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Supply Chain Management: the Hot New B-school Course

Learn about the behind-the-scenes job of getting the right product, at the right time, in front of the right people, at the right cost.
BY Uttara Choudhury |   08-04-2014
Supply chain management has become a staple course offered at business schools and knowledge of it is increasingly desired in the corporate world. More than a dozen universities have recently introduced undergraduate majors and MBA courses dedicated to procurement, inventory management and global supply-chain strategy.

With global operations becoming more complex, companies are scrambling to hire people with supply-chain expertise.

“Those high-paying jobs in finance and investment banking are fewer and harder to find. But there is a real opportunity in supply chain management,” says Ravi Khosla, a graduate of Rutgers Business School in Newark, which has a sought after supply chain program for MBA students. “I was heavily recruited by companies,” he says.

After companies started asking for undergrads with supply chain management skills, Rutgers Business School created an undergraduate major, introduced in the fall of 2010.  Almost 500 students signed up for the program in its first offering. Top employers hiring from Rutgers include Apple, Pfizer, Panasonic Corp and Johnson & Johnson.

The College of Business at Bryant University in Smithfield has also added a supply-chain management undergraduate major and MBA specialization. Courses include global sourcing and social responsibility in the supply chain, and a hands-on consulting project.

It’s a Global Business

Most companies today operate far-flung, complex supply chains so a future job in this industry requires working a global network of suppliers and customers. A good supply chain manager must be able to keep a  watch on world markets.

According to U.S. technology research firm Gartner, the “Internet of Things” will significantly alter supply chains, increasing the amount of information available to supply chain professionals.

"Supply chain leaders must design their processes to operate in this digital business world,” says Gartner Managing Vice President Michael Burkett, “This includes fulfilling the new expectations of customers and the volatile demands that digital marketing will create."

Supply chain management involves logistics, sourcing, production, transport, and distribution, as well as engineering and financial considerations involved in each of those elements.

American companies see supply chains as crucial to success as they source from countries as far as India and China to unlock new efficiencies, keep stores stocked and expand global distribution. For example, the iPhone 5S and 5C launch prompted a rush on Wall Street to raise price targets for Apple stock because the speed of the global launch validated Apple CEO Tim Cook’s wizardry at the essential task of managing a supply chain.

The US News and World Report’s top B-schools for supply chain/logistics for 2014 are:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan), Cambridge, MA
  2. Michigan State University (Broad), East Lansing, MI
  3. Arizona State University (Carey), Tempe, AZ
  4. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper), Pittsburgh, PA
  5. Stanford University, Stanford, CA
  6. Pennsylvania State University-​University Park (Smeal), PA
  7. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), Philadelphia, PA
  8. Ohio State University (Fisher), Columbus, OH
  9. University of Michigan-​Ann Arbor (Ross), Ann Arbor, MI
  10. Purdue University-​West Lafayette (Krannert), West Lafayette, IN
  11. University of Tennessee-​Knoxville, Knoxville, TN 

A Paying Job

New supply-chain grads are expected to hit the ground running - landing jobs as purchasing managers, logistics managers or consultants. Jobs are well compensated, but often come with long hours, requiring dealing with suppliers in different time zones.

The average starting salary for full time MBAs with a specialization in supply chain management hovers around $96,000. There is often a five-digit signing bonus on average. At the MBA level, Arizona State University students who took operations or supply-chain jobs reported starting salaries averaging $97,481, compared with $92,556 for all MBAs.

Uttara Choudhury is Editor, North America for TV 18’s Firstpost news site. In 1997, she went on the British Chevening Scholarship to study Journalism at the University of Westminster, in London. 


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