By Carson Powell
Adam Hardie is a category manager for Eaton, a global technology leader and power management company, and is responsible for supplier strategy and management for categories that total over $100 million in annual spend. On top of this, Hardie is a Jenkins MBA alumnus and was a Supply Chain Resource Cooperative (SCRC) Graduate Research Assistant.
Hardie began his academic journey at High Point University where he received his bachelor’s degree in business administration while interning in banking and insurance roles. During this time, he decided to join the Navy to gain experience, figure out his next career move, and to fulfill a personal goal of serving his country.
“I knew if I got into an established career after college that the inertia of knowing that I had a steady paycheck, and quite frankly, a comfortable lifestyle, may prevent me from joining the military later,” said Hardie. “After my initial training, I served on a fast attack submarine as a nuclear operator. This role involved managing the propulsion plant, doing everything from maintenance, to watch standing, operations and training other personnel.”
Hardie served six years in the Navy with a large portion spent stationed in Pearl Harbor where he learned the value of setting specific goals for his future. After some soul-searching, he decided to transition to a career in supply chain management and his research led him to NC State.
The concepts I learned make sense now not only because I saw them in the classroom, but because I got to apply them while I was working with [the SCRC’s] partner companies getting that hands-on experience.
“For me, what set NC State apart was that it has the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative, an organization entirely dedicated to supply chain management,” said Hardie. “[The SCRC] uses a medical school model of teaching. Just like you wouldn’t want a doctor operating on you that hasn’t had hands-on experience in a residency, you don’t want a supply chain professional who has not had industry experience coming into your company. For me, that’s what made NC State stand out.”
During his time at Poole College, Hardie took advantage of the opportunities provided by the SCRC and worked with several companies including Lenovo, Aramark and MetLife, where he gained experience with blockchain technology, procurement, transportation logistics, and using tools like Qlik Sense and SAS software for data analytics. He said he enjoyed the hands-on experience at Poole the most because it allowed him to apply classroom concepts to the real world. When looking back at his experience in the Jenkins MBA Program, he recommends that students take a chance and participate in practicum courses.
“The concepts you’ve learned in the classroom will be important, but they will not fully make sense until you work with an actual organization, where problems are more complex and ambiguous,” said Hardie. “Practicum courses help you put what you learned in the classroom into practice. In the classroom, problems tend to be presented in a straightforward manner. In practice, it’s often not even clear what the problem is, much less what the solution should be.”
Now at Eaton, Hardie is finishing the leadership development program as the category manager for unit substation transformers and integrated power assemblies. In this role, he is responsible for the supplier strategy of the category which includes deciding whether to grow or discontinue relationships and negotiating supplier terms for Eaton. “My MBA experience has had a huge effect on my role at Eaton, and really my performance there,” said Hardie. “The concepts I learned make sense now not only because I saw them in the classroom, but because I got to apply them while I was working with [the SCRC’s] partner companies getting that hands-on experience.”