Attracting and Retaining Talent in Demand Planning
SupplyChainBrain | April 13, 2012
The notion that companies are having no trouble finding supply chain talent is “a misperception in the marketplace,” says Jason Breault, managing director of LifeWork Search. Media reports of high unemployment levels don’t take fully into account the white-collar sector, where more than a million jobs have been added. Unemployment in that area is down to 4 percent, which isn’t far from the 2-percent figure that is considered full employment, Breault says.
One problem is the high degree of skills that are required for a job in demand planning. Many companies are looking for an individual who’s difficult to find – one who is analytically minded, yet outgoing in nature. “Someone who can make sense of the data, then sit in front of the sales and marketing people,” Breault says.
A much different breed of individual is being sought for supply chain jobs today. A decade or two ago, there was still a need for people who were merely required to conduct analyses in support of the forecasting process. Today, companies are looking for “one person to do it all – to interpret the results.”
In fact, there’s no consensus over what constitutes an ideal candidate today. Until recently, business processes were almost exclusively spreadsheet-based – and many still are. So, is a strong demand planner by current standards one who can dig deeply into the data contained in an Excel program, or is it one who can run a Tier-1 software program? “It differs by organization,” says Breault. “If you’ve invested millions in a given application, then I think it’s the only way to go.”
Another key skill of the modern-day demand planner is the ability to tear down organizational silos. That capability requires an individual who can reach out to others. The ideal manager would be one who can ask the right questions at regular meetings with sales, marketing and other departments, and instill a sense of partnership among them. “That’s an art, in my opinion,” says Breault.