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When you think of the supply chain and logistics industry, what image comes to mind? For many people, you might think of a man standing in front of his truck. While this image represents one particular job in the supply chain and logistics industry, it doesn’t represent the other 149 roles.
Dr Hermione Parsons, Deakin University Industry Professor and Director of the Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics, is part of a team looking to change the perception of the supply chain and logistics industry, while also increasing gender diversity.
Dr Parsons is the co-chair and co-founder of Wayfinder, a supply chain careers program for women, that is breaking down stereotypes in a male dominated sector.
While the industry is full of talented workers, Dr Parsons says the industry is approaching a cliff where talent will likely disappear within a matter of years. The average age of supply and distribution managers is 45 years of age, and as those workers transition to retirement the industry doesn’t have the talent to replace them.
‘The pipeline of new people to come into the industry is a real problem, because this industry wants talent and capability and diversity and women, et cetera,’ Dr Parsons says. ‘But so does every other industry – engineering wants it, pharmaceuticals wants it, retail wants it. Everyone wants the same type of people, but there aren’t that many, so there’s a real problem.’
But there’s another problem.
The industry has recently seen exponential growth in freight volumes, due to the boom in e-commerce. So as the Australian trade market deals with the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also trying to overcome a complex supply chain industry.
‘Supply chain has multidisciplinary requirements of lots of people, companies in trusting relationships working together. The complexity of the supply chain is very significant when you consider, for example, pre-pandemic urban congestion,’ Dr Parsons says. If any element within the supply chain falls short, it can cause serious problems.
‘Supply chain complexity is a really interesting subject, but unfortunately we don’t have enough talented people to be dealing with it.’
Dr Parsons helped create Wayfinder to create a new pipeline of gender diverse talent. ‘It’s a fabulous industry to work in, and no one knows about it.’
'Supply chain complexity is a really interesting subject, but unfortunately we don’t have enough talented people to be dealing with it.'
Dr Hermione Parsons,
Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics, Deakin University
One of Wayfinder’s first initiatives was to create a Supply Chain Career Map, which went digital in late 2020. By working with the team of corporate sponsors, Wayfinder brings together the strongest companies in the industry to solve the problems they’re facing together.
‘We realised that the first thing we needed to do was map the careers and the possibilities for people in the industry,’ Dr Parsons says.
By mapping the career paths of all the different jobs in the industry, Wayfinder is shining a light on all the career opportunities that people, and often women, don’t know about.
The career map has information on 150 different types of jobs within the industry and includes information on the type of qualifications each role needs and the salary possibilities.
‘We’ve designed the career map to show all of the different positions in all the sub-sectors as a way of showing the world what’s involved. If you have a map, you know where you’re going, if you have a career map you actually can see all of this hidden world of opportunity.’
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