Sharpening professional tools

From the October 2020 print edition

Similar to years past, the October issue that you’re reading focuses on education and professional development. While it’s challenging to take the time to target your career, even in less-turbulent times, the pandemic is making it even tougher for many to do so. But it’s still important.

In that spirit, here are a few thoughts on how to keep your career goals front and centre, even in the current circumstances.

First up, education. Our professional and social lives have been upended due to the pandemic, with even simple, day-to-day tasks like grocery shopping all the more more challenging. Supply chain professionals have seen every aspect of their jobs become more difficult, including their vocational education.

They’re not alone – according to a UN study from August of this year, 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries have had their education disrupted in some way.

Yet we all must continue our education to help us deal with rapidly changing technology, a shifting role for supply chain in many organizations and, of course, the ongoing pandemic.

Traditional conferences and other in-person educational options are shut down for now. But many of the regularly scheduled events that supply chain professionals attend have gone virtual. Sure, it’s not quite the same as attending in person – networking is different and lacks a certain face-to-face experience. Yet the educational element of online events remains intact. You can still learn from a seminar streamed into your living room as easily as when someone is standing at a podium in front of you.
Organizations such as the NAFA Fleet Association, CAMSC and Supply Chain Canada are offering ongoing remote education options during the pandemic. I recently attended and enjoyed both the NAFA and Supply Chain Canada national virtual conferences. The bottom line is, it pays to check out virtual conferences as an education option.

Page 8 of this issue features an article offering advice on skills for enhancing a supply chain career. Technology is one of the main skills highlighted to pursue through education. Technology advances quickly these days, so staying on top of developments in the field will certainly pay off.

Finally, it’s possible to seek other career goals during the pandemic as well. For those looking to make a change from their current positions, meeting with a career coach, consulting a recruiter or conducting informational interviews with prospective companies is all possible without leaving your kitchen table.
It’s also easy to enhance your social media presence during a pandemic. Your contacts and followers on LinkedIn, for example, will still see your posts and activities and some are likely more active these days on the platform than ever. Give them something to follow along with and be impressed by.

Professional education and career advancement take work, regardless of the circumstances. But during challenging times, a bit of creativity and focus can go a long way.

Michael Power is editor of Supply Professional magazine.