Supply Chain Graduate Degrees: Make The Most Of Education


In recent years, many prominent universities have developed graduate level programs in supply chain, procurement, and logistics. Many go after an Masters of Business Administration (MBA) or other masters level designation in hopes of being promoted to managing people. And yet, that doesn’t always happen. A master’s degree is a great tool, but you have to make sure it’s the right tool for the problem you are hoping to solve.

To get the most out of a graduate degree, you have to understand how to both the problem you are trying to solve and how to apply the degree to address the problem. Ask yourself:

  • What is the problem am I trying to solve?
  • What does the solution look like?

For example, rather than aiming at becoming a people manager, create a goal of climbing the corporate ladder through promotion. Then you have to consider what you need to do to capture that promotion. Just getting a degree isn’t enough. You need to add value to your employer, solve a major problem that your employer is having. You need to work closely with the decision makers within the organization to really understand the challenges. Of course, simply solving the problem isn’t enough. You need to get recognition for those accomplishments from your peers and your leadership team. You need a strategy to make it happen.

You need to start this conversation well in advance—Ideally before you begin your graduate studies. You need to start with your end in mind. What is end goal for you in getting your MBA? Is it more money or a promotion or something else? Let’s assume you want a promotion, which will come with more money. Talk to your boss and get help laying out a path to promotion. Tell your boss that you are considering going back to school if it will help. Any boss worth his or her salt will encourage employees to grow and learn. If that’s not the case, you may be in the wrong organization.

Next, make sure you consider what might be in it for your boss to promote you. Ask yourself: What is in it for him? What is in it for the company? What is the overall corporate strategy? You need to be able to articulate how promoting will further the corporate goals that your organization is pursing in the next several years. Think about what you can offer that others can’t.

Analyze your strengths. Perhaps you are originally from India or China, and your company is pursing outsourcing relationships in one of those countries. Your understanding of the geography, the culture, and more may be imperative to success. Maybe your company is cash strapped and there’s a major project that needs to be done. If you could propose an execution model that would let you manage the project and hire freelance resources at a tenth the cost, you would get plenty of attention. Also think about what you are willing to do to be promoted. Would you be willing to move to another country? Keep in mind that multi cultural experience will broaden your perspective and open many more doors in the future.

Once you understand all this and prepare a strategy, create a plan for the next six to 18 months,

  • I am going to do this project and make this client a great reference able client.
  • Then I am going to help accomplish this corporate goal.
  • Then I will make this other project a huge success (and help my group make its numbers of make my boss look good)
  • Then I am also going to facilitate some product development initiatives through my relationships with my past clients.
  • Then I am also going to develop a couple of leaders under me who are going to deliver these training classes under my stewardship.
  • Then I am going to show all this to my boss and peers and make my case for promotion.

In that time frame, you may have completed or almost completed your graduate work. You’ll be in a position to demonstrate your growth and your value to the organization.

Share your wisdom with those who are coming up the corporate ladder. What have you done early in your career that proved valuable? What would you have done differently? What has worked best as you have tried to get your career on track? Let us know in the comments section below.

Originally published at on Feb 27, 2018.

Puga Sankara is the co-founder of Smart Gladiator LLC. Smart Gladiator designs, builds, and delivers market-leading mobile technology for retailers, distributors, and 3PL service providers. SG LoadProof is a patent pending Centralized Enterprise Photo/Video Document System on Cloud for Supply Chain. SG LP is built on the fact that photos & videos are vital docs as important as POs/SOs/Legal Contracts/Fulfillment Orders that reside in ERP/WMS/TMS systems, that serve as compelling, conclusive, unequivocal proof of crucial, critical, vital operations executed in Supply Chain within/across orgs when fulfilling customer orders as well as meeting contractual obligations between orgs as merchandise is transferred between different parties that partake in Supply Chain functions & operations. And these photos/videos data should not be stored in someone’s Smartphone or Email Inbox or in their personal/work Computer, but should be stored in a Centralized Enterprise system, where such data can be pushed into super-fast, stored securely, accessible to all stake holders (CFO/Sales Reps/Customer Support/AR/AP) in an org, as well as facilitates super-fast retrieval/sharing. LP is an Enterprise System of record for Photo/Video docs & is as important as an ERP which is an enterprise system of record for POs, SOs, Legal Contracts between parties etc. that have huge legal ramifications, also as important as a WMS (Warehouse Management System) that hold indispensable shipment & fulfillment data on orders. Like how Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat etc. have evolved into social media platforms/systems that enable individuals to showcase their beauty/pretty clothes/lovely cosmetics/hep coolness etc., LoadProof is an Enterprise system that holds similar photos/videos, but for a different reason, not for show off, but to serve as compelling, conclusive, unequivocal & indisputable system of record and proof that can be presented even in the court of law, when there is a dispute between parties while they execute many facets of the Supply Chain functions & operations. Puga is a supply chain technology professional with more than 25 years of experience in deploying capabilities in the logistics and supply chain domain. His prior roles involved managing complicated mission-critical programs driving revenue numbers, rolling out a multitude of capabilities involving more than a dozen systems, and managing a team of 30 to 50 personnel across multiple disciplines and departments in large corporations such as Hewlett Packard. He has deployed WMS for more than 30 distribution centers in his role as a senior manager with Manhattan Associates. He has also performed process analysis walk-throughs for more than 50 distribution centers for WMS process design and performance analysis review, optimizing processes for better productivity and visibility through the supply chain. Size of these DCs varied from 150,000 to 1.2 million SQFT. Puga Sankara has an MBA from Georgia Tech. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit the company at Also follow him at

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