Mar 27, 2022

We’re not encouraging anyone to leave their job, but the job market for experienced supply chain professionals has never been better.

See insights from Kevin Burns, partner at ON Partners, on the executive talent marketplace published in the latest Supply Chain Management Review.

Published in Supply Chain Management Review and written by Bob Trebilcock

We’ve all read the stories about the labor shortage on factory and warehouse floors. And, of course, truck drivers and other logistics workers are impossible to find and keep– the trucking industry has been experiencing 100% annual driver turnover for years. Although less visible in the media, there’s another acute shortage in supply chain: Chief Supply Chain Officers and VPs of supply chain.

Just how hot is the market? According to SCMR’s annual salary survey, 58% of respondents reported a salary increase of 9% or more in 2021. According to Kevin Burns, a partner with executive search firm ON Partners, 9% is peanuts.

“It’s a candidate’s market,” said Burns, who has 20 years experience in the supply chain space. “The best A+ talent always have 2 or 3 competitive offers in his or her hand. It’s a war for talent.” He is seeing increases of 25% from pre-pandemic levels for CSCOs, or any executive-level supply chain professional. Whichever category you find yourself, potential employers appear to be willing to make it rain. It’s good to be a CSCO.

Burns divided the market into two buckets – CSCOs and the VPs who report to them – and then described the dynamics playing out in both of those job categories.

CSCO’s, he says, are a rarified few because the title is relatively new, and those few can pretty much write their own ticket. At the VP level “wage inflation and wage creep are definitely there. A position that would’ve paid $225,000 to $250,000 is now commanding $275,000 to $300,000,” Burns said. He added that VP level professionals are getting bombarded by recruiters.

Wage inflation is causing some companies to make adjustments to job titles because many, large, publicly traded firms have hiring bans, or salary scales by title that they have to work within. “Some of our clients are elevating the title in order to justify the bump in pay,” Burns said. The result is that VPs are being recruited as SVPs and directors are now becoming VPs. There’s a trickle-down effect, as companies are then required to upscale their existing VP-level executives to keep them on par with the new hires, or risk losing them to a competitor.

Those having the most success hiring good talent in this market are the sub $2-$3 billion companies or smaller venture-backed companies. “They have a lot more flexibility in hiring than big, global firms,” Burns said. And, the venture-backed companies may also be able to hold out the prospect of an equity share down the road.

What areas are the hottest right now? That is evolving as supply chain challenges shift.  In 2020, for instance, talent with backgrounds that aligned with planning, S&OP and integrated business planning were in high demand, especially if the candidate had experience in global forecasting or knew how to utilize emerging technologies like AI to address risk. “It was all about the use of data, risk mitigation and planning,” Burns said.

Today, the focus is on all aspects of transportation. “When container costs went from $3,000 to $26,000, it became all about logistics,” he said.

Read the full article published in Supply Chain Management Review here and for more articles on supply chain, check out Burns’ latest insights here.

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Since 2006, ON Partners is the only pure-play executive search firm building diverse C-level and board leadership teams. We rebuilt the institution of executive search for the way you work. Our approach includes present partners who engage with their clients from the first brief to the final decision, individually crafted solutions that are unique to each client, and an easier experience all around. Named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms and to the Inc. 500/5000 Lists nine times, ON Partners is consistently ranked among the top 20 retained executive search firms in the U.S.

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