The Kelley School of Business at IUPUI is located in the center of Indianapolis—the twelfth largest city in the country and a major transportation hub. This setting creates many significant opportunities for students studying supply chain management.
“Indianapolis can transport to 75 percent of the United States within two days. There’s a reason they call it the ‘Crossroads of America,’” says Peggy Daniels Lee, clinical assistant professor of operations and supply chain management and faculty chair of the Undergraduate Program at Kelley Indianapolis. “Indianapolis is a hub for trucking, transportation, and supply chain in the Midwest.”
Indianapolis boasts several corporate headquarters—Eli Lilly and Company, Simon Properties, Rolls-Royce North America, and Cummins, to name a few—as well as 350 international firms located in the city, all of them with supply chain management demands.
“Amazon has a significant presence in Indianapolis, with three fulfillment centers,” says Sara Suarez, BS’14, Amazon area manager for North American fulfillment. “The Midwest has a logistic transportation hub that you won’t find in a lot of other areas of the country.”
An international student from Colombia, Suarez discovered supply chain management during her studies at Kelley Indy. Through participation in case competitions, site tours, and networking, she found that the process improvement element of operations appealed to her.
When Suarez applied to Amazon after graduation, she reached out to Mark Ippolito, senior lecturer in operations at Kelley Indianapolis, who connected her with an Amazon area manager for an informational interview to learn more about the job. Today, Suarez uses the process improvement lessons she learned at Kelley while she manages teams at Amazon.
“Process improvement has a very analytical focus, but you have to be creative with it, which is something I enjoy and something that Amazon values,” she says. “Besides managing my team to ensure all our customers are receiving their packages, I get to work on process improvement projects. Amazon lets us pitch and test our ideas to help us continuously improve on behalf of our customers.”
When students graduate with a Kelley degree from the IUPUI campus, they find jobs. An impressive 96 percent of students find employment or enter graduate school within three months of graduation.
A degree in operations is valuable, and a Kelley degree—with the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification in process improvement included—makes graduates stand out from the crowd.
“A lot of schools don’t offer a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and other students have to pursue and pay for it on their own,” says Korinne Bortz, BS’14, a materials analyst at Schneider Electric in Nashville, Tennessee. “Employers really like to see that you have earned a Green Belt. I don’t often see it listed as a job requirement, but it’s one of those preferred qualifications that’s going to get you noticed.”
Bortz discovered supply chain through her Kelley Indy courses. While she was a member of the Supply Chain Management Club, Bortz was afforded the opportunity to do a case competition with Celadon Group. This introduction led to an internship at the company, which turned into a full-time job after graduation. She recently moved to Nashville, where she works at Schneider Electric in inventory process improvement. She says her degree in operations has helped her to differentiate herself.
Some operations professionals say supply chain is like putting together a puzzle and making all the moving parts of a business fit together in one, cohesive unit. An attractive career prospect for many students, Kelley Indy alumni who’ve chosen the diverse operations field encourage students considering this path to get to know the many and varied job options within the industry.
“Explore as much as possible and as early as possible because there are so many different fields you can go into with a supply chain management degree,” advises Bortz.
“If you pursue it as a freshman or sophomore, you have time to learn about several careers and possibly complete multiple internships to gain a variety of experience.”
“For a lot of companies right now, supply chain is still very young, and they haven’t fully discovered what they can do with operations,” adds Tessa Smillie, BS’15, a sourcing analyst for Cummins Inc.
“When that happens, they’ll be looking for people who know how to do supply chain-related tasks. If you’re a student coming out of Kelley Indy’s program—where you learn by participation—you’ll be able to go to companies with first-hand knowledge. Employers appreciate a fresh perspective, and they’re willing to take that from entry-level applicants.”
Many alumni stay in contact with Kelley faculty as they move through their careers, touching base about job prospects, industry challenges, or even continuing their education post-graduation.
“What I really love about Kelley Indianapolis is how dedicated professors are to connecting you to the supply chain professional network and bringing alumni into the classroom to expose you to various careers,” says Emily Crites, BS’16, who will earn her degree in supply chain management at IU Kelley School of Business Indianapolis.
“I don’t feel like I’m leaving after graduation. I have a support system after I leave.”
“Use your professors as a resource. From the day I graduated, I’ve been in regular contact with professor Mark Ippolito, even to make professional connections when my husband’s job took us to Louisville and I didn’t know anyone,” says Suarez. “You always have that network at Kelley. Use your connections as resources to find opportunities.”