Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the poster displays from consulting projects by students completing a masters in supply chain from the Smurfit School at University College Dublin. There were approximately 15 projects completed by teams across topics ranging from procurement, transportation, channel management, eCommerce, sustainability, product portfolio management and risk management.
Students worked in teams with client companies on a defined supply chain challenge, and they had three months to analyse the situation and present recommendations to their client companies. We worked with one team which presented a market and supply chain strategy for a leading branded goods client that is considering launching a business-to-consumer channel later this year. The team presented a fact-based market analysis on the competitive landscape, insights into customer expectations by market and drew conclusions on the supply chain structure and service levels that would be needed to support a successful launch.
As always with these events, I came away energised by the enthusiasm from the next generation of supply chain professionals. As supply chain emerges from a perceived niche discipline to a more broadly recognised profession, it was encouraging to witness evidence of the diversity of skills needed for the modern supply chain team – analytical rigour, business acumen, social awareness, critical thinking, collaboration, presentation, and communications skills.
Teams spoke with passion about supply chain topics and about industries that 12 weeks earlier were alien to them. They had the confidence that comes with having an academic framework and they produced some quality insights from the supply chain data presented to them.
As a profession that has relied for too long on informal on-the-job training, it is great to see the range and quality of educational opportunities available to develop the next generation of supply chain leaders. The Logistics and Supply Chain Skills group under the Department of Transport in Ireland has published a working list of the available supply chain education options from certificate to doctorate programs delivered through full-time, part-time and apprenticeship options. https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/cbbc9-logistics-and-supply-chain-skills-group/
The challenge for the industry is to actively engage and support our educational institutions in the development of the skills required for our supply chains. Support academic leaders with insights into future requirements, access to site tours, engagement on projects, academic placements and incorporate existing courses into your own team’s training and development. Collaboration between industry and our educational institutions will only improve the quality of graduates that are available to support the needs of the industry in the future.
Good luck to the class of 2022 as they embark on the next stage of their supply chain careers.
Supply Chain Enabled