Letter from the Academic Director
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By Greg DeCroix
As Jake mentions in his note, the fall semester was quite eventful in terms of the amount of change – or potential change – that was in the air. While that brought some degree of uncertainty and even discomfort at times, it also stimulated some very valuable conversations about our programs and how to make them the best that they can be. In addition to that benefit, it was very gratifying to notice (at least) three things that remained constant throughout the changes and uncertainty:
- The strength of the Center’s community: Jake and Danielle were great sources of stability, perspective and creativity as we used the discussions going on within the school as motivation to imagine ways to strengthen the Center’s portfolio of programs and reach a broader audience. The faculty affiliated with the Center came alongside to share their insights, as did the members of the Executive Advisory Board. Our alumni came forward with an outpouring of enthusiasm for our programs, and our current students stayed engaged, informed and involved in the discussions about the direction of the school. All of this made me even prouder to be affiliated with the Center and its people.
- The strength of the Center’s offerings: While working to chart possible paths forward, Jake, Danielle, and our faculty continued to deliver world-class experiences for our students. Our faculty provided the courses to give students a great foundation in all elements of supply chain management, we had a tremendous set of applied learning activities (thanks, in several cases, to generous contributions of time and effort by our Executive Advisory Board members), our students traveled to case competitions (winning one of them!), companies recruited and hired our students, etc. The programs built by our predecessors over the past couple of decades continued to thrive.
- Opportunities in the field of supply chain management: The world of retail is churning through revolutionary transformation as companies jockey to find the right combination of assets and capabilities to serve consumers (e.g., Amazon bought Whole Foods and is having Kohl’s handle some online returns; Wal-Mart has continued to acquire online retailers to add to its purchase of Jet.com, etc.). Increasing deployment of sensors is multiplying the amount of data available to help understand and manage the flow of materials around the world. Blockchain promises to bring increased security and transparency to transactions throughout the supply chain (see related article in this newsletter). Shifting political sentiments have led the UK to Brexit and raised questions about NAFTA and other free trade agreements, with significant implications for global supply chains. For individuals who understand supply chain fundamentals and can adapt them to an ever-changing world, the opportunities are endless.
It is an exciting time to be part of this field and a member of our Center’s community!