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Michigan State University: Where experts in supply chain management are made

Malawi-born Dennis M. Mauwa is enjoying a fruitful career in supply chain management. Since graduating with an undergraduate degree in the field, he has gone on to work at Kellogg Company and Parker Hannifin. Even after landing a role at Pfizer, he knew he wasn’t done and opted to pursue a graduate degree in the field to gain a deeper understanding and application of supply chain strategies and technologies. One university’s postgraduate programme in supply chain management, however, stood out from others.

“During my undergraduate degree, I interned at several prominent companies where I worked with several Michigan State University (MSU) alumni of the supply chain programme,” he says. “Through the exposure of working with some of the most creative and innovative supply chain professionals, I came to appreciate the value of the supply chain education at MSU.” Upon graduation, he had made it his mission to pursue his graduate degree from the university.

The MSU Eli Broad College of Business’ Master of Science in Supply Chain Management programme has this effect on professionals looking to become experts in their field. It’s a unique programme that provides learners with deep knowledge of the field. The programme is also convenient for busy professionals.

It is offered in an online format, with three-day on-campus residency sessions –– each of which can be completed while students hold on to their full-time jobs. The M.S. in Supply Chain Management can be completed in under two years.

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The Master’s in Supply Chain Management is ideal for individuals who wish to hold on to their full-time jobs. Source: Michigan State University

The online component allows students to study from the comfort of home, and use the on-campus sessions to network and pick on the brains of a world-class faculty. The flexible nature of the programme enables students to apply their newfound knowledge in their respective workplaces immediately.

Students will learn ways to drive innovation and vision for their respective organisations, how to develop and implement integrated supply chain strategies, understand the relationship of supply chain management to information technology and innovation processes, to name a few.

Attesting to Broad’s prowess in supply chain management are its rankings. The School is top-ranked nationally in supply chain management/logistics undergraduate and graduate programmes by the U.S. News & World Report, 2022.

Mauwa’s current role as supply planner at Pfizer revolves around crafting production schedules of Pfizer’s API manufacturing to ensure plans are within budget and meet the demands across major product lines. “This role allows me to apply a lot of supply chain integration and coordination concepts and techniques that enable me to have a holistic view and understanding of the different pieces of the site’s operations that must align to support the business objectives cost-effectively,” he says.

“The knowledge gained through the M.S. in Supply Chain Management, especially the criticality of building and managing relationships, is something that is and will continue to be vital as I pursue my career to a role that involves a larger portion of strategic management and direction beyond the supply chain,” says Mauwa.

His time at MSU proved memorable. Three classes that stood out the most were communication in supply chain management, applied data analysis, and the field research project. “These classes were so insightful and made all the pieces come together as far as how a supply chain professional can utilise technical knowledge to find solutions to supply chain challenges,” he enthuses.

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MSU graduates add value to world-renowned companies such as Amazon, Boeing, Deloitte, Dell, Intel, Target, Tesla, and more. Source: Michigan State University

“I also learned to succinctly communicate with a variety of audiences and effectively implement the recommended solutions to ensure long-term success –– all while continuously making improvements on an on-going basis.”

Mauwa is especially thankful to three professors who have contributed to his professional growth. In a technology and product innovation management class, Sriram Narayanan helped him see the connections of the innovation concepts covered in lectures and how they drive sustainable innovation.

Research project advisor, Judith Whipple, guided Mauwa throughout his project –– from topic identification to fine-tuning his final draft; Shawnee Vickery, an applied data analysis professor, taught statistics and data in an exciting way and ensured students developed an in-depth grasp of the concepts introduced.

Alumna Qun You from China says Steven Melnyk was her ultimate mentor. “He didn’t just give the answers away, he made you think. This was sort of frustrating, but it helped me understand the material much better,” she says. “In his class, I learned methods I’ll never forget.”

Qun You’s career at ABB Robotics transported her from Shanghai to a new factory in Auburn Hills, Michigan, where she was tasked to support the company’s supply chain system in the US. While in China, she had grand plans to pursue a postgraduate degree, but a long-term assignment prompted her to wait. Things took a turn after three years in a new country. She kept stumbling upon MSU’s M.S. in Supply Chain Management, and eventually took it as a sign to enroll.

“I wanted to expand my knowledge of fields related to my area of specialisation,” she explains, adding that she was also eager to acquire skills in new technologies that would be relevant to the industry. That’s exactly what the programme did for her.

Altogether, these educators have made Mauwa and Qun You the supply chain professionals they aretoday. Mauwa uses many of the skills gained during the programme in his current role. This includes soft skills like communication, crucial for supply chain professionals when articulating concepts that improve business performance with diverse people.

He uses data analysis to identify problems and devise solutions that are data-based, and problem-solving and critical thinking to identify the root causes of underlying business challenges and craft feasible solutions.

Ultimately, MSU graduates become highly sought after professionals with skill sets that multinationals need. While Mauwa continues to thrive in Pfizer, other MSU graduates have gone on to work at world-renowned companies, including Amazon, Boeing, Deloitte, Dell, Intel, Target, Tesla, and more.

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