Kelley Senior Finds Supply Chain Opportunity at Amazon

Chances are when you click “Buy” on that economy size bag of socks from Amazon.com, you don’t care much where the socks are made, which warehouse they ship from, or the route they took to your doorstep. But questions like these are turning into a promising career for future Amazon employee and soon-to-be Kelley Indianapolis graduate Joseph Cook. Cook, who graduates Sunday, earned his Bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain Management and turned his interest in logistics and operations into a job with the largest online retailer in the world.

“I've wanted to study business since high school," said Cook. "After speaking with multiple professors, I was encouraged to double major in supply chain management and marketing. With this degree, I was able to study various aspects of business environments. I was mostly interested in learning more about process improvement in the operations field of supply chain management."

A company’s supply chain encompasses all the resources and processes required to create, distribute and deliver products to customers. Supply chain professionals might oversee purchasing of raw materials, make sure suppliers are working efficiently, and plot the most cost-effective way to distribute and deliver finished products. They have to be problem-solvers who know their business inside-and-out, and enjoy the challenge of finding the best route from Point A to Point B.

For businesses with global operations, a strong supply chain can be a competitive advantage or can quickly turn potential profits into real losses if not managed properly. Students studying supply chain management in Kelley’s nationally-ranked undergraduate program get a top-notch education in how products go from the drawing board to a completed delivery.

The Kelley School’s Supply Chain Management curriculum guides students through the critical concepts and disciplines that make up modern logistics — forecasting and planning, purchasing and sourcing, process improvement, inventory management, and customer service, to name a few. Courses are shaped by the critical challenges that graduates will encounter as they advance in their careers — tackling a tough negotiation with a supplier or customer, identifying and eliminating the bottlenecks that plague complex supply chains, and making major ‘make or buy’ and capital investment decisions.

“The most innovative company can’t be successful without a supply chain that gets goods and services into the hands of customers as efficiently as possible,” said Dr. Peggy Daniels Lee, an Assistant Professor of Operations Management at the Kelley School who chairs the Indianapolis undergraduate program and specializes in supply chain and logistics. “Supply chain management quite literally keeps business moving, so our program gives Kelley students the conceptual knowledge and critical thinking skills that employers can trust.

“But a lot of important learning happens outside the classroom, too,” Daniels added. “Because we’re close to major employers in one of the nation’s busiest logistics hubs, Kelley supply chain students get invaluable hands-on experience as they move through the Indianapolis program.”

Students take advantage of a variety of projects offered through their classes, as faculty team up with local companies to allow students to tackle real-world supply chain challenges. The program also offers professional development opportunities, networking with employers and internship assistance. When Kelley students complete the undergraduate Supply Chain Management program, they’re in position to earn a Six Sigma Green Belt certification in business management strategy, and certification by the American Society of Transportation and Logistics — industry credentials respected by employers.

Cook took advantage of Kelley’s strong internship program to hone his skills in preparation for the Amazon opportunity.

“Throughout my time at Kelley, I worked in three internships,” said Cook, who will begin his career with Amazon in early June at its distribution warehouse in Ruskin, Fla. “I interned as a logistics coordinator for three months with Skinny & Co. where I assisted in developing strategic operating procedures as well as implementing Six Sigma practices.”

Shortly after interning at Skinny & Co., Cook was recruited by enVista LLC and took a position in the freight management department working to coordinate the inbound and outbound logistics for Walmart.com. Cook is currently interning with the Indy 500 Festival as the logistics coordinator/warehouse supervisor as he prepares for his full-time position with Amazon.

“Throughout my internships, I gained a lot of crucial experience. These positions helped develop me as a professional and grew my working knowledge of supply chain and operations,” said Cook.

As a graduate of a nationally-recognized business program with multiple internships, Cook would be positioned for success in any field — but given the explosion in supply chain opportunities, he and his peers are even more eagerly sought-after as job candidates. More on the growth in supply chain management, and Indianapolis’ place as a global hot spot, in our next BizBlog post.