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USC Center for Global Supply Chain and Process Management On the Rise

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COLUMBIA, SC – With today's corporations looking to further increase efficiency, reduce costs, and maximize profits in the continuously sluggish economy, the field of supply chain management has become even more critical as a growing area of study at business schools across the globe. At one leading business school in particular, the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, faculty and students are working in close partnership with multi-national companies through the School's Center for Global Supply Chain and Process Management (GSCPM). As a result of the academic programs, ground-breaking research and direct consulting experience it provides its students, the Center is emerging as one of the industry's most trusted resources and thought leaders on current operations management issues.

Symposium Focuses on Industry Issues

The GSCPM Center, which now counts a dozen major corporations as members, including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Wal-Mart, Colonial Life, Westinghouse, Eaton Corporation and Cummins, recently hosted its inaugural "Engaged Scholarship Symposium" on November 12, 2010. At the event, academics and industry leaders came together to exchange perspectives on a major issue facing the field: "Obstacles to Lean Implementation." Discussion focused on the need for senior leadership to "buy in," as well as on the importance of cultivating a corporate culture that is receptive to lean practices. Ultimately, participants agreed, implementation should be flexible – using the right tools for the right "problem", including more sophisticated tools usually not covered by traditional lean and six-sigma consultants.

Present to discuss the issue was the Moore School's GSCPM faculty members, along with industry professionals including Keith Holliday, Director of Corporate Supply Chain at Sonoco; Pearse Gaffney, Quality Leader at Trane/Ingersoll-Rand; and John Petta, Vice President at Flextronics. The keynote speaker for the event was Ohio State Professor Peter Ward, the first president of the Lean Education Academic Network (LEAN), a global network of university educators dedicated to teaching systems thinking in universities.

While professionals shared their experience and insights, Sanjay Ahire, professor of GSCOM; Jack Jensen, the Center's managing director; and Manoj Malhotra, chair of the Management Science Department, themselves prolific lean and six-sigma consultants to manufacturing and service industry spanning more than 100 consulting projects, presented their research into enhancing Lean Six-Sigma project success through the use of advanced analytic tools. Anand Nair presented a study entitled "Managing Context in Process Improvement Projects." This study, a joint research project conducted with Dr. Malhotra and Dr. Ahire, is slated to appear in 2011 in the Journal of Operations Management.

A panel discussion featuring Jim Ellis, Director-US Strategic Accounts at Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics at Johnson & Johnson and the Moore School's Mike Galbreth, focused on the practical applications of the academic research to the practice of supply chain and operations management.

"The notion of engaged research is central to the mission of the GSCOM Center," Dr. Malhotra said. "In fact, we see engagement with industry professionals and corporations across all dimensions – through our research, through discussion at major events like the Symposium and our annual Industry Summit, and through our faculty-driven student consulting projects as part of the ultimate value we deliver to our member firms."

Academic Programs With Real-World Orientation

In the Center's academic programs, the Global Supply Chain & Operations Management undergraduate track consists of a unique, three-phase Lean-Six-Sigma Certification Initiative with Sonoco Products Company, a South Carolina-based US$4 billion global manufacturing firm and the founding member of the University's GSCPM Center. The Center also offers an MBA concentration in supply chain and operations management, focusing on manufacturing strategy, total quality management, production planning and control, and technology management.

In addition to classroom learning, students take part in semester-long consulting projects. Each year, the Center sponsors the Industry Summit where undergraduate students show the findings of their three-month studies of operations within their assigned companies. The students present money-saving and strategic business enhancement recommendations that, over the years, have saved the participating companies over $30 million total. The fourth annual summit is planned for this coming summer.

"Ultimately, we want to go beyond just classroom learning, providing our students with the knowledge and consulting expertise needed to tackle real-world issues in process improvements and supply chain operations," said Malhotra, Professor and Chairman of the Management Science Department. "The relationship with our member firms is reciprocal, engaging them through faculty-driven student consulting projects that lead to fully actionable, and successful, recommendations."

About the Center for Global Supply Chain and Process Management

The Center for Global Supply Chain and Process Management  (GSCPM) was founded in 2005 to bring faculty and students in the GSCOM track at Moore School together with industry leaders to create improvements in real-world processes and operations. Process improvements recommended by Moore students through the Center represent millions of dollars in savings or revenue enhancements for member companies. The Center now boasts 12 corporate members.

About the Moore School of Business

The Darla Moore School of Business is among the highest-ranked business schools in the world for international business education and research. Founded in 1919, the school has a history of innovative educational leadership, blending academic preparation with real-world experience through internships, consulting projects, study-abroad programs, and entrepreneurial opportunities. The Moore School offers undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degrees, as well as distinctive executive education programs. In 1998, the school was named for South Carolina native and New York financier Darla Moore, making the University of South Carolina the first major university to name its business school after a woman.

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