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MSU supply chain seminar brings process to life for practitioners

By Alan Piñon

MSU’s no. 1 ranked supply chain management program is recognized for its ability to develop and disseminate knowledge regarding integrated end-to-end supply chains. Supply chain success requires understanding how a multitude of activities can be coordinated and how each decision made at any point along the process will cascade down and affect the outcomes of the entire operation. For 50 years, the Supply Chain Logistics Management Executive Seminar has provided a means for industry professionals to better understand this process and develop initiatives and strategies to enhance their supply chain’s success.

“This program has a couple of distinctive aspects. We have incredibly strong faculty, all of whom have very practical orientations. They are humble and approachable. This allows them to bring key theories into the classroom in an understandable way, even for people who may not have had the benefit of a formal supply chain education,” said Dave Closs, chairperson of the Department of Supply Chain Management and the John H. McConnell Chair in Business Administration at Michigan State University.

Classroom Photos @ Henry CenterThe humble, student-first approach to learning and the 50 years of the seminar’s existence has made the program into a well-oiled, tried-and-true experience that both takes participants through the nuts and bolts of supply chain and provides a deep understanding of the strategies that underpin the entire process. The seminar also includes extensive use of best practice examples and group discussion around key strategies.

One of the key elements of the program that allows for such a thorough experience is the simulation, which brings the ideas taught in the seminar to life.

“Participants in this program go end-to-end in the supply chain and logistics process. They will focus on everything from manufacturing and purchasing to transportation and customer service. All of the building blocks of the supply chain process are touched upon,” said Stanley Griffis, associate professor of logistics. “The simulation plays out over the course of the week as a unique learning experience. They can apply the lessons they learn in the sessions and view how their decisions in key areas interact throughout the supply chain. The simulation provides a hands-on experience regarding how the classroom concepts can be applied in a no-risk environment,” he said.

This comprehensive approach to theory, combined with a hands-on practical application component, has made the seminar a boon to those in the industry looking to take their career to the next level, Griffis added.

Past program participant Patricia Dean, director of supply chain planning and logistics services for Dow Corning, said the program improved her knowledge of the business so she could effectively communicate to her employees and colleagues and strategize improvements for the company.

“Being a chemical engineer by degree, I had a strong desire to up my supply chain game. MSU is a leading university in supply chain education, and they helped do exactly what I needed. I expanded my overall supply chain knowledge to enable me to lead and challenge my team, and I boosted my knowledge and skill to effectively influence upward in my organization to expand the value that supply chain brings to the business,” she said.


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