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Why Service Members Should Consider Careers in Supply Chain Management

Albert Orbinati

Military service members make great supply chain professionals. I'll explain why in a moment, but for now, if there is any supply chain company looking to address its shortage in skilled workers (demand for supply chain professionals exceeded supply by 6-1 just a few years ago), military members transitioning from active service, and veterans of military service, should be a first consideration. 


Why Military Service Members Should Consider Supply Chain Management

I am going into my 18th year in the military as a member of the Vermont Air National Guard. Something profound struck me the other day as I was discussing the disposal of some old equipment with my team: logistics is everywhere in the military - I mean, everywhere. Anyone who has served in the military has either witnessed firsthand or been directly involved in systems that govern modern military supply chain and logistics. As I thought about it more, one's rank or job has little to do with it. Sure, logisticians are qualified for careers in supply chain management, but so are many other service members – many of whom may not know it. 

Logistics is "part of the job" whether you're a logistician charged with managing entire military supply chains; a culinary specialist responsible for proportioning, logging, and ordering specific quantities of ingredients; an aircraft mechanic responsible for sourcing and ordering complex parts; or a military police officer that ensures the safety of transported goods into and out of military installations. Many in the military have a hand in managing the supply chain, and just about everyone has in-demand skills and training that translates well to a career in supply chain management.    

Why is this? The answer, turns out, has to do with how we’ve been trained, and our mission - to be ready at a moment's notice when our country calls on us to defend it. This heightened readiness posture means that military professionals, perhaps more than most professionals, have a keen understanding of their role in executing the mission, being trained and ready, and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Delivering on time, without incident, and in as cost-effective a method as possible is our job in the military - it's what we do. 

Military members also make great supply chain professionals because we are self-starters and we have in-demand essential (or "soft") skills that employers are looking for. We are quick learners who are trained to problem solve under pressure. The skills and values necessary to be agile and effective problem solvers is taught early on in military service. In the Air Force, our core values of Integrity First, Serve Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do forms the basis for how we approach our jobs, make decisions, and work with others. These values are reinforced throughout our careers - values that we bring with us when our time in service is over. Know that these values are marketable and in-demand! If I were a hiring manager deciding between two similar candidates, one of whom had prior military service, I would strongly consider the member with military service for the reasons I previously described. Supply chain management happens to be an industry where many of a military member’s decision-making skills and “go get it” attitude translates into successful civilian careers.    

Supply Chain Careers for Military Logisticians

In terms of specific military careers that directly correlate to civilian supply chain careers, military logisticians (logistics plans, logistics specialists, logistics readiness officers, embarkation specialists) can easily continue their logistics career in the civilian sector in any number of supply chain management positions. The core functions of military logistics such as managing supply, sourcing, maintenance and infrastructure support, deploying and distributing, provisioning, engineering, utilizing blockchain and advanced technology, and contract management (to name a few) are highly sought-after skills in a supply chain industry looking for trained professionals to fill crucial skilled roles.

In closing, logistics and supply chain management is as critical to business as it is on the battlefield. Both military logisticians and many other military careers are uniquely suited to the fast-paced and advanced technological environment of supply chain management. Military members are trained to adapt continuously, use advanced technology, bridge gaps that exist among old and new systems, work with others toward a common goal, and ensure the mission is accomplished efficiently. If you feel like you need more training in supply chain management, programs like Champlain’s online supply chain management and logistics certificate is an ideal and cost-effective option for you.  

For active and prior Service members reading this article, I do not believe there is a supply chain company in the world that would not value your training, education, and capabilities. Add to that our certificate in Supply Chain Management and Logistics and you have a potent combination that would make you quite marketable in an industry looking for skilled professionals.

About the Author

Albert Orbinati

Albert Orbinati, PhD, is Assistant Professor and Program Director for the Business Management and Human Resource Management programs in the Division of Champlain College Online at Champlain College. His 20+ year career includes progressive leadership positions in secondary and post-secondary education, and the U.S. military. Dr. Orbinati holds a BA in Urban Planning from Binghamton University, an MBA from Champlain College, an MA in Adult Education from Central Michigan University, and a PhD in Adult Education from Capella University.

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