Course Spotlight: Sustainable Supply Chain Management

The evolution of technology has disrupted many markets and increased the speed at which products are manufactured and delivered to different parts of the world. These changes strongly impact the business environment as firms explore ways to meet customers’ demands and preferences while keeping costs at a minimum.

In BUS641 Sustainable Supply Chain Management, students learn how supply chains work, how and where along the supply chain sustainability questions should be addressed or considered, and the impacts of those decisions on stakeholders further down the chain. Sustainable Supply Chain Management refers to applying supply chain framework, structures and processes to the planning, execution and monitoring of sustainability initiatives.

Professor Jack Martis

Professor Jack Martis brings significant real world, educational, and consulting experience in operations and supply chain management to this course.  Professor Martis currently serves as the Chapter Vice President and Vice President of Education for the APICS Pittsburgh Chapter. APICS is the global  knowledge leader for operations management, including production, inventory, supply chain, materials management, purchasing, and logistics. He is an APICS certified Master Instructor in the CPIM (Certified in Production and Inventory Management) and CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional) programs.  Professor Martis has completed a number of operations management consulting projects in financial services, steelmaking, and consumer goods manufacturing, in addition to designing customized supply chain training programs for several companies.  Supplementing these operations credentials, he is an experienced IT project manager, leading multiple major enterprise-level software implementations during his 30-year career.  Moreover, he is also an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh Katz School of Business.

Sustainable Supply Chain Management links theory in replicable systems and efficient business. It’s encouraging to learn about the profitable impact of sustainable design and how we can plan production chains that support these efforts.  Sophie Slesinger, MBA/MAFS student

Developing Sustainable Supply Chains to Drive Value by Robert P. Sroufe & Steven A. Melnyk

The course’s primary text book is Developing Sustainable Supply Chains to Drive Value: Management Issues, Insights, Concepts, and Tools, which presents the reader with an integrated, business-oriented treatment of sustainable supply chain management. The authors, Sroufe and Melnyk, state that “sustainability must involve the supply chain in a deliberate and integrated fashion,” in order to succeed.  Another related source is Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. This book introduces the concept that waste is food, hence products should be created thinking in advance how they will be disposed in the future. Corporations should create products that can be used as “food” once disposed into the environment so that they can be easily disintegrated without harming the ecosystem.

Sustainable Supply Chain Management Summer 2017 class

Professor Martis engages students with real-world examples presented in the course. As one of his students, I was amazed to learn about the sustainability issues related to the supply chains of many large corporations. Many of the things that we buy today, clothes or electronic devices for example, go through a series of processes before reaching the customer and as a consumer it is important to understand all the factors involved in making that product. We also learned about the trade-offs involved in making decisions in manufacturing or sourcing a product and the impact it had in many organizations that were not able to find the right balance between cost and performance while creating an environmentally friendly product. The class had students from different graduate backgrounds, including Accounting, Food Studies, Sustainability, and Supply Chain Management. This diversity enriched each class session as we shared different perspectives and past experiences about a specific topic during our discussions.

I really like how Professor Martis considers the students’ backgrounds in his lessons. He treats each student like experts in their own fields of study, and asks us to speak to things during class that he knows we might have a vested interest in, based on our prior experience before taking his class. He remembers details about the topics in which each student is interested, and really seems to care that we get to explore that through the lens of sustainable supply chain management with him as our guide. Amy Rosenzweig, MBA/MAFS student

Justine Russo, Market Research Manager and Business Intelligence for Pitt Ohio.

Guest speakers also enhanced the classroom experience.  Justine Russo, Market Research Manager and Business Intelligence for Pitt Ohio, develops data-driven solutions that leverage information from Pitt Ohio’s transportation business.  In addition to marketing and sales analytics and technology, she also leads Pitt Ohio’s award-winning sustainability programs, which includes heading the cross-functional Steering Committee, implementing the company’s patent pending carbon calculator, and reporting on actionable sustainability metrics.  According to Ms. Russo, Pitt Ohio is committed to doing their best to achieve environmental and social responsibility.  She shared how Pitt Ohio is investing in sustainability and how they are measuring their progress, such as an initiative to reduce their carbon footprint on the road and at their facilities.  Since their business provides trucking services, they created proper shifting, speed and ‘no idling’ procedures to eliminate excess waste and pollution. All their facilities have been retrofitted with energy-efficient appliances, lighting and water conservation equipment. Besides their environmental initiatives, Pitt Ohio acknowledges that their most significant resource is their people, which extends their mission to be People Driven beyond the workplace.

In order to allow each employee the opportunity to perform to his or her greatest potential, we take care of our people. And in turn – our employees take exceptional care of our customers. Pitt Ohio’s Wellness Initiative Statement

Pitt Ohio is not the only example of a company doing the right thing in terms of sustainability. Alcoa is another example. These companies have found that, contrary to common belief, sustainability can save businesses huge amounts of money and increases profitability, when done right.

This was one of my favorite courses as it taught me the importance of considering sustainability when choosing suppliers and creating or transforming the manufacturing and transportation processes that will deliver our products or services to our customers. Astrid TorresYepez, MBA Alumna

Sustainable Supply Chain Management is a required course for the Supply Chain Management and Sustainability concentrations of the MBA program. It also benefits students from different backgrounds to take this course as it will provide a clear view of the importance of sustainability, not only in the supply chain area of an organization, but also in the company as a whole.

Sustainable Supply Chain Management Summer 2017 class

Astrid TorresYepez, MBA ’17

Astrid TorresYepez graduated in December 2017 with her MBA with a concentration in Supply Chain Management at Chatham University. She was also a Graduate Assistant at the B&E Department. Astrid holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration with a major in International Business from Universidad Ecotec in Ecuador. Astrid is interested in all things related to Logistics, Global Procurement and Supply Chain Management.


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