Industry Insight: Supply Chain Management

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Dr. Morgan Swink, professor, Eunice and James L. West Chair of Supply Chain Management and executive director of the Neeley School’s Supply and Value Chain Center, has extensive experience in supply chain and operations management, including a decade with Texas Instruments. We asked Dr. Swink about the trends in the supply chain industry and how students can best position themselves for success in the field. 

SCM World ranks TCU’s supply chain program No. 13 in the nation and No. 17 in the world for developing supply chain talent. Yet unlike other programs focused on operations management, TCU’s supply chain programs offer an end-to-end supply chain curriculum, providing students an integrated view of the industry.

“If a graduate student comes to TCU, they will get exposure and insight on the customer-facing side of supply chain — demand management, service, etc. — as well as the supply-facing side — global sourcing, purchasing, internal operations, production planning, management and processes,” explains Dr. Swink. “We focus on how the different elements of the supply chain work together. That’s the power of the supply chain paradigm.”

Technology

Technology is driving a lot of change, says Swink. Many of the things you hear about — big data, artificial intelligence — offer a lot of opportunity in terms of supply chain planning. On the processing side, robots, drones and 3-D printing are all creating a lot of buzz and potential for change. On the connectivity side, there’s the Internet of Things, communications, technology all driving change. Technology is just a big area.

Finance

A lot of supply chain managers are thinking in financial terms, discovering that supply chain is a driver of financial outcomes. Talking about the finance of supply chain — working capital and supplier terms — and understanding that the sources of capital are easier and cheaper to get than debt- or equity-based financing.

“Supply chain managers are thinking about financial outcomes and discovering that supply chain is a driver of many financial outcomes,” Swink says. “There’s a lot of volatility in currencies, fuel prices, oil, etc., making financing of operations an important issue.”

Organizational Changes

In a lot of multi-divisional, multi-national corporations, supply chain functions have been managed independently. But now you’re seeing centralization. A key indicator of the importance of supply chain in today’s business is that many companies are creating Chief Supply Chain Officer positions, a C-level umbrella role covering internal operations, procurement, customer-facing activities and even sales.

Supply Chain and the Neeley School

The Neeley School’s supply chain management curriculum is designed to be fluid and flexible to respond to industry trends within the classroom setting. Students interested in supply chain management will find an intimate classroom setting, a focus on active learning and an understanding of the relationship between the global and cross-functional supply chain.

Neeley’s supply chain faculty members have the knowledge and industry experience to equip students looking to get their MBA with a supply chain management concentration or their MS in supply chain with the tools they need to succeed. Faculty members are not only publishing in top research journals but also have tight connections in the industry and frequently consult with leading companies on supply chain issues.

“The Center for Supply Chain Innovation is about making connections between the business community, students and faculty,” Dr. Swink says. Those connections are made through roundtable events, conferences, C-Level Confidentials and other events that get students in front of industry leaders.

“It’s a great time to get into supply chain management,” says Dr. Swink. “There are more jobs than students; it’s just a great time to get into the field.”

Interested in getting a TCU MBA? Request more info about the Neeley School of Business graduate program.

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