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Operations and Supply Chain Manager (Business Administration, BBA)

David Purcell, Oxi Brite Inc.

David Purcell entered into the Bachelor of Business Administration program after high school thinking that accounting was his calling. Four years later, David left Laurier with a business degree and a specialization in supply chain management. David, like many other undergraduate students, changed his career path over the course of four years at university. It wasn’t until second year, when David took more practical, results-driven business operations courses, that he realized supply chain was an area of interest to him. He liked the idea of looking at the larger picture and all of the processes of the business, rather than honing in on one small function of the business, as he felt accounting often does.

David Purcell secured his first job at Toyota as a production control specialist. Here he performed specialized functions relating to materials handling which included: overseeing demand and material forecasts; preparing reports detailing time and cost saving innovations; performing crisis management to prevent plant shut downs; and identifying root cause issues to streamline inventory and reduce manufacturing costs. When David became the operations and supply chain manager at Oxi Brite Inc., his job responsibilities increased tenfold because now he was working for a smaller company of only twenty employees, which meant that he was required to wear a number of different hats. In his current role, David does everything from ordering materials, scheduling production and investigating cost savings, to communicating with customers, monitoring orders, and dealing with transportation.

In order to succeed in supply chain management, David says you must have excellent time management skills to avoid backlogging the company. Communication skills are imperative for supply chain professionals because they are constantly in conversation with other departments, suppliers, and customers, regarding production, deadlines, and orders. Understanding forecasts and cost analysis is also an important skill to have in the field of supply chain because you are constantly looking for ways to reduce costs, and therefore, increase profitability. Employers are looking for people with strong computer skills that can operate using the advanced functions within Excel and Access. They are looking for people who can write queries, create macros and build databases. In addition to strong computer skills, employers are also looking for people who are familiar with SAP programs, and in particular, SAP’s materials management software.

Should you be interested in a career in supply chain management, you should first investigate which kind of organization in which you would like to work and how specialized you would like to be. College programs in the areas of purchasing, buying and materials management are very specialized, and therefore might make it difficult to change roles at an organization in the future. Certainly these specialized college programs will help you find employment, they just pose a challenge when trying to make lateral or upward moves within the supply chain department down the road. On the other hand, a university business degree with a specialization in supply chain management will allow you to enter an organization and have a firm grasp of all the different functional areas, whether the organization is a large one like Toyota, or a smaller one like Oxi Brite Inc. If you wish to move into higher-level jobs in the future, it is recommended you consider a professional designation with the Supply Chain Management Association (SCMA). With the international accreditation comes strategic leadership, skilled decision making, and a big picture perspective, all of which employers are looking for in supply chain management professionals.

Supply chain management is a fast-paced field that is changing everyday. David stays up-to-date and on top of his game by reading magazines such as Purchasing B2B, Canadian Shipper and MM&D (Materials Management and Distribution). These magazines provide current industry information and an understanding of what kind of issues may occur, need to be overcome, or need to be considered in supply chain management.

When I asked David what he would have changed if he could go back in time, he said that he wished he would have taken more advantage of Laurier’s Career Development Centre and Co-op Program, as it would have been helpful to have obtained summer employment within supply chain in order to gain experience and a solid background in the field before – graduating and moving into the workforce. Nonetheless, David knew what he wanted from his career after graduation, secured employment in the field, and continues to develop himself professionally in the area of supply chain each and every day.