Supply chain MBA programs should give students a broad business education rather than being too narrowly focused on supply chain disciplines, says Thomas Speh, director of MBA programs at Miami University's Farmer School of Business.
"I favor a very broad-based program that gives students exposure to a lot more than just supply chain management, because they will be working in global environments and they will be interacting with C-level executives, so they need to be able to talk the language of CEOs and CFOs, which means they need exposure to areas like strategy, finance and leadership," says Speh.
He also favors MBA programs with an experiential approach, rather than those that are centered on book learning and lectures. "In our MBA program, almost every course is based on case studies, with students analyzing cases, presenting to their peers and arguing with their peers," he says. "We also engage the students in internships, where they work one day a week throughout their entire course of study. They are out there having to do things, rather than simply reading a book and listening to a lecture."
Technology is an important part of education today and students certainly come in with strong technology skills, he says. "What we want to teach them is how to strategically use technology. The focus is not on how to write code for a particular computer program, but on understanding where an application fits and how it can help them be better managers," he says.
The best supply chain MBA candidates are those who spend two to five years in the workplace before going after a post-graduate degree, says Speh. "These students come into the program with a much richer background, with questions, with an understanding of how an organization works and how the supply chain works. Students that come in straight from graduate school do not get the same richness from the program because they don't have that context," he says.
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