December 14, 2010
by Deborah Aarts
PURCHASINGB2B MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2010: The numbers make it official: supply chain’s star just keeps rising.
Despite the recession and the still-tenuous recovery, the average salary of supply chain professionals in Canada is $81,000. This is up 3.7 percent from $78,100 in 2009 and $76,430 in 2008. And despite all the cutbacks, only 10 percent took a pay cut in the past year; 37 percent saw salaries plateau; and an even half notched an increase.
How do we know all this? For the third year in a row, MM&D and Purchasingb2b magazines partnered with the Purchasing Management Association of Canada (PMAC) to take the pulse of the profession. The survey questionnaire—fielded in this summer to supply chain professionals on the MM&D, Purchasingb2b and PMAC mailing lists—drew 2,209 responses, giving us a vast pool of data and thought-provoking comments.
Changes and disparities
The past year has been good for men in the industry. After diminishing in 2009, the disparity between male and female salaries widened significantly this year. The average male salary is $93,600, up a whopping $10,000 from $83,600 a year ago. Female salaries are up as well, but the increase is significantly more modest, edging from $69,900 to $71,300. The 23.9 percent gender gap is up from 19.5 percent and 21 percent in 2009 and 2008, respectively.
The numbers vary when measured by years of experience (see Fig 2), but the data show no evidence of a closing gap; the closest male/female salaries are found among those with six to 10 years of tenure, with female salaries 13.7 percent below those of males. The most glaring disparity is the massive 41.7-percent gap between men and women with 16 to 20 years under their belts.
Geographically, every region in Canada logged a salary increase this year—with the exception of Atlantic Canada, which dropped from $65,100 to $64,600 (see Fig 5). The star gainers were Ontario and Alberta, with the average salary climbing 6.3 percent to $82,800 and 4.4 percent to $93,200, respectively. Quebec notched a 3.7-percent average increase, followed by Manitoba/Saskatchewan (2.5 percent) and British Columbia (0.4 percent).
Those in executive positions earned a big raise in the past year, with the average salary climbing from $108,200 to $164,600. Respondents in supervisory, managerial and consulting positions also saw hefty salary increases. Those at the engineer/professional and operations/tactical levels saw a marginal decline and a modest uptick, respectively. Only individuals in clerical and administrative positions saw a notable decrease in salaries, dropping from an average of $57,500 to $55,300 year-to-year.
After two years of brutal economic conditions, how are supply chain managers feeling about their jobs?
Most respondents say they feel more valued on the job than they did before the recession; a full 71 percent—the same as 2009—say the downturn made their skills and experiences more appreciated within their organization.
Yet just 57 percent—two percentage points less than last year—say their compensation has kept up with their job responsibilities.
We also asked respondents to list how their employment situation has changed in the past year. The results reveal a noticeable lack of mobility this year. A full 42 percent saw no change in their situation. Nearly a third—31 percent—have the same job and salary, with more responsibilities, thanks to staff reductions. Nine percent were promoted, seven percent changed jobs within an organization, and seven percent moved to another organization.
That relative stability looks to continue. In the next two years, 43 percent of respondents plan to be in the same job. Some 35 percent expect to be promoted within the same organization. A minority seven percent plan to change careers, four percent want to be self-employed or working for a consultancy and five percent plan to retire.
That said, a healthy number—26 percent—say they want to work with another organization within the next two years. Those respondents shared a laundry list of reasons, the top one being higher compensation (52 percent), narrowly edging out limited opportunities for advancement in the current role (50 percent). A full 40 percent say there are more opportunities to advance elsewhere. And a full third of job-hunters say lack of appreciation by management of the supply chain role was motivation to jump ship.
Expectations vs satisfaction
When it comes to job satisfaction, there remains a big gap between expectations and satisfaction. Take the issue of salary. While nearly all—98 percent—say that a competitive salary is important, only 67 percent are satisfied with their salary. This is down from 71 percent in 2009 and 77 percent in 2008. Not surprisingly, the mean salary of those who claim to be satisfied is above average—$93,000—while the average for those who are dissatisfied is far below, at $65,800.
Some 95 percent listed performance recognition as a priority, but only 67 percent are happy with how their work is acknowledged. Similarly, 86 percent listed opportunities for advancement as important, but only 59 percent are satisfied with their options. And three-quarters are satisfied with the influence they have on the job.
A less overwhelming 92 percent listed support for career/professional development as important, but only 73 percent are satisfied with what their employers provided in that area.
The gap is less substantial with regard to other issues. A total of 97 percent cited work/life balance as important, and 83 percent are satisfied with it. Some 83 percent are satisfied with their comprehensive benefits, 78 percent with their pension/RRSP contributions, 83 percent with vacation time and 86 percent with job security.
Co-worker relationships continue to be a bright spot; 94 percent of respondents were satisfied with how they interact with their co-workers. And employer-employee relationships remain strong, with 84 percent satisfied with their relationship with superiors.
All told, respondents appear to be pleased with their situations. Overall job satisfaction held steady from 2009 at 86 percent.
Education and professional development
On the education front, opinion is mixed. At 68 percent, the number of respondents who said they need further education to progress in their careers is down slightly from 2009 (70 percent). But at 75 percent, the number who agreed that a professional designation is a necessary key to success was up, from 72 percent in 2009 and 71 percent in 2008.
Furthermore, a professional designation (50 percent) was thought to be the most useful type of education listed, followed by an MBA (32 percent) and industry-specific training (30 percent).
There’s some good news for those looking for help in professional development; 81 percent of respondents said their employer will pay for education, up from 79 percent last year (which in itself represented a major drop from 96 percent in 2008). But the number of organizations willing to pay for membership in professional associations dropped to 71 percent from 74 percent in 2009 and 77 percent in 2008.
To be a successful supply chain manager, it appears you need good people skills above all else, according to 33 percent of respondents (see Fig 4), up from 31 percent in 2009 but down from 60 percent in 2008. A total of 23 percent cited analytical skills as the most important, up from 14 percent in 2009 and nine percent in 2008. Negotiating skills rounded out the top three, with 17 percent—the same number as last year—choosing it as the top on-the-job variable.
What is the top supply chain issue respondents expect to take on in the year to come? As with last year, cost control was the top answer, although by a less commanding margin: 46 percent of respondents say it was a priority, down from 54 percent a year earlier.
Supplier relationship management came in at number two, with 34 percent citing it—the same amount as 2009. That was followed by reorganization (27 percent, down from 30), risk management (23 percent, down from 27) and forecasting (23 percent, down from 25).
One emerging issue to contend with is the skills shortage; 19 percent say it will be an issue to manage in the coming year, up from 16 percent in 2009.
Another is the environment and corporate social responsibility mandates; true, only 17 percent cite them as a pressing concern, but that number is up from 13 percent a year earlier.
One thing supply chain managers can definitely expect is to have more influence in the boardroom. A full 39 percent of respondents claim to have influence at the C-level—up from 35 percent in 2009 and 31 percent in 2008—showing that the profession is gaining some clout (see Fig 8).
In sum, while things are far from perfect, supply chain managers in 2010 have a bright future ahead. As one respondent put it, “if you are experienced, well-educated, have good people skills and can communicate at the C-level, you are in high demand.”
Deborah Aarts is the former editor of MM&D and Purchasingb2b magazines.