Old Job/Bright Future: Logistics Officer

In the Future of Work, moving stuff around will be only one of the logistician’s roles, and not the most important.

A nurse with all the answers and a bedside manner. An aircraft mechanic with a computer science degree. The Future of Work will mean some big changes to existing jobs, but in many cases humans will remain the critical component. Here is Part 2 of a four-part series.

A decade from now, logistics and supply chain professionals will resemble dolphins. No, they won’t have fin implants, but just as Flipper’s hearing was adapted to detect faint signals in both air and water, tomorrow’s supply chain professionals will have to become comfortable interpreting insights from the faintest of signals. Those signals will not only come from human customers, but from containers on board a cargo ship thousands of miles away.

“The company recruiters that come to us are still looking for leaders to run an operations group or a planning department, but they also want leaders who can do the math – who are comfortable swimming around inside a large database,” says Bruce Arntzen, Executive Director of the Supply Chain Management Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The biggest change for logistics officers will be shifting from physically moving stuff around the world to using data to effectively manage the entire supply chain, from procuring a raw material from a supplier to sending a finished product to a customer. The next generation of logisticians also will have more general business sense, says Don Hnatyshin, senior vice president and chief supply chain and procurement officer at Jabil Circuit, because they’ll have a big influence on a product’s time to market, a customer’s overall experience and other key metrics.

The next generation of logistics officers also will have to be highly social, communicating continuously with every part of their respective organizations. They’ll also need more than a passing knowledge of how the rest of their companies work, particularly how fast it takes to bring a product to market and how fast the company can pay its bills. But the career rewards could be great. Data-savvy logistics professionals can wind up having a say in things such as branding, design, contract management, manufacturing and storage, Arntzen says. While the number of logistics jobs is expected to grow only by 2 percent by 2024, Arntzen says demand for the role outstrips supply.

Part 1: Barista

Part 3: Nurse

Part 4: Aircraft Mechanic