Engaging The Chain

UT’s efforts around supply chain management and logistics programs have led to high ranking by Supply Chain Management Review, AMR Research, U.S. News & World Report and Supply Chain Digital. UT offers undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. supply chain management programs and provides executive education, industry forums, research initiatives, custom programs, global partnerships and corporate audits.

One of the leaders of UT’s supply chain initiatives is Dr. J. Paul Dittmann, executive director of the Global Supply Chain Institute. Dittmann is not a lifelong academic. His 30-plus years in industry include c-suite-level experience with the Whirlpool Corporation. His global supply chain and manufacturing strategies for Whirlpool saved the company more than $600 million.

Dittmann also consulted for firms like Walgreens, Walmart and Lowe’s, and he has published work on everything from supply chain metrics and global logistics to global project management and change management. At the university, he works with the demand-supply integration forums and teaches logistics courses in the college and in executive education programs.

“We are one of highest-ranked schools in supply chain education,” Dittmann says. “Although I do some teaching, my main focus is on outreach with our partners.”

Respected Resource

For students and its partners in industry, UT strives to be a world-class resource for global supply chain expertise through comprehensive offerings. At the undergrad level, UT focuses on preparing students for the business world through demanding programs and opportunities to network with corporate leaders.

MBA candidates can pursue concentrations in supply chain, finance, logistics, marketing, operations and entrepreneurship and innovation. Ph.D. candidates are involved with research with professors and receive direct exposure to supply chain and logistics systems at major corporations.

“We constantly reevaluate curriculum to ensure relevance,” Dittmann says.

Internationally, UT’s Global Supply Chain Institute has established global partnerships with academic institutions in Asia, Latin America and Central and Western Europe. These efforts at global leadership in supply chain education have allowed UT to create a Global Supply Chain Executive MBA offering, which will open in January 2013 and focus on supply chain management with a global perspective.

In terms of its partnerships with industry, UT does this on domestic and international levels. UT’s supply chain management forum has hosted a domestic supply chain forum for nearly two decades. Vice presidents, directors and managers from approximately 50 top corporations participate in the forum, which allows corporate leaders, professors and students to share ideas about supply chain issues.

In 2011, UT launched the Global Supply Chain Forum in France in partnership with ESSEC Business School. Its is structured similarly to the domestic forum, but it will meet in North America, Asia, Western Europe, Central/Eastern Europe and Latin America. Partners in the forum include ESSEC in France and Singapore, Central European University in Hungary and Instituto de Logistica e Supply Chain in Brazil.

Relationships with these international universities extend to research into trends and issues in global supply chain management. And beyond the forums, UT connects to industry through the Global Supply Chain Institute Advisory Board, which consists of more than 30 supply chain vice presidents from many leading corporations, and helps the institute stay on top of industry trends and determine its course of action.

“Our forum of 54 industry partners supports us and meets two times a year,” Dittmann says. “In addition, 43 senior, V.P.-level supply chain executives are on our advisory board. That board meets a few times a year and provides us with advice on topics such as controlling costs and acquiring talent.”

Identifying Issues

It is through these industry relationships that UT has come to understand that companies are looking for a single reliable resource that can provide supply chain solutions when it comes to education, research, consultative problem solving and the global aspects of supply chain management.

“Supply chain can be responsible for 60 percent to 70 percent of cost in a company,” Dittmann says. “Supply chain is also hugely responsible for the financial performance of companies, because it is responsible for providing product at the right place and right time, as well as managing most of the physical assets, working capital and inventory.”

Because the supply chain is at the center of driving a company’s overall financial performance and shareholder value, UT is working to devise supply chain solutions that are innovative and ensure that the supply chain has a place in the executive suite. Although these solutions can differ depending on the industry and company, commonalities can be found.

A universal framework for getting more out of supply chain operations can be found in Dittmann’s latest book, Supply Chain Transformation. It lays out a nine-step process for how to build and sustain a customized supply chain system that will help any company enhance revenue, maximize profitability, improve efficiency and increase shareholder value.

“That process must be done company by company,” Dittmann says, “And we have found that only 15 percent of companies have a documented supply chain strategy.”

UT will continue to educate its supply chain students and work with companies on their supply chain challenges. The university intends to stay ranked as the No. 1 academic supply chain institution, staying relevant thanks to the strength of its staff and the depth of its industry partnerships.

“We have to keep raising the bar every year,” Dittmann says. “By offering new, relevant products that people want and staying in close contact with partners in private industry, we’ll be able to stay on top.”