Table ronde Supply Chain

Round table: Logistics and Supply Chain professions


  • Mohammed Hichame Benbitour (MHB)
    Assistant Professor in Supply Chain
  • Antoine Dagnet (AD)
    Head of purchasing at Safran
  • Antoine Moffroid (AM)
    Logistics manager at La Ruche qui dit oui

What does it mean to work in the supply chain today?

MHB : The Supply Chain concerns all the actors who are directly or indirectly involved in satisfying the needs of customers: shops, distributors, manufacturers, suppliers, transporters, etc.

The customer also plays an important role as he or she is the reason for the chain's existence. It is the customer who ultimately finances the whole chain with the shops paying the distributors, paying the manufacturers, paying the suppliers... All the work of the Supply Chain is customer-oriented.

The Supply Chain is involved in many decisions that will guarantee the smooth running of the company. It is responsible for getting the products to the customers. As such, it is directly involved in creating the value of the products and services that the company offers.

This Supply Chain varies from one sector of activity to another, whether it be in the retail sector, the automotive industry, defence, aeronautics, etc. These structures are different but the same fundamentals are always present, with practically the same types of decisions in all Supply Chains.

What does it mean to be a purchasing manager today?

AD : It means guaranteeing the best response to quality, cost and time. It means putting all these notions in harmony in order to offer the best solution to the company, to be in line with the market, or even better positioned in order to guarantee the smooth running of the company.

This implies interacting with external partners (suppliers) and internal partners (the manufacturing chain).

Safran is a large aeronautical group that supplies a wide range of equipment to fly planes, helicopters and other aircraft. These are mainly engines, landing gear, etc.

How are the supply chain professions evolving?

MHB : The Supply Chain has changed a lot in recent years with digitalisation and environmental issues. Digital technologies are increasingly used in the Supply Chain: the Internet of Things, Big Data, data analysis, Blockchain... i.e. all technologies that can facilitate the circulation of physical, information and financial flows within the Supply Chain.

Concerning environmental issues, this is a major subject today for all companies in all sectors. There is a lot of pressure on them from the European authorities and customers on social and environmental aspects. Sustainability is about using resources today without compromising the ability of future generations to use those resources.

AD : These phenomena can also be seen at Safran. Sustainability is a long-term process that is already underway. We work a lot on the reuse of materials. Scrap metal is remelted to make other parts. This has economic and environmental benefits.

Why did you choose a career in logistics?

AD : I've always been keen on international exchanges, on studying what's going on in companies around the world. Leaving for Le Havre seemed quite logical in terms of credibility with its international port.

I am very satisfied with what the School has given me during my studies. I did an internship that really helped me find my way. It was at St-Gobain, in the purchasing department for precious metals and energy. The suppliers were exclusively abroad. It gave me a lot, on the one hand confirming my interest in this type of job, and on the other hand, the discussions I had with my tutor guided me to do a third year abroad. The starting point is really this attraction for international relations.

This international aspect is now very present in my job. We live in an interconnected world. I have a team that is split between two continents, one part in Asia and the other in France. My suppliers are based in Eastern Europe, in France and on a diagonal from Singapore to Tokyo.

How have the latest crises affected the sector?

AD : When Covid started in Asia, teams and suppliers were impacted. Today, supplies are also affected, especially with the events in Ukraine. These supply problems are an issue at Safran, as they can be at Airbus.

But we are managing these problems. This mainly concerns metals such as titanium and nickel, for which Russia has always been a major supplier. Faced with these events, we have to redesign our supply scheme with the constraints that we have today. All of this has an impact on our daily life.

MHB : Indeed, there are all these problems of material supply in the automotive, aeronautical and other industries. I was especially impressed by the impact of this war on food security. Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat. Many countries have been affected. This calls into question the food security of their populations.

The supply chain is very complex because it involves many actors around the world. If one link does not work well, the whole chain is affected. This is what we are seeing today with the crisis in Ukraine. We also had the semiconductor crisis with the Covid pandemic. It is this diversity of actors and cultures that is interesting in the supply chain.

What skills are needed to work in logistics?

AM : You have to have a certain taste for rigour, for questioning and for continuous improvement. You must always try to do better. The same imponderables are always present, namely cost, quality and deadline issues.

As a logistics manager, I accompany teams of warehouse staff and team leaders in the field to prepare orders sent to different channels. We have a home delivery flow of goods. We also supply ephemeral distribution points called hives.

Since 2021, we have also been supplying shops that we have opened in several locations in the Paris region. We had to open additional square metres to be able to receive, stock and dispatch the goods correctly.

My job is to monitor in different ways that the whole chain is working well. I work hand in hand with the supply team who work directly with local producers and farmers.

At La Ruche Qui Dit Oui, we strive to produce products from local agriculture and short circuits in different ways. Originally, in 2011, the company was a digital platform that connected groups of consumers with a set of farmers who had registered the requests of these consumers and came to deliver to an appointment point.

This basic model was quite autonomous and decentralised. In 10 years, consumer trends have changed a lot. This is linked to the challenge of digitalisation, a commitment already made by the company with this web interface that facilitates contact.

In 2016, La Ruche Qui Dit Oui and Le Comptoir Local came together and continued their home delivery business, but under a different name. For a little over a year now, we have been supplying shops.

In 2019, La Ruche Qui Dit Oui generated about 600 orders per week. Since March 2020, this number has risen to 1,300 orders per week. In terms of flow organisation, we had to adapt. This requires agility and an appetite for a day-to-day life that changes a lot because there are many uncertainties to manage.

At the same time, you have to be able to manage the emergency and make sure that the event is as isolated as possible and put in place processes to ensure that it happens as little as possible.

MHB : There are two main components of skills. On the one hand, the so-called technical skills that are necessary to do the job and on the other hand, the professional skills that are also important.

Within the supply chain, there are different jobs that require quite different skills. It also depends on the type of company and its sector. To work in the Supply Chain, you need to know how it works, be able to make decisions, manage stocks and forecast customer demand.

It is often the demand forecaster and demand analysis who manage this part. Demand forecasting is the input data for all supply chain activities.

What are the trends in the supply chain professions?

MHB : The whole digitalisation aspect comes out with the Data and Analytics aspect. These fields interest many people. We find the job of Data Scientist, who analyses data. Practically all schools have added this dimension to their training courses. Students today feel capable of going into this type of job, especially as these are well-paid positions.

In addition, we find all the "classic" Supply Chain jobs that always attract graduates: logistics coordinator, buyer, forecasters, logistics and Supply Chain manager, etc. To reach the position of Supply Chain Director, you need good technical knowledge but also several years of experience.

Do supply chain jobs pay well?

MHB : Salaries vary depending on the company and the sector, but overall, supply chain jobs pay well. Supply chain managers and directors have particularly high salaries.

How is La Ruche Qui Dit Oui organised?

AM : Under the same roof in the warehouse, there is the supply manager who works with a team of 4 to 5 supply managers who each manage a type of product: fruit/vegetables, dry goods, fresh produce, etc.

I am also in charge of logistics, with three team leaders and a workforce of 10 to 15 warehouse staff.

Finally, there is the transport section, which is responsible for collecting the orders we have prepared and transporting the goods to the shop, distribution point or end customer. Part of the transport is managed internally and part externally. We try to optimise our routes as much as possible.  For example, driver-collectors go to the farmer's field to collect the goods. If it turns out that we have final customers to deliver to on the way, we do so.

Have the latest crises had an impact on your business?

AM : We have not felt the impact for the moment. We have not had any particular disruptions in our supplies. As the challenge for our company is to supply the end customers locally, management is much simpler at our level. It is easier to find mushrooms on the outskirts of Paris than metals such as titanium which come from abroad.

What advice do you have for future students?

MHB : To follow a course in Supply Chain, the School offers several programmes, whether MS, MSc or specialisations of the Master in Management programme. You get all the knowledge you need to feel at ease in the Supply Chain professions. I am involved in several of these programmes.

Sustainability is part of the identity of the School, which is very invested in this theme. There are even specific programmes on the theme of sustainability.

AM : It is not easy to answer this question as I ended up in logistics by chance. In the end, I ended up liking it. It was a student job at Décathlon in the first year where I sold bicycles every Saturday that got me into it.

In the Master's programme, I found a work-study job thanks to the school through the advertisements that were sent to us. I wanted to discover what goes on behind the scenes in the shop. That's why I did my work experience in a Decathlon warehouse in Caen. This experience enabled me to validate my career choice.

My Master's supervisor showed great understanding of the company's needs. I sometimes had to miss classes to go to the company because of certain responsibilities. I support and recommend this work-study model.

The advice I would give is to test and experiment to find out what you really like. If you don't choose the logistics field, there is also the transport and supply field.

Are there any sectors of activity that recruit more than others?

MHB : Mass retailing is still attractive today. During the health crisis, all companies and factories were closed except for the supermarket sector. It is a sector that continues to evolve a lot in France, especially in the food industry.

The supermarket sector will continue to recruit even more. I can see this clearly with my work-study students, who are numerous in this sector. There are also other sectors such as industry, aeronautics, the automobile industry, etc., where the supply chain professions are really very present.

With the meteoric rise of digitalisation and Big Data, we are seeing the emergence of new jobs related to data analysis and Data in general.