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Interviewing the Lecturers: All about the Master

For this article we interviewed the coordinators of the three courses given in this period of the february entrants. We aimed to find out why they think their course is important and their views on the Master itself: what could be improved and what do we miss.

Distribution

We interviewed Dr. Eugenia Rosca, the coordinator of the course Distribution Management. Someone whose interests revolve around sustainability aspects in supply chains and industrial systems, with special focus on developing economies and Base of the Pyramid markets.

“Why do you think your course is of added value to the Master?”
“First, distribution is a key part of supply chain management and as such should be a part of the Master. Furthermore, a lot of concepts this course covers are essential for a career in supply chain management. An in-depth and critical understanding of these concepts will be needed later on when you need to make decisions about different aspects related to distribution, such as facilities locations, network design, outsourcing of warehousing and transport services and many others. Second, our course means much more to students than simply distribution management. We employ distribution concepts to train transferable skills such as team work, presentation skills, developing opinions and arguments, transferring theoretical insights to practical cases. ”

“Do you have any ideas/wishes on new guest lectures for this course?”
“We already have a nice combination of guest lecturers in our course, from academia, consulting and entrepreneurship sectors. Based on the experience from the spring version of this course, I realized that our master students are very much interested in new technologies, innovation and state of the art developments in supply chain management, including robotics, big data, drone deliveries, automation and implications of e-commerce. Therefore, my personal preference would be to reach out to academics who are doing cutting edge research in these particular areas. More specifically, this year we invited a warehousing expert from Erasmus University Rotterdam for a guest lecture. Next year, I am thinking of inviting someone to share his research insights on last mile deliveries through crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is an essential part of modern innovations in last mile delivery and is also aligned with increasingly important sustainability challenges. Overall, I believe that as the next generation of supply chain managers and analysts, our master students will be the ones in charge of finding creative solutions to the challenges brought by these developments. Therefore, a primary goal of our course is to understand fundamental processes and performance trade-offs in distribution while mapping potential implications of related contemporary developments.”

“Is there a skill or competence that you focus on conveying to the students?”
“While one can think that teaching distribution revolves around facts, processes, models and frameworks, there are few transferable skills I would like to train in my teaching. I would like to train students to think from different perspectives, analyse implications for different groups stakeholders and always questions, deeper questions like ‘why’ and ‘how’. With the information overload we live in, I see these skills as essential both for professional and private life matters.”

“Is there a course or training that you would like to see as an addition to the current Master program?”
The master program already offers a nice variety of courses on supply chain aspects and transferable skills. One aspect in I would add in any master, even bachelor program, relates to structured thinking. I have provided several workshops on structured thinking skills for students at my previous university, building on lessons from the Pyramid Principle developed by Barbara Minto. Students always found it very useful. It is my very strong belief that being able to convey your ideas in a structured and effective manner is one of the most essential skills in one’s professional life. Great ideas mean little when they are not adequately conveyed to different types of audience. Furthermore, it is a skill which you can really develop, thus, providing such a training does make a lot of sense, in my view.”

“The first lecture also involved students with no prior knowledge of Logistics or supply chain management, do you focus on those students while teaching or on students with prior knowledge?”
“This question is very important and has been on my mind since the course has started. This is always a challenge as it is inevitable to have a gap. I have been trying to incorporate this, especially in the early lectures, with the aim to be somewhere in the middle. Yet, it is difficult to define this ‘middle point’ – where do you draw the line? I suppose I might need some more years of teaching experience to be able to grasp the severity of these gaps and adapt my teaching accordingly. I am thinking of administering a short survey next spring to develop a better idea on the level of supply chain expertise.”

 

Purchasing

We interviewed Prof.dr.ir. Bart Vos the coordinator of the Purchasing management course. Someone whose research themes cover areas like sustainable purchasing, global sourcing and the design of effective buyer supplier relationships.

“Why do you think your course is of added value to the Master?”
“Purchasing has always been part of the curriculum, or at least part of a course. Since about 15 years it is a course on itself which is partly due to the fact that it has become a more important topic within supply chain management in the last few decades. Furthermore, more and more companies also start to recognize the importance of the subject.”

“Do you have any ideas/wishes on new guest lectures for this course?”
“We already have a guest lecture and it should somehow be possible to fit in a second. This year we had a guest lecture of ASML and another great company I’d like would be Unilever as it has a global chain with a lot of attention for purchasing. Or otherwise a retailer such as Jumbo. Still, even more important than which company, is the fact that students get in touch with companies.”

“Is there a skill or competence that you focus on conveying to the students?”
For me there are 2: Critical thinking (sometimes combined with curiosity), as this will always be important be it in research or in business. The second one is teamwork, I hope this competence comes through as we try in the course because it is yet again a skill that will be useful both in academic research and in business life.

“Is there a course or training that you would like to see as an addition to the current Master program?”
“Negotiation, and then not only the win/lose kind of mentality but how to get the most out of a negotiation, potentially for both parties. I know there are a lot of interesting training possibilities on this subjects.”

“Prof. v. Groenendaal was not the best teacher for ITO, as was seen both in class and in the evaluation, is there a replacement in mind for the next period?
“Dr. Carol Ou will be replacing prof.dr.ing v. Groenendaal in the coming academic year. It was already planned that she would teach ITO this year however, due to personal circumstances she was unable to do so. “

 

Supply chain management science

We interviewed Dr.ir. Maarten Hendriks the coordinator of the course Supply Chain Management Science. Currently he is the manager of the mechatronics suppliers network at ASML.

“Why do you think your course is of added value to the Master?”
“There are three main reasons: The master has little math related courses which makes this course an important addition. Furthermore, it shows the applicability of math in real life but also that theory does not always work in practice. Lastly, it also provides at least some experience with programming.”

“Do you have any ideas/wishes on new guest lectures for this course?”
“The guest lecture of More Optimal which was given in the last lecture is already a great example of a good guest lecture, proving the applicability of math in business. Other guest lectures should preferably be about decision support systems from companies such as Quintiq or about ways of thinking and problem solving in general, all showing what logical and structured thinking can achieve.”

“Is there a skill or competence that you focus on conveying to the students?”
“Like I said, I would like to convey how math is applicable in business life but also how not everything you learn from theory always works in practice.”

“Is there a course or training that you would like to see as an addition to the current Master program?”
“The course currently lacks a deeper insight into programming. A training or course which provides this insight could, in my opinion, provide a way of thinking and offer a structured logic to problem solving. Another possibility would be a consultancy training. Which should not only tell you about consultancy but about the entire structure, from solving the problem to actually presenting the package to the customer and taking into account some form of change management.”

“Why use AIMMS? Would it not be more efficient to use the solver function of Excel, as students will most likely not have AIMMS available in their work life?”
“That’s quite simple actually, the university only has a license for AIMMS and not for other programs such as MATLAB simplex. As for the idea of using Excel to solve the problems, it could be done for LP problems but the excel solver does not support MILP problems which is necessary for the assignment.”
 

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