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Why Supply Chain Talent is Opting for Middle Sized Employers





Supply chain talent is opting for middle size employers more and more in 2023.


We are talking about commercial and operational professionals who have worked for third-party logistics, freight forwarding and in-house supply chain businesses. Namely, professionals going by titles of trade lane, contract logistics, business development and sales etc. Business starts ups are a great career investment to have on ones CV. However, the type of small and middle sized employers I refer to, while not being in the so called "big boys league" are still of respectable size, its just that they have managed to keep their ability to promote flexibility and nimbleness in difficult and challenging markets. These are two advantages that the current talent pool crave which is very hard to come by in bigger firms. Bigger firms, naturally will find it more challenging to pivot and change direction. This is the order of the day in the today’s supply chain world. Change, trial and error , evaluate, change again. Candidates are telling us at RJM that they spend a very large proportion of their time fighting for approval to actually even allow them to get their jobs done. Refusal of approval for simple every day requirements to get the basics of their job done confuses and frustrates them. Therefore , for such candidates, its the not the challenging markets, external problems, macro economics resulting in the need to handle customers well and manage their expectations that concerns them. Many have a healthy attitude and enjoy solving complex problems. It is when they are restricted, micro managed and feel that they are being over controlled that they cannot give their best to their customers and working around a series of problems. This is where many larger firms are going wrong but do they have a choice? PE firms have taken many over, a series of high profile mergers and acquisitions,  many of course are listed with shareholders and a board of directors  to answer to. While respectable achievements and market dominance has taken place, are these sizeable firms suitably designed for the chaos they lies ahead? Can they absorb and be innovative enough to change? They take away the opportunity for their best and experienced candidates to feel a sense of achievement which results in growing of frustration, resentment and therefore creating burnout and toxic working cultures.


Enter the smaller firm. A breath of fresh air for many supply chain professionals. Creativity , autonomy, independence all values operating inside a flat organisational hierarchy. Such firms have healthy expectations moving forward regarding revenue targets and have contingency plans in place. They may not have the fire power of the big boys in their sub sectors but are no slouches. They have a global presence, financial stability and a brand and reputation to uphold. In addition, they have vast history and have been operating for years. Due to the fact they have stayed smaller and personal has allowed them to embrace flexibility in the modern world which is needed now more than ever. Also, due to their size, there is so much more ground to run into for candidates in terms of career development in new regions around the world. And guess what? They pay competitive salaries and offer prestigious and fair titles that are on par with the bigger firms. However, to give a balanced view, not all is perfect and never is. For example a candidate considering taking their skills and experiences to a smaller firm will need to do their homework. They will need to qualify if such a firm has suitable current competency levels for their area of supply chain specialisation. They need to know what level of competency they are at now and if they are prepared to grow with the company. Working styles , systems and processes will differ in comparison to a larger firm. In fact, quite often, systems and processes need to be built from scratch, expanded or redesigned by the new hire. It’s a lot of hard work. The systems and processes therefore may not be on hand to utilise in the same way that is experienced by a candidate working for a Fortune 1000 power house. Candidates need to be aware of the need to adjust. However, having more control over ones destiny at work, being able to create and operate as an entrepreneur can be very rewarding and enhance self-actulaisation. So to summarise, the frustrations of working for a large firm and the advantages of joining a smaller middle sized firms very much go hand in hand for candidates who are opting to take the plunge, enter a new lease of life and feel reborn. 


Interested to learn about RJMs middle sized supply chain client portfolio ? Reach out to Robert - rjmaguire@rjm-associates.com 

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