Supply chain management: Not just trucks, but also forklifts, laptops, and sticky notes

It’s an area of business in high demand by employers, with a rising starting salary. Given the city’s geography, it’s also a field uniquely suited to Indianapolis. Supply chain management, also known as operations, is a growing career that’s essential at most companies.

While many people have heard of accounting, finance, and marketing, operations is often an overlooked—and misunderstood—area of business study.

“When I first heard of supply chain management, I thought it was trucking and managing transportation,” says Emily Crites, BS’16, who will earn her degree in supply chain management at the IU Kelley School of Business Indianapolis. “I learned that operations involves more than just transporting goods. It’s also about forecasting a company’s demand and finding the most cost-effective way to produce a product, move it, and store it. Supply chain is like the backbone of the company in the same way accounting is the backbone of the value created for shareholders.”

Crites returned to Allison Transmission, headquartered in Indianapolis, for a second internship in a different area of supply chain. She continues to work there today, gaining knowledge and experience in the support functions of supply chain management while she finishes her last semester.

Supply Chain at Kelley Indy

The Kelley School of Business Indianapolis has a unique supply chain management degree that offers students real-life experiences in the field and specialty certifications not often found in other degree programs. Students can earn a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification in process improvement as well as the opportunity to earn a certification from the American Society for Transportation and Logistics. Students also have the chance to intern at a number of global companies while attending school in Indianapolis.

Tessa Smillie, BS’15, a sourcing analyst for Cummins Inc., became interested in Kelley Indy’s supply chain management degree during a purchasing internship in Virginia.

“The person who hired me noticed I had a talent for purchasing and told me Kelley Indianapolis offered a fantastic supply chain management degree,” remembers Smillie. “Once I got into Kelley’s program and started taking classes, I loved it!"

I enjoyed the logic behind operations and the fact that supply chain encompasses so many different areas of the business. It fit exactly what I wanted: not too specific and not too general.

Tessa Smillie, BS'15

During her studies, Smillie completed three internships in various areas of operations, and she served as the president of Kelley Indy’s Supply Chain Management Club. This gave her the chance to network with operations professionals and to tour local plants to see the career in practice. Eight months before graduation, Smillie accepted a position at Cummins.

“The site visits helped steer me toward my current career,” says Smillie. “Cummins makes engines. As a sourcing analyst in indirect purchasing at Cummins, I buy everything that does not go into the engine—from forklifts and laptops to sticky notes, health insurance, and cleaning services.”

Smillie regularly returns to Kelley Indianapolis to speak with students about the versatility of the supply chain management field, a profession she believes has something for everyone.

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Tessa Smillie, BS'15, stands outside Cummins Inc. in Columbus, Indiana. She works there as a sourcing analyst.

“Supply chain offers different areas for different personality types,” explains Smillie. “There’s buying and sourcing for people who don’t want to be on the plant floor and prefer to be on the computer. There’s manufacturing for those who always want to be moving and planning in a fast-paced environment. Logistics is for people who want to plan methodically. Supply chain has something for both the introverts and the extroverts.”