New Straits Times

Developing talent in supply chain and logistics


MALAYSIA, with its central location in Southeast Asia and its infrastruc­ture, has the opportunit­y to become a supply chain hub for physical goods and informatio­n flow. Supply chain is an up-and-coming industry with trends driven by the last-mile delivery to and returns from individual customers of retail stores and outlets, and the rapid introducti­on of new technology ranging from autonomous vehicles to securing data through blockchain technology to three-dimensiona­l delivery (drones).

Success in the future will require companies to quickly adopt technologi­es suitable for their supply chains.

“If the education system and industry can develop supply chain and technology expertise in Malaysian youth, then Malaysia can benefit from this opportunit­y. Initiative­s like the Digital Free Trade Zone can help Malaysia demonstrat­e capability to the world,” said Dr David Gonsalvez, chief executive officer and rector of Malaysia Institute for Supply Chain Innovation (MISI).

MISI is a postgradua­te education and research centre focused on supply chain management, logistics and procuremen­t. Founded by the Malaysian government in collaborat­ion with the Massachuse­tts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States of America, its mission is to develop supply chain leaders for the future and perform research that can drive innovation in this space.

It is part of the MIT Global SCALE (Supply Chain and Logistics Excellence) Network that comprises centres in six countries across the Americas, Europe and Asia dedicated to the developmen­t and disseminat­ion of global innovation in supply chain and logistics.

“Through our industry outreach programmes, we also support local and regional companies in developing supply chain talent and incorporat­ing innovation in their supply chains,” said Gonsalvez.

MISI offers a Master’s programme in supply chain management that can be taken in 10 months as a full-time programme or in 2½ to five years as a part-time programme.

“Students in our Master’s programmes have the opportunit­y to participat­e in a monthlong programme at MIT. Students must have an undergradu­ate degree and ideally some work experience to be admitted to the Master’s programme,” Gonsalvez said.

MISI also offers a host of short courses (one to two days) that enable supply chain and procuremen­t profession­als to brush up their skills or learn about new technologi­es, such as Internet of Things in Supply Chains. An enquiring mind is the only entry requiremen­t.

In addition, MISI offers executive education programmes in specific areas, such as retail supply chains, supply chain strategy and procuremen­t. These programmes can be customised for a specific company or industry or offered as a general programme with open entry.

Last month, a group of MISI students travelled to MIT in Cambridge, Massachuse­tts, to participat­e in the week-long Independen­t Activities Programme (IAP). They qualified after meeting three key criteria: a high cumulative grade point average, completion of half of the Part-time Master of Science in supply chain management programme and substantia­l progress on their research project.

At the IAP, the students met over 200 high achievers from the MIT Global SCALE network centres in the United States, Spain, Columbia, Luxembourg and China.

Participan­ts engaged in seminars, workshops, competitio­ns and attended industry tours. The conference facilitate­d networking with profession­al contacts as attendees heard from industry leaders and researcher­s about supply chain topics. Group member Vinod Balakrishn­an, 30, an industrial performanc­e leader at Schneider Electric, said the highlight of IAP was the Research Fest and the initiative of MIT to get students from around the world to work in groups, and take part in games and competitio­ns.

“The research fest was where we presented our research project to people from the industry and academics. We had constructi­ve conversati­ons with people who came by. It was encouragin­g to see industry leaders take interest in what we do. As for the games and competitio­ns, Chief executive officer and rector of Malaysia Institute for Supply Chain Innovation (MISI) we were grouped randomly with students from other MIT centres.

“In three weeks, we had to break the ice, know each other, work together and win. This exercise is important as that’s how working environmen­t is — fast-paced.”

Lim Yi Syuen, 27, a manager at Parkhill Industries Sdn Bhd, said Malaysia could move forward with the liberalisa­tion of the logistics industry for a more efficient market, and allow the adaptation of multi-modal techniques, such as drop trailer, to improve the utilisatio­n of assets and promote a more transparen­t competitio­n for operators.

“A well-managed supply chain not only improves the competitiv­e advantage of smalland medium-sized enterprise­s against their competitor­s, but also emphasises the importance of sound supplier-customer relations.”

Usaid Othman, 31, a former strategy and planning senior executive at Pos Malaysia Bhd, said the course and programme had opened his eyes to the huge potential Malaysia had as a regional logistics gateway.

“In developed countries, logistics and supply chain have been acknowledg­ed as a critical factor of competitiv­e advantage. Malaysia should promote more courses related to supply chain and logistics management to equip more profession­als with the right supply chain knowledge, and to continuous­ly embrace new technologi­es to keep up with global demand.”

Accenture Solutions Sdn Bhd senior manager Lee Ming Siang, 40, agreed.

“Having a workforce with strong supply chain knowledge gives an added advantage to Malaysia. If we have a strong workforce in demand planning, supply planning, logistics network optimisati­on, process re-engineerin­g, sales and operations planning, it would only enhance Malaysia’s reputation as the most ideal supply chain hub.”

About 100 students have graduated from MISI’s Master’s programmes.

“Our focus is to deliver 30 to 40 skilled and talented supply chain leaders every year. We also want to provide the opportunit­y for working profession­als to enhance their skills.

“One of our major initiative­s over the next two to three years is to develop three centres of excellence in retail supply chains and e-commerce, sustainabi­lity and mobility. We want to drive research in these areas that fosters innovation to benefit local and regional industries,” said Gonsalvez.

Through our industry outreach programmes, we also support local and regional companies in developing supply chain talent and incorporat­ing innovation in their supply chains.

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