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A graduate degree in industrial distribution builds upon the knowledge and ability that working professionals in the field already have. The combination of faculty knowledge, shared classmate experiences and brushing up on the newest technology and industry trends all blend to enhance the desirability of the graduates to their current (and future) employers.
Although students are often already excelling in their current roles, the program supplies the opportunity to learn more deeply about the intricate and often complex world of industrial distribution.
“The program opened my eyes to viewing the supply chain and distribution in general,” says Pierre Brown, MID ‘22, director of operations at Dufresne Spencer Group. “We can get so focused on our areas, which is the warehouse for me, that we forget all the other portions within distribution — supply chain, logistics, customer service, keeping up with technology and how things are evolving.
“The program not only showed me that distribution is so much larger than my single part, but it also set forth a new professional goal of becoming a president of distribution one day.”
Courses Create Credentials
At Texas A&M, students begin their programs with an in-person residency week, which acts as an opportunity to meet their cohort, interact with professors one-on-one and gain advice from current students.
In their first semester, these working professionals-turned-students-again tackle challenging subjects such as distribution strategy and optimizing finances and relationships for profitability (the science of distribution). They learn the ins and outs of becoming a strong digital distributor, uncovering all the critical roles that technology can (and should) play in distribution.
“It’s my belief that I would not have gotten my recent promotion if it wasn’t for the masters in industrial distribution (MID) program,” says Renata Morgan, MID ’21, senior manager of business integration at Rheem Mfg. “I went from director of marketing and IT to the general manager of business administration, which includes human resources, credit and accounting being added to my teams.
“Being in the MID program prepared me to lead those departments because I understood the concepts and struggles, and had insight into best practices. I was able to take my coursework and apply it to my job in real time.”
Morgan’s company was undergoing an acquisition, and she expressed interest in moving up to work for the new parent company. When the acquisition discussions began in earnest, Morgan entered her first semester in the MID program.
“I elevated my profile for some of the new leadership by working in this program,” she says. “I wanted to advance my career. I wanted broader responsibility and a bigger leadership role. The MID program gave me the content, the knowledge and the credentials to be able to achieve all of that.”
The new parent company was a manufacturer, so Morgan’s desire and willingness to dive deeper into the world of industrial distribution solidified her position as a valuable team member. “It was a slam dunk,” she says. “Had I not been in the MID program, I think my skills and intelligence would have spoken for themselves eventually, but the MID degree shortened that timeline and removed some of the barriers.”
Brown’s promotion also occurred while he was in the MID program, and he jumped into not only a new role, but also a new company and new industry. While interviewing for the position, he toured the warehouse with the company’s vice president and was able to apply the lessons learned in class to nailing the job interview by pointing out areas of weakness within the warehouse, detailing the industry standards and best practices, and sharing how he would transform the operation to increase profits.
“Without the MID program and having those tools, I wouldn’t have felt confident enough to walk into an interview and around a warehouse and identify those areas of weakness,” he explains. “The program boosted my confidence.”
Brown later learned, once he began his new role as director of operations, it was the MID credentials (in addition to his stellar interview) that made him stand out. “My boss told me it was one of the reasons why they wanted to bring me on was because I had a master’s degree in industrial distribution and how unique Texas A&M’s program is,” he notes.
Evidence Over Emotions
Courses in the MID program also cover topics such as growth models and market expansion, traits of trusted leaders and channel management. One topic taught at the very beginning of the course and built upon throughout is stratification. The ability to objectively view customers, suppliers and the overall supply chain through this critical lens of stratification propelled Jason Jacobs’ (MID ’20) career.
Jacobs was promoted once while in the program — and another three times in the years following graduation. He’s now a senior manager for 1LM and digital transformation aeronautics at Lockheed Martin; he credits the value of evidence and data to his level-headed decision-making rather than letting emotions and fear rule the day.
“What the MID teaches you is using empirical evidence to make educated and informed business decisions that truly represent your supply base,” Jacobs shares. “Those things brought me so much success during one of the most tumultuous times in human history.”
For Jacobs, this valuable skill was key to accomplishing multiple promotions in a brief period, and it was a skill he learned through his MID program. Continuing education, he says, is always a worthwhile investment and asset to furthering one’s career.
“We’re in uncertain times, but even in uncertainty, knowledge is never a bad thing,” he says. “The one thing you can always provide as a professional is a fresh idea and an education to support it. Challenge yourself and give it a shot. The worst thing that can happen is you fall short, and somebody will pick you up. The greatest thing that can happen is you may soar and go to places you never thought possible.
“When I started the MID program, I had no idea I’d be four levels from where I started in a short time after graduating.”
Since the inaugural graduating class of 2003, the MID program helped many exceed their professional goals in the PCHP-PVF channel. Graduates are equipped with the knowledge and support network to enter the industry with confidence. That confidence is backed by the knowledge gained from industry leaders and peers in the program who bring a wide range of hands-on experience.
Whether new to the industry or in upper management with an MBA, you will only benefit from the knowledge and experience that the MID program offers.
By Kourtney Gruner, Guest Contributor