New Concentrations for Management Degree

Are you Crazy-Smart? You should study business at Michigan Tech!

Two new concentrations have been added to the School of Business and Economics’ BS in Management: supply chain and operations management, and entrepreneurship. Both hold great promise.

“Businesses want employees with the knowledge and expertise in supply chain,” says Greg Graman, associate professor of operations and supply chain management in the School. “Distribution systems are important to customers and wholesalers, and they need to be managed before they get out of control.”

The importance is borne out in co-op, intern, and job opportunities from companies such as Raytheon, Target, Kohler, Union Pacific, Dow Chemical, Oshkosh Truck, Mercury Marine and Polaris.

“I get asked directly by these companies, ‘Tell me about your supply chain program.’” Graman says.

“It’s more than logistics,” says Dana Johnson, professor of operations and supply chain management. “It’s using information technology in a fashion to facilitate timely decision making with quantitative data, for example. It’s an important process in manufacturing or service industries.”

And, it’s multidisciplinary, Johnson says. Students who transfer in from engineering or computer science are bringing quantitative aptitude, and that skill set is emphasized throughout the concentration.

But there’s also emphasis on data analysis, finance, strategic skills, global perspective and communications.

Supply chain activities can have a profound effect on the financial status of the organization. High inventory level and slow response times can have an adverse effect on cash flow.

“A supply management department may be responsible for spending 50 to 60 percent of the gross revenue of an organization, greatly impacting profitability and operational success,” she says.

The new concentration will also be a proving ground for students who want to compete in the project management competition known as THE Project sponsored by the West Michigan Chapter of the Project Management Institute held in Grand Rapids each year.

Elsewhere, future entrepreneurs can now get focused training in the SBE. The new concentration is the result of work by Saurav Pathak, Michele Loughead, Russell Louks and Tang Wang, and experiential learning in entrepreneurship will be the focus.

The concentration’s unique feature is the Business Development course wherein senior year business school students assume entrepreneurial roles over two consecutive semesters and work on real-life technology-based projects to ascertain the potential for commercialization. In addition, the concentration requires students to take two content-based courses: Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Management.

Several entrepreneurial entities on or around the Tech campus, including the Office of Innovation and Industry Engagement, the Enterprise Program, the Senior Design Program and the MTEC SmartZone have been identified and integrated into what could become a sustainable “entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Pathak says.

”These entities have contributed a total of 11 technology-based projects for the Business Development course, whose commercial potential is to be ascertained by our business school students.”

Currently, forty-three students are enmeshed in all things entrepreneurial.

“The two content-based course sequence—Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Management—fits in as an introduction and connection for the management students in the new concentration,” says Wang, “At the same time they are taking the Business Development courses in sequence.”

“And the students will be working on real projects with commercial applications, producing real business plans,” Pathak adds. “In essence, the concentration benefits from the predominance of technology on campus.

One example is an improved fishing lure that a downstate company run by alumnus is working on. Four students are helping to determine the scope of the product and potential markets where to sell it.

Other students have been working on improved blood-typing technologies, advanced tire materials, hand-held sonar, and more. “The technology all sounds great, but is there a viable business out of these is the question.” Pathak says. “Business school students need to find the answer.”

They’ll all be involved, including Pathak and Wang, in Tech’s Bob Mark Memorial Elevator Pitch competition and Business Development competition, in addition to some new challenges.

“There’s a new Accelerate Michigan competition and others that we would like to compete in,” Pathak says.

Given Michigan Tech’s track record downstate (winning the $30,000 New Venture Competition in Mt. Pleasant in 2012), sending more students seems like a good idea.

This story was originally by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor, for Michigan Technological University’s University Marketing and Communications.