Developing your career in the supply chain sector can have its challenges at first – but with the right approach, you will be on the path to progression in no time.
In a recent interview with the experienced Supplier Operations Manager, Dean Musgrave of Mundipharma, he shared his expert advice on how others can develop their careers in the space. We also discuss the behaviours and skills needed – and what professional training is available to help you achieve your goals.
Dean’s supply chain career spans 25 years, with a foundation in the automotive industry. More recently, he’s worked in high-volume manufacturing and supply for retail brands and global pharmaceutical supply chains. He’s held senior and strategic roles with multi-country responsibilities and is currently enjoying life as part of the Mundipharma Medical Company leadership team; ensuring their manufacturing partners deliver essential medicines to patients around the world.
Dean is educated to a degree level in Manufacturing Planning and Control from the University of Northumbria and holds a BA in Information Technology from the University of Sunderland. Away from the office, he’s still young enough (just) to remain active and as a competitive cyclist has competed in the UCI Amateur World Championships in 2015 and 2017.
How did you enter the Supply Chain sector?
“It certainly wasn’t a well-considered career choice. As a YTS trainee in the North East of England, I was packed off to a 1st tier automotive manufacturer with the words “we have a great placement for you” ringing in my ears. It was true and I was lucky enough to join a company who were making and supplying sub-assemblies for car manufacturers and was growing rapidly. I was the 25th person to join them as a Production Control Assistant and I had the opportunity to get involved in everything as the factory grew to over 100 people I learned so much in those early years and discovered I loved the challenge and variety of working in a supply chain role.”
What training and development opportunities were out there?
“Back then there were very few training providers offering formal courses for people new to supply chain, so my early development was very much experiential learning. I then decided to add some depth to this by joining the British Production and Inventory Control Society and taking their Diploma course delivered by the University of Northumbria. This provided me with the technical knowledge and understanding of the different elements of manufacturing supply chains that would have taken years to learn through experiences alone.
Unfortunately, BPICS is no more but there are now excellent courses available through IOLT, CIPS, and APICS aimed at building knowledge from entry-level roles through to Directors.”
As someone with experience in leading Supply Chain teams, what technical skills do you think a Supply Chain professional would need?
“Supply Chain is such a broad area and the technical requirements can vary by industry but in my opinion, there are a core set of skills that will be beneficial regardless of the industry sector. The first one is an understanding of the physical logistics, in other words how goods get from A to B. At some point in every supply chain, there is a product that needs to move by road, air, sea, rail, or combinations of these, and having a strong understanding of the options available and the constraints of each will be useful.
Complementing these are the skills around demand forecasting and inventory management which will give supply chain professionals the basic tools to be able to manage an end-to-end supply chain and get products from supplier to customer.”
How about behavioural skills/traits?
“The ability to adapt your communication style to the situation is a huge help. Some days you need to be assertive and push to get a result for your customer, other times you’ll be asking for help and need to influence and persuade and there will be occasions when the situation requires you to be humble and ask forgiveness (mostly this happens when others let you down).
Another key behaviour is never accepting the status quo and always looking to make improvements, however small. Link these together with keen listening skills and you’ll hear amazingly useful feedback that will allow you to develop personally and build robust supply chains for your customers.”
What advice would you give someone early in their supply chain career?
“Listen hard and well but don’t believe things can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t change. The world is evolving around us at a pace that can be hard to keep up with and subscribing to industry magazines, websites or joining one of the supply chain organizations can be a great way to learn about and keep up with emerging trends.”
When looking at training and qualifications, what are the key considerations to consider?
“Learning style is the first thing to consider. If you’re someone who learns best with peers in a group setting, look for classroom-based courses, or if you prefer to learn at your own pace and maybe want the flexibility to vary the pace and read around a subject, then an online or self-study course might be better suited.
Start with a broad approach to learning and explore different areas and if one area interests you most, delve deeper, learn from the experts and become one yourself. A great starting point is the Institute of Supply Chain Management who offer broad training for new entrants into supply chain. For more experienced people looking to enhance their knowledge, I’d recommend APICS as a self-study training provider or the Institute of Logistics and transport for more classroom-based training.”
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to the young Dean Musgrave?
“As a young guy I took things far too seriously, so I’d tell myself to have more fun at work and embrace colleague conversations more.”
Work with Distinct
At Distinct, our recruitment specialists match professionals to their ideal opportunities across the UK. Contact us today to learn how we can support you to take the next step in your supply chain career.