Veterans bring skills and ‘can-do’ attitude to supply chain jobs

There’s a golden opportunity for military logisticians to continue their careers and play a key role in keeping supply chains staffed with competent professionals.

In “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu wrote, “The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.” More than 2,500 years later, in war and in peace, logistics has grown exponentially in importance and complexity.

The men and women who — without computer aid — arranged for 6,939 ships, 11,590 aircraft, 156,000 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies on the beaches of Normandy in 1944 were logisticians of the first order. Twenty-seven days after the June 6 invasion, there were more than one million allied troops, 566,648 tons of supplies and 171,532 vehicles ashore. The ROI: defeating totalitarianism.

Today’s supply chain offers a golden opportunity for military logisticians to continue their careers as well as play a key role in keeping supply chains staffed with competent professionals.

Whether it’s logistics, procurement, inventory management, demand planning or any other area, industry, supply chain associations and colleges are stepping in to help veterans enter the field.

“The shortage of skilled workers is creating an imbalance in supply chain management,” Abe Eshkenazi, CEO of ASCM, formerly APICS, told Supply Chain Dive. “It’s estimated that demand for supply chain professionals exceeds supply by 6-1, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of jobs in logistics will grow by 26% between 2016 and 2020.”

He noted that G.I. Jobs’ 2016 Hot Jobs for Veterans lists logistician and supply chain manager at No. 3 and Operations and Facilities manager at No. 6.

What makes veterans so desirable?

Veterans understand the supply chain and its raison dêtreGet the right goods to the right place at the right time.

“Veterans have experience in transporting, tracking and delivering goods, ammunition, vehicles and life-saving equipment,” Eshkenazi said. “This on-the-ground experience makes veterans suitable for nearly any supply chain management position.”

One supply chain company that values vets is SAP, especially as they can help fill labor-shortage gaps created by retirement, said April Chrichlow, VP Diversity and Inclusion Lead for SAP Ariba.

“Veterans often are eager to use the skills they learned in the military after they’ve been discharged,” she told Supply Chain Dive. “They bring many advantages as they have directly relevant experience in supply chain and logistics,” she said. “In addition, veterans typically are self-starters, quick learners, creative problem solvers, great under pressure and have a ‘can-do’ attitude.”

But even the most eager, accomplished veterans will find, they must adjust to the civilian workforce, said Eshkenazi.

“One of the biggest challenges when employing veterans can be chalked up to a simple translation problem – 80% of military occupations have a direct civilian equivalent, but the descriptions are not aligned, so human resources specialists often don’t understand the crossover between military and civilian experience,” he said. “Because of this, qualified candidates may be rejected simply because they may not understand the military experience versus civilian experience.”


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