James Haddow, Head of the Center for Excellence in Supply Chain Management at Howard University, engaged the audience on how best to prepare students of supply-chain management to excel in the workforce.
Haddow began his keynote presentation at the 2017 Leadership in Supply Chain and Procurement Forum, held on November 16 in New York, by announcing he’d be doing an interactive presentation. He first asked for input from the audience on four questions:
• Which skills, talents, and/or competencies are crucial for students to succeed in the supply chain field?
• What are corporations looking for when hiring SCM students today?
• What will corporations be looking for when hiring SCM students in the future?
• What enhancements are critical for university supply-chain management programs?
Haddow mentioned that most universities that offer supply-chain management programs include core courses such as procurement management, logistics/transportation management, global supply-chain management or integration, production and operations management, and project management. In addition, industry surveys have outlined the following important skills and attributes that supply-chain management graduates need:
• Problem solving
• Ability to work in teams
• Broad understanding of supply-chain concepts
• Analytics capability
• Relevant, real-world experience
• Ability to see the “big picture”
• Balance of IT and tech skills
• Leadership and communication skills
• Understanding of supply-chain risks
“I want your feedback on what graduates need to know that will help you,” stated Haddow. “Do we enhance existing courses or add new courses?” he asked, and then requested a show of hands for each option. The response was about 50-50. “Sometimes we can’t easily embed new things into existing courses. This past Fall, we introduced a course on data analytics and Big Data. The focus is on how to approach, frame, and analyze a situation—what data to use and how to analyze it to come up with a recommendation.”
“Do we enhance existing courses or add new courses? Sometimes we can’t easily embed new things into existing courses.”
To augment existing courses, Haddow suggested incorporating new SCM concepts to enhance awareness and broaden skills. These new SCM concepts include:
• Robotics/IoT/artificial intelligence
• Business/data analytics/predictive analytics
• Smart manufacturing/factory of the future/3-D printing
• Logistics of the future: drones, autonomous vehicles
• Corporate responsibility
• E-commerce/social media (formats, interactive, targets, etc.)
• Digital enterprise/Blockchain
• Industry 4.0
“What courses or areas of education are missing?” he asked the audience. Audience responses included:
• Innovation management
• Transformation in leadership
• Change management
• Critical thinking/communications
• Adaptation and agility
• Strategies for the future
• Understanding market trends, including monitoring social media
“Do we need more soft skills such as working in teams, communications, leadership, stakeholder management, etc.? How about hands-on technology skills such as applications, tools, etc.?” Haddow asked how many people had these in their organization. A few audience members raised their hands. “How do we bring these in? One thing we did was create monthly workshops on leadership skills outside our curriculum,” he said.
“Do we need more soft skills such as working in teams, communications, leadership, stakeholder management, etc.? How about hands-on technology skills such as applications, tools, etc.?”
“Any more thoughts on these?” asked Haddow. A member of the audience suggested streamlining the processes around applications. Another suggested more human-centered design. We need to make sure graduates have some leadership skills that can be fine-tuned as they evolve in the organization, offered another.
Lastly, Haddow asked, “What other innovative ideas do you have that will enhance the knowledge base and skills of graduates with supply-chain degrees?” Responses included:
• Bringing in alumni to talk to students about what they’re doing now
• Expanding case competitions internal to a number of classes in which students are presented with problems, make recommendations, and defend those recommendations
• Expanding teaching to include information about major industries such as banking
• Highlighting the service side of things as much as production
• Making sure all students have a good foundation in core courses such as procurement, operations, and negotiations
• Ensuring students know some basic coding
• Using alternatives to textbooks such as The Wall Street Journal and other real-world teaching tools for discussing challenges that are happening today
• Putting more emphasis on soft skills
ABOUT JAMES HADDOW:
Jim is Director of the Center for Excellence in Supply Chain Management at Howard University in Washington DC. Jim also teaches a range of supply-chain management courses to both undergraduate and graduate-level students. He’s a faculty advisor supporting students participating in various supply-chain activities including student teams during supply chain case competitions. Jim has made supply-chain presentations at various ISM, APICS, IMC, ARS, and other global conferences.
Jim retired as Director of Global Procurement (CPO) and a Supply Chain consultant for a global consulting firm. His consulting and industry experience encompass global procurement, supply chain management, business planning, and commercial business development. His 30-year career provides real-world teaching examples for his students.
Jim has helped companies around the world address supply-chain issues ranging from the purchasing of “trees” for a pulp manufacturer to implementing travel-related services and systems for the global consulting firm where he worked.
Jim graduated from the University of Maryland, earning a B.S. in both Business and Management plus an MBA with a concentration in Logistics. His affiliations include ISM, CSCMP, and APICS. He serves on advisory boards and committees of local community and national organizations.