Hottest Growth Sectors in Supply Chain Management

Staying ahead of the game with critical information is a key to success. Over the last several months, I have had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of CEOs, vice presidents, directors of operations and various management personnel within the supply chain management (SCM) industry. Thousands of conversations later I wanted to share the collective wisdom and fears of some of the industry leaders.


The largest area of SCM should be a no-brainer for those who follow the industry. Automotive has been and will remain the largest sector of growth for SCM professionals. Interestingly, this is often referred to as a “closed” industry, meaning if you haven’t worked in automotive, you won’t get to work in automotive. This indicates a lack of transparency to those keen on such things. Automotive could explode with growth if it increased its transparency with other SCM sectors.


Nipping at the heels of the automotive sector of SCM is retail. Retail is almost as large as the automotive sector and is experiencing an explosion of growth estimated between 8-12%. This growth is driven by consumer products, which in turn is driven by the state of the overall economy. Retail is a highly competitive market. Industry experts unanimously agree that the SCM retail leader is Walmart. The vast majority of SCM professionals are trying to mimic or improve the existing practices of Walmart.


Have you heard this one yet? Technology is expanding at such a rapid pace that when you buy a new cell phone, it’s outdated before you send your first text message. It should be no surprise that this an area seeing exceptional amounts of growth. For any reverse logistics professionals, cell phone returns are a major emerging market. Online sales are skyrocketing as new generations flock to purchase items from various sites. The e-leader of the world is unequivocally Understanding, mimicking or improving the SCM process of Amazon should be a high priority.


The final hottest slice of the SCM pie is the sector of pharmaceuticals. Healthy lifestyles and sound medical treatments are becoming an increasingly important aspect of our society. Industry experts have agreed that this is an area of SCM that is growing rapidly, but also conclude that it is a “closed” industry. Also worth noting is that the practices of SCM within this industry are vastly behind up-to-date lean models in other industries. This sector is in need of an overhaul and needs major improvements in transparency.


Supply chain management is experiencing growth even through a hard period of recession. There is a great fear from current industry leaders that there will be a tremendous lack of talent when the baby boomer generation retires. This expertise needs to be groomed and put in place strategically. There are hurdles coming up for the industry as it faces new challenges and new solutions must be created by the incoming generation. Talent acquisition will be more important than ever in supply chain management.


About the Author

Ryan Brule is an executive search consultant who specializes in supply chain management talent acquisition. Ryan is an expert in supply chain management information and trends. Striving to share the best opportunities for the best candidates, or conversely the best candidates for the best clients. He currently works for SearchPath International and can be reached at [email protected] or (216) 912-1500 ex. 240.