Supply Chain Management

“I’m an Introvert: Should I Take on A Career in Supply Chain Management?”

If you enjoy having time to yourself, find your best thinking happens when you’re alone rather than in a group brainstorming session, and you prefer to work with self-driven teams, you may be an introvert, according to Psychology Today. It’s all about what energizes you, and introverts tend to recharge their batteries alone rather than in large group settings.

That doesn’t, however, mean a career in supply chain management isn’t for you. The combination of technical and problem-solving skills required for supply chain and logistics work can be perfect for introverts, who can be exceptional leaders if they focus on the problem-solving required and don’t let themselves get overwhelmed by competing demands from various client groups.

Introverts can be great leaders

“You are probably more of an introvert than an extravert if you are content to sit back and let others take center stage. It’s not that introverts know less than others; they just don’t feel a particular need to be in that limelight,” says Susan Krause Whitbourne. That can work well for people who are tasked with ultimately finding solutions to problems. You learn more by listening than you do by talking, so listening to your client groups’ pain points will help you prioritize problems that need to be solved. Because introverts aren’t usually the first to jump into conversations or answer questions, they tend to be listened to more closely when they do speak. That’s a great advantage to have when trying to reconcile conflicting needs.

This means introverts can be great leaders because they’re not primarily interested in the social aspects of meetings and they’re not trying to dominate in groups. By allowing individuals to rise to their potential, introverted leaders can create more collaborative, less hierarchical work environments. And since supply chain and logistics work is all about optimal collaboration between many moving parts, this approach might be best.

Analytical and problem-solving skills are crucial for those who work in supply chain and logistics management.

Here’s how one logistics and supply chain management professional described the day-to-day workload on Quora:

You will be in direct contact with

  • warehouse staff
  • forecasting teams
  • vendors
  • purchasers
  • marketing and sales teams.

You’ll be accountable to your marketing and sales people for every out of stock SKU, and you’ll have to not only be accountable but reason with them because their sales are directly affected by stock-outs. And of course, you have to supply explanations and shipping estimates to sales staff so they can communicate them to customers.

You’ll have various challenges with warehouse staff who may or may not understand the systems you’ve implemented and you’ll have to help them course correct to ensure optimal order fulfillment.

Whether this can work for introverts or not, he concludes, depends on your individual company and your attitude.

As one self-professed introvert who’s done supply chain work for more than a decade, says, “You will have to interact with your suppliers, your store’s people, your production guys and so on. The interesting thing about this is you will have to interact only on issues or topics. No one would be keen to chit chat with you daily and you can conveniently ignore them all the time unless there is a need.”

“An office is not a social set up and your reputation will surely be based on your abilities and not on your social skills. And the abilities that are needed a[re] clear communication and problem-solving skills. As an introvert, you will not have any shortage of problem-solving skills as introverts tend to be more analytical.”

Introverts are often the most creative people

Another expert on the Quora forum said, “Supply chain management is such a wide field that anyone can find an appropriate niche. There are many roles that require more individual performance such as inventory management or network design. However, by nature of its end to end approach, it can require interaction with various people across different disciplines and functions.”

The most creative people in many fields are often introverts, according to studies by psychologists. “They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature. . . .  introverts are comfortable working alone — and solitude is a catalyst to innovation.”

Here’s are two quick quizzes for people looking at careers in supply chain and logistics management.