Essential Leadership Qualities for VP of Supply Chain

Essential leadership qualities for supply chain vice president

The supply chain vice president is a critical position for organizations. But, what does the VP of supply chain job entail? You must hire a leader who is knowledgeable about all aspects of supply chain objectives, initiatives and policies for this position. The VP of supply chain oversees inventory activities, including purchasing, budgeting, demand planning and manufacturing processes. The job can also include optimizing timing and transportation costs to the final destination.

To direct the supply chain management team effectively, the VP of supply chain must exhibit leadership characteristics and critical skills for company-wide success. Here’s how to find the right person to lead your company’s supply chain initiatives.

Supply Chain Leadership Characteristics

Supply chain leadership qualities are the attributes that help accelerate a VP’s progress in the corporate world. While hard skills may qualify someone for the position, a supply chain VP’s characteristics demonstrate their ability to succeed in your company.

Common characteristics of supply chain vice presidents include problem-solving abilities, a customer-centric attitude and a metrics-driven mindset.


The supply chain VP’s job is to manage and coordinate every stage of production, including shipping and inventory. However, volatility leads to uncertain situations. Problem-solving allows the supply chain vice president to apply certainty when dealing with these ambiguities. Executives who are comfortable dealing with unpredictability must conduct processes like budgeting, demand planning and forecasting.

A problem-solving mindset is a crucial supply chain leadership skill. The VP of supply chain must make quick and innovative decisions when faced with expanding regulatory concerns, economic fluctuations, supplier instability and increasingly demanding customers. Organizations benefit from having a supply chain VP who promotes change to solve problems and champions corporate-wide implementation of new software that removes the guesswork.


The VP of supply chain must understand the needs of their different customers. When combined with excellent communication skills, a customer-centric perspective can provide worthwhile insights about what customers value and want from your company. Supply chain VPs who actively solicit customer suggestions will make better decisions about the value placed on quality, price and service.

Customers don’t always want the lowest price. Improvements to service and quality may have more favorable long-term impacts. With a customer-centric mindset, corporations benefit from initiatives and objectives based on what customers value most.


Data-driven supply chain vice presidents have more potential to analyze and act on the metrics. They will consistently look for ways to optimize performance, reviewing quality, cost and service data collected across the manufacturing and supply chain. Metrics-driven VPs are also knowledgeable on the present factors affecting price, availability and working capital.

The drive to capture and use analytics will lead to insightful goals for future improvement.

Critical Skills for Supply Chain Executives

The critical skills that supply chain leaders should possess usually align with the organization’s goals for optimization. Proven leadership skills in supply chain management include regularly recruiting top talent, building collaborative relationships and experience with emerging technologies.

Recruitment Prowess

The VP of supply chain oversees several manufacturing locations and distribution centers. Recruitment prowess is a critical leadership skill that helps the VP maintain the supply chain management team. A supply chain leader who regularly surrounds themselves with the best candidates — all the way down to entry-level hiring — will boost productivity and consistency.

Supply chain executives should move through the decision-making hierarchy as quickly and effectively as possible. When top talent fills positions, there is more devotion to the organization and less temptation to leave.

Budget Management

As stipulated in the VP of supply chain job description, the person must oversee all inventory activities — this includes processes such as budgeting, forecasting, demand planning, purchasing and manufacturing. Managing budgets is a significant part of the position. Supply chain professionals who excel at budget management can use this skill to optimize resources like time, money and working capital.

Balancing resources with data analytics will also improve project management, inventory management and overall supply chain management initiatives. It creates structure and certainty despite the supply chain’s unpredictability. The top candidates usually acquire supply chain management leadership skills over time. Experience is a must for employers looking to find the right vice president of supply chain.


A successful vice president of supply chain is likely to possess an innate talent for partnership-building. The supply chain discipline is an increasingly collaborative enterprise, requiring supply chain VPs to build relationships with the other corporate departments, supply chain partners and even customers.

Communication skills significantly improve supply chain objectives. The right supply chain leader will quickly collaborate with finance, sales, quality, customer service and IT departments for company-wide success. They will promote transparency and share insightful information across the supply chain.

Technology Expertise

The top supply chain leaders are knowledgeable about emerging processes, technology advances and new software. Executives with technology expertise are more likely to lead the change-management process. They understand these new technologies and will champion the company-wide adoption of new software that will positively impact your organization.

Organizations need supply chain VPs who identify opportunities to improve existing processes and challenge the company to consider particular technology advances for the new system. Not only are the vice president’s recommendations worthwhile, but they will also know how to adapt the new approach to meet the company goals.

Contact Optimum Supply Chain Recruiters to Hire Your Top Talent

m Supply Chain Recruiters is an exclusive recruiting service for the supply chain industry. Our expertise and experience in finding top candidates can help take the pressure off employers looking to fill executive-level positions like the vice president of supply chain. We can conduct a nationwide search for vetted supply chain professionals with top leadership skills to help you fill your open VP position quickly and effectively.

In addition to having one of the most expansive networks of supply chain talent, we have also developed a passive candidate recruiting process to help you reach supply chain VPs you might not find otherwise. We use our expansive network and passive candidate recruiting to help you find a VP of supply chain with the characteristics and leadership skills you need.

We offer multiple recruiting service options for corporations seeking retained search or contingency recruiting. With our unique dedicated engagement service, you don’t owe the final fee until we complete the search and you have hired your new leader, giving us an advantage over other recruitment companies.

If you need to fill a VP of supply chain or other executive position, contact us today for more information about our recruiting service options to find top talent quickly.

Previous ArticleSupply Chain Skills to Look for in the Hiring Process Next ArticleHow to Increase Your Supply Chain Experience