Careers clinic: The logistics of the chemical industry
Charlotte Ashley-Roberts looks at the career opportunities that the movement of goods in the supply chain can offer chemistry graduates
A It is certainly possible for you to stay within chemistry, and there are many jobs that spring to mind including business development, working as a trainee or graduate consultant, systems analysis or sales. However, the roles I am going to discuss in more detail are in the field of logistics.
Logistics largely covers the movement of goods in the supply chain and involves liaising with many parties including suppliers of raw materials, manufacturers, retailers and consumers. This can be in any sector, including the chemical sector.
From your studies you will have gained an awareness of legislation and the physical and environmental issues that affect businesses. You may even have covered strategic responses to these external influences. Working in logistics, you might look at:
- monitoring the quality, quantity, cost and efficiency of the movement and storage of goods
- coordinating and controlling the order process and associated information systems
- analysing data to monitor performance and plan improvements and demand
- liaising and negotiating with customers and suppliers
- developing business by gaining new contracts, analysing logistical problems and producing new solutions.
There are different elements to logistics including transport of stock, stock control, sustainability and ensuring processes and structures are in place to monitor the flow of goods and materials.
Complex IT and telecommunications systems are often used to analyse the different aspects of stock control, delivery times, cost of transport and any other financial or resource implications. You may therefore need to brush up on your IT, maths and statistics skills.
In a related role there is also purchasing and procurement. I am not sure if you covered this as part of your degree but it involves looking at business performance in a wide range of sectors, including the chemical sector.
In this kind of role you would be responsible for ensuring that your company selects the most appropriate goods or services based on a variety of factors including price and quality. You would also need to think about company brand and your customers; this might include some strategic analysis and would increase your commercial awareness.
These roles, although generic, would be used in the chemical sector. A wide variety of other work environments and opportunities is available, including posts in transport, the armed forces, and charitable organisations especially in the field of overseas aid and development. In fact, the RSC uses logistics when sending books to Africa as part of the Pan Africa Chemistry Network.
You will have gained much of this through your degree already. You may be wondering how all this fits with your experience but if you think about a process it involves getting from A to B via some kind of route whether it's physically transporting an item or perhaps developing a product using a synthetic path. Broadly speaking, the logical thought process required is similar.
Bearing this in mind you should make sure that your skills are obvious on your application form. In particular you should highlight logical thought processes, time management, problem solving, business acumen and IT skills.
Most large logistics companies run graduate recruitment schemes, although like most schemes, competition can be high. Of course not everyone uses graduate schemes and you may want to look out for jobs that mention the supply chain, or at least certain aspects of it.
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport leading the way
GPA Procurement LLP is one of the UK's leading Procurement Recruitment companies
Careers in Logistics
Looking for that new job in logistics? You'll find all the best ones here
The purchasing and supply website
The UK's official graduate careers website
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