Supply chain program ranks No. 2 in world

by Stacey Markin
| WMU News
Photo of WMU ISM student.

In WMU's integrated supply management program, students have multiple hands-on learning experiences.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's integrated supply management program recently ranked second on a listing of the top 100 universities for supply chain talent produced by SCM World, a cross-industry learning community powered by the world's most influential supply chain practitioners.

Top supply chain talent

The No. 2 ranking places WMU ahead of MIT, Harvard, Penn State, University of Michigan and many other programs. Coming in first in this year's ranking was perennial rival Michigan State University's supply chain program. The survey respondents are industry professionals who valued WMU's connection with industry, curricular innovation and ability to prepare students to add immediate value to organizations in the ranking process. The ranking indicates that industry professionals see a degree from WMU as a marker of top supply chain talent.

The survey respondents were able to select from among 190 university and college options on the poll and were given the option to specify other universities or business schools not available in the pre-populated list.

The results of the survey show that hands-on experience may often be the differentiator in program success. SCM World cites a recent survey about the ideal skill mix that supply chain professionals identified as needed for 2020 and beyond, which stated that communication, strategic thinking and change management were among desired skills. According to SCM World, "Skills like these develop fastest in the world of work, which may explain some of what we at SCM World saw in our latest ranking data compiled in late 2016."

Multiple experiences offered

"The ability to offer our students multiple experiences through projects, consulting and required internships allows them to gain experience in the areas that supply chain professionals most value," says Dr. Robert Reck, professor of marketing and director of the Center for Integrated Supply Management. "We work hard to stay close to industry, listen to the needs of employers and adapt our curriculum to reflect the realities in the field. This ranking shows that our efforts are recognized and appreciated by hiring managers."

WMU's ISM program has evolved to extend students' knowledge of the basic elements, issues and problems facing supply chains in the context of cross-functional, demand-driven, value-added networks. The program includes focus on customer relationship management; governance; lean continuous improvement, including validating students as Lean Six Sigma Green Belts; risk and change management; new product development and commercialization; sustainability; technology; the functional activities of purchasing, operations and logistics; and many other areas.

Students have the opportunity for immersive learning opportunities such as special projects courses, simulations, internships and Bronco Force, an innovative student and faculty consultancy, which aids companies with their supply chain challenges.

"WMU earning the second highest spot on SCM World's list for top supply chain talent does not surprise me; nothing can truly match up to our opportunities," says Rachel Larson, a senior in the supply chain program. "For me, Bronco Force is a great example. The consulting experiences gave me the opportunity to apply everything I've been learning. Also, our faculty members continuously improve the program by meeting with employers to see what they value in employees and then adjusting the curriculum to reflect those values. When I leave the ISM program, I will not only have a degree but valuable skills to truly succeed in the professional world."

The SCM World recognition places WMU in an elite circle of top supply chain programs and is another in a long string of accolades for the program, including a No. 9 ranking from Gartner and a No. 2 ranking for emphasis on technology in the curriculum by Software Advice.

Additional information

Access SCM World's report at scmworld.com/top-supply-chain-universities-question-reputation.

For more information on WMU's integrated supply management program, visit wmich.edu/supplychain.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.