Even before joining MSCM, Anjaana Bhairo saw that supply chain knowledge could empower women and break cycles of poverty in her native South Africa. Some hands-on experience during the early days of the pandemic only solidified her passion for supply chain management. Now, MSCM is equipping Anjaana with technical skills and professional support, taking her passion to the next level and landing her a new supply chain analyst job.
Discovering the Supply Chain as a Tool for Change
Anjaana, who also goes by Anji, learned in undergrad about the legacy of female entrepreneurship in South Africa: “Even though it’s a patriarchal society today, before colonialism it was very matriarchal. Starting businesses is what women did.” This inspired her to dig deeper, and with a grant from her university, she researched the current state of female entrepreneurship in South Africa.
“These weren’t big businesses. You know, selling bags of peanuts to workers heading off to work in the morning. And when I spoke to these women about what scares them, they said they didn’t know how to expand. What would that look like? They only know their community.”
Anji saw how a lack of supply chain knowledge was preventing these women from expanding their businesses. As a result, these women struggle to support their kids, get them an education, and help them get good jobs. This poverty cycle lingers on from South Africa’s history of apartheid, Anji notes, especially affecting generations of people of color. “You have to attack it from many angles, right? I want to ensure young people have that financial support from their moms to get an education.”
On the Job Experience During the Pandemic
After undergrad, Anji got a job in the PPE industry just as the pandemic hit. The work involved routing PPE products from around the world to big hospitals in the US. It was hectic but exhilarating: “I was in the mix of everything, things changed so quickly. I found it so interesting: negotiating these deals, working out what each party wanted, doing certifications and checks. That’s where I felt most alive.” Anji knew she loved working in supply chain management, but she realized that some technical skills and training could help her engage on a deeper level.
Social and Professional Support at MSCM
Anji moved to Seattle to pursue MSCM and has quickly bonded with her classmates. “I find them so supportive. We help each other with skills and job applications. I didn’t know anyone when I moved here, and now I feel like I can consider these people not just teammates or peers, but friends.”
After a first quarter on Zoom, Anji’s now back to in-person classes. Her favorite course so far? “If I had to pick one, probably Competitive Strategy or Operations Management and Process Analysis. I’ve learned a ton from them that I didn’t expect to, and they’ve changed the way I see things.”
Anji has also appreciated the career opportunities that MSCM offers. “I just feel like I’m very well supported. There are so many opportunities for jobs and internships that the program makes available for us.”
Landing a Supply Chain Job
After she added MSCM to her LinkedIn profile, Anji says a lot more recruiters started reaching out to her. One of those recruiters was with Starbucks, looking to fill a Supply Chain Analyst position. And Anji, she’s thrilled to share, has just landed the job. This will be Anji’s first chance to take the technical skills she’s learned in MSCM and apply them in the real world, and she’s feeling confident and excited: “I’m really interested to see how some of my classes like Spreadsheet Modeling and Inventory Management will feed into what I’m doing at Starbucks.” She’ll also be starting at Starbucks while she completes her MSCM studies. “As an international student, I’m able to work with a work authorization called curriculum practical training, or CPT,” explains Anji. “The program supports CPT, so that’s awesome.”
Dream to Return Home and Give Back
Anji’s deepest passion remains helping female entrepreneurs in her native South Africa. Ultimately, she’d like to return home and set up her own supply chain consultancy. It would nurture and support women-run businesses, helping them grow. For these reasons, Anji is thinking of calling her consultancy business “Seedling.” “I spend all my free time planning how I’d like to establish it in South and Southeast Africa,” Anji says. “I think it’s very much needed there.”