Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 7 seconds

To progress in any industry, hands-on experience is vital; it’s not just about knowing the theory, it’s also about doing it in practice. The discussion of whether experience or a degree is more important has been ongoing for a number of years - and we often see experience coming out on top in terms of what employers are looking for.

In order to continuously keep learning, Debbie has placed an emphasis on networking throughout her career. She says: 

“Looking at the bigger picture is vital in order to keep on moving through the ranks in the supply chain sector. Not only does networking with other people in the industry open your eyes to other opportunities that are out there, it also helps you meet people who may currently - or soon will be - hiring for a new role and if they’re not - they could even introduce you to another employer that is.”

Keep an up to date calendar of upcoming conferences and events in the industry to attend and look for opportunities to speak at these events too. Not only will you be able to deepen your knowledge by hearing from other people, but people will also start to recognise you. 


“Don’t underestimate the power of networking online too. The internet is full of opportunities to deepen your experience without leaving your laptop; whether that’s creating a blog, interacting with other people in the supply chain sector on LinkedIn or contributing tips-led articles to industry publications. Better yet, if you know the area you want to hone in on in your career, keep this the focus of your online networking activity.”

How can you gain more responsibility?

In order to move up through the ranks, employees in every industry need to seek and gain more responsibility in their role - and the same goes for the supply chain sector. 


“As we all know, the supply chain is broad. From supply chain design and planning, to inventory management and control, what does the ‘top’ look like for you in the position you aspire to be in? Once you know this, and you’ve decided what your ‘dream role’ is, you can start to move towards translating this directly to your personal career path in order to get there.” 


“To get to the next step of my career, I knew I needed project management skills, so I worked out the next position I needed to be in so that I could get these skills under my belt - and I was open with my leadership team about my ambitions to get there. If the leaders within your company aren’t aware of your ambitions or where you want to grow your skills set, you can’t expect these responsibilities and opportunities to be handed to you.” 

Seeking responsibility and being open with your line manager does require confidence; for many of us, speaking up about not only our career goals but our personal goals too, is a big step outside of our comfort zones. Keep a lookout for confidence focussed workshops, or seek a mentor to support you through these difficult conversations so you’re able to aim high and achieve big. 

Is there non-linear career movements you could be going after?

Often, a step up in a career could start with a sideways move. Debbie explains:

“A sideways move could look like moving to a different position but staying in your current company, or moving to a new company but keeping a similar job title, salary or even responsibilities. What makes it a lateral move is that the new position could give you an array of new skills you need to make that step up, or the new organisation could be far more profitable or in line with your career aspirations.”

Within the supply chain sector, there’s no doubt that the more education and experience you have, as well as how up to date with industry changes and progression you are, the more you’ll be able to reap the rewards in the long run. 

For anyone at a crossroads in their career path in the supply chain sector, or wanting to achieve their long-standing ambitions and make the life and career they’ve always wanted, mapping out a clear career plan is a great place to start. Your career ladder can and will look different to other people’s, so don’t rule out lateral moves and the top could be closer than it appears. 

Debbie Lentz joined Electrocomponents plc, a global multi-channel provider of industrial and electronic products and solutions, as the President of Global Supply Chain in 2017. Debbie is responsible for leading the further development of the Group’s supply chain capability to provide an innovative and sustainable market-leading service for customers and suppliers. 

RS Components is a trading brand of Electrocomponents plc,

Last modified on Monday, 08 July 2019
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