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MBA, Engineering Supply Chain Student Teams Kick Off this Week: Risk, Analytics, and Block Chain on the Agenda

City of Raleigh skyline in the early evening. PHOTO BY ROGER WINSTEAD
Workshop shows students how to use design tools to plan for life after college.

Reposted with permission from the “Supply Chain from the Field” blog on the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative website

Fall semester at the Poole College of Management kicked off this week, and a new group of MBA and engineering students walked into our hallowed halls. In my MBA 541 class on supply chain relationships, I spent some time introducing the students to some of the topics we will cover this semester.

Although some may think the class is only about “procurement,” it is really much more about building effective relationships that drive collaboration, value and innovation that is mutual to both parties. The types of projects we will be working on in this class with our Supply Chain Resource Cooperative partners reflect a wide array of challenges these companies face. A common theme in all of these is the need for assessing risk, creating insights through analytics and exploring new technologies and their impact on the digital supply chain. Students taking this class will enjoy a “hands-on” education that will undoubtedly lead them into internships and full-time jobs in these exciting new areas. Some of the projects these students will be engaged in are listed below.


Performing research on new grant reform rules identifying the key aspects of the rules & their impact on procurement. This will lead to some important new developments with this supply chain technology provider.


Research on best practices in the energy and utility sector. The energy market is changing quickly, and insights on approaches to managing energy is central to Bayer’s competitiveness.


Students will be working on improvements in Cisco’s Global Procurement Services (GPS) digital transformation, with a focus on Cisco’s indirect procurement categories.

Cheniere Energy

Our newest partner will be working with students on opportunities to replace older Master Service Agreements with newer contracts that will further reduce contract and operational risk in the business.


Students will complete in-depth research on blockchain principles and present several use cases of implementing blockchain within Lenovo DCG supply chain.

Mitsubishi Bank

Our students will work (with) our newest partner to utilize available probability management techniques to develop a robust and useful tool for identifying and analyzing vendor portfolio risk.

American Red Cross

Teams will work on best practices in managing IT contracts, using available resources such as IACCM insights. In addition, another team will review current travel policies and best practices.

Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions (Yum Brands)

Another new partner! The team will work in designing tools to measure the competitive advantage of a supply chain organization. The team will utilize strategic thought leadership to create a measurable benchmark that assesses the performance of a restaurant supply chain.

These project teams will of course be supported by our faculty advisors John Zapko, Tom Donahue, Walt DeGrange and Craig Demarest, who have over 120 years of combined experience and knowledge. This is an exciting beginning to an exciting semester.

Author: Robert Handfield is the Bank of America University Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management and director of the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative based in the NC State Poole College of Management.