Education: Howard University’s SCM program gains traction

The SCM curriculum represents the MBA Program’s commitment to produce graduates who are well-equipped to cope with the very latest trends in supply management

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In a supply chain galaxy fraught with risk, a new generation of young people are being schooled in contingency planning and worst-case scenarios.

“Colleges and universities have to get their graduates ready to hit the ground running,” said Kris Colby, a board member of Howard University’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program. “New hires will have sophisticated forecasting and management technology to use, but they must really be ready to implement change when they enter the workforce.”

Howard University implemented its SCM Program in 2001. Since its inception the program has been well received by students and corporate supporters like Dell, Eaton, Electrolux, Ariba, IBM, Raytheon, Tyco, United Technologies, and others. The SCM curriculum represents the MBA Program’s commitment to produce graduates who are well-equipped to cope with the very latest trends in supply management.

“While most students know the basics about sourcing events, Howard’s instructors ‘get them into the weeds’ when it comes to setting up good vendor negotiations, and building out a project,” said Colby.
The program’s goals, he said, are diverse. Among them are: 

• Deliver quality education to students in a way that will enable them to demonstrate high value to their future employers.
• Attract outstanding students who, based on their past academic and business achievements, will be tomorrow’s business leaders, particularly in the SCM field.
• Establish a wide network of contacts with U.S. companies that are leaders in the SCM field and that can help provide internships, guidance, and funding for the program.
• Provide a satisfactory return to the companies who invest in the program in a way that will promote continued involvement.
• Place Howard University among the top educational institutions?for teaching and research in SCM.

Colby, who also works as the strategic alliance manager for Ariba, said that Howard University students used Ariba’s platform to conduct a sourcing event.

“It’s a new way the school’s using technology to assist how supply chain professionals source and procure materials necessary to run a business,” he said. “Students learn how to save their future companies thousands in supply chain costs. It also provided them with an introduction to the cloud; a key differentiator for Howard’s business school in a crowded marketplace.”

But while this experience may give some graduates an advantage when seeking employment, executive recruiters maintain that on-the-job training is a given.

“Those students that have more than five years experience in the field before pursuing an advanced degree are going to be much more successful,” said Lynn Failing, vice president of Kimmel & Associates, a leading placement firm in the supply chain arena.

“And ultimately, the school will succeed if concentrates on leadership, as well as training.”

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About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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