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Mark Ippolito poses for a photo with students during the 2015 Grad Bash.

"Regardless of who you’re interacting with on the job, regardless of his or her position, that individual is going to know something you don’t know. And you’re not going to know it until you listen to what he or she has to say,” said Ippolito, a senior lecturer in operations management and director of the Undergraduate I-Core program.

After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Ippolito spent several years serving with the U.S. Air Force (from 1970-1973). He later began his career in operations as a plant superintendent with Sherwin-Williams in Newark, New Jersey, while also receiving his MBA from Seton Hall University. A promotion led Ippolito and his wife to Cleveland, where he managed production planning for Sherwin-Williams plants across the country.

“What I really like about supply chain is that you can see what’s happening, and you’re able to take action when something happens,” he said.

He says he got a reputation for being the manager who went out into the plant to solve problems, rather than one who sits in his office. In a world before cell phones, Ippolito’s colleagues knew to find him in the plant, talking with employees.

“You need to listen to the people who are working for you. Make it easy for them to talk to you,” explained Ippolito. “You have to go where your people are working. If you’re sitting in an office, you can’t see what’s happening.”

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Ippolito speaks to a student before the commencement ceremony in 2013.

When RCA was acquired by General Electric in the late 1980s, Ippolito opted not to take a lateral move to another plant and was offered a full-time faculty position at Kelley. He said he anticipated getting back into the industry after several years, but soon realized his love for teaching full-time.

“I really enjoy teaching. It’s incredibly rewarding to see students move out into the industry and do really neat stuff,” said Ippolito. “A few folks came to campus for a Kelley Indy Supply Chain Club meeting, and one of them was my student 20 years ago. It’s gratifying to see it all come full-circle.”

“I always get a kick out of it when a student emails me during an internship and says, ‘This is what you taught us in the classroom! It’s real stuff!’”

In the early 2000s, Ippolito was instrumental in helping to implement the supply chain management major that Kelley Indy has today.

“One of the best features of supply chain is that there’s a role for everyone. If you’re a quantitative analytic type, we need you. If you like digging into the numbers, there’s a job for you. If you’re action-oriented, or more externally focused, there are roles for you, too. No matter what your skill-set is, or what you like to do, there’s a job for you in supply chain,” said Ippolito.