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Reflections on LQ’s Supply Chain Logistics Executive Education Forum

LQ’s premiere Education Forum (Vol. 10 Issue 1), which featured perspectives from leading universities in North America, including Michigan State, Penn State, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Tennessee York University, was largely based upon a framework of questions prepared by Dr. Donald Tham, Ryerson Univeristy, and Victor Deyglio of the Toronto-based Logistics Institute.

Upon reviewing the forum on supply chain logistics executive education and its framework, I must comment that the focus of this forum, specifically on the knowledge areas, is both timely and perhaps even overdue. The need for executive education in this field is critical given the growing nature of organizations operating complex vertical and virtual supply chains in a global environment. Furthermore, the presence of partner-relationships as well as the growth in 3PL/4PL relationships is stressing the need for supply chain logistics-centric education.

I believe it is important to highlight the need for the education to be global and industry diverse in nature. Perspectives for regions outside of the Americas are key to a rounded view to an executive education in supply chain logistics. The noted executive focus on strategy, process and people should be complemented by a fourth dimension – execution; what defines success and how is it measured. (A minor note on the minimal responsibility of the supply chain logistics executive – ‘facility planning’ – is often not a key responsibility, but limited to advisory responsibility.) A key objective noted is the need for the supply chain logistics executive to drive the creation of new corporate capability. The continuing evolution of supply chains in a global arena requires the respective evolution of logistics capability, often as a matter of enterprise survival!

Here are a few questions, and feedback that future LQ Educational Forums should include:

  1. What are the key performance indicators that measure/gauge balance across the three dimensions?
  2. How should the global nature of responsibility in delivery of depth of knowledge be incorporated? What can industry vs. academia bring to the perspectives of the Americas/Asia/Europe?
  3. The questions of integrating experience with academia are strictly kept at the executive level. Should questioning address programs at a lower level as a method of grooming the supply chain logistics career path, as well as providing it with recognition as a unique field of study/employment?
  4. Cross-sector/industry composition on program advisory boards would be highly recommended to ensure strong and broad relevance to enterprises, particularly as logistics challenges and solutions tend to proliferate across industry boundaries.
  5. There ought to be strong support for Enterprise Supply Chain Logistics as a unique program on its own. Academic institutions such as several colleges recognized this need/opportunity years ago, and as a result have introduced focused programs and diplomas in this field.
  6. Is there a role for (international) internship in a program designed around the supply chain logistics executive? The growing nature of the global element of logistics in the enterprise highlights this potential aspect, as is already found in some Executive MBA programs with global/international program focus.

Lastly, there is a key theme missing in this forum’s framework of questions – the role of the customer. The growing presence of customer-centric organizations and operations, as well as the fact the existence of the enterprise logistics network exists at all, drives the need for programs to incorporate the customer theme within its framework.

In summary, the time has definitely arrived for education focused on the supply chain logistics executive. Individuals with such exposure would definitely be of interest and have an advantage in enterprises confronted by global, complex, and evolving logistics requirements.

Steve Radewych
Sr. Director, Celestica
SCM Americas

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