Shirley knew straight away that study was important in her line of work.
As an increasingly broad and complex discipline, supply chain and logistics is growing just as quickly as it is changing. Technological disruption and shifting consumer behaviour affect local and international supply chain markets and the professionals who work in those markets.
Traditionally, professionals working in supply chain and logistics relied heavily on their years of industry experience and have not gained a tertiary qualification. However, there is a growing awareness among today’s supply chain and logistics professionals to evolve their skill set to help them stand out.
I started to realise that there is a lot I still need to learn within the supply chain. We’ve seen so many changes to business operations, so it is important to gain a certain level of knowledge and experience today in order to prepare for future change," Shirley says.
Although there is a number of extraordinary women contributing to the success of the field globally, it is known for its striking gender ratio imbalance. Shirley recognises a need for her ongoing professional development in order for her to grow and inspire other women to do the same.
“I’m really looking to continue learning as much as I can about the supply chain and the role it plays in the global economic climate. I’m also keen to grow and develop professionally so I can move into more senior roles and make my mark,” she says.
Shirley sees postgraduate study as important to “prepare for future change”.
In previous roles, Shirley worked at a global freight forwarding company in Melbourne, Birmingham and London. Now, she works as a procurement planner and inventory analyst for Tyremax, a large-scale tyre importer and wholesaler. For the last four years, she has built her knowledge of the procurement process and been responsible for managing inventory levels, sales forecasting and demand planning as well as processing purchase orders for OHW category, in collaboration with various stakeholders at all levels.
“I chose to work in procurement because of the variety the role offers. It requires me to collaborate with different key stakeholders both internally and externally, as well as have strong analytical and project management skills.”
By studying her masters degree in supply chain and logistics management at RMIT University, Shirley believes that she will develop the skills needed to manage the challenges her sector now faces, and will continue to face, as well as improving her career prospects both in Australia and around the world.
Finding success through online study
Shirley credits much of her success so far to her extensive support network, good time management and a high level of communication with academics and other students.
“Continued collaboration with your classmates and tutors, as well as being fully engaged in weekly discussion topics, forms a critical part of the learning experience,” she explains.
Shirley admits that online study is not a breeze, and juggling that with work and family requires commitment and dedication right from the start.
I have to admit that it is difficult to find the perfect balance of work, family and study. But when things don’t go so smoothly, it’s important to remind yourself of your motivations and what you want to achieve through study.
“When things get tough, I am thankful for the additional support I receive from my family as well as from my workplace, which helps me to stay on track.”
The importance of further study
Shirley first enrolled at RMIT in the Graduate Certificate in Supply Chain and Logistics Management, thinking that this qualification would be a good entry point for her to test the waters of online study.
“I work full-time as well as look after my kids, so I decided to first enrol into the graduate certificate at the beginning to try out my level of commitment,” she recalls.
She quickly realised that the benefits of further study at postgraduate level outweighed any perceived negatives that caused her initial hesitation.
“I made the decision to continue my masters degree to broaden my job opportunities. It also provides me with a deeper knowledge of the supply chain. Not only is RMIT a globally recognised university, I am continually learning from case studies that are current, relevant and practical for application in the business world.”
A positive career impact
Shirley says that a supply chain and logistics qualification from RMIT is highly recognised by her current employer and is one of the best self-development tools that someone could undertake.
Through my study at RMIT, I have become more confident in my skills, and it continues to build my knowledge. I know that I have been able to play a part in improving the performance of my workplace.
She believes this recognition will ultimately lead to continued success and promotion within her current workplace.
The future is looking bright
When considering the disruption likely to affect the supply chain and logistics sector, Shirley sees her role in procurement as evolving and becoming critical to the success of the company she works for. Having a masters degree will equip her to meet these challenges head-on by making informed, strategic decisions about increasingly important areas such as sustainability and corporate responsibility.
“Social and environmental sustainability has become increasingly important in procurement. My role will become pivotal in implementing this strategy across functions and the entire supply chain.
“I believe the demand for highly skilled procurement professionals, who are proactive and can data-driven strategic decisions, will increase over the next few years in order to help to meet a range of business challenges.”