Name : Mike Brocks
Tell us a bit about yourself: I received my undergraduate degree from Syracuse University (go Orange!) in 2011 with a dual major in Supply Chain Management & Entrepreneurship. The summer after I graduated, I began working in IBM’s Integrated Supply Chain department at their 200mm semiconductor fabricator outside Burlington, VT. While there, I moved around in a variety of roles, including supply chain analyst, new products analyst, and supply planner. It had the benefit of being both a great start to my career as well as a truly interesting job – semiconductor manufacturing is an extremely complicated process, and getting a view into how the whole operation worked was fascinating. Vermont was also a great place to call home for four years.
What led you to this program? What made this program particularly attractive to me was its combined focus on engineering and management, as well as its one-year duration. It also came off as a very practical/career-oriented program, which I found appealing. As for why MIT specifically – obviously the school has a world-renowned reputation, and the Cambridge/Boston area seemed like a great place to spend a year. Last year I felt I was at the right point in my life to go back to school and try to make a jump in my career – which obviously this program has a great track record of doing for its students.
How’s it going so far in the program? It’s going well. It’s a lot of work, but the set of classes I’m taking cover diverse topics and are all practically oriented (see above) – the topics we cover in class and the homework we get assigned are all something you could see yourself having to solve at a real job. Additionally, one of my favorite things about this program is the diversity of the class, both geographically and career-wise. It’s a lot of fun to learn about people’s backgrounds, what they were doing before the program and what they want to do after. It makes for interesting perspectives both inside and outside the classroom, and has the added benefit of giving the group as a whole a wide range of strengths – there is usually somebody who is both able and willing to lend a hand whenever you get stuck on a particular assignment or concept.
Where do you want to go after this? I’d like to get into the inventory management aspect of the supply chain – coming from four years of being in a manufacturing environment, it’d be refreshing to get into an entirely new area of the supply chain. Whether that’s with a CPG, apparel, industrial, food or electronics company, I have no idea yet. Geographically, I’d like to get out of the northeast and live in a different area of the country.
What is your favorite thing about the program? It’s hard to narrow it down to a favorite. For one, it’s a very supportive program – Bruce [Arntzen, Executive Director of the MIT SCM Program] made it clear the first day that we are here to help each other get through this together. It is a great environment to be in from that aspect – it’s hard to be away from home and loved ones, and the next best thing is to be surrounded by a group of kind, smart, well-intentioned people. Secondly, we also have some people with a great sense of humor, both students and professors (looking at you Tao, Chris & Bruce) which keeps things entertaining. Finally, I would say the content – I’m learning exactly what I came to learn from some of the best minds in the field, which is a pretty amazing experience.
Memorable moment in your SCM journey so far? I would say meeting everyone the first couple of days. I gave myself a week to move and get settled before the program started in August, and I was only coming from Vermont. Classmates of mine were flying in from as far away as China, India and Australia within 24-48 hours of the first day of orientation, some coming to the US for the first time. That blew my mind and continues to stick with me.
Favorite thing to do in Boston? Running up and down the Charles (…ask me again in February). I’ve also managed to catch a couple Red Sox games and hopefully will get to some hockey and basketball games over the winter.
Any advice for prospective students? Take your time with the application process – the best way to do this being to start early. Also, know yourself and what you like and don’t like, and where you want to be in five, ten or twenty years.