Unitec | Te Pūkenga’s Supply Chain Design course is part of the School of Applied Business’ postgraduate and Masters programs. The goal? To teach students how to design effective supply chains through real-world projects.
Senior Lecturer in Operations and Supply Chain Management, Sanjeev Kumar works closely with Applied Business students. He explains that a core part of the Supply Chain Design course in the postgraduate diploma in Applied Business (PGDAB) and Masters of Applied Business (MAB) is connecting students with industry to help solve real-life problems.
“By addressing tangible challenges, students not only get practical insight into industry, but also the level of critical thinking and communication required to effectively collaborate with stakeholders (mahi kotahitanga),” says Sanjeev. "In the process, they can apply knowledge acquired from other courses, such as analytical storytelling and data analytics, to their project work."
The Gilmours assignment
Wholesale food service business Gilmours currently has 46 Applied Business students working on several projects to improve supply chains.
In small teams, students have been assigned a product category. Using what they’ve already learned about supply chains, their job is to find ways to increase any product service levels below 98%. At the end of the project, they’ll present their findings to Gilmours.
Alongside that task, some students have also secured part-time, entry-level jobs at Gilmours and are involved in implementing a new warehouse management system.
“This system is pivotal for achieving operational efficiency across the board,” says Sanjeev. “This experience exposes them to the practical challenges of the industry and what might seem straightforward in theory can prove complex in real-world scenarios.”
Building a professional network
Many of the students involved are also international students, so work-based learning provides an opportunity to grasp the work culture in New Zealand.
Carmina Villarta is from the Philippines and has a background in food and beverage exports. She’d love to continue working in New Zealand once she graduates and believes her experience at Gilmours will help her do that.
“The working environment in New Zealand is very different,” says Carmina. “Working on the floor in the Gilmours warehouse not only strengthened my understanding of supply chains but introduced me to a network that will help me pursue a career in New Zealand.”
From paper to practice
Akash Gadam Raj is originally from the Middle East and has always been fascinated by the world of supply chains. He says implementing what he learned in the classroom was “not as easy as it sounds”, which is why he believes practical experience is invaluable.
“Part of our assignment was to suggest what warehouse management software (WMS) we would use and why. But none of us explained how we would implement it, so that was a big learning.”
Learning the ropes of new industry
Ujudud Yusuf Abba is relatively new to the logistics sector. He’s from Nigeria, and picked the course because of its practical elements. He says he knew that to understand how supply chains really work, he needed to get that all-important work experience.
“It’s lived up to my expectations,” says Ujudud. “Back home, all my studies were theoretical. From working at Gilmours, I understand how the whole value chain works, how to reduce or remove redundancies in the supply chain and how to improve product service level.”
Jatin Sehgal couldn’t agree more.
“I’m from India, and all of my studies have lacked any practical experience,” he says. “Having the opportunity to work hands-on with a company like Gilmours has helped me better understand of how companies and supply chains work in New Zealand.”
Lady Lyn Castro is from the Philippines and has a background in banking. She says the practical assignments helped accelerate her learning, especially in such a new industry.
“I found the Gilmours experience very helpful. Even though I come from a different work background, I was able to understand how supply chains work, quickly because of it.”