SCM is smoking hot!….Why students should consider NC State for a supply chain major.

An article published in the Wall Street Journal identifies what I have been saying for years now….Supply chain talent is a hot commodity!  Many of the skills that we’ve identified in prior posts on this site have discussed the key skills and knowledge that recruiters are looking for in supply chain students.  And schools like NC State University are producing them, because we are listening to our partners.

But organizations also need to work on investing in a talent management strategy, beginning by partnering with targeted universities to help shape and develop the people that they need to fulfill these roles.  In my most recent blog, I described the type of person that organizations such as Apple are seeking to find:  tech savvy, smart, humble, able to work on unstructured projects with challenging requirements, analytically oriented, and most of all, willing to learn and take on new problems!  In fact, Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook, came directly out of their supply chain organization.  So did Tom Falk at Kimberly Clark.  And the list goes on.

The way that people learn to deal with new and difficult challenges is by diving into them headfirst.  That is exactly what initiatives like the SCRC do, is bridging the world of industrial and service supply chains with the academic and learning environment.  People need to have the ability to explore, use new tools, and tackle new problems in a safe environment.  That is how learning takes place.  We need to be up to the challenge of creating the “impossibly talented” procurement professionals of the future.  Our organizations need people who are ready to take on the many challenges that exist in the supply chain environment we face today.

One of the key differentiators identified in the WSJ article is the need to think about procurement, operations, and logistics in an integrated fashion.  For example, Kimberly Clark looked at the cost of raw materials and the cost of purchasing freight transportation service “independently”. Several supply chain managers at the company reported to different people in different departments, and none reported directly to him—so he set out to hire someone to bring those functions together for the first time. Being able to think in terms of value streams and process flows is key to “supply chain thinking”.

Our student projects this semester reflect this thinking around supply chain integration.  Some of the projects include studies on key supply chain competencies and best practices at American Red Cross, integrated planning at Duke Energy, and supplier risk management at Merck.  We are also launching three new projects with MetLife, focused on supplier rationalization, common sourcing processes, and re-thinking travel policies given the plethora of new technologies that are emerging in the marketeplace.  We are also working on creating a major healthcare analytics taxonomy, working with RJR on establishing a global carbon emissions network measurement framework, and working with Nike on supplier risk management.  These are just a few of the exciting things going on in the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative.  If you are a prospective student looking at supply chain as a potential major, get on board!  We promise an exciting ride!