Analyze This - Data Analytics Enhances Operations and Supply Chain Management Program

Northwood launched its Operations and Supply Chain Management program in 2012, and since then every graduate in the major has moved on to either a fulltime job in the field or a graduate degree program.

Maintaining that level of success requires continuous improvement, and many of the recent changes revolve around data analytics. This fall, students will see an even stronger emphasis on applying data analysis concepts using modern software tools.

“We’ve been moving in this direction for a few years, and we’re now at the point where our data analytics courses are pretty much 50 percent theory, 50 percent experiential learning,” said Kevin McCormack, assistant professor in Northwood’s Operations and Supply Chain Management program. “We’re developing learned practitioners who know how to set up and manage the supply networks that drive success for businesses.”

Data analytics is increasingly important in that pursuit.

“Our intent is to prepare students who will understand and apply data analysis to operations and supply chain functions,” said Program Chair Douglas J. Hentschel. “Graduates with this degree will help companies become more efficient, and that’s why the field is continuing to grow.”

That growth translates into opportunities when graduates go looking for employment.

“There is a desperate need for people who know this, and when you add data analytics to it, there is almost a frenzy,” McCormack said. “It used to be that we saw six job opportunities for every graduate. Now it’s double that. Graduates can target which area of the country they want to live in, then pick from the opportunities in that area.”

Student Perspectives

Noah Kraft

STATUS: Will graduate in December 2019

EMPLOYMENT: Working as a co-op with Dow’s supply chain operation in Midland. Began in January 2019, working 28 hours a week while taking full class load in the spring, then transitioning to full-time hours while taking one class in the summer.

“One of the things that attracted me to Northwood was the smaller size. In our Supply Chain classes, you get a lot of one-on-one time with Professor Hentschel and Professor McCormack. You can build a relationship with them, and they guide you as you mature. And you’re learning from people who are very highly regarded, who are working in the industry as consultants at the same time they are teaching.”

Brooke Dubie

STATUS: Graduated in May 2019

EMPLOYMENT: Working as a materials analyst for Polaris Industries out of corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“I wanted to start my career in the Minneapolis area, and there were a lot of opportunities because of Northwood’s network. I ended up accepting the offer from Polaris in March, and it was kind of hard to focus on school after that – you know, there are so many projects due your senior year, and I was just not feeling it – but you do what you have to do, and everything I learned at Northwood prepared me very well for the real world.”

Morgen Panning

STATUS: Graduated in May 2019, returning in the fall to add a master’s degree

EMPLOYMENT: Full-time summer internship at Magna Engineered Glass in Holland, Michigan, supporting an effort to reduce the amount of scrap that results from production of window components for the automotive industry.

“I’d like to explore several different avenues of supply chain management in the years ahead. Northwood’s career advancement office steered me toward supply chain, and I think it’s a really good fit for me. It’s a great major to have, because every single business needs some sort of supply chain management at one level or another. A major part of the reason I loved the classes was because of the teaching style of the professors. You can tell they are really into what they are teaching. They care a lot about making classes dynamic and teaching us skills that are immediately applicable in the real world.”