The increasingly international nature of the supply chain means that companies in most sectors are in need of managers to lead the innovation of their logistics.
“We see many large businesses demanding talent for supply chain management roles,” said Zeynep Flouret, assistant director of corporate partnership development at INSEAD, a global business school.
Arizona’s W.P Carey School of Business became the latest to launch a logistics program this month with a course designed for working managers.
The six-month certificate program is delivered through an online platform and will be taught by instructors from the school’s supply chain management department.
There are now a wide range of online programs: California’s Marshall School of Business runs an MS in Global Supply Chain Management, for instance, and Governors’ College of Business offers an online MBA with a supply chain management specialization.
Carey already offers an MS in Supply Chain Management, which costs up to $46,700, and gives students the option of adding engineering as a subject.
Professor John Fowler, chair of Carey’s supply chain department, said that the new course will help participants think more about companies as a whole.
This is a criticism of business schools’ supply chain programs. Supply chains are increasingly cross-functional and professors say they cannot be taught in isolation.
Meanwhile, Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School recently launched a dual-degree in supply chains with Tsinghua University in Beijing, which will address a need for more executives in China.
“China is the top manufacturer in the world,” said Professor Zheng Li, a director at Tsinghua University. “[It] requires many business leaders with global views, innovative thinking and solid management theories.”
Business schools are now also delivering supply chain courses with large companies.
The OneMBA last month ran a logistics program at the headquarters of Airbus, the European aerospace group. The MBA is delivered by a group of top business schools including Rotterdam School of Management and Kenan-Flagler.
Students were taken through the Airbus’ supply chain processes, as well as the operations side of the business.
One executive who completed the Airbus program said that the company is able to create reliable products because its aircraft assemblies come together from a supply chain.
Globalization has pushed supply chains to be longer, more dynamic and carry greater risk than ever before.
There is a need for trained talent but Rotterdam’s logistics course is one of relatively few offered by top business schools in Europe.
The UK’s Cranfield SOM runs two programs – MScs in both logistics and supply chain management – and Warwick Business School has a master in Supply Chain and Logistics Management.
Camelot, a European management consultancy firm, recently joined forces with Germany’s Mannheim Business School and sent consultants to study a part-time MBA with a focus on supply chain management at Warwick in the UK.
Josef Packowski, chief executive of Camelot, said the combination of practical work experience in global supply chain management and training at business schools offers managers “perfect career advancement”.
As more companies seek to create value for their consumers innovative solutions are needed to ensure impact is felt for all stakeholders.
Technologies like cloud computing and automation software have increasingly been called upon to address the complex needs of supply chains, and these topics are becoming a focus at business schools.
Jon Gibson, head of logistics at global supply chain consultancy Crimson & Co, said that organizations are automating their supply chains to improve cost efficiencies.
“This might be to address issues with skills and labour shortages or [to] align budgets,” he said.
Companies are increasingly interested in not just keeping costs down, but minimizing risk and streamlining efficiency.
“Supply chain efficiency is becoming an increasingly significant issue for a widening pool of organisations,” said Sara Williams, a career relationship manager at Cass Business School in London.
Cass is one of a swelling group of top business schools to offer specialist masters programs in supply chain management. Its MSc in Global Supply Chain Management, which costs £18,000 in fees, is based in London and is spread over 12 months.
This is in response to recruiter demand. W.P Carey cites figures from Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating a 26% increase in logistics jobs by 2020.
Sara at Cass added that most sectors – like fast-moving consumer goods, energy and healthcare – recruit supply chain managers, in addition to specialist logistics and providers such as UPS and DHL.
UK employers’ group the CBI has pointed out the skills shortage amongst UK supply chain firms, in a sector it said could potentially add £30 billion to the British economy.
“Not only have supply chains become a focus but in many companies they have become a department with senior level management,” said Eugene Spiegle, vice chair of the supply chain management department at Rutgers Business School.
Rutgers offers an MBA in Supply Chain Management, a specialization within its full-time MBA program.
The MBA, which costs $21,329 in tuition per semester, has three courses in the supply chain track – management strategies, procurement management and global sourcing.
Other business schools in the US have similar specializations, such as Houston’s C.T Bauer College of Business, and Bryant University’s College of Business, which runs a global supply chain management concentration within its MBA.
C.T Bauer also plans to launch a masters program in supply chain management in 2015.
Ola Almadhaji, president of Bauer’s Supply Chain Student Association, said: “Our vision for the supply chain program is for us to be at the forefront of the industry.”
For masters degrees, there are now plenty more options: the Ross School of Business, MIT's Sloan School of Management and the Neeley School of Business – all US-based – offer masters courses related to supply chain management.