We often talk, as we should, about supply chain optimization. Today, I'd like us to take a longer look and suggest that this optimization begins by cultivating the talent our industry needs to meet the challenges of the future.
Last month, as part of the annual Avnet Tech Games, we hosted the “Supply Chain Challenge” — a virtual supply chain simulation designed by Responsive Learning Technologies and used in supply chain curricula at colleges and universities around the world.
A hundred teams and 325 undergraduate and graduate students from 41 schools competed in the simulation that compressed two years of business activity into an intense four-hour competition, challenging the student's analytical skills and their supply chain knowledge. A team from Yale University won the competition. However, it could have been a team of students from anywhere in the world.
Truly, the caliber of supply chain curricula available the world over is impressive and reflects the importance of supply chain management in today's globalized business community. Moreover, the caliber of students attracted to these majors is equally impressive and reflective of career opportunities in the field. However, when looking toward the future it is not enough to assume that schools can do this by themselves. In fact, the vibrancy of these programs depends on a two-way engagement between supply chain leaders and higher education.
As supply chain professionals and leaders in the field, each of us can “pay it forward” and make a difference by becoming directly involved with the departments of supply chain management at schools in our communities, sharing our knowledge, experience, and understanding of the dynamics that drive the global supply chain.
Doing this is personally rewarding and can take many forms. At Avnet we regularly participate in the classroom as guest speakers, sponsor MBA student teams working on projects at our facilities, offer supply chain internships, and participate on curriculum advisory boards. We also host class visits, inviting professors to bring their students on tours of our logistics facilities, followed by a Q&A session with members of our management team. Each time we have done this we have learned from the students, gained insight, and been energized.
So begin optimizing tomorrow's supply chain by reaching out today and contacting your local college. I welcome your input and thoughts on this subject.