Broad Education Beyond Supply Chain

Michigan State's Broad School has more to offer than just a noted program in supply-chain management, says its admissions director

Michigan State University's Broad School of Business cracked BusinessWeek's Top 30 this year, and Director of Admissions Jeff McNish says that's one sign that they've become a truly global MBA program.

And while the school is proud of its well-known program in supply-chain management, of which McNish himself is an alumnus, he says the school also has a lot to offer students interested in other areas, such as finance, marketing, or human-resources management. He spoke recently with reporter Kerry Miller. Here are edited excerpts of the conversation.

A number of business schools specialize in supply-chain management. How's the Broad school unique?

First of all, we have a significant history in the area of supply-chain management. We were one of the first schools to teach the concept of physical distribution, which today is called logistics. Our faculty members are widely published and recognized for the work that they do.

We're also a school that teaches supply chain from an integrative supply-chain perspective, which means our students are being exposed, in a supply-chain area, to the three legs of supply chain: procurement or purchasing, manufacturing or operations, and logistics. And they study the integration of those three areas as part of our curriculum. That comprehensive exploration of all three includes not only what each of the three components is, but how they're integrated within an organization so that the organization can achieve results.

How is learning about supply-chain management beneficial for students preparing for careers in other business disciplines?

There really are many concepts within the supply chain that can be applied in the other business disciplines. I was a supply-chain major when I was an MBA here, and one of the things that I took away that I'm applying today in an admission-director role is the concept of running a lean operation, reducing waste and inefficiencies.

That's one of the concepts that's taught in our supply-chain curriculum, and that principle, for example, can be applied in a human-resource function or a marketing role as well. One of the things the recruiters tell us about our students is that they're able to use supply-chain concepts or elements in non-supply-chain situations, and I think that's another thing that makes us unique.

What are the school's other strengths outside of supply chain?

That's a question I hear a lot. Students want to make sure that we're not just a supply-chain-only school, and we really aren't. We're a great school for anyone considering an MBA. Finance is one area that we have a strength in, and well as human-resource management and marketing. We have a financial-analysis lab that gives our students the opportunity to use real-time data to work within the finance curriculum.

Our students who are studying HR have an opportunity to study, not only within our Department of Management at the Broad School, but within Michigan State University's...

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