Industry Insights

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4 In-Demand Skills in Operations Research & Supply Chain

April 9, 2019

This blog is contributed by Burtch Works’ operations research and supply chain recruiting team.

With opportunities in operations research and supply chain continuing to increase, and more industries turning to data to optimize and refine their processes, roles in this space are beginning to expand in their scope.As these roles continue to evolve, I thought I’d share some of the most common skill areas I’m hearing about from employers looking to hire in the OR and supply chain space.

Skills to Stand Out in Operations Research & Supply Chain

1. R and/or Python

Because the increasing focus on data-driven strategy and optimization often involves integrating new or disparate data sources, many operations research roles are beginning to integrate data science skills such as R and/or Python. Many professionals in operations research and supply chain may be familiar with tools like SQL and Tableau, but expanding your skillset to include analytical tools like R and Python expands your options when managing both structured and unstructured data sources.

2. Being very hands-on with the data

Operations research and supply chain roles will often use data to identify pitfalls and optimize processes, but by involving additional data sources (see #1) and being more hands-on with the actual data analysis, you can use the data to be more predictive.

By learning additional tools and being more hands-on, you can seamlessly tackle any number of data problems and use your skills to spot patterns, predict events before they happen, and make yourself increasingly marketable to employers looking for proactive and versatile OR problem solvers.
3. Demonstration of business acumen

Business acumen and industry knowledge are skill areas that often come up in hiring conversations, but knowing how to demonstrate or improve on these areas can sometimes be challenging. In operations research, this often means having a strong understanding of your company’s business priorities so that you’re able to consult internally with different departments and work with leadership to proactively identify opportunities for optimization.You might be familiar with revenue management, for instance, but what other areas are of strong concern to the leadership team? How can you apply your skills to these problems and bring them to company leadership? Often companies will want new operations and supply chain hires to be able to hit the ground running, so make an effort to do your homework rather than solely relying on direction from management.

Learn more about how to demonstrate your strategic thinking and provide actionable insights in this post.
4. Presenting analysis to leadership

It’s becoming increasingly crucial for operations research and supply chain professionals to be able to effectively communicate the results of their analysis to leadership so that it can determine optimization strategy. Even if you’re skilled at conducting analysis and identifying new areas for optimization, being able to present or communicate your findings can help more your recommendations into strategy.Having experience presenting, including packaging your findings in a way that is accessible to a less-technical audience, is key. Know your audience and where to include technical detail and where to focus on the bigger picture. Keep in mind not just answering “what is happening?” but also addressing “what does this mean for the business?” or “what should we do about this?”Recommending actions keeps your analysis relevant to business goals (see #3) and can make you an invaluable member of the team. This usually requires you to be proactive about determining what the business goals are and how your analysis can contribute to making them happen.

Many companies are also now integrating presentation elements into job interviews to assess potential hires, learn more about how to prepare for them here.

I hope this information was helpful! If you’re looking to see if I have operations research or supply chain opportunities that might be a fit for your experience, feel free to connect with us.