A few weeks ago, we wrote about some interesting initiatives to get young people interested in the Supply Chain discipline. In that post, we mentioned SCNext, which is a networking and job training group for young Supply Chain professionals with a unique international scope – including members from the United States, the Middle East, Europe, India, Pakistan and elsewhere.
This week, we caught up with the president of SCNext, Hasnain Millwala, for an interview about the group, discussing what it offers for students and young professionals. Millwala is a U.S.-based Supply Chain Analyst focused on planning for manufacturing, and a founder of the group. He provided some great info about how the Supply Chain discipline is developing internationally, and what needs to happen for young people and universities across the globe to get tuned into this career of the future.
Could you tell us a little bit about the activities SCNext does to help get young people fired up about the career?
“For students,” says Millwala, “it could be events held to help their development. We do seminars, webinars, plant tours, case competitions. We get industry speakers to them, hold different events, internships, jobs, and that’s what students need. We help to create a web of Supply Chain-focused events.”
“With ISCEA’s help, we’ve been able to get into a lot of markets in the Middle East and Asia. We’ve seen a varying level of Supply Chain savviness in each country. In the U.S., there’s a lot of dedicated Supply Chain postsecondary programs. In some developing countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, schools don’t even know what Supply Chain is. We connect them together in terms of learning from each-other.”
Could you speak a little bit more about SCNext’s activities internationally?
“Our international efforts are focused on what each country needs. In India, which is a big, promising market, the new government has instituted a ‘made in India’ initiative. Companies are investing in infrastructure in India, and there’s a big gap that countries have identified. We’ve educated a lot of industries about Supply Chain in India. We’ve connected with industry folks and schools telling people about how Supply Chain is a great career. A lot of high-calibre students want to study abroad, so we connect them with career fair opportunities and help them see what Supply Chain looks like in the U.S. In Pakistan, a lot of people are focused on the Middle East, so we hold career fairs that help students get experience and connect them with the Middle East and opportunities there.”
In Canada, we’re reading and writing a lot about the perceived coming deficit of talent in Supply Chain as companies continue to value the function more and more. What’s your perspective on this possibility, especially internationally?
“Internationally, you bet, that’s a tremendous issue,” says Milwalla. “There’s a certain Supply Chain standard that’s common in the U.S. But in certain countries, when people think of Supply Chain they think of a blue collar worker in a manufacturing plant. At the MBA schools, a lot of people don’t want to take up Operations or Supply Chain because they thought they’d end up managing a line or something like that. That’s a very hard mentality to break. A lot of our success can be attributed to educating students and universities that there’s a white collar track associated with Supply Chain. We’ve worked very aggressively in clearing that mental block.
It’s about educating the students but also the universities. We need to educate the professors about the possibilities in the field so that more educational opportunities arise. A great example being in Hong Kong. We got one university that had a business major with one Supply Chain course. They got involved in the competition and realized they loved our event, and now we’re in talks with the university to start up a Supply Chain program. A lot of these events that we hold can open up people’s eyes to the possibility of this field.”
A big part of SCNext is about opening young people’s eyes to the possibilities the Supply Chain field has to offer. So what would be your 30-second elevator pitch for Supply Chain as a career?
“I think the ability to collaborate and add value to the product is very key to Supply Chain. the ability to think across domains, to make sure that the customer ultimately gets his product. A lot of other fields are very domain centric – finance is focused on one thing, quality, operations, a lot of fields are focused on one thing. Supply chain has a 360 degree view – we’re responsible to getting the product to the customer. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that young people look for lots of travel opportunities – and Supply Chain is full of those.
Have you signed up for Argentus’ Market Watch Newsletter? It only takes a moment. You’ll receive low-volume, high-impact market insights hiring insights from the top specialty Supply Chain recruiters including: Salary Information, Supply Chain industry trends, Market Intelligence, Personal Branding tips and More!