For the last four years I have been fortunate to lead a logistics industry group in Indiana, The Conexus Indiana Logistics Council. The council is made up of logistics companies and advanced manufacturers from across the state and it has been a critical policy sounding board for both the Indiana governor and the Indiana Department of Transportation.
As a critical industry for Indiana, logistics holds credibility in the academic world as well. As part of its talent development work, Conexus Indiana and a distinguished group of leading logistics and advanced manufacturing executives travel to Indiana post-secondary school campuses each fall to meet with students interested in the advanced manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics industries.
These forums are made up of four industry executives offering a broad cross section of the types of logistics and supply chain careers that are available in the private sector. Executives represent transportation companies, port authorities, airline executives, ecommerce companies, major manufacturers, and of course 3PLs. The annual forums attract an average of 100-200 students. These personal, one-on-one events expose students to career opportunities and industry leaders to promising talent. The forums are inspiring the next generation of movers and makers.
The most rewarding part of my participation in Executive Connections is the opportunity to discuss careers in the 3PL industry. When I first participated in the program I was astounded at the number of students who lacked an understanding of the depth and breadth of the 3PL industry and the various career paths that are offered. The universities that were offering supply chain and logistics degrees focused mainly on the career perspectives as viewed from a manufacturer.
I was happy to see that my presentation opened their eyes to the exciting opportunities in the 3PL industry. These opportunities are for students of all skill levels – and they had many questions about these and other careers:
- business sustainability and green operations,
- purchasing managers,
- warehouse supervisors,
- third-party logistics account managers,
- inventory planners,
- automation specialists,
- transportation solutions analysts, and
- quality control analysts.
Many students are unaware of these career opportunities or that a degree program, outside of supply chain and logistics, was applicable to the 3PL industry.
Our obligation as industry leaders is to ensure students take advantage of the opportunities offered in the 3PL industry. The best way to accelerate this awareness is to bring industry executives to campus. This allows students to soak up information about everything from the practicalities of working in logistics and supply chain operations management to resume preparation. They leave with a better understand of the expansive skill sets and degrees that are applicable to a career in our industry.
By Mark DeFabis is CEO of Integrated Distribution Services Inc., located in Plainfield, Ind., an IWLA warehouse member company. He is past IWLA Chairman and was the founder of the IWLA Fulfillment Council. He is also a member of the Inclusion & Diversity Council; Government Affairs Council; Food Council; IWLA-PAC Steering Committee; and the Warehouse Advocacy Fund Steering Committee.