Q&A with Jim Beaver, MSCM '12
What made you decide to pursue an MSCM?
I worked at Ford Motor Company for years, where I held several positions: die maker, safety trainer, and safety adviser. My roles were operations-oriented, but I was always fascinated by the supply chain. When you see it work well, it's an amazing thing. But there can also be near-catastrophic failures. While I had hoped to pursue supply chain at Ford, the decline of the auto industry in the past five years meant opportunities were few and far between. For that reason, I decided to go back to school for a formal supply chain education.
Why did you choose Ross?
The school has an outstanding reputation not only in the state, but nationally. In addition to its high rankings, I found the quality of the faculty and students extremely impressive.
What did you do during your Tauber summer project?
During my summer internship through the Tauber Institute, I got to work with ConAgra Foods. My team included myself, an engineering student, and an MBA, and we worked on a high-level strategy project. Essentially, we examined the current state of the design and manufacturing of their frozen meals. Within two weeks of our project's completion, the company disseminated our 76-page report, and a variety of people inside the company set up a research group, a development group, and a commercialization group to start implementing some of the suggestions we made. The project was a great experience and gave me great insight into areas of business I'd never worked in before.
Was there a specific class or professor that impacted you in a big way?
Strategic Sourcing with Damian Beil. Like many people, I didn't realize how much goes into sourcing and procurement. It isn't as simple as, 'If you need this, just go out and get it.' Unfortunately, it's dramatically more complicated than that. The class helped me understand that, and it really piqued my interest in the nuances of sourcing and procurement.
What did you learn from your peers while you were here?
Partnering with MBAs and engineers exposed me to a lot of different perspectives. Small classes enabled us to form tight-knit relationships and bounce ideas off one another. Everyone brought so much to the table.
What advice would you give to a prospective MSCM student?
Be open to new experiences and new projects, even if they don't initially interest you. During my time in the program, I was surprised by how many things I wasn't too interested in at first were actually very beneficial. If you arrive without knowing precisely what direction you want to pursue, don't fret. This is a great program that will help you clarify your goals and narrow your focus.