Problem-solving is the #1 sought after skill (used to be leadership). Here is an alarming statistic…

Nearly a third of all supply chain processes are inadequate, according to research from Crimson & Co.  Covid kind of brought this front and center. 

The paper in the below link lists the most important soft skills to employers.

Notice, that problem solving has kept moving up and is now number one!  It has actually passed leadership.  See Figure 1.  What is ranked #6 (answer: leadership)?  Why do you think this keeps dropping in the rankings?  What is ranked #5 (answer: technology, and it keeps rising)?  Note, this study is for all majors, employers, jobs, and college grads.  You could make the case that your supply chain education covers all the bases for career readiness.

Match this article up with your resume.  Does your resume sell the skill sets that employers say they want most?  Note, employers do not actually want to see the words “problem-solving” and “leadership” on your resume.  They want to see deliverable examples of actions and results.  

The Four Career Competencies Employers Value MostEmployers feel that recent graduates are most proficient in teamwork/collaboration, digital. technology, and critical thinking/problem solving. (See Figure 2.) Data for the Job Outlook 2019 survey were collected from August 1, 2018, through October 8, 2018. A total of 172 surveys were returned—an 18.5 percent response rate. The Job Outlook …

Here is an example from a student last semester that did a problem-solving project in my class…

Professional Experience 

XXXX Corporation, XX, MI, Lean 6 Sigma Project-Based Course:              Summer 2020 

  • Researched cutting-edge warehouse technologies for X’s new consolidated warehouse. 
  • Compiled AGV data that resulted in an estimated $357,350 yearly labor cost avoidance. 
  • Project deliverables included formulating a cost-analysis excel, explaining the implementation & integration of technologies, calculating ROI/payback period, & creation of an A3 project.

You have to sell these skills on your resume without actually stating these skills on your resume.  Does that make sense?

Sample Resumes:

Elon Musk’s Resume:

Yahoo CEO Resume:

Pay attention to these keywords for your resume:


Can you look at a process as a problem to be solved?  In other words, can you look at a process and figure out how to do it better, faster, and cheaper?  Employers will try to figure that out during interviews.  Everything has a process and every process can be done faster, better, and cheaper.  

Here is our career services manual which has pages upon pages of ideas…

Supply chain study reveals inadequate processes (in other words, lack of problem-solving skills)…

Nearly a third of all supply chain processes are inadequate, according to research from Crimson & Co.

This insight was generated by analyzing data from scprime, an improvement approach designed to generate step-change improvement of the supply chain in line with a business’s strategy. Since 2010, over 1,000 scprime assessments have been completed in 20 countries across a range of sectors, making this one of the largest and most comprehensive independent studies in supply chains.

The analysis showed that 71 percent of processes in most organizations are executed effectively, achieving a ‘competent’ or higher rating. This means that a third of all processes are carried out inadequately, representing a significant risk to the reliability of operations and allowing competitors to operate more effectively and with greater responsiveness.

Only five percent of processes achieved ‘mastery’, i.e. proven best practice performance, with the highest proportion scored as only ‘competent’. This presents an opportunity to those businesses that understand the competitive advantage that a supply chain can generate; by focusing on the right areas, a business can steal a march on its competitors.

Other notable trends identified include that Europe and North America appear to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to process maturity, with fewer companies reaching the basic competency level – 32 percent of companies’ processes in Europe and North America were inadequate vs. only 22 percent overall. This is a surprising result which may reflect the tendency of processes to get worse over time. It may also be a result of the move of manufacturing out of the old markets, removing good process discipline from those markets.

Crimson & Co’s Helen Chiswell said: “It’s clear that businesses are struggling to evolve their supply chain processes to match business needs. This results from a ‘business-as-usual’ mindset where companies prefer to maintain the status quo instead of understanding the drivers of competitive advantage and adapting accordingly. This is a real risk to organizational performance.

“Every company needs to configure its processes to support priorities, allowing the supply chain to deliver against business objectives. The supply chain is increasingly recognized as a key enabler of competitive advantage but understanding requirements is a major challenge.“Process improvement tools, such as scprime, provide a framework for this. Supply chain assessments identify the areas which need to be improved to maximize performance. A key stage in this is recognizing the supply chain as a whole rather than simply an aggregation of functions.”


Here are examples of projects from my problem-solving class…


Note skill sets required of supply chain professionals:

Solid skills required in future supply chain managers include:

  • Project management
  • Technical understanding
  • Cost accounting skills
  • Ability to understand financial statements
  • Understanding of e-business / e-procurement systems
  • Troubleshooting, problem solving
  • Understanding of cross-cultural / global issues
  • Business ethics
  • Understanding of the legal issues involved in managing contracts

Other soft skills and personality attributes required in future supply managers include:

  • Ability to communicate effectively through presentations, email, one-on-one, and team discussion
  • Ability to logically organize thoughts
  • Ability as a natural facilitator to enable team-based decisions
  • Time management
  • Leadership
  • Understanding of customer’s expectations
  • Vision – creating the environment
  • Desire to learn
  • Ability to present oneself with confidence
  • Ability to think on one’s feet
  • Ability to pass on knowledge and mentoring

Please contact me for more material. Thank you. Sime

Dr. Sime (Sheema) Curkovic, Ph.D., Professor, Operations/Supply Chain
Western Michigan University, Haworth College of Business


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