Doing things better, faster and cheaper and living the American dream

Dr. Sime Curkovic grew up surrounded by industry in Lansing, Michigan. He is the son of immigrant parents who came to the United States from what is now Croatia. Once in Michigan, his father was told, “If you are looking for the American dream, go to this factory, fill out an application and work hard.” Determined to succeed, he was able to do just that.

Finding his passion for supply chain in Vehicle City

Curkovic grew up in a town where those in his father's generation achieved the American dream while working on an assembly line. Immersed in the industry of Lansing, Curkovic became interested in supply chain when he was in high school. He recognized that in order to achieve his own version of the American dream, he not only needed to add value to the company he worked for, but he needed to work in a field where demand for highly skilled labor exceeded supply. With this in mind, he headed to Kettering University in Flint where he received his undergraduate degree in supply chain management.

Curkovic loved studying business and supply chain management, and after working in the field for a few years, he decided to pursue his doctorate in supply chain management at Michigan State University.

Finding fulfillment in the Haworth College of Business

Twenty years ago, Curkovic began teaching at Western Michigan University when the integrated supply management program was just getting started. Today, he takes great pride in helping his students live the modern American dream.

Curkovic teaches introduction to supply chain management which is the first class students take in the ISM program. When teaching this class, he tries to set the tone for the culture of the program by encouraging his students to work hard and make great decisions personally and academically. Curkovic tries to be a coach, mentor and role model, especially in this entry-level course, to help students set themselves up for success.

“Integrated supply management students are majoring in learning how to do everything better, faster and cheaper. Every company on the planet is obsessed with these priorities. As a result, demand for our students and their skill sets vastly exceeds supply, and that is not going to change because those priorities are not going to change. My greatest source of job satisfaction comes from helping my students succeed. The American dream is alive and well if you take your education seriously, make good decisions and work hard. Your opportunities are endless if you put in the effort.”

The ISM program prepares students to reach their professional goals

When asked to share something that might surprise people, Curkovic shared that his answer also pleasantly surprises him. “When our students graduate from the program, they know more about supply chain management than I do. Without a doubt, they would be a better hire than me, and that’s the way it should be.”

The ISM program continues to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of industry, which ensures students are well prepared to succeed. The ISM executive council, which is made up of companies that recruit from the Haworth College of Business, helps to provide valuable input about what skills and subjects need to be taught. This relationship allows the ISM program to continuously improve and is one of the many ways the ISM program helps students be fully prepared to reach their professional goals.

Words of advice

Curkovic wanted to teach a subject that would allow his students to achieve the American dream. He says that knowing his students have several great job offers on the table when they graduate gives him goosebumps and is the best part of his job. In order to get there, he has some advice for students. “Take your education seriously, work hard, make good decisions and get job experience related to your major.”