In our cover article, "Bridging the gulf between business and academia," supply chain executive-turned-educator J. Paul Dittmann argues that industry and academia need to deepen their partnership, and that both sides will benefit from the exchange of ideas that will result. I agree: If business executives get more involved with institutions of higher learning, the supply chain profession will make greater strides toward meeting the needs of global commerce.
But there's another educational arena where supply chain professionals should get involved: secondary schools.
Every year my local high school holds a career day, during which parents and other community members speak to students about their occupations. The school brings in doctors and lawyers, carpenters and real estate agents, computer technicians and hairdressers—but no supply chain managers.
The lack of a supply chain presence is surprising given today's global economy, which depends on well-run supply chains to move goods across national boundaries. Supply chain professionals, moreover, are the ones who make sure consumer products get manufactured and moved to consumer markets.
But do high school students know that? Have they even heard the term "supply chain"? How many of them recognize that the products they enjoy in their daily lives came into their hands because of the hard work of supply chain managers? Not many, I bet.
The supply chain profession will want the best and brightest of the current generation working in this critically important field in the future. Yet that can't happen if high school students have no idea what a supply chain is or what it does. It also can't happen if students don't see for themselves the opportunities for supply chain professionals in the global economy.
Yet young people are among the biggest users of the consumer goods that flow through global supply chains. Consider the cell phone, the ubiquitous communication tool for today's teenager. Cell phones have semiconductor chips inside them, and few (if any) of those youthful users know what it takes to get the chips to cell-phone makers around the world. (To find out just how complicated it is, read "Texas Instruments' FABulous supply chain.")
We need to get the word out about the supply chain, its place in the global economy, and the fact that the supply chain profession is an excellent career choice for young men and women. That's why I'm asking you to help make our profession more visible in your community. Take a look at the resources available at CSCMP's Career Center web site. Then contact your local high school and ask to take part in its career day. I'm planning to do that and hope you will as well.