One thing that I think would be infinitely fascinating is to take a trip to Memphis and spend the night at the FedEx facility there, watching as hundreds of airplanes come in from all over the world, disgorge millions of packages, and within a few hours are loaded up again to return to their destinations. I have always had an interest in that company, and not just because Fred Smith is a retired Marine, the same as I am. I have always had a great interest in logistics, the art and science of getting goods from one place to another, when you need them to be there. While the FedEx operations in Memphis would have tremendous visual appeal, I am equally impressed with the logistics technology employed by Wal-Mart, and by the ability of the resource sector to get heavy equipment to the most remote and inhospitable places on earth, and then get minerals and fuel from those places to market.
I was first exposed to logistics in a serious way in the Marines. There, I learned quickly that the logistics are essential to the mission, and indeed to survival. Getting the supplies and weapons anywhere in the world -- Afghanistan, Iraq, you name it -- is a matter of life and death for the Marines on the ground, so having efficient, error-free logistics systems has become something of a military specialty. Most of my work was in that field, and I put together quite a few years' worth of experience. I learned a lot in that time, about having systems in place ahead of time, about materials requirements, and about building out effective transportation networks quickly.
It is my desire to take this experience in logistics to the private sector, and for that I need an MBA to bring me up to speed with the latest in industry best practices. I bring to the program years of...
I have some good stories. But I do need to upgrade some of my conceptual knowledge, and gain a better understanding of the modern technology used in logistics today. Studying how industry leaders are using modelling to estimate demand, how RFID or wireless technologies can allow for real time tracking of all goods in the supply chain -- these are the skills I want to learn from your MBA program.
The MBA will allow me to better transfer my skills to the private sector. As much as I want to visit FedEx, my role in logistics is not going to be delivering iPhones. I see the supply chain as a critical element in business today, a genuine source of sustainable competitive advantage. When a company is able to align its deliveries with demand such that it only carries one or two days' inventory, that translates directly to the bottom line, and helps businesses to outcompete their rivals. I have a pretty strong competitive nature, and the idea of being able to help a company have a supply chain so efficient that it can lower prices excites me.
Academically, I do realistically see the MBA as my final stop, a way to translate a lot of what I learned in the Marines into the private sector. Professionally, I will have to choose between operating an efficient supply chain as in a major manufacturer or retailer, or working in the resource sector where every day is a unique challenge, like getting critical equipment from a mine in South Africa to a mine in Mongolia. When you think about logistics in that way, it becomes apparent quite quickly that this is a truly amazing field of work. So professionally, I want to get to the highest levels of my field. That means learning more about the theory and technology.
It also means being able to tie my knowledge of logistics and the supply chain with broader organizational strategy. The MBA gives me a chance to put logistics in the context of overall strategy, and see how it contributes to the bottom line. Being able to tie changes to logistics to other elements of strategy, linking the big picture with the little details, is powerful, and it is my objective. If I can bring that to an organization, I will set my own ceiling.
Aside from the knowledge, an MBA program is great for expanding one's network of contacts. Everybody that…
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