Integrated Supply Management Student Awarded Two Prestigious Scholarships

McClendonA Western Michigan University integrated supply management student has earned two national scholarships. Senior Aaron McClendon is the recipient of the $10,000 Gary L. Buffington Scholarship, awarded by the ISA Education Foundation. He is also the recipient of the $5,000 R. Gene Richter Scholarship, awarded by the Richter Foundation in partnership with the Institute for Supply Management.

McClendon is the first WMU recipient of the Buffington scholarship and the seventh WMU recipient of a Richter scholarship.

Both scholarship programs have a professional development component. He attended the ISA Convention in April where he addressed approximately 1,000 manufacturers, distributors, manufacturer representatives and service providers and had the opportunity to attend sessions. In May, he attended the ISM Annual International Supply Management Conference as part of the Richter Scholarship program and participated in conference sessions and workshops. McClendon will also be paired with an established executive in the field for ongoing mentorship.

“I was extremely honored and humbled when I found out that I would be receiving the Gary L. Buffington Scholarship and the R. Gene Richter Scholarship,” says McClendon. “I found out about both awards within a two-week time period, and I cannot thank the ISA Education Foundation and the Richter Foundation enough for their investment in my future. The awards provided much appreciated financial assistance with my tuition and only strengthen my resolve to work as hard as I can as I finish out my senior year in the strongest possible way.”

As part of the screening process for the ISA scholarship, McClendon responded to the question, “What are two emerging technologies that excite you and could have a substantial impact on industrial distribution?” McClendon cited autonomous driving and its impact on supply chains, including the benefits of increased efficiency, delivery performance, and lower labor costs, as a result of a reduction in the number of truck drivers needed to deliver materials. He also noted the shared-service technologies developed by companies like Airbnb and Uber, which are changing the way consumers identify opportunities to buy and sell services. “The idea of increased shared services could potentially disrupt overall product demand, resulting in decreased costs of owning. It is important for companies to accurately forecast the implications of these technologies now to adapt and capitalize before a paradigm shift occurs in industry,” says McClendon.

"Aaron demonstrated to the judges for these scholarship programs the comprehensiveness of the integrated supply management major and shown that he is already job-ready."
- Dr. Sime Curkovic

In addition to his ISM major, McClendon is minoring in business analytics, is a member of the Lee Honors College and serves as the ISM peer mentor and a business admissions ambassador. He is actively involved with multiple student organizations, including the business college’s Student Leadership Advisory Board and APICS: the Association for Operations Management, where he holds the post of president-elect. He is the vice president of FOCUS Kalamazoo, a student volunteer-based organization dedicated to educating, connecting, and developing college students in volunteer experiences throughout the community.

He has participated in internships and co-ops in logistics, warehousing, global purchasing and negotiations, and operations. He will be a returning intern at General Motors this summer. During his GM internship in 2015, McClendon led a project focused on plant conveyor systems where he made sourcing recommendations that saved General Motors more than $3 million, while improving plant throughput and aligning supplier capacity.

“Aaron has demonstrated to the judges for these scholarship programs the comprehensiveness of the integrated supply management major and shown that he is already job-ready,” says Dr. Sime Curkovic, professor of supply chain management. “We are extremely proud of him. Aaron is a clear leader in our program and is a motivated, committed student who is willing to go above and beyond to achieve success in the supply chain field. More importantly, he brings out the best in others when he works in a team setting.”