The New Year always begins with some resolutions. Mine was to start learning a new language. I didn’t know it would be fulfilled so fast thanks to SCM!
We came back from our winter holiday vacations to find that our family had quadrupled! We were hosting more than 130 students from three Supply Chain and Logistics Excellence (SCALE) sister programs (our sister programs are based in Spain, Malaysia and different parts of Latin America).
SCALE Connect, which occurred during MIT’s January Independent Activities Period (IAP), was tightly packed. We had panel discussions with illustrious speakers like the Robert Blackburn, President Information Services & Supply Chain Operations for BASF Group, as well as VPs of Supply Chain for companies like Walmart and Starbucks, and even the Secretary of Transportation for the United States! Two of the discussions really stood out for me. One was the discussion with Pier Luigi Sigismondi, the Chief Supply Chain Officer at Unilever and his discussion on integrating sustainability in a profitable business proposition. Before joining the program, I was working with Unilever and I had only heard Pier Luigi through company webinars. Suddenly, I had this awesome opportunity to talk to him! Another one was Major General William E. Rapp’s discussion of the military supply chains.
The activities didn’t end there! As the weather outside got colder, the activities heated up. APICS hosted a competition for us where we had to design a humanitarian supply chain that operates robustly during disasters. There was also the culmination of a global supply chain game that we had been playing throughout the first semester. Some people had wild successes in the game while others cursed everything from their teammates to their lives!
SCALE Connect ended with a poster presentation where the 130 of us showcased our research problem to our industry and academic visitors at Research Expo 2015.
Personally for me, the best part of SCALE Connect was the visit to Panama, an incredible logistic hub for Latin America. As the blizzards kept hitting Massachusetts, we could not wait to find our way out of here and into Panama! Our days in Panama were extremely well planned by our Director Dr. Bruce Arntzen and his colleague at the Center for Latin-American Logistics Innovation, Dr. Isabel Agudelo.
We visited multiple locks in the majestic, historic, and logistically significant Panama Canal and nearby ports. Whether it was cheering the boats as they passed by us in the locks, observing the expansion work happening in the canal or just exploring the beautiful, culturally diverse old city – Panama will always remain memorable to us!
We soaked up as much warmth as we could because we knew it would be in short supply later on. At the end of our five-day trip, some of us stayed behind to explore the old city further and quite a few of us went to one of the idyllic San Blas islands right in the middle of the ocean.
By the end of January, I had picked up a few essential sentences in Spanish, made countless new friendships (my Facebook and LinkedIn connections went up 20%!) and had new immigration stamps on my passport.
The memories of Panama helps sometimes to ward off the winter we are facing now in Cambridge…but we are all ready for some real sun!