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From Raleigh to Dubai: A Post from One of our MBA Graduates

I recently received an email from one of our recent MBA graduates (Bert Coslow, class of 2009) who shared with me the exciting role that he is playing in his procurement organization (oil and gas industry).  He wrote:

“My company recently sent me to Dubai on a short-term assignment. I’ve been here for three weeks, and will probably be here a few more weeks toprovide supply chain procurement support for some new business tenders we are working on for work in Iraq. Have you been over here before? The city is very western, it reminds me of a cross between Houston and Las Vegas. I was surprised to see the large numbers of American fast food restraints. For example, there is a Papa John’s right beside my hotel. I haven’t gotten out to see the city too much, as we’re working 7 days a week to get this tender submitted. However, I have attended a meeting at the Emirates Towers where our CEO has his office (we have an office in Dubai to support our business in the Middle East) The office I’m working out of looks out on the Burj Khaliefa, the world’s tallest building (it looks truly spectacular at night, but as yet I have not been able to take a good photo of it- too far away) and I’ve attended a dinner at an upscale steakhouse right in the shadow of the Burj Al Arab, the sail-shaped 7-star hotel.

This project represents an interesting evolutionary leap in our Supply Chain thinking- the idea of pushing procurement into the “front” of the supply chain to support Business Development and use our sourcing skills to accomplish two objectives: identify new sources of supply in a brand new territory (Iraq) and to obtaining pricing at the lowest possible cost to us to make our organization more competitive with these bids. Specifically, I have been tasked with creating a logistics plan for a very complex move: one of our major customers will provide all of the well casing for us. They are shipping 11,000 tons of casing (roughly 590 truckloads worth) to a major port. It’s up to me to design a plan, including pricing to get it from this port into Iraq and up to the job site .”

This is the type of exciting project that graduates from our program can experience when they get in the workforce.  This example is not unique.  Students have gone to work in the summer of 2010 assisting BP with the oil spill cleanup, and were asked to perform any number of different supply management responsibilities “on the fly”.  Others have gone to work in healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, IT, energy, and other fields, armed only with the skills and knowledge that they have taken away from SCRC projects and core curriculum classes, which has served them well.  Being effective in the supply chain environment today requires some mixture of core tools, analytics, process thinking, willingness to try new things, and an ability to learn on the fly (a skill sometimes described as “learning agility”).  These are the types of skills we promote in our program by working with our partner companies at the SCRC, and we are grateful to them for their time and mentorship.