Technology, automation, communication: What a supply chain management major could mean for you

It all started as a part-time job, working nights at UPS loading trucks. It turned into a nearly 35-year career that continues today.

At age 20, Chip Edgington was going to school at Ohio State during the day, while working part time at UPS at night. His part-time gig turned into a supervising job, and he continued to move up the ranks from there.

One day, Edgington got a call from The Limited. He worked with The Limited for nine years, working his way into senior management. Edgington also worked in a senior-level operations position with Time, Inc. before moving on to FULLBEAUTY Brands in 1999. In the industry for 34 years, he now oversees 1,200 associates in three states.

“This career channel is diverse, quick-paced, and very rewarding,” explained Edgington, executive vice president of operations at FULLBEAUTY Brands. “It’s also a growing field.”

FULLBEAUTY Brands is one of the largest plus-size fashion companies in the world. The company is headquartered in New York City, with a corporate presence in Indianapolis. FULLBEAUTY Brands also has distribution centers in Indianapolis and Plainfield and a large customer care center in El Paso, Texas.

“There’s a lot of technology, and there’s a lot of automation. You need to be adaptable and quick,” said Edgington. “It’s not the concrete warehouse with two forklifts and pallets; it is much more complex than that. To give you an example, we will ship over 15 million packages out of the Indianapolis facility, making us one of the largest apparel shippers in the country. You need a lot of automation and a lot of technology to do that in one year.”

What is supply chain management and logistics?

“I want students to understand this career is many different things. It’s very team-driven and very engaging. It requires you to be quick on your feet, which makes it exciting,” Edgington explained.

“You’re not going to be in a cubicle all day. As you make decisions and manage projects, you see the impact you’re making; you’re part of driving results. I think that is particularly important to today’s students.

“It’s also very rewarding financially. It’s a well-paying field, and many students aren’t aware of that.”

“I encourage students to declare a major in supply chain and logistics. Learn as much as you can prior to coming in,“ he added.

What skill sets should you work on?

“You want to be able to communicate seamlessly across all levels of the organization, including the front line. Our supervisors may have 30 people direct reports, ranging in age from 18 to 62. You also need to be able to engage with middle management and senior executives. If you have strong communication skills, you’re going to do very well."

“The other advice I would give to students is to develop strong presentation skills. At FULLBEAUTY Brands, we don’t wait until you’ve been with the company for five years before you start making presentations to the senior team. It could very well happen in your first year.”

Edgington explained writing skills are also very important, and he looks for students who are engaging and willing to work hard.

"While we stress life balance, we also stress doing what needs to be done to drive manageable impact—in other words, getting stuff done. We want to bring in staff members who are going to be aggressive and make an impact. Whether they’ve been with the company three days, three months, three years, or 13 years, we put them in a position where they can make an impact.”

Edgington serves as chairman of the Conexus Indiana Board of Directors. A part of Conexus’ mission is to create connections between Indiana’s logistics industry and academic institutions.

Conexus Indiana and Kelley Indianapolis Career Services are hosting a Senior Executive Panel to connect students with executives in advanced manufacturing and logistics.