Company: Intel Corp.
Program: Supply Chain Outreach
Target: Early Recruiting
PARTICIPANTS IN INTEL’S SUPPLY CHAIN OUTREACH PROGRAM learn a lot about both the challenges and satisfaction that come from working in supply chain. For example, said one program participant: “I learned it is very frustrating if you run out of supplies.” Another offered this observation: “I learned that supply chain is about reusing; it’s not always easy; it’s a lot of fun; you make things that are useful; it’s part of a big company; it takes skill.”
The feedback may sound elementary, but for good reason. The Supply Chain Outreach program was created in 2012 in an effort to develop greater awareness among elementary and secondary school students about supply chain’s role in business and society.
Cheryl Dalsin, technical program manager at Intel, explained that the idea came to her when she was working to recruit college students for Intel. Several professors related that only about 1 percent of freshman students coming into their supply chain classes had ever heard of supply chain; fewer considered it a viable career path.
To ensure an ongoing supply of qualified supply chain professionals to meet growing industry demand for generations to come, Dalsin realized it was critical to start filling the supply chain talent pipeline earlier—much earlier.
Along with faculty from Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business, Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, and MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, Dalsin created a number of fun, hands-on projects that students grades K-8 could easily relate to—managing a lemonade stand, building a “just-in-time” Lego car assembly and predicting pizza demand. These projects introduce students to the basic Plan, Source, Make, Deliver and Return components of supply chain management.
The program was initially piloted in three Arizona charter schools, but has since spread throughout the country and even internationally, Dalsin noted. To date, more than 10,000 students have participated and Intel is currently deploying a more advanced program to reach out to high school students as well. Intel also plans to make instructions and guidelines for the various project kits freely available to any school or business interested in deploying a program.
Though it is admittedly difficult to measure the “ROI” of a program like this, Dalsin is positive there will be a long-term payout for the supply chain profession as a whole, even if students do not ultimately opt to pursue a career in supply chain. “These students will someday work in finance or engineering or HR, and they will have an awareness and understanding of the relevance of the supply chain. That benefits every part of an organization.”
And then there are the “soft benefits,” for Intel, said Dalsin. “Intel employees who volunteer for the Outreach program come back energized and excited. They are grateful to work for a company that supports this kind of educational volunteerism. So indirectly, the program also helps us retain top talent.”