Inbound Logistics | June 2022

David Fisher, University of Denver: In my 30-plus year career in transportation, logistics, and supply chain management, I’ve never seen so much potential for change. Companies are testing driverless trucks, warehouses that run robotically, and systems that optimize freight using advanced algorithms. These are macro changes. The jobs of tomorrow will increasingly be found in advanced technology, optimization, coding, and other non- traditional elements that make up the thrust of change in logistics. Anna Nagurney, University of Massachusetts, Amherst: The new supply chain professional is more of a data scientist. At the University of Massachusetts, we emphasize innovation. Students gain an excellent grounding in data and technology, modeling, and the software packages they’ll use in their careers. They also need expertise in a supply chain domain—such as healthcare, manufacturing, or food products—as well as knowledge of business strategy and finance, along with operations, so that they can model risk management. Students also need to understand the geopolitical risk around the world. And I can’t overemphasize enough the importance of communication skills, both in giving presentations and in collaborating with others on a team. Edward Anderson, University of Texas: The ability to leverage business intelligence—to extract information from data and then craft a story around it to help reach decisions—is more important than it used to be. We don’t need full-on data analytics, but we do need to be able to understand data at a level that wasn’t necessary 10 or 20 years ago, when data was hard to come by. Now it’s not. The sponsor companies we work

Supply chain management programs at Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business prepare students for careers in the field by integrating topics from manufacturing, purchasing, transportation, and distribution into a unified program.

with have stated emphatically that they don’t want to lose sight of leadership capabilities, such as being able to speak clearly and persuade. Often, in supply chain, you don’t have much direct control to get everyone on the same page. So, leadership capabilities become more important. Tobias Schoenherr, Michigan State University: In my sourcing courses I emphasize the skills that are needed to succeed as a purchasing professional, including how to develop strong buyer- supplier relationships, trust, empathy, and talent management. interpersonal skills, end-to-end supply chain management thought processes, and a broad set of core courses—writing, history, and others—that are required of all MSU students. Brian Fugate, University of Arkansa s: What’s shifting is how we enable students to think better and to have a command of soft skills, like communication. In teaching project management, we used to teach the six-month waterfall Kelly Lynch, Michigan State University (MSU): Key skills are communication, data analysis, management approach. Now we do scrum project management, helping students become more agile. And while we teach solutions like Agile Project, we still use Excel because many companies still do.

Fisher: Along with transportation and supply chain management, we teach leadership, finance, trade, regulatory affairs, and technology. We also help students embrace life-long learning as a habit, to have a well-rounded and maximized potential for advancement. There is no such thing as having too much knowledge. As the past several years have demonstrated, we live in a complicated world. It is essential that logisticians keep moving forward so the world can as well. Fugate: If you were going to design a program to make sure students are not prepared to deal with issues such as trade wars and the conflict in Ukraine, you would take the traditional approach of lectures and exams. We are moving beyond that. While students still need to know the basics, the pandemic showed us how important it is that students are prepared to adapt, solve changing problems, and face uncertainty. We throw students into projects that have more ambiguity and that change partway through the process. It’s frustrating for students, but they learn to deal with change. We also require all students to get internships. The difference between students with experience versus those without it is night and day.

June 2022 • Inbound Logistics 65

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