Goat trail

goat trail

How can we recruit and retain supply chain talent? This question resonates with many supply chain managers, especially as the number of job openings in supply chain positions remains unchanged. In the past three years, it has been all hands on deck for supply chains worldwide. The resulting workload has had a major impact on supply chain employees. Recent alarming figures from a study by Boom! show that as many as 35% of the 147 respondents experienced some form of burnout in 2022, and that percentage was even a little higher in 2021.

In addition to preventing absence due to work-related stress, the current staffing shortage means it is necessary to reduce the job turnover among supply chain professionals. In the same survey, 31% cited opportunities for faster career advancement elsewhere as their main motivation for leaving. For 20%, the ability to make better use of their skills was the reason to switch to a different employer.


During a recent workshop with around 20 Dutch supply chain talents, it became clear that their loyalty to their employer primarily stemmed from their prospects of internal career progression over a number of years. In an extended call last month, several international supply chain students at a top university in Switzerland explained what they were looking for in a future employer: a company that does good and pursues sustainability, and that also offers transparency, flexibility, modern technology and a safe environment based on diversity and inclusion.

The various supply chain executives who were also present during the call gave these budding professionals credit for being demanding. One executive, who had been ‘married’ (as he put it) to a well-known multinational almost his entire working life, did not have a problem with the younger generation being less loyal. According to him, companies should give talented youngsters much more of a chance to design innovations.

Career path as a goat trail

However, young professionals should make the distinction between mental growth and promotion. A company is a pyramid, with just one CEO at the top. As these pyramids are getting ever-flatter in terms of hierarchy, there is less chance of promotion. Lastly, a professor advised the students that they should take ownership of their own development and get out of their comfort zone. A career path is not a paved road leading straight up, but rather a goat trail that they themselves need to create.

Martijn Lofvers, Chief Trendwatcher Supply Chain Media