What motivated you to pursue a major in supply chain management and operations?

Sudeeptha Jothiprakash: One of the main focus areas for me was to understand how technology is impacting lives around us.  A major part of that is understanding Supply chain as a fundamental to understanding how technology works.  Supply chain is essentially getting data or goods from one place to another.  Learning more about how to organize things, how to be able to secure multiple routes in and out, work with stakeholders, and/or impact revenues.  All of this helped me gain more curiosity in supply chain as an area that could help her better understand how to make an impact in technology.

Jessica Dey: Generally, executives are responsible for the big picture and analysts are responsible the details. The ability to see both is a huge asset as you can communicate to different levels within an organization and see different sides of things. To succeed in supply chain you need to be able to handle people and analyze data.

Brittany Harrion: I had always been fascinated with how things are made and where they come from and how they get from point a to point b. I took one undergrad supply chain course as an elective and instantly knew that was the industry I wanted to pursue a career in. In addition and upon my research at the time, I noticed supply chain management had a lot of growth potential and knowing that there would always be some level of job security in the field was very attractive to me.

What is one fascinating tidbit related to the supply chain industry that you have learned?

SJ: At Amazon, data analytics is fundamental to getting any project moved forward.  I still go back to what I learned about Monte Carlo modeling because it helped her understand how to break down problems.  Ambiguity is something you often see in a business setting.  Supply chain knowledge is the best way for us to break down operations and understand both opportunities and bottlenecks.

BH: The world is large but getting smaller and smaller all the time. So many larger conglomerate corporations own smaller companies and it’s important to know the parent company you are really dealing with and what their objectives are in the industry. Another tidbit I find so simple to state, but extremely difficult for most companies to successfully execute is the element of customer service and how a fluctuating customer service trend can impact a company’s supply chain. Amazon is one of the most fascinating and interesting companies to analyze for a number of different reasons, but at the end of the day they are one of the most successful companies on the planet because of their commitment to consistently satisfy customers.

What advice would you give to prospective students looking to major in supply chain management?

SJ: Supply chain should spend more time getting people actually working in supply chain to talk with students.  There are so many aspects to supply chain, whether it is how you manage your day to day activities or how you manage your next million dollar investment.  In a technology setting, it might be what hardware you order, which leads to how much capacity you have, and how much utilization you would have. 

JD: Look at the bigger picture of getting opportunities rather than a specific job title. In SC, the skills you can gain in one area are portable and cumulative. These skills can be applied to various careers rather than a specific job title. Hence, it creates this variety of potential career opportunities. For example, when you are in Procurement/Indirect you get a bigger perspective on what’s happening with different brands and their impact on the company that people in siloed marketing positions might not have.

BH: I would advise students looking to major in supply chain management to never stop asking questions. The more questions you ask, the more you expose yourself to everything there is to learn that’s not necessarily in a textbook. There are so many different elements of the supply chain that could take you on a number of different routes in your career and it’s important to not corner yourself into thinking your supply chain career only has to be in logistics or only has to be in inventory management.