PSU Career Exploration: Jobs in Supply Chain

As we discussed in a previous post, the PSU Graduate Business School Career Services group is ramping up its efforts to expose students to career perspectives and information about the various career paths available to them upon graduation. An exciting addition to the regular workshops and resume building sessions are the career panels that Career Services have assembled. Last week, a number of graduate students from all SBA programs had the opportunity to meet and ask questions to several local supply chain professionals. The panel consisted of a supply chain innovation director at Nike, a technology and supply chain consultant with Clean Future,  an inventory control and procurement manager from Johnstone Supply, and a strategic customer manager from DHL Global Forwarding. It was encouraging to know that three or the four were PSU alums who have enjoyed exciting careers since leaving their respective programs. Each panelist came with their own perspectives and backgrounds, but all had amazing insights into what it takes to be a success in the industry. 

In writing this post, I found it difficult to narrow down the most important take-aways from the panel–there were too many! Even as a supply chain professional with several years (and countless industry seminars) under my belt, I found the panelists’ insights refreshing and unique. Below are some of my favorite points from this amazing session:

The value of an MBA vs. hard skills learned on the job— The general consensus among the groups was that experience is always helpful, but the ability to combine theoretical and practical skill sets can bring a more holistic perspective to a supply chain role. One of the PSU alums on the panel reminded the group of the multitude of opportunities we have as PSU students by way of internships, connections to well-connected professors and staff and mentorships, to name a few. He had taken absolutely every internship opportunity that came his way during his time at PSU, which eventually landed him a job!

The panelists also agreed that it’s not only the theoretical take-aways of business degree that matter on the job–it’s the collaborative nature of business programs that can help a person work in the supply chain realm. I have always seen the operations department as the hub of a company (some may disagree). We make things happen, we make things move, we get the product were it needs to be, so naturally, we need to work across functions to do our jobs effectively. The panelists mirrored this opinion and added that being able to communicate differently to different audiences is a great skill to carry into a job.

The significance of a global perspective– This point resonated with the MIMers quite a bit… this is what we’re here for! An attendee, surprisingly not an MIM student, asked how a global outlook would help in a supply chain job. The panelists had differing opinions, as some of them were strictly in a domestic role, but most agreed that a culturally aware individual would work well in a supply chain role. Although the language of business is still English, the cultural aspects of the countries you work with are important to understand. The Nike professional mentioned that in his role, he needed to develop an understanding on how people on his global team (India, China, Malaysia) would react differently to challenges, and how they might communicated differently than his local team members.

Love what you do!– It was hard for anyone attending the panel discussion to ignore the fact that these are tough times. Jobs are a little harder to find these days, but a couple of the panelists assured us that with passion for our careers, we can go far. Although it might take some sacrifice as you work your way up the ladder, it’s worth it if you really enjoy what you’re doing!

If you are a graduate student at the PSU School of Business, check out upcoming panels and career workshops at PSU CareerForward! For prospective MIM candidates, contact us at for more information!

Emily is in year two of the part-time Master of International Management experience. She brings a great amount of world travel and professional experience to the program. After two years of living in Taiwan, Emily returned to her native Portland to start the MIM in 2010. Emily currently works in global logistics for a Portland-based footwear company and is passionate about the burgeoning outdoor industry in the Pacific Northwest. Emily has pursued the supply and logistics specialization of the MIM, and is currently studying Mandarin Chinese.

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Filed under Careers, Consulting, Internships, Job Search, Networking

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