Name: Rich Wachowski
From: Charlotte, NC
Course of Study: Supply Chain Management and Operations
Graduation: December 2019
Why did you choose NC State?
I came from a very small high school — my graduating class was only about 80 people. So the thing at the top of my list was a large school. But I also believe with a place like NC State, you’ve got so many different backgrounds and cultures — there’s just unbelievable diversity you can pull from. And I think especially with business, being able to pull from so many different backgrounds and to have that inherent diversity really allows you to solve problems much more dynamically and leads to better solutions.
How did you decide you wanted to study supply chain management at NC State?
I knew before coming to NC State that I wanted to do supply chain. I was involved in a project in high school called ContainIt that involved sourcing shipping containers and turning them into affordable, sustainable housing. I primarily handled the purchasing and the sourcing of the different materials and products and suppliers that we needed, and I came to realize that I could make a career out of solving those same types of challenges.
There’s also such an opportunity in supply chain to really ensure the products are being made ethically, both from a human standpoint and an environmental standpoint, and to ensure there’s proper disposal at the end of a product’s life.
Also, being able to come to a school that has a great program specific to supply chain, and being able to interact with not only professors, but also folks who are in industry who have come back to try and lend some of that experience to students is really great. The SCRC also presents some great opportunities, like the supply chain practicum course, which I’ll be taking in the fall semester.
Not many students can say they received hands-on supply chain experience in high school. Can you talk a bit more about the ContainIt project?
One of my teachers who had an entrepreneurial background started the project, and I was actually able to be one of the founding members. We purchased the shipping containers, sourced them, and converted them into sustainable housing using repurposed materials and a lot of environmentally sustainable methods. Our first deployments were on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and I believe right now they’re working on another version that’s going to be deployed somewhere in Charlotte with a focus on foster care.
We also had to present to construction companies we wanted to partner with, and to board members from the school. From what I can tell, it has really taken off and is still a sustainable project.
It was a great project — I really consider those being really formative years and really exposing my passion for supply chain and putting me on the right path towards NC State.
You recently participated in the Poole College Instagram Takeover for summer interns and showcased your current internship at Duke Energy. How and why did you get involved with that project?
The college’s marketing and media team reached out to me about the opportunity, and I thought it would be a great chance to really show what you can do with a supply chain concentration from NC State. I think supply chain allows you to really experience so many different facets of the business — just being able to interact with the internal units and clients you’re buying for, sourcing for, or just in general helping to become more efficient. So I think my goal was to show the range of experiences that come with working in supply chain for a large organization like Duke Energy, and I hope I was able to show some of that, and really just show off a little bit about how great supply chain is and what you’re able to do with a supply chain concentration.
View the Instagram story of Poole College summer interns here.
What skills do you think are important for being a successful supply chain student?
I think just an inherent curiosity, first of all. Both with my internship and in the classroom, being able to have the drive and the curiosity to try and really attack a problem from a different perspective and come up with an outside-of-the-box solution has been really valuable for me.
And then number two, you really have to have good communication skills and be comfortable talking with other folks. There is such a huge data component to supply chain, especially with the new technologies that are emerging, and it’s certainly critical to have a grasp on those things and to be able to communicate clearly about them. And I think NC State is doing a great job preparing students for that and getting us comfortable interacting with some of those concepts.
What extracurricular activities are you involved in at NC State?
I was the president of the Pre-Law Students’ Association this past year — I have an interest in maybe considering law school. I was also involved with Consult Your Community. While I don’t want to do consulting as a career, I think that club really helps with being able to communicate effectively — because that’s really what consulting is. At the same time, working in supply chain sourcing is essentially being a consultant to your internal business partners in a lot of ways, so I definitely think that experience was a great help to me in more ways than one.
If you pursue law school, how do you see yourself incorporating your supply chain background into a career in law?
My interest would be in assisting a company’s supply chain or procurement unit to ensure contracts are created and enforced properly. My time at Duke [Energy] has really shown me how much of a legal emphasis is placed when you’re contracting for large amounts of money with a diverse group of suppliers. There really has to be strong control policies in place to ensure there are good terms for both parties and spending is performed and documented correctly. And it comes down to attorneys and other folks in-the-know with law to really make that happen.
Can you talk a bit about what you’re doing for your Duke Energy internship?
I’m working as a supply chain intern, specifically focusing on enterprise sourcing. The easiest way to put that is buying the things that support but are not directly related to Duke’s core business model, which is power generation, transmission, and distribution. It’s been an amazing experience — I have a fantastic manager who I can’t speak highly enough of. He’s really ensured that I have a great experience and has given me meaningful work and brought me in on a variety of different projects to do a variety of different roles. Being able to have that experience here, along with my experience at NC State, has made me, I believe, very effective in the workplace and capable of adding value, even after only a month into the internship.
What was your process for acquiring the internship?
I found out about the opportunity from a list distributed by the Supply Chain Club. It was actually an NC State supply chain alum at Duke Energy who originally communicated the opportunity with the school — he was looking for NC State students who were interested in an internship. I think that experience really emphasizes the incredible alumni network provided by the supply chain program and NC State.
What has been your biggest takeaway from your internship experience?
Always be asking for work, and always be trying to get involved. Because a lot of stuff doesn’t come directly to you. But if you put yourself out there and show your coworkers you’re eager to learn and you’re ready to help out, the work will come.
Also, don’t be afraid to make a mistake. There’s so many folks that know that you’re learning and they’re happy to help you out. So as long as you ask for help when needed and own up to your mistakes, people are more than willing to meet you halfway.
What are your plans for after graduation?
Right now I’m looking to begin my career after graduation in December, and I’m also considering law school down the road, but I’d like to certainly spend some time in industry before that. I think working somewhere with purchasing or procurement is where I believe I could add the most value.