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The Value of Company Collaboration in an MBA Supply Chain Program

The NC State Poole College of Management’s Jenkins MBA supply chain management program rose four places to No. 15 in Gartner Research’s 2018 ranking of graduate supply chain programs in North America. Results of the survey were published on August 17.

Forty-six universities with MBA supply chain or master of supply chain management programs were eligible to participate in the survey this year. They were evaluated by supply chain professionals who responded to a Gartner survey regarding the scope of the graduate supply chain program, industry value and program size.

While the NC State program scored very well in the scope and industry value category, the small size of the program and number of faculty dragged it down in the ratings.   It is my opinion that if size were not a factor, we would definitely be ranked in the top ten programs in the country.  One of the areas where the Poole College of Management did particularly well was in the category of program scope.  Gartner assesses whether each school has a diverse, balanced program based on the Gartner Supply Chain Talent Attribute Model.  Although NCSU has a much smaller program than the big schools like Penn State, Michigan State, and Tennessee, we make up for it with a diverse program, featuring such innovative curriculum elements as the supply chain practicum, healthcare analytics, contract management, sustainable food systems, tying sustainability analytics to financial outcomes, sustainable apparel manufacturing (with the College of Textiles), and decision support systems.  We are one of only a handful of schools in the country that require all of our students to work on a practicum project as a requirement in the curriculum.

The NC State Jenkins MBA supply chain curriculum is one of only 17 MBA programs ranked by Gartner that require students to complete client projects, and one of seven whose students have an average of seven or more years of experience.

The Supply Chain Resource Collaborative, one of Poole College’s industry-academic initiatives, coordinates experiential learning with its partner companies for the college’s supply chain management students. The combination of applied learning and the depth of the MBA students’ prior work experience brings value to SCRC’s partner companies as they work to resolve real world challenges.

Gartner notes that to address skilling gaps in the supply chain, companies should engage in the following actions:

  • Clarify your organization’s skills level requirements with regard to technology, analytics and financial acumen to assess best program and candidate fit. Recalibrate salaries to match.
  • Work with your program partners to ensure that customer experience, new product introduction and launch, the implications of digital disruption and global business are featured in their curricula as well as your internships and projects. As most programs move toward a common core of functional content, these will be differentiating areas.
  • Fund M.S.S.C.M. degrees or supply chain M.B.A.s as a benefit for select current associates. Partner with programs that offer anytime, night and weekend classes and provide associates with enough schedule and location flexibility to ensure sufficient study time.

Clearly, all of our SCRC partner companies are all following this advice when they engage with our faculty and students through our projects and curriculum.  They are seeing the benefits of a talented, skilled workforce.

The Gartner list also notes that women account for 37% of the supply chain graduate student population and ethnic minorities count for 48%, meaning that graduates are more diverse on average than the supply chain organizations that want to hire them. This has major implications for companies’ ability to attract and retain young professionals. The SCRC was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for its strong presence of women in the supply chain program.  We will also be holding a “Women in Supply Chain Panel” on October 12 to share insights from professionals on career management the supply chain field.