Enterprise Minnesota Magazine - January 2013
HELPING MANUFACTURERS GROW PROFITABLY
Scholar Supply Chain
The Carlson School of Management’s Supply Chain and Operations Department taps Minnesota manufacturing leaders to keep curricula relevant and cultivate an exceptional talent pool.
When it comes to propelling Minnesota’s manufacturing industry forward, the Carlson School of Management’s Supply Chain and Operations Department has its own supply chain. The department’s Board of Advisors draws on more than 30 senior executives from top Minnesota manufacturers such as 3M, Cargill, C.H. Robinson, General Mills, Kemps, Target and Toro to provide advice, insights and recommendations that shape its courses and, in turn, its graduates.
The board director Professor Arthur Hill, who is also the associate dean for the Carlson School MBA programs, says board members are a vital link between academia and industry.
“They really help us to define what we should teach, and help keep us focused on the really important issues,” Hill says.
In 2008, the board worked with department professors to overhaul the school’s Supply Chain and Operations Management major. The group used the industry-developed Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model to shape courses around four key pillars: plan, source, make and deliver. It also increased required credit hours from 20 to 22, with additional elective offerings driven by current industry trends.
To keep course content fresh, board members and faculty regularly work in small groups to review a course’s syllabus and then critique it, recommending items to cut, add or emphasize. Based on board feedback, the school’s sourcing course has recently added more quantitative techniques for choosing the right suppliers. Courses have increased focus on “soft skills” such as leadership and communication. The quality management course now teaches multiple methodologies, including lean, six sigma and theory of constraints, and encourages students to mix and match the tools within them to create customized quality management processes that fit a business’s unique needs.
“We’re becoming much more eclectic in terms of bringing together different [quality management] tools and combining them, because the industry is doing that as well,” explains Associate Director Steven Huchendorf.
Apart from course curricula, board members are also dedicated to helping the school’s students in other ways, from delivering classroom talks to mentoring students. Many board member companies have also sponsored the school’s annual case competition, which pits teams of top undergraduate students against each other to solve real business challenges and create a presentation of their findings, all within 24 hours. At competition’s end, expert judges critique each team’s work and award the winning team $4,000. In 2013, Carlson School will launch a national version of the competition to bring together students from the nation’s top supply chain programs.
Hill says board members’ efforts benefit everyone involved, from classroom to companies.
“Every year, we have several students who go on to work for companies represented in our advisory board group, and many times, members of our advisory board are directly involved,” Hill says. Being a board member “allows them to help prepare our students so that when they need to hire somebody, we’re at the top of the list.”
For more information about the Carlson School of Management’s Supply Chain and Operations program, go to www.csom.umn.edu/supply-chain-operations
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