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The relatively new, ever-evolving and increasingly essential professions of Supply Chain and Purchasing Manager require a 360-view on the workings of an organization to ensure all operations are running smoothly. Via its specialist MSc program, emlyon business school seeks to prepare its students for these key positions where a full grasp of business and technical cultures is needed to get the job done.

Only 20-odd years in widespread existence, the roles of Supply Chain and Purchasing Manager place dedicated professionals in a “hub” set-up within a company or organization. A full understanding of all operations within is crucial, encompassing such diverse areas as forecasting, budget management, manufacturing, quality control, logistics, and IT, to name just a few. As Program Director of the emlyon MSc in Supply Chain and Purchasing Management Eric David acknowledges, these roles need to be filled by similarly all-round talents: “as reflected by students of our program, the ideal candidates for such roles need to be business-savvy and technically knowledgeable, be capable of adapting to complex working environments, and have their finger on the pulse of technical advances. These are precisely the kind of hybrid talents we are looking to prepare for the job market that awaits them”.

Gaining perspective and grasping tools

The wide-ranging, 18-month program delivered at emlyon includes study periods in Europe and Asia, as well as in-company experience and the chance to specialize in either Supply Chain or Purchasing Management, a point especially appreciated by current student Jobin Samson: “a program specializing in these fields, backed up by the world-renowned reputation and expertise of the school helps students to stand out in the eyes of recruiters. The program also gives us the opportunity to specialize in either of the two fields in the final trimester, allowing us to go deeper into the subject of our choosing.”

The curriculum enables students to put into perspective the purchasing department within a company and underline its added value to the overall supply chain. Significant emphasis is also placed on the tools of the trade, a strong selling point of the program according to Antoine Bazes, Deputy Managing Director at the Procurement Consulting firm Albert & Co: “specific attention is given to the tools that buyers will use, like ERP or SRM tools, how they are used, and what you can get out of them. This should give a head start to graduates of this MSc because they will already be familiar with these tools and will also be able to sometimes improve the usage of them in the companies, because they are rarely 100% exploited.”

Diversity, adaptability, transversality

The emlyon program has been specially tailored to the wide-ranging nature of the professions and also the opportunities they provide future professionals to transition towards other positions and careers, notably in consulting. Transversal skills are key to the main program takeaways, as well as developing the ability to work in global set-ups where flexibility is crucial to understanding all operations within a company or organization. For current student Vincent Jacquot, these aspects to the program, coupled with corporate involvement and employment openings, are among the keys to the success of the MSc in making its students industry-ready: “being taught in English, the MSc gives us the opportunity to work in an international context. We come from different countries and backgrounds, including engineering, business studies and foreign languages. We are more than used to diversity and are very adaptable. The school gives us the chance to meet recruiters at career forums and that's how I was recruited by one of the world's largest shipping companies for my end-of-studies internship.”

Preparing for a wealth of opportunities

The all-round, hybrid nature of the professions of Supply Chain and Purchasing Manager creates a wealth of options for those choosing such a career trajectory. Not only have the roles become essential within the corporate world, but also within governmental organizations, NGOs and public administration, to name just a few examples. Securing employment upon graduation is facilitated by business partner involvement in the curriculum and a program carefully designed to strike the right balance between the acquisition of academic and practical skills. In line with today's business environment, special attention is given to managing complexity within collaborative set-ups and responsible management practices. These elements, according to Eric David, add up to a comprehensive training that perfectly mirrors the nature of the job that awaits: “these professions are relatively young and still maturing, but what they have offered from day one is the golden opportunity to get a complete, in-depth look into the full workings of a company and organization. This privileged overview creates a wealth of career openings. For this, graduates equipped with a wide skill set are highly sought after. We believe our MSc ticks this all-important box in the eyes of recruiters.”