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MBA Programs In Supply Chain Management Deliver Talent Solutions

Business schools are delivering solutions to increasingly complex supply chain risk. More managers are needed to cope with global and fast-changing chains.

Mon May 11 2015

California State University’s business school at Long Beach will launch a new master’s degree in supply chain management – the latest school to deliver solutions to increasingly complex global supply chain risk.

The MSc, offered jointly by the university’s Center for International Trade and Transportation and College of Business Administration, is one of a growing number to service logistics management.

The program, which can be completed in 16 or 21 months, will provide students with training in modern supply chain management practices, analysis methods, technology solutions and strategy.

California State joins Arizona’s W.P Carey School of Business, which launched a supply chain management course last month. The six-month certificate program at Carey is delivered through an online platform.

The program takes six months or less to complete and is designed to fit into busy working professionals’ schedules, said Professor John Fowler, chair of Carey’s supply chain department.

“This new online certificate program will help participants think more about the company as a whole – about how to manage complex supply chain problems,” he said.

There are already numerous 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.

Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School recently launched a dual-degree in supply chain management with Tsinghua University in Beijing, which will address a need for more executives in China.

There is much demand for fresh talent, say business schools. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 26% increase in logistics jobs by 2020.

Businesses are increasingly interested in keeping costs down, minimizing risk and streamlining efficiency. Companies in most sectors are in need of supply chain managers, according to Sara Williams, a career relationship manager at London’s Cass Business School.

The risk of disruption to chains is running at an almost record high, said an index from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, the sector’s trade body.

John Glen, CIPS economist and senior economics lecturer at Cranfield School of Management, said there had been a step-change in risk since the financial crisis.

“Supply chains have become a lot more complex in the past 20 years,” he said. “It’s not necessarily the case that there is more risk out there but that our supply chains touch them more.”

An ageing workforce and a shortage of talent are also stifling the implementation of innovations like predictive analytics, 3D printing and wearable technologies, according to a survey of more than 400 supply chain executives by professional services firm Deloitte and MHI, the international trade association.

Tech is about lowering costs but can also provide a strategic advantage to companies. “The potential is huge,” said Kasra Ferdows, professor of global manufacturing at Georgetown McDonough School of Business. Technologies have been rolled out as globalization has made supply chains more fragmented, he said.

There is a need for talent at the top, as supply chains become departments with senior-level management, according to Eugene Spiegle, vice chair of the supply chain management department at Rutgers Business School.

These departments are a way to “sustain competitiveness and manage the fast-paced changes caused by both global markets and changing consumer demands”, he said.

To close the talent gap business schools are collaborating with corporations to educate more executives.  

The OneMBA recently ran a logistics program at the headquarters of Airbus, the European aerospace company. The OneMBA is delivered by a group of top business schools including the Netherlands' Rotterdam School of Management.

Other programs in Europe include those offered by the UK’s Cranfield School – MScs in both logistics and supply chain management – and Warwick Business School, also in the UK, which has a master in Supply Chain and Logistics Management.

The US is a leader in this area. High-ranking schools like Ross School of Business and MIT's Sloan School of Management, and the Neeley School of Business, offer masters programs related to supply chain management.

California State’s MSc will benefit from being located within one of the world’s most active supply chain environments.

More than two-dozen Fortune 500 companies are headquartered within an 80-mile radius of the university, it said, and demand for supply chain management talent is “exceptionally high” in the area.

The nearby ports at Long Beach and Los Angeles handle about 40% of US containerized goods, California State said. The close proximity of the university to those businesses gives graduates an advantage in terms of networking and job placements.