Supply chain leadership professional (degree)

Occupation overview

Supply chain leadership professionals are involved in procuring, producing, moving and delivering a product or service from a supplier (anywhere) to a customer or end-user (anywhere). They have an important role in integrating the functions and processes of customers, distributors, manufacturers, partners, regulators, sub-suppliers and suppliers within and across companies, cities, towns and countries to form an effective and efficient end-to-end supply chain. They are both globally (world-wide) and domestically (UK-wide) capable with an ability to lead effectively, facilitate trade productively and execute a supply chain successfully. To do this, supply chain leadership professionals are effective at working collaboratively with organisations and people and in the use of information and resources.

Main duties and tasks. The role embraces all of the mission-critical business activities of finance, HR, IT, marketing and sales. It exists to drive company growth, increase market share and generate revenue and profit. Main duties include organisation of a company’s supply chain network of product and service delivery across the key operational functions of plan, source, make, deliver, return and enable.  All tasks aim to add value to the customer and end-to-end supply chain.

Types of assignment undertaken. This will vary depending on geography, business size, industry, time-scales, product, system and legislative requirements. Typical assignments will be to:

  • achieve marketing advantage through logistics superiority
  • design and implement solutions to source and deliver materials into a production facility or of manufactured products to consumers
  • explore multi-modal transport and cost-effective storage solutions
  • decide where to invest in research and knowledge exchange to bring improvements to supply chain continuity
  • optimise assets in the supply chain through continuous improvement
  • plan, build and use IT infrastructures to bring new products and services to market
  • relationship manage suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers and customers

Typical job titles. Supply chain executive; supply chain management lead; chief supply chain officer and demand planner. This occupation works in the public, private and charitable sectors and in all sizes of organisation. It will typically report to (or be a member of) a company’s main executive board, commercial, operational or supply chain director and have geographic, team management, business unit and/or budget responsibilities.


Capacity Planning and Forecasting

  • determine benefits of insourcing, offshoring or outsourcing
  • gather, analyse, interpret and use data from across the supply chain to propose and make effective decisions
  • source and plan optimal transport solutions
  • actively integrate and use data across enterprise lines

Supply Network Design

  • develop differentiated supply chain strategies aligned to relevant business unit or function to achieve long-term sustainable growth
  • use end customer insight to design and evaluate end-to-end supply chain networks
  • use current market and product information to influence and challenge supply chain network design

Finance and Procurement

  • leverage, and capitalise on, supply chain assets to deliver financial targets
  • drive cost efficiencies and service level improvements through the distribution network
  • practise in a sustainable and ethical way all sourcing and buying decisions
  • control information and material flow on-time and in-full


  • apply relevant inventory control techniques and tools
  • articulate ways to minimise costs and deploy Lean principles while optimising service
  • introduce strategies for managing inventory optimisation and rationalisation across the extended supply chain

Operational Design

  • implement change in the supply chain in response to changes in production, scheduling and demand
  • collaborate with manufacturing functions to meet criteria of quality, time and continuity

External Environment

  • manage distribution and logistics networks, inbound and outbound
  • evolve alternative supply chains to ensure resilience and continuity of supply
  • design activities for receiving, put-away, storage, replenish, order-picking and dispatch


  • identify next-generation software and manage potentially disruptive technologies
  • match innovation in IT with business needs including global sourcing and the international trade context
  • meet the challenge of technology selection, development, implementation and application


  • give guidance on meeting environmental and legal requirements and maintain a high regard for risk identification and reduction, and safety management
  • articulate business purpose and values and establish key accountabilities for contract formation and negotiation

Reverse Logistics

  • introduce innovative distribution, delivery and return methods while managing risk
  • implement the 7 “R’s” of sustainability: remove, reduce, reuse, renew, recycle, revenue and read


  • maintain the competitiveness of the supply chain
  • agree, communicate, collaborate and coordinate supply chain and network imperatives with finance, HR, IT, sales and marketing functions and with key partners
  • initiate value-adding strategic and operational processes through effective project and task management



  • the principles of inventory, supply and demand planning and associated metrics, such as on-time, in-full, error-free and on-shelf availability
  • methods of forecasting including effects of fluctuations and seasonality and use of scheduling techniques
  • the value of targeted research on supply chain dynamics
  • the principles of supply chain strategies, delivery models and modes and their impact on business performance
  • how the value proposition of the product and the market affects supply chain strategies and service operations for the end customer
  • how to use contemporary market, product and supply chain ideas to flex the supply chain network design


  • the specifics of budgeting, profit and loss reporting and cash flow forecasting in complex supply chains
  • how procurement processes impact across the supply-chain to ensure cost efficiencies, security of supply, continuity of service and mitigation of risk
  • the range of sourcing strategies for managing cost, quality, service and time across supply chain networks
  • value chain, end-to-end and multi-channel supply chain trends in cross-border sourcing
  • options for different inventory channels to markets, factoring in constraints, cost, flexibility, quality and speed


  • the different commercial, environmental, ethical and social contexts of manufacturing, storing, distributing and selling across an extended supply chain
  • the optimal supplier to customer supply chain structures


  • the value of alternative solutions that impact positively on time and cost, on end users and all parts of the supply chain
  • the ethical, environmental, political, social, economic, technological and legal implications of operating in a supply chain life-cycle
  • the nature and scope of technologies that can drive supply chain behaviour including virtual networks
  • where to leverage investment, and seek specialist advice, in supply chain technology
  • the worth of modelling and simulation as a key enabling tool when applied to supply chain management problems


  • the impact of national and international policy frameworks and legislation including employment, health and safety, security, environment, quality, common transport policy, tariff and taxes, trading protocols, customs classification, contracts and insurance
  • the importance of tracking and recycling and e-commerce practices
  • the value of asset recovery and related costs
  • the 7 “R’s” of sustainability


  • the requirements for supply chain and network change using contemporary supply chain thinking
  • the concepts of supply chain network coordination and leadership and their application to practice
  • how supply chain visibility and brand appeal can be raised by harnessing knowledge exchange


  • adaptive: be flexible to changing business requirements with a desire for achieving supply chain optimisation 
  • collaborative: adopt cross-functional/cross-company working to enhance supply chain connections and dependencies
  • co-operative: promote an inclusive approach to a safety-first culture in the workplace and across all tasks in the supply chain
  • enterprising: champion new opportunities for business growth and proactively reduce the supply chain related risks
  • influential: be a persuasive negotiator and approachable by all partners and stakeholders in the end to end supply chain
  • motivating: be an ethical role model with a reputation for sustainable development in a global supply chain community

Entry Requirements

Apprentices without level 2 English and Maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the end- point assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement the minimum requirement is Entry Level 3 and British Sign Language qualifications are an alternative to English qualifications for whom this is their primary language.


48 months.

Professional Qualifications/Recognition

This is a level 6 apprenticeship.

Membership status may be sought from: Institute of Supply Chain Management (IoSCM), Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and Institute of Export and International Trade (IEIT)

Originally published on, this information has been re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence.


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