What is the Supply Chain Management profession? …and the meaning of life.

I’ve spent the last 7 years of my life, deep in the Supply Chain Management field. I was initially hooked on Supply Chain when I discovered it’s the process of how stuff gets made, and gets into your hands. I now see that it’s so much more than that. My undergrad education at Clarkson taught me… mainly the joy of hops in craft beer. The program’s director instilled in us that Supply Chain would become a critically important business function over the course of our careers. Well, I’m happy to tell you that man was right on the money.

The concepts of Supply Chain didn’t really click for me until I left undergrad and joined Accenture’s SCM Management Consulting practice. 4 years in consulting taught me that Supply Chains add value in 3 ways (rule #1 of consulting is that everything comes in threes):

  1. Drives down bottom-line cost by improving efficiency
  2. Reduces risk and ensures compliance, ensuring the long-term viability of an organization
  3. Drives top-line revenue by opening up new distribution channels and markets

I quickly learned that Supply Chain problems are some of the most complex you’ll ever face. The sourcing, manufacture and distribution of anything involves a multitude of systems, information, resources, geographies and most importantly, people. Take a medical device for example. That device was financed by investors/creditors, designed by surgeons, engineered by mechanical/biomedical engineers, sourced from foundries and chemical plants, manufactured by internal and external partners, inspected, packaged, distributed, stored, shipped/handled (a lot), marketed, implanted in a patient, then paid for (thanks, Medicare taxpayers). You have to execute all of these activities in a way that adds value to customers.

After 8 years of professional experience (4 in consulting, 4 in the med device industry), I’d hit  a ceiling of technical ability. At work, I was constantly being tasked to solve some massive, complex problems using just pivot tables,gut instinct, and napkins.

Supply Chain is a technical discipline and, like any engineering discipline it is reliant on statistics, basic calculus and a strong financial acumen. Attending MIT’s SCM program was not only an opportunity to accelerate my career, but is also a way to dramatically expand my Supply Chain toolkit and blow the roof open on my technical and leadership skills. I find myself leaving class each day, my mind completely blown and amazed that I ever got anything accomplished at work without these skills.

My blog “Life Optimization Solver” is not only a nod to my mild obsession with Excel, but also portrays how my experience in the Supply Chain industry has been key to opening the doors to life opportunities. As we all progress through life, we find ourselves facing obstacles (constraints), having to make choices (input variables) and choosing a path that best fulfills our wants and needs (objective function)- thus, maximizing happiness. My career goal is to join and impact an organization that is positively changing the world. This aligns with my life goals of positively impacting my own family’s lives and the lives of my shared community. If that community includes the entire planet, well, that’s fine too.

I hope you’ll enjoy following my nerdy, hops-filled, optimized, life journey.

Taken from National Geographic site

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What is the Supply Chain Management profession? …and the meaning of life.

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