In his six years of working in supply chain, Jesse Wu has explored three different companies, each in different segments of the industry. Each has helped him develop his interests and realize his potential. Now, as a new student in the Master of Supply Chain Management (MSCM) program, Jesse is largely aware of the skills he needs to be successful in his next job. We talked to Jesse about how a Master in Supply Chain Management benefits his career, what skills he wants to add to his arsenal, and advice for others looking to jump on the supply chain train.
The Road to a Supply Chain Management Career
Jesse first came across the supply chain industry by way of his dad. “My father was an engineer for the China aerospace group working on rocket launches to space. It was a huge project. They dealt with thousands of vendors to supply different parts, assemble some of the pieces, and make sure it was all feasible and safe. His interaction with supply chain at that point made him believe it was a cool industry to join.” With his help and guidance, Jesse moved to Hong Kong and majored in supply chain as an undergrad. “It was a wonderful experience for me. I loved the major, the concepts, and came to realize that if applied well, I could really make a difference in a company using these skills.”
Upon graduating from college, Jesse decided to stay in Hong Kong. He spent three years working in logistics with APL, a container carrier ship company, before moving on to Damco, a global freight forwarder company, and finally moving to Hainan Airlines, shortly thereafter. As Jesse moved from segment to segment in supply chain, he made important observations about the industry and his role as a service provider.
“In the workplace, you need to consider the optimized, fast solution. Definitely. But, you also need to consider commercial interests. I’ve learned that companies aren’t just concerned with maximizing profits, they also want to provide the best industry service and experience for customers. As employees, we present value propositions to customers, but after speaking to them, you sometimes realize that they don’t always want the fastest or cheapest solution, they want a solution that tackles their pain point best.”
Finding His Way to Foster
As Jesse learned about the nuances in the supply chain business, he began to identify ways in which he could be more effective at work. But, he didn’t always have the tools. “Part of the reason I applied to this master’s program is because I really want to learn how to make decisions or create solutions supported by data, using data analysis. In my previous jobs, we spent a lot of money in hiring new staff, but not so much in improving them. New staff follow very detailed standard operating processes for structures and procedures, but making changes or adding new things was difficult. We didn’t have the tools or power to leverage our ideas to a larger interest in the whole organization. It was frustrating.” Jesse shared that an important and primary reason he chose MSCM is because of the balanced mix of managerial content and technical courses. “At MSCM, we have course like spreadsheet modeling and operation management. We learn how to utilize statistics to help form our own solutions and how to create better optimization processes.”
In addition to managerial and technical courses, Jesse knew he would benefit from Foster’s industry relationships with companies. “In Hong Kong, I was not considered local because I could not speak Cantonese, which is their preferred language,” shared Jesse. He grew up in Xi’an, China where the language is Mandarin. “This is a huge barrier I encountered as I searched for jobs in Hong Kong, but it was also where I first learned the value of networks. I reached out to classmates that were considered local students and had jobs. I asked about vacancies in their companies and landed my first job through a company that a friend introduced me to.” This experience was crucial to Jesse consideration of masters programs. He knew that a key criteria of the program he chose would have to be his ability to grow his network and be introduced to companies in the states.
How a Master in Supply Chain Management Benefits His Growth
Today, Jesse is excited to be making strides in building his professional network in Seattle. “I am glad I made the decision to come here because in this first quarter, we already had fireside chats with high level representatives from Starbucks, Microsoft, and Alaska Airlines. We will also have a leadership series, in which, leaders in different industries come to our classroom to share their wisdom, experience, and background. These are opportunities you cannot easily find in other universities and they’re opportunities that are very important for international students.”
He has also learned a thing or two from his American classmates. “I’ve actually had this discussion with both friends here and friends in my home country. It has been interesting to learn a new way of talking about myself. Back home, we are taught to be humble and to stick with the crowd-never stand out. Here, people are very willing to show experience and ideas even if they are not experts in that area because they want to express themselves. I used to mostly listen and observe because I didn’t feel like an expert in any topic, but now, I am beginning to express myself. It is very different!”
Adapting to Life in Seattle
Slowly, but surely, Jesse is falling into a rhythm with his new life in Seattle. He is not only learning about Seattle companies, and picking up networking tips, but also beginning new experiences of his own. One of these new experiences will be working in a student position at the UW Botanical Gardens. “UW is currently helping the City of Seattle with a program called Trees for Seattle. Residents of the city can apply for trees, for free, to plant in their backyard or on their street. The goal is to help the city be greener and improve the air quality here. I will be a crew member, helping to organize things like work in neighborhood events, tree distribution, and other logistical jobs.”
Overall, Jesse is enthusiastic about how this master’s program in supply chain management benefits his skills and will impact his career. “If you really want to know how businesses are operating in the real world, then MSCM is the right choice. The curriculum is designed for students who really want to be more competent in the future of supply chain, both tactically and managerially.”
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