Masters of the Future

I have a secret: I can see the future. Anyone who reads business media can tell you that many professionals in my generation fear for the future of the workforce. Doomsayers claim that all millennials are lazy, and Generation Z is needy and co-dependent on Google and their devices. I’m lucky, however. I get an annual glimpse into the future of the logistics workforce—and I can say with confidence that we’ll be just fine.

Inbound Logistics and APICS offer an annual scholarship to college students studying for a supply chain career. We choose the winner based on essay submissions describing why they want to pursue a supply chain career and what they hope to accomplish. While reviewing this year’s essays, I found myself confident about the future of our field thanks to several recurring themes across each submission.

Young professionals don’t just want a paycheck, they want to use the supply chain to leave their mark and make a difference in the world. “I have learned a great deal about the role logistics must play in helping to feed the world,” Shannon Atkins, a senior at Georgia Southern University, wrote in her scholarship essay. “The challenge is great and is a large part of what drives me toward this profession.”

These students grew up in the world of Amazon, Google, and social media. They not only understand technology solutions and big data—they embrace them. “As companies become more integrated in their ERP systems and turn towards automation through computer processes, new leaders with technical experience will have to take charge and manage the implementation of high-functioning systems,” wrote Jordan Kremer, a junior in the University of Dayton’s industrial engineering technology program.

Students also understand the impact of the logistics skills gap, and want to be part of the solution. “Supply chain and logistics has room for improvement and needs more people to come on board,” Christine Lac wrote. “I want that challenge. Supply chain and logistics never sleep. I won’t sleep on it either.”

Feeling both heartened and intimidated after reading all the essays, I turned to the task of choosing a winner. Picking only one of these inspiring, intelligent, and motivated students was quite the challenge. After much consideration, I chose Vivian Leung as the winner of the 2017 Inbound Logistics/APICS scholarship. Vivian is an industrial engineering major at the Häme University of Applied Sciences in Finland. I was impressed with her drive, practical experience, and dedication to correcting supply chain inefficiencies.

I asked Vivian what she hoped to accomplish with a supply chain career, and her answer ensured me I had made the right choice. “Making supply chains more efficient will hopefully result in less unnecessary waste while making the supply chain more profitable, creating a win-win for both the business and the earth,” she said. “I also would like to help bridge the gap between Europe and North America by promoting and encouraging networking between the two continents, as well as the sharing of logistics and supply chain practices. Hopefully as a result, it will improve the quality of supply chain management around the world.”

Fear not. If you depend on supply chain excellence, you’re in good hands, now…and in the future.