Amid shutdowns, supply chains pivot and global demand for specialized talent intensifies

The global landscape of supply chain management has changed drastically in the past several weeks. Businesses, organizations, and people are rapidly innovating to improve supply chains and upskill and reskill the workforce and themselves to accommodate disruptions caused by the global Covid-19 health crisis. Online retailers and logistics providers are announcing vast hiring initiatives, while companies and organizations grapple with the logistics demands of supplying for vital services.

Even in the middle of these disruptions, a cohort of 383 dedicated online learners concluded nine to 18 months of learning to pass their comprehensive final exams, earning their MITx MicroMasters program credentials in supply chain management. These new credential-holders bring the total number of holders to 2,243 from 115 countries. The majority of credential-holders hail from the United States, India, Brazil, Spain, and China, some of the world’s most influential economies. While credential holders’ median age is 31, holders range in age from 21 to 74, practicing diverse business functions. They are currently employed at more than 700 companies worldwide, ranging from the largest multinational corporations to local, family-owned businesses.

Given the volatile nature of logistics during disruptions, the comprehensive theoretical and practical knowledge gained from these courses is already having an impact. “The program significantly changed my mindset to be proactive. This helped me improvise ahead of the current pandemic challenges to provide visibility across my supply chain,” says learner Mohamed El Tayeb, a demand planner in Saudi Arabia. “Technically, everything I learned in the program is coming in handy now.” Similarly, Matthias Stolz, a supply chain management project manager from Germany, claims “The MicroMasters program helped me to be able to make back-of-the-envelope calculations to quantify effects and evaluate risks and opportunities fast. This allowed me to confidently prepare decisions for the top management which have already enabled the company to respond quickly.”

Learners like El Tayeb and Stolz are leading the way on the ground, along with contributors from across the supply chain, to be cited as everyday heroes by MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among many others.

MIT will recognize the contributions of credential holders and program participants in a public online completion celebration on April 15 at 11 a.m. EDT. “Our goal is to pioneer supply chain digital education to shape the leaders of the future,” says program Director Eva Ponce. “We are bringing MIT education to anyone from anywhere to improve the capabilities and prospects of professionals through our massive open online courses. It is my distinct pleasure to thank the committed and passionate team responsible for the development and delivery of this program and to welcome this learner cohort to the credential-holder community, who are the future of the supply chain profession.”

As a new normal becomes apparent in the foreseeable future, experts agree that the global disruptions should serve as a wake-up call for supply chain and logistics managers. They foresee that practitioners will need an array of practical and analytical tools at their disposal to accommodate rapidly changing demands. Teaching supply chain management online is one strategy to meet this dynamic demand. The MITx MicroMasters Program in Supply Chain Management is becoming recognized as a go-to knowledge baseline for individuals and organizations to meet their global demand for talent.