Graduate Spotlight - Supply Chain Management

Layoff leads to education

As Janet Johnson explains it, supply chain management involves getting consumers want they want whether that's a car or a loaf of bread at the grocery store. For her, an education in supply chain management also involves getting what she wants out of her career.

Johnson attended Greenville Technical College when she graduated from high school years ago, but she wasn't sure of a career path. So she started working in customer service. Eventually she moved over to logistics and felt she had found the part of the business that fit her skills best. A layoff in May 2008 provided her with the opportunity to finish her degree, so that when she re-enters the workforce, she will have the benefit of experience and education.

While Johnson doesn't recommend that everyone work before attending college, she says that for her it's been a good path. "I think it's important to know what you want to do," she says. "By going to work, you experience what your job will be like day in and day out."

Many students in her program, like Johnson, have work experience. Many also have other responsibilities, so Johnson says it's important to have instructors who realize college is an important part of their lives, but it's not all they're expected to do in a day. "All the instructors have been very flexible," she says. "That's very important when students are trying to attend classes, work, and raise families."

Johnson feels secure in knowing that her field is one companies need in good times and bad. "Thirty to forty percent of the bottom line can be saved if the supply chain is run effectively," she says. "The supply chain has to be intact in order to move the product from where it's manufactured to where the consumer can purchase it."