Recruiting New Talent - 60 Seconds with Douglas Thomas

Modern Materials Handling put together a piece featuring Supply Chain Professor Douglas Thomas on how to recruit the best new talent.

October 2015 - Modern Materials Handling recently interviewed Douglas Thomas, professor of Supply Chain Management at Smeal, on how best to recruit new supply chain talent. The talent squeeze is real according to research that Thomas and Deloitte Consulting conducted. At the graduate level, there is a decrease in applications. The Banking and Finance industries are rebounding, and MBAs are choosing these fields rather than supply chain operations, so it's difficult to find qualified talent to fit the jobs that are available in the Supply Chain industry.

Thomas noted, "I think it’s more of a challenge for smaller companies... Those large companies come to a campus like Penn State every year and are looking to recruit a number of students. It’s harder for a small company that may only need to hire one student a year—or every couple of years—to stand out..." Large companies are able to aggressively recruit in large career fair atmospheres, the students recognize the company brand so the recruitment team is at an immediate advantage; but this is not an end all for small companies.

"One of the things we do at Penn State is to have alums come back who have gone on to high-level positions where part of their path was supply chain." Douglas Thomas, Penn State University Professor, on how to recruit new supply chain talent.

When asked, "What are some of the things companies can do to make their organizations a place where employees want to stick around and students want to come to work?" Thomas suggested two growing trends; on-line master's programs, and "short, focused skills-based executive program" offerings. Full-time employees can continue to work while advancing their skills and careers."Let's face it: The rate of change in ideas is so fast that you need a lifetime of education."

On the other end of the spectrum, attracting new professionals into the supply chain field is the responsibility of higher education faculty working together with practitioners in the field. Penn State Smeal offers a mentoring program pairing students with seasoned supply chain professionals that can offer advice and relay their enthusiasm and the opportunities provided in the field.

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