Switching Gears with an MS in Supply Chain Management

John Powell, American Airlines
John Powell (MS-SCM, 2016) didn’t always know what his true calling was. Before coming to Neeley, he spent years wondering if he was making the best use of his technical, organizational and leadership abilities. He enrolled in TCU’s MS in Supply Chain Management program as a seasoned professional, with experience as both an entrepreneur and a corporate consultant.  

"Many years ago, I helped build and manage a business for about five years. The business designed and manufactured products for equestrians and landowners. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I was primarily doing supply chain management (negotiating contracts, managing suppliers, finding new channels of distribution, etc.),” he says. “I left the business and went into consulting for four years for tech and HCM companies. However, when I was in consulting I always looked back at what I was doing prior with fondness and knew that I had developed a passion for supply chain. It then became my goal to pursue a career in supply chain, and in order to transition careers, selecting the right degree program became imperative.”

Luckily for John, his revelation coincided with significant growth in this job sector. In fact, according to recent projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for supply chain managers is expected to increase at a rate of more than 20 percent. Moreover, industries outside of manufacturing are beginning to understand the value of constantly fine-tuning operations, the profitability of closing every efficiency gap, the importance of maximizing their investment in data and the necessity of mastering the complexities of a fully digital 24/7 marketplace.

“Supply chain impacts every business and it is one of the areas of expertise every employer is seeking,” he says. 

John found TCU to be a good match for him for many reasons. He knew his work history and transferable skills would count for something at TCU, and he understood that the school’s national reputation would help him in his search for prospective employers. John also welcomed the flexibility of the MS schedule. He was able to complete his coursework during the evenings while holding down a steady job and meeting his family obligations.

Still, John acknowledges that TCU’s unique supply chain curriculum played the most crucial role in opening doors for him. “TCU doesn’t just teach the theoretical aspects of supply chain management. TCU also makes sure its students learn real-world applications of good supply chain management principles,” he says. “The professors are all scholars, but they also typically bring substantial private sector experience to the classroom. Classes are small, which enables productive conversations to occur with both students and professors. The majority of the case studies and group projects pair you with the same team members, and that forges strong bonds and promotes an atmosphere where everyone is rooting for everyone else’s success. My MS in Supply Chain Management has provided me with lifelong friends, mentors, a national peer network and the confidence to change careers before I even graduated.”

John currently works for American Airlines as a senior commodity manager on the company’s Procurement Strategy Team. John's newly created position is centered on developing and implementing strategic programs that don’t just impact the supply chain, but also involve him in risk management, corporate social responsibility and supplier relationship management.

In a short period, John went from being vaguely dissatisfied with his career to seizing an exciting opportunity situated at the forefront of important business trends in global commerce.

“I’m the perfect example of someone who did not have any real academic training in supply chain management, but, because of my work experience and desire to learn, was able to leverage my choice to continue my education and change my career,” he says. “Becoming a Horned Frog is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Visit the Neeley School of Business School website to see if pursuing as MS in Supply Chain Management is right for you.

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