Program explores the ‘lifeblood’ of businesses

From left to right: Professor Tan Miller; Larry Smith, vice president of supply chain management at Beckton Dickinson; and Bob Derosier of Johnson & Johnson discuss the benefits of pursuing a career in global supply chain management during a panel held Tuesday evening.
From left to right: Professor Tan Miller; Larry Smith, vice president of supply chain management at Beckton Dickinson; and Bob Derosier of Johnson & Johnson discuss the benefits of pursuing a career in global supply chain management during a panel held Tuesday evening.

by Laura Mortkowitz
Even if the United States no longer produced any finished products, there would still be a need for people in supply chain management (SCM) business, according to Larry Smith, the vice president of global supply chain management at Beckton Dickinson. No matter where products are made, people in SCM will need to ship them to the customer.

“[SCM] is important because it’s big,” Smith said. “It’s the production, movement and delivery of physical products.”

Smith was one of three speakers at the panel for careers in the field held in Daly’s Princeton Room on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

The panel, sponsored by the Center for International Business and the global supply chain management program, offered business students a look at the responsibilities and challenges in the field.

SCM is the equivalent to the heart of a corporation, Smith said.

“It’s moving the lifeblood of that corporation, which is the finished product,” he said. “Unless you ship the finished product to a customer, you can’t make any money.”

While Smith is a veteran of SCM, Bob Derosier of Johnson & Johnson is a 2001 college graduate who “fell into this career and this major,” which made his experience with SCM different.

Derosier was originally studying chemical engineering at Penn State University. When he saw a friend working on a way to optimize transportation, Derosier became interested in the way he could “put an analytical ability into something tangible and get results.”

He recommended that all students take the time out for internships and co-ops in order to gain more experience. While the classroom teaches concepts, the experience helps those “concepts come to life.”

At Johnson & Johnson, Derosier sees the students who have previous experience standing out above the others.

“Industry experience is more important now than ever before,” Derosier said.

The third panel member was Professor Tan Miller, the director of Rider’s new global supply chain management program, which will begin in September. Miller previously worked with Pfizer. He spoke about a case with transportation at the company that brought home how important SCM is.

When Listerine Pocket Packs were first introduced, the tiny packs holding paper-thin slices of mint strips were loaded on a truck and driven across the country for days. By the time the packs arrived at the destination, they no longer held 12 individual strips. Instead, they were one large, melted-together strip.

After this, the SCM people at Pfizer had to work together to get refrigerated trucks so the packs could be transported without problems. Otherwise, the customers would be displeased with the product.

“You’ve got to be very precise in supply chain management when dealing with the customer,” Miller said. “The customer drives everything.”

The panelists discussed how the economic downturn hasn’t really affected SCM. Since the job is about efficiency, SCM is important for a company. Even if a company is making large layoffs, neither Smith nor Derosier has heard about it  affecting SCM.

“Supply chain management is a great way to reduce costs,” Deroiser said. “It’s not so easy to cut people who are moving the products.”

Also, for people interested in sustainability efforts, SCM is right up their alley. According to Smith, Beckton Dickinson reports the company’s carbon footprints and is building new distribution centers with solar panels.

“It’s a win-win situation,” he said. “If we become more efficient, the company saves money and we waste less energy.”

The second panel about careers in global supply chain management will take place on Tuesday, March 24, at 5 p.m. in the Bart Luedeke Center’s Fireside Lounge. In addition to Professor Tan Miller, Joe Andraski, president and CEO of Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions, and Kevin Stout, executive director of the Medical Device Industry Supply Chain Council, will participate.

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