Degree in Supply Chain Management Puts Students on Fast Track to Success
For many, it is not necessary to know how the item on sale at the local store made its way there. But for supply chain managers, they make it their business to know as they are responsible for everything involved in getting the product to the consumer.
Supply chain managers' activities include planning, forecasting, purchasing, assembly, moving, storage and tracking products. They are in high demand and there is a limited supply of qualified individuals.
"Recognizing the trend in the growing industry sector of transportation and logistics in the greater Lehigh Valley, along with an increase in inquiries from potential students interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree in the field of supply chain management, the leadership team of Muhlenberg College Wescoe School of Continuing Education convened an advisory board of subject matter experts, representing diverse industries such as specialty manufacturing, energy and chemical production, to discuss the addition of a concentration in supply chain management to our popular business administration program," Jane Hudak, dean, the Wescoe School, said.
"The committee provided industry expertise and advice regarding what the program should include to provide our students a well-rounded curriculum in this complex field," Hudak said.
The accelerated degree program in supply chain management at the college is made up of several two to five person teams. The team members work together the entire length of the 22-month program.
The projects and teaming are based on real-world business environments. Teams meet once a week and complete 17 modules (courses) of study. They also meet with their teams once a week outside of the formal weekly classroom setting to prepare for their projects/class. Books are included in this degree program and teams are assigned a mentor for the entire time of the program.
Wescoe Instructor Glenn Price says careers in this industry include supply chain, demand planning, logistics, strategic procurement and manufacturing.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 125,900 logistics jobs in 2012 with a growth outlook between 2012 and 2022 of 22 percent, much faster than average. The median annual wage for a logistics' professional was $72,780 in 2012.
"Students are in the field already– senior buyers or warehouse managers, running a forklift, line personnel or production planning," Price said. "These students want a more senior level management position with more responsibility. In supply chain, they manage the production planning for a factory or the supply of products from manufacturers to distribution centers to meet the customer's requirements."
Price, vice president of global sourcing and sustainability at Crayola LLC, Easton, gave an example of how a supply chain manager works and interacts with others at Crayola.
"Crayola manufactures markers and sells them to customers. The sales department will forecast the customers' requirements, the production planning manager puts a production schedule together, issues the plan to the operating floor, the manufacturing staff will manufacture the products which will then be transferred to the distribution manager who will receive the goods and plan the shipments to customers," Price said.
"This program is catered to the working student who has about half of their degree complete," Price said.
Price said the students are required to do projects as a team. They learn how to manage their time, each other and learn how to work with others and resolve conflicts.
"This experience helps them adapt to any work situation," Price said.
Operating philosophy, planning, scheduling and inventory, strategic procurement, logistics and distribution management are also covered in the program, according to Price.
"Students learn how to evaluate and determine who their key suppliers are going to be, how to get the product to the customer for the lowest total cost and everything in between," Price said.
Price believes the students, upon graduation, can be very successful.
"Many have a great deal of experience," Price said. "Now with a degree and the theory behind it, they will be empowered to go anywhere they want in their career. Because they already have experience in the field, the classroom experience and how they work together makes a very special classroom."
Muhlenberg Alum, Jeff Miller, an associate director of materials management at B. Braun Medical, Inc., Bethlehem, currently handles everything related to the supply chain for the manufacturing operations.
"I am responsible for three departments' planning operations, purchasing and warehouse operations, scheduling production, ordering of materials to meet the schedule and receiving and transferring the materials to the production floor," Miller said.
With 30 years in purchasing and materials management, Miller said additional schooling was necessary to obtain a director position or above.
"I researched adult programs at schools," Miller said. "What I liked about Muhlenberg was the fact they had a concentration and a degree program based on supply chain management."
Miller said the supply chain is the hub of every organization–research and development, finance, engineering, manufacturing, sales and marketing.
"The program at Muhlenberg teaches you how to be a team player and interact with others. I like the fact what I learned is applicable to my current job. I can apply those lessons to a real-world environment."
Along with the education piece, Miller said an emphasis is on life experience to be accepted into the program.
"It's a demanding program from an academic perspective yet you still have time to work and be with your family," Miller said.
For Miller, he said he could apply at least one takeaway from every module in the degree program to apply to his current workplace.
"I enjoyed the program and the instructors were great. I would highly recommend it."
For more information on a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in supply chain management, contact the Wescoe School at www.muhlenberg.edu/wescoe or to speak with an academic advisor, contact 484-664-3300 or wescoe@ muhlenberg.edu.