Susan Zucker, adjunct instructor at Champlain College Online, discusses the challenge and advantages of online education of students preparing for a career in supply-chain management during a pandemic.
When it comes to jobs in supply-chain management, employers today “are looking for people who can think and react, who know how to find answers to questions and be assertive with their learning skills, rather than rote procedures,” says Zucker. “It’s not business as usual.”
The traditional qualities that companies look for in a supply-chain professional are still relevant, but the advance of technology in recent years has created the need for greater analytical skills, to handle the immense amount of data generated by automated systems. At the same time, there’s a need for individuals who can collaborate and build relationships with team members as well as external partners. The job requires “both right- and left-brain skills,” says Zucker.
Students who are accustomed to learning online have a “leg up” in acquiring the necessary knowledge because they are by definition tech-savvy. “They’re very comfortable in the online world.” That’s an especially crucial quality today, given the impossibility of bringing people together in the same physical space. But Zucker believes that online learning will remain just as relevant when the pandemic subsides, and workers are once more allowed to congregate. It’s an especially valuable means of bringing together industry professionals, whose experience in the business can be of great use to aspiring supply-chain experts.
Still uncertain in a time of pandemic is the possibility of internships, which form a crucial part of any business curriculum. Yet Zucker believes that the online model of education can support the kind of relationships that can link up students with working professionals, and expose them to the everyday challenges that the discipline presents.
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