Supply Chain Management Practicum Results in Millions in Savings for Global Companies
Why are some of the largest companies in the world, including Hasbro, CVS, FGX (Foster Grant), Talbots, Barrett Distribution Centers, and Key Container, Inc., coming to Bryant University to help improve their supply chain operations? In a word – results.
“The financial impacts are truly staggering. Our supply chain students are providing outstanding results to industry.”
For eight years, the Bryant Global Supply Chain Management (GSCM) program has answered the growing demand for global supply chain expertise in the marketplace. Through the program’s Capstone Practicum, Bryant student teams partner with executives at major corporations to tackle some of their biggest challenges including logistics, inventory management, transportation, vendor contracts, data management, and analytics. In FY 2016 alone, these efforts have resulted in more than $46 million in projected and actual savings. In FY 2017, projected and actual savings was more than $18 million. Since the program began in 2009, the savings total more than $80 million.
“The financial impacts are truly staggering,” says Management Professor and program founder Christopher Roethlein, Ph.D. “Our supply chain students are providing outstanding results to industry.”
Hasbro's director of Global Trade Compliance Deb Izzo is impressed with Bryant students. “The results formulated from our student project will provide significant value to Hasbro,” says Izzo, who has hired Bryant graduates for her Global Logistics team over the past three years. “These students are among the highest caliber young professionals I have ever encountered,” she says. Hasbro is a multinational toy and board game company with $4.45 billion in annual revenues.
“These companies are helping us to develop the world's future supply chain leaders. They recognize the need to help the universities develop this talent.”
The word's getting out
Results like these keep major global corporations returning to Bryant year after year. When Professor Roethlein launched the Capstone Practicum eight years ago, he reached out to contacts from his previous aerospace and original equipment manufacturing experience to recruit companies. Now, with the program’s reputation for success, companies are coming to Bryant.
The GSCM Practicum is a capstone course for seniors in Bryant’s Global Supply Chain Management program. The program curriculum integrates multiple business disciplines—including marketing, management, finance, operations management and analytics—so that students build the right expertise for success anywhere on the business spectrum. While taking the required courses, students also secure internships as early as sophomore year. When it comes time for the Capstone Practicum in their senior year, they are ready to apply knowledge and experience in a high-level, sophisticated, and professional way.
“This program is a win for everyone involved,” says Marketing Professor and Global Supply Chain Management Program Director Teresa McCarthy. “These companies are helping to develop the world's future supply chain leaders. They recognize the need to help universities develop this talent.”
All of the program’s faculty members including Marketing Professor Michael Gravier, Ph.D., Management Professor John Visich, Ph.D., and Information Systems and Analytics Professor and Department Chair Suhong Li, Ph.D., have longstanding relationships with regional, national, and global corporations, and they work with industry executives to define the challenges and guide the semester-long projects.
Much like a job interview process, students must apply to the projects that best align with their interests, strengths, and career goals. They petition to be part of a team. From there, faculty leaders assemble the best teams for the projects. “They really have to make the case for why they are the right person for the job, not only for their skills and experiences, but for their passion and drive.” says Roethlein. “The faculty set the bar very high, and we expect them to prove themselves to our industry partners. They must contribute to the corporate profitability and growth of the companies they’re working for.”
“A critical element of the capstone project is accountability,” said Shaina Ostrov ’17, now a quality engineer at Pratt & Whitney, one of the world’s top manufacturer of aircraft engines. “The result of not following through with classwork, homework, and exams is an unsatisfactory grade. In the case of the practicum projects, the consequences and risk are more substantial.”
Major global players like what they're seeing at Bryant
After partnering with the Bryant program for the last several years, Jim Rapoza, director of business process improvement at Barrett Distribution Centers, continues to be impressed by the students’ performance and with the results for his company. Barrett Distribution Centers are a network of more than three million square feet of state-of-the-art warehousing capacity serving customers around the world. “The result of the spring 2017 project was a projected $322,000 return on investment through the use of robotics for high-volume e-commerce in one of our northeast facilities. We are excited to monitor the results as we move forward,” says Rapoza. “The students arrive eager, inquisitive, and extremely knowledgeable within the industry.”
Key Container President David Strauss reports similar positive impressions of the students’ capabilities and project results. The global manufacturer of corrugated products purchased new routing software on the recommendation of the student team. “The students saw potential savings in both mileage and number of stops by using the new technology,” says Strauss. “I have recommended the Bryant program to another local manufacturer and look forward to working with another supply chain team to build upon our initial success.”
In 2015, talented Bryant students applied math and data science learning from their coursework to develop a sophisticated algorithm to help FGX International with inventory planning. FGX is one of the world’s leading designers and marketers of non-prescription reading glasses, optical frames and sunglasses with a portfolio of established, highly recognized eyewear brands including Foster Grant. After validating the student team’s efforts, FGX modified the algorithm slightly and implemented it with one of the company’s major retail customers with remarkable success. This has translated to higher levels of customer satisfaction with both the retailer and their end customers. And the retailer has asked other suppliers to apply this successful inventory planning approach.
“FGX always enjoys welcoming the Supply Chain students from Bryant University” says Rick Christy, Vice President, Supply Chain. “It is a pleasure working with talented and enthusiastic young men and women who diligently work on the real-world issues we give them.”
Success in the marketplace
Alumni like Cameron Burke ‘15, senior analyst in global fulfillment and trade with Dell/EMC, Michelle Williams ’16, customs and transportation analyst for Hasbro, and Lauren Gosciak ’16, supply chain analyst at CVS Health, all credit the Bryant GSCM program Practicum for their success.
“As someone who has worked for a Fortune 100 company for three years in the supply chain operations group, I can personally testify that the curriculum taught in the GSCM program has been relevant and beneficial,” said Burke.
The excellence of Bryant’s Global Supply Chain Management program was recently cited in GSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly. “Schools like Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., among others, are turning out students who have studied economics, global sourcing and international trade, corporate social responsibility, information technology, statistics, and operations management. These programs are also focused on developing their students’ writing abilities, character, and leadership skills. In addition, the students have valuable experience from special projects, co-ops, and internships.”
The popularity of Bryant’s Global Supply Chain Management capstone mirrors demand within the corporate community for supply chain managers. Today, more than 180 undergraduate and MBA students are enrolled in the program, and that number rises every year. With this growing interest and marketplace value, the Practicum will also grow,” said Roethlein, “Not only in the number of students, but also in the industry type and geographic reach of the clients.” As of spring, 2017, Bryant’s Global Supply Chain Management program has worked on 56 different capstone projects with 49 different companies. A total of 230 students have been involved in this supply chain capstone course.