“Hotlanta” Careers in Supply Chain and Logistics Tech

If you’re passionate about working with cutting-edge technology, a career in Atlanta’s dynamic supply chain and logistics technology industry could prove the best choice for you. Local firms are experimenting with everything from drone deliveries and self-driving delivery trucks to “smartglasses” for warehouse workers.

“We’re seeing the ‘Uberification’ of logistics and every company is involved to some extent,” explained Robb Dillion, Southeastern development manager for Champion Logistics Group.

Research and development is taking place in the headquarters of major companies such as UPS, Home Depot and FedEx, supply chain software companies, trucking firms and startup incubators. This industry not only offers sustainability and the potential for career growth; you can also choose the type of work environment that best suits you.

If you’re not interested in cutting-edge projects, and instead want to focus on “traditional” process improvement, there’s no shortage of local opportunities, either. For example, Dillion suggested, some local freight companies desperately need to upgrade from their current fax machines and other 20th-century tech. Atlanta is home to more than 12,300 logistics providers, and a significant portion likewise need some sort of technology update.

The process of evaluating and selecting a market segment in this vast industry can be daunting, but it’s a critical first step in your search. These market subsets are actively hiring:

Autonomous Supply Chain

If you want to work with robotics and artificial intelligence (A.I.), the Internet of Things (IoT) or autonomous delivery vehicles, you should look into working on autonomous supply chains, explained Cindi Hone, VP of product management for Elemica and vice chair of the Supply Chain & Logistics society of Georgia: “Tech professionals in this field are striving to create a touch-less end-to-end system that will process and fulfill orders with little to no human intervention.”

Augmented Supply Chain

In this segment, you create technology that optimizes supply chains by enhancing human performance. For instance, you might end up developing RFID technology for product tracking, or using AR to give workers instant access to data that helps them pull orders more quickly. Experts predict that 3D printing will also play a big role in the future by cutting down on lead times and delivery costs.

Risk Management

If you’re a Big Data guru who likes converting data into predictive insights and creating algorithms, supply chain risk management (SCRM) is for you. In this segment, you analyze data from internal and external sources to identify and proactively mitigate product shortages and delivery delays (the latter resulting from inclement weather, port congestion, labor strikes, and so forth).

Consulting

In addition to the big-name firms, Atlanta is home to a number of boutique supply chain and logistics consulting firms that are looking for professionals who can blend technical aptitude with client-facing skills.

Employers are not only looking to fill positions involving emerging technologies; they are actively hiring for traditional roles in programming and software development, project management, and supply chain engineering. There’s also a need for analysts who specialize in demand planning, procurement, logistics and supply chain, according to Scott Luton, managing partner of specialized recruiting firm TalentStream.

Breaking In

Generally speaking, the tech skills and experience you’ve acquired in other industries will transfer to a career in supply chain and logistics tech; however, there are some things that those transitioning can do to prepare and stand out.

“Consider getting the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP),” Luton advised. Completing the coursework will help you understand supply chain activities and trends so you can connect technology to the needs of the business.

Because an effective supply chain relies on relationships and collaboration, employers give equal weight to soft skills when evaluating prospective hires for technical positions, Luton added. According to a March 2017 study from Supply Chain Insights, the most relevant skills are problem solving (64 percent of respondents), strong analytical skills (58 percent) and the ability to see the big picture (50 percent).

Also, don’t submit your résumé and hope for the best; demonstrate your interest and forge valuable connections by getting involved in an industry association. “Networking can not only help you meet the right people, it’s a great way to showcase the soft skills employers are looking for in new hires,” Luton noted.

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