Online MBA Adds Global Trade & Supply Chain Management Concentration

July 8, 2021
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Recent events and disruptions have increased the demand for professionals who can improve international supply chain operations.

Online MBA Adds Global Trade & Supply Chain Management Concentration

Global trade has been around for over 600 years. But managing the supply chain that moves goods around the world has never been as complex as it is today. Massive disruptions have increased in recent decades, and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a debilitating effect on what was already a system under strain.

Not surprisingly, business leaders with the skills to improve international supply chain operations are in short supply. To meet this demand, a new concentration in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business online MBA program, Global Trade & Supply Chain Management, is launching this summer.

Why Is Baylor Launching A Global Trade & Supply Chain Management Concentration Now?

Dr. Van GrayDr. Van Gray“With the supply chain disruptions of last year—not just the pandemic, but cybersecurity breaches in energy and food production—it can’t get much more timely and critical than this,” says Dr. Van Gray, professor of management at Baylor. “The world has come face to face with global supply chain failures. Obviously, there’s a lot of room to improve, so we believe this concentration will be useful in the environment ahead.”

All kinds of businesses deal with supply chains—nonprofit and for-profit alike. The new concentration offers a broad understanding of how issues in the supply chain and with global trade compliance touch every area of business—not only manufacturing and transport but finance, accounting, IT and marketing. Product rollouts, revenue streams and IT demands are all affected as well.

Dr. Pedro ReyesDr. Pedro Reyes

Professionals in any of these areas would benefit from deepening their knowledge of supply chain dynamics, says Dr. Pedro Reyes, associate professor of management at Baylor. Companies are looking for collaborative problem solvers who can build effective supply chain strategies in every area. The concentration is designed to help students learn how to translate high-level supply chain themes into ready-to-go strategies.

What Does the Concentration Entail?

The concentration requires 48 to 60 completed credit hours. (Some students may need to take additional foundation classes if they do not have a prior undergraduate business degree from an AACSB-accredited institution.) Core courses are in accounting, economics, finance, operations, statistics, management, communications, marketing and the strategy of global trade compliance and supply chain.

As in Baylor’s other online MBA offerings, full-time faculty teach the courses. Nearly all hold terminal degrees, and they are active in their fields, researching and consulting. Even though the online MBA program is asynchronous, in some courses, professors make time to conduct screen-to-screen sessions with students every week so everyone can see and talk to each other, as well as have time for questions and answers. Additionally, in-person meetings are offered throughout the year for those interested.

How Does the Concentration Help Students to Tackle Global Trade & Supply Chain Issues?

The concentration offers two strategy courses which introduce students to the intricacies of global trade.

The Global Trade Compliance Strategy course is a unique and essential perspective not often found among business courses, Gray says. “You have to have a strategy and good tactics. But you also have to be able to do that in an environment of compliance.” Sorting through legal matters in trade agreements can be like stepping through a minefield. The class, taught by attorney Daniel Ogden, lays out the realities of both import and export regulatory requirements and how they impact the global business function.

In the Global Supply Chain Strategy course, students learn that a single approach does not fit all companies or circumstances. “Learners are introduced to various complexities and a portfolio of strategies,” Reyes says. “It’s not an issue of supply. With all these new technologies and frontiers—Industry 4.0, IOT, blockchain—there are disruptions. There are many touchpoints in the supply chain. Our students get introduced to many pieces of the puzzle.”

Mitigating risks with strong contingency plans is an essential part of the process, and a big focus of the program overall. A good strategy design ensures the supply chain not only operates smoothly but is managed smartly, Reyes says. Disruptions to the supply chain are an ongoing reality—not occasional, random events—and their effects can be felt for years to come: The tsunami that hit Japan almost a decade ago has had ripple effects that hamper the supply chain even to this day, he notes.

This calls for agility, adaptability and alignment. Agility responds in the short run to disruptions. Adaptability allows strategies to shift based on the markets. Alignment is risk sharing with customers and suppliers up and down the supply chain.

Baylor’s framework encourages a triple bottom line view of business. An optimal supply chain strategy measures success not only in profits, but in support of people and the planet, Gray says. Strategy classes in the concentration consider these factors in system design.

“It’s about the social impact, the impact organizations can have on overcoming poverty, using resources responsibly, not polluting the air and water,” Gray says. “Are we good citizens?”

“I believe everyone at BU is committed to advancing private Christian education and its values and its foundation,” he adds. “That’s very consistent with us being able to offer a really distinctive global trade and supply chain certification. We really are very serious about helping individuals develop their skills and intellectual abilities so they can go and actually make a difference in the world.”

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