Alumnus Ryan Mills Thrives At Genentech Thanks In Part to His MBA
Apr 21, 2011
He’s a great poster child for the supply chain concentration at the NC State University’s Jenkins MBA program. Ryan Mills, MBA 2010, came into the program in 2008 and graduated in 2010 (not the best economy), and yet landed himself a fine job as an Operations Analyst with Genentech in San Francisco, CA. Most of this came from hard work and good strategy. But Mills insists that he owes the Jenkins MBA program for a lot of his success. “I learned so much from my professors and the workload itself taught me how to deal with pressure,” he says.
A Mathematical Boy
Mills was always a natural with numbers. His dad taught eighth grade math and his mother was a nursing instructor at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon, where he grew up. Mills always loved mathematics and puzzles, even winning a state-wide math competition in 6th grade. He says that his parents were his early mentors because both taught him the importance of studying and working hard.
Segueing from Psychology to a Supply Chain MBA
Mills was accepted into the University of California at Berkeley and studied psychology for his undergraduate degree. Initially he worked in the mortgage industry, then moved to North Carolina for a job with a boutique consulting firm, The Catevo Group. He first learned core supply chain principles when consulting to small and mid-sized pharmaceutical companies across the South East.
Although this job taught him some of the basics, he really wanted the full picture of how supply chain, strategic management, operations management and finance all fit together. Mills consulted his friends and parents and decided that pursuing an MBA was probably best. He enrolled at the Poole College of Management, primarily because of its supply chain focus, small class size and proximity to RTP.
Jenkins MBA and Supply Chain Management
The decision to attend NC State turned out well for Mills. He earned top grades and particularly enjoyed his course in microeconomics taught by Dr. Craig Newmark. Mills says that during the financial crisis Dr. Newmark offered examples of the kinds of policies in place at the time which caused the turmoil. “This taught me more about what was going on and encouraged me to read more. If a student’s basic assumptions are challenged, that’s the mark of a good teacher.”
Also during his final semester at Jenkins, Mills participated in the NC State University Supply Chain Resource Cooperative (SCRC). SCRC organizes semester-long projects with large companies like Biogen Idec, Caterpillar or Bank of America that focus on a real supply chain issue. This practicum course offers students a hands-on thesis-type experience and Mills found the exposure to be fabulous. “It was one of the highlights of the program,” says Mills.
Using Supply Chain at Genentech
Working today in an elite rotational-based operations program at Genentech, Mills says that his MBA degree taught him operations management theory, finance, and team-based skills. “My MBA gave me a leg up when I started working here,” he says. “I applied concepts I learned in the classroom and applied them to work projects.”
Mills adds that the heavy workload and stress he encountered while pursuing his MBA was good training for a leadership position. “You will feel uncomfortable as a new leader in an organization,” he says. “So let those two years prepare you for that environment and that feeling of discomfort. It will help you in the end.”