Two Decades of Evolution in Supply Chain Education

Tim Brown, managing director of the Supply Chain & Logistics Institute at Georgia Tech, describes how supply chain education has evolved over the past two decades and highlights how the Institute is employing internet and hybrid classes to expand its continuing education program.

Brown has been involved in professional education for supply chain practitioners for 23 years. Early in that career, he says, courses were on niche topics like computerized truck routing or using spreadsheets to calculate inventory targets. “The topics were very narrowly defined with maybe 25 people in a class,” says BDepositphotos_burakowskirown.

That changed in the late 1990s, when the trend was for large lecture classes on broad topics covering several subjects, perhaps taught by a team. After 9/11 the landscape shifted again. “People were not traveling as much and classes again became smaller, but also much more interactive,” says Brown.
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“Courses on such topics as sales and operations planning covered not only people, processes and technology, but also included hands-on use of tools and more case studies. Students often brought real-world problems from the workplace into the classroom and got specific advice on how to address those issues.”

Today’s professional education students often are focused on enhancing skills around sourcing and procurement, particularly in the context of global trade, says Brown. “Sales and operations planning remains a hot topic, as do courses on Lean and engineering the warehouse.”

Brown believes that professional education courses can play an important role in closing the supply chain talent gap. The Supply Chain & Logistics Institute is offering courses to help former military personnel transfer their logistics skills to the private sector. “In Savannah, where an estimated 1600 military personnel are decommissioned every six months, we are ramping up courses in supply chain fundamentals to help these candidates shift from military lingo to commercial language and reporting structures,” says Brown. “We also offer courses on various themes, such as Lean and supply chain project management.”

The Institute also is taking advantage of the growth in internet classes or hybrid classes that combine internet instruction with some time in class, he says. It currently offers eight different online and hybrid courses linked to the new certification exams that CSCMP will offer in various supply chain domains, and it is translating some of courses into Spanish for online offerings in Panama, Costa Rica and other countries.

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