MBA students see supply chain excellence firsthand

After a grueling first quarter, a group of 15 supply chain students from the W. P. Carey Full‑time MBA visited three companies in the Portland area — Daimler, Nike, and Columbia Sportswear. Because we have such a strong network of alumni, the Supply Chain Club was able to set up a day at each company through a recent W. P. Carey alum. And because W. P. Carey is so well-known for its supply chain discipline, it made each visit that much easier to coordinate.

Day 1: Revving our engines at Daimler

Daimler is one of the world’s most successful automotive companies. With its divisions, Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler Trucks, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Daimler Buses, and Daimler Financial Services, the Daimler Group is one of the biggest producers of premium cars and the world’s biggest manufacturer of commercial vehicles. During the visit at Daimler’s North America headquarters, we toured one of the plants that produces custom big rigs, including the trucks used in the Transformers movies.

For many of us, it was the first time they had set foot in a manufacturing setting. MBA student Jon Ulmes believes the trip really underscores the value of a great supply chain, saying, “It was a fascinating experience to see all the processes that are needed to make the final product and actually walk the manufacturing line.”

Day 2: Gearing up at Nike

The group spent the entire day at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, taking in presentations from procurement management, inventory management, demand planning, and sourcing management. Ken Hooten, a current student and former Nike employee mentioned, “This was a very unique opportunity for each student to see an entire value stream a company that has a world class supply chain.”

We were also able to participate in a mini-case competition that dealt with an actual issue Nike had to figure out a few years ago. It was great to have that kind of access to a real-world case from one of the most recognizable brands anywhere. The end of the visit — quite a payoff — was 50% off prices at the Nike Employee store, perfect for an MBA student's budget.

Day 3: Taking the hike to Columbia Sportswear

Columbia Sportswear was a shorter visit, but still very valuable. We were given a two-hour presentation on the history of Columbia Sportswear and the direction of the company's future. Here are several key takeaways from the presentation that are not commonly known facts about Columbia: First, Columbia is a family owned business and always has been. Second, Columbia started out as a hat company. Finally, in addition to its own successful brand, Columbia also owns Mountain Hardwear and Prana.

This visit also ended in a visit to the employee store, where we all happily added to our student loan debt to take advantage of the great deals.

At the W. P. Carey School of Business, it's not only important to learn the material, but also to see where the theories and tools you learn can be applied in the real world. Trip like this one to Oregon help each student really see firsthand what it's like out there, and how we'll be able to make an impact as either an intern or a new hire.

Discover the W. P. Carey difference

Learn more about the highly ranked W. P. Carey Full-time MBA and see where in the world it can take you.

Matt Meads

B-school tips

Learn more about top-ranked programs from ASU's W. P. Carey programs and get tips to help you succeed.

Request info