The Supply Chain Talent that’s always ‘IN THE ZONE’ wins

October 5, 2012

Written by Matt Klinger

For those of you that aren’t aware of my career before recruiting, I had the privilege of playing tennis at the highest level not only in my home country of Canada but around the world. I am grateful for a lot of things in life but by far most grateful for the opportunities that were opened up to me by my first true love….tennis. The skills I learned on the court were hard learned after years and years of training with countless hours spent on the court. After leaving the sport to pursue a new career, I quickly learned that many of aspects of tennis, or many sports for that matter, are transferable to the business world.  Not only personal skills, but the most interesting part to me was to discover that many situations I’ve found myself in over the past few years I can draw on my experiences in sport for guidance for myself and for those I coach as a specialty recruiter.

There is quite a lot of discussion recently about how one has to manage their careers regardless of whether things are going perfectly according to plan and you feel like you’re “in the zone”.  This immediately reminded me of a very familiar situation on the court when you start a match with a plan, follow it to the tee, and find yourself a few games away from winning.  This is a tricky time in a match as it is very easy to stop doing the things that got you there and think that the rest of the match will take care of itself. I have personally been in this situation many times and unfortunately, thought it was ok to ease up because everything has been going my way up until now and  I’m only 1 game away from winning. This self-satisfaction is dangerous and I have found myself losing the second set and somehow, when my head stops spinning, realized that the match is over and I have somehow lost.

The false sense of security you can get from being up can be risky and circumstances can quickly change, and almost always do. This you can stop, however if you stay one step ahead in your career like staying one step ahead of your opponent on the court, you know you will always be prepared for the unexpected and not be caught off guard.  Just because things are going well today, don’t ever underestimate your opponent. And what I mean by that is we are all subject to unexpected business situations such as rightsizing/downsizing, restructuring and companies going out of business. During these rocky economic timers, many truly well qualified Supply Chain and Procurement professionals have found themselves in a position where they weren’t that step ahead and their head was caught spinning. Rest assured there are a number of different ways that you can keep your game sharp just in case:

        NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK – and never stop networking with peers, business groups, Alumnae, old business associates and friends who work for interesting companies and good upwardly mobile jobs. How do you do this, by being really active on Linkedin. It is the absolute best way to keep yourself front and centre especially when you don’t need anyone – just in case. Be there every day with a really strong profile full of strong keywords so your name is at the top of search results for expertise requests, business offers and career consideration. Because, even though you are happy today, you might, just, just come across the best new gig around.

        Never refuse to speak to anyone or take a meeting or interview. Face time is great experience and never represents a commitment.

        Always offer to help others – the internet is a community – a living breathing thing. The more you give the more you get. When you need something, they will remember you. Recruiters are notorious for dropping people but trust me if you helped introduce them through to colleagues or peers or better yet to HR in your company, you will be golden the day you need them to help you.

        Add accreditations to your resume such as CITT, SCMP, PMP, P. Log, etc. Companies are always raising the bar and want to hire better more qualified talent. If you don’t have a degree, get one. It’s critical these days.

        Consider a couple of years of consulting which would allow you to get a much better breadth and depth of experience in different industries, work on high-level project work or bleeding edge strategic sourcing initiatives which you otherwise wouldn’t get.

        Always be well read and on top of what the next big thing will be and where markets are heading.


The player that wins the most is the one that never stops training, never stops improving their game, never for one second thinks they have nothing to improve on and never assumes that it’s ok to relax just because things are going their way at the moment. If players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, two of the best players in the history of the game, work non-stop on improving their own games and staying ahead of the pack, wouldn’t it make sense for Supply Chain’s best talent to do the same?

It’s food for thought. If you are interested in learning more about the employment market today or you are seeking to engage a highly specialized Recruiter in Supply Chain, Procurement or Retail/Consumer Goods I’m your guy…. Please check out our blog and I encourage you to contact me directly at


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