A well-choreographed dance focuses on controlled movement. It’s a dynamic that relies on space, time, weight, and, of course, flow. Every step is planned, has value, and contributes to the success, or failure, of the performance.
In many ways the business specialty known as supply chain management isn’t all that different. “We control movement and move goods and people or animals from a point of origin to a point of demand,” explained Douglas Hales, Professor of Marketing Supply Chain Management.
Everyday for the past six years, there is something in the Wall Street Journal about an issue with supply chain and that wouldn’t have happened 15 years ago.
Around the time global concerns about supply chain were reaching new heights in 2001, URI’s College of Business Administration created the supply chain management program. This year, it was named one of the best in the country by two different industry groups.* Steven Humphrey, B.S. ’09, MBA ’10, understands why.
“What’s unique about majoring in supply chain is that you learn how to reduce waste and become more efficient and reduce costs,” said Humphrey, who works at world-class toy and game maker Hasbro. “Employers will always need people to do that.”
Strong supply chain links are vital to today’s global marketplace. Until a few decades ago, it was primarily considered a military concern. After 2001, terrorism affected supply chain and still does, with pirates hijacking ocean liners and disrupting the worldwide flow of goods. Natural and man-made disasters wreak havoc with global supply and demand. “Everyday for the past six years, there is something in the Wall Street Journal about an issue with supply chain and that wouldn’t have happened 15 years ago,” Professor Hales said. “It’s a rapidly changing field.”
And that is great news for graduates. Humphrey said the URI program, close relationships he forged with his professors, and opportunities offered by an active supply chain club on campus prepared him for his career.
“Our professors took advantage of every opportunity they found and shared it with students and bent over backwards to help us with interviews and internships,” he said. “We didn’t come out blank, we came out with experiences we could talk about.”
Katherine Hermiz, B.S. ’10, landed the first job she applied for and works as a logistics analyst at Hasbro in a department overseeing thousands of company product lines. She recruited Humphrey to join the company.
“I love the program at URI and I am a huge advocate,” said Hermiz, who will earn her MBA from URI next year. “It helped me so much with three internships and was a huge part of why I got hired at Hasbro, which has a close relationship with URI.”
Supply chain also has a human side. Prior to coming to URI, Assistant Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management Koray Ozpolat was a logistics systems analyst at the United Nations in Jordan helping refugees.
“Humanitarian supply chains are subject to unique challenges,” he said. “The location and volume of demand for aid is not known, donations are highly uncertain, and transportation infrastructure has often been damaged.”
This work relies on trust amongst various agencies all working to reduce human suffering. At the request of USAID, Professor Ozpolat and Associate Professor of Electrical, Computer, and Biomedical Engineering Resit Sendag are working with three students to develop an online tool showing how supply chain principles affect donations made in a time of need. The donations calculator will show the public the true cost of making unsolicited material donations, such as clothing, instead of money.
The opportunity to work in an array of areas within supply chain appealed to Hermiz. “The outlook is really positive. It’s so versatile what you can do. People have the same degree but there are so many areas and that makes it more flexible for job opportunities,” she said.
*Top-Ranked: URI’s Supply Chain Management program is ranked among the top 25 programs that are approved by the Institute of Supply Management. It is also cited as a premier program by the American Society of Transportation and Logistics.