intend to work in the supply chain field, millennials have a keen interest in the field, having completed coursework, internships and often undergraduate and graduate degrees in supply chain management and logistics.
Millennials also demonstrated more stability and less movement from one company to another. Sixty percent of respondents still work in the same area in which they began their supply chain careers, with 38% having worked for just one employer their entire career and another 31% for only two employers.
Diversity topped the list of what millennials consider most important about the field and the companies for which they work.
Eighty-five percent noted that supply chain involves a diverse workforce and encompasses people of all types, which additional findings that more women are now entering the field also reflect.
Respondents were roughly two-thirds male (61%) and one-third female (39%), compared to the 2016 survey of senior supply chain leaders, in which 76% of respondents were men while only 24% were women.
However, just as earlier research of senior managers in 2016 showed a pay gap between males and females, there is a gender wage gap among millennials. Men and women start at roughly the same salary, but the disparity grows larger as they move up the career ladder.
This disparity is chief among complaints from millennials surveyed, along with frustration around the attitude towards millennials by older generations in their organisations and a disconnected feeling from the big picture or a lack of purpose in the workplace.
“Despite some noted frustrations, millennials are continuous learners and fast movers who are eager to advance,” Eshkenazi concluded.
“To address the ongoing skills gap, industry expectations, priorities and communication styles must adapt to and embrace the different needs of this younger generation.
“Millennials are growing and learning on the job in an era of lean, optimized, end-to-end supply chains and are critical to the ongoing transformation of the industry.”
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.