Earlier this year, Valparaiso University announced that it had developed both a major and minor in the growing field of supply chain and logistics management, continuing to expand upon its distinctive, innovative academic programs. Through a unique partnership, Valpo’s supply chain and logistics management program has been endorsed by the Conexus Indiana Logistics Council.
Conexus Indiana is a forum of hundreds of Indiana executives and leaders from a myriad of Indiana-based companies representing nearly every industry, with a focus on advanced manufacturing and logistics companies. In furtherance of its mission, Conexus collaborates with colleges and universities across Indiana to “accelerate, promote, and grow” the advanced manufacturing and logistics economy within the state.
“The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals reported that supply chain and logistics management careers provide high-paying jobs, with the demand of graduates exceeding the supply six to one,” says Sanjay Kumar, Ph.D., Richard E. Meier Professor of Management and associate professor of information and decision science. “The opportunity is there. And, this endorsement makes our program much more relevant to industry and job-market needs, preparing our students with the skills employers are looking for and connecting our students to hundreds of companies within the region and beyond.”
Valpo’s connection with Conexus Indiana developed in 2016 when a Valpo team convened to take first place among 17 Indiana colleges in the first-ever Conexus Indiana Logistics Case Competition, an event sponsored by Conexus in collaboration with leaders in Indiana’s logistic industry to increase awareness and interest in logistics careers. This competition included students from the top universities across the state, where, unlike Valpo, established programs in supply chain and logistics management existed.
Conexus Indiana was impressed by Valpo’s showing in 2016 and continued to be as its Logistics Council worked directly with the manufacturing and logistics community to review Valpo’s curriculum to ensure it aligned with industry need. The council found many positives within Valpo’s program, specifically noting the strength of the business core courses and the focus placed on interpersonal skills. And, acting as the voice of these industry partners, the council directly communicated the skills the industry needs — analytical, quantitative, and interpersonal.
Responding accordingly, Valpo has developed an industry-certified supply chain and logistics program with a strong business core and a global and analytic focus strongly embedded within. Students in the program will have extensive hands-on experience through a capstone class with applied projects at local companies as well as internships.
“Valpo’s program is a unique model based on today’s business world rather than on some antiquated academic principles,” Professor Kumar says. “This is a program that the industry stands behind. So not only do we have a curriculum that meets industry needs, the industry knows our program has what they want.”
Supply chain and logistics is one of the fastest growing markets within the business discipline, with an extreme shortage of proficiency and good salaries. In fact, a study from Supply Chain Insights states that 25–33 percent of the supply chain workforce is at or past retirement age, creating increased opportunity for skilled logisticians in this high- demand field. And, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median pay of nearly $75,000 annually in 2017.
Positive job growth and outlook prompted Valpo to become the only university in the region to offer a program in supply chain and logistics management, revealing a commitment to build the next generation of skilled talent in this field. From purchasing and planning to production and operations, Valpo graduates will be prepared for cross-functional roles in companies across the world. But, they won’t have to go very far as ideal career opportunities exist in Northwest Indiana, a transportation hub, and home to heavy industry and several automakers, as well as in the Chicago area where logistics and supply chain related companies abound.
Valpo’s continued partnership with Conexus Indiana, will serve to connect Valpo students to these extensive industry opportunities with hundreds of diverse companies in the region to fulfill their capstone requirement, complete internships, and launch their logistics career upon graduation.