Supply chain management is a complex field, requiring an understanding of design, demand, transportation, customer needs, and an understanding of how to work with data. The supply chain management specialization in the Wisconsin MBA Program uses cross-functional learning experiences, providing numerous opportunities to work hands-on with companies and peers to gain insight into what real, professional practices require. Student projects, case competitions, global tours, special seminars, site visits, and certification programs are a wellspring of experiential learning opportunities that prepare you for strategic leadership in the real world.

Photo of the Wisconsin Hybrid Vehicle Team
The Wisconsin Hybrid Vehicle Team included members from the Wisconsin School of Business and the UW–Madison College of Engineering.

Start Leading Strategic Initiatives Today

Student-led projects are a hallmark of the supply chain management specialization, creating circumstances for collaboration with companies and across the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus to strategically address some of society’s biggest opportunities. In a collaboration among supply chain management students, the Wisconsin Hybrid Vehicle Team, and the UW–Madison College of Engineering, students worked together to develop and commercialize new hybrid vehicle technology. Supply chain management students were integral in creating a reliable inventory management system and gained invaluable experience in marketing when they pitched their plan to GM, Ford, and Chrysler, better known as the "big three" auto manufacturers in Detroit. Students have also worked with the UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the State of Wisconsin on a farm-to-school food system to provide the logistical framework of connecting local farmers to schools in pursuit of a healthier lunch program. Wisconsin MBA students also have worked with a Madison distributor to optimize its outbound freight spend. Through strategic innovation on large, impactful projects, supply chain management students leave the program prepared to lead organizations through complex and diverse challenges.

See Industry Leaders in Action

Every semester, students visit major companies across the U.S. to see how successful businesses manage their logistics. Recent trips have included tours of Kohler Co., Johnson Controls, Meijer, and W. W. Grainger, Inc. On the visit to Meijer, students were immersed in their fully-automated distribution center, and talked with Meijer’s supply chain leaders about the challenges of running the facility, and why it was strategically located in Wisconsin.

Gain a Global Perspective

Supply chain management is unique in its interdependence on global production, suppliers, and distribution working together to get products in the hands of consumers. To enhance their understanding of global issues, students visit companies throughout the world. Recent destinations have included the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, Vietnam, Turkey, China, Dubai, and Argentina. A recent partnership with the University of Stavanger in Norway has allowed Wisconsin MBA students a biannual opportunity to study the global oil industry. Students who recently visited Norway experienced a full-sized practice oil rig and simulator, and toured a subsea oil company, a global oil services company, and a public/private partnership to see the differences in focused, global, and municipal approaches in resource logistics. A recent trip to the U.K. included visits to 3M and Cisco, and a meeting with Burberry’s vice-president of customer supply chain, all focused on the supply chain implications of the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union. Students in the Wisconsin MBA Program specialization in supply chain management gain direct experience with key industry practices from successful companies around the world.

Wisconsin MBA students standing in a group outside near the Panama Canal
Wisconsin MBA students in supply chain management visited the Panama Canal and learned about the economic and commercial implications of the canal’s expansion.

Prepare to Enter Today’s Supply Chain Industry

Executives and business leaders from our network of alumni and recruiting partners regularly engage with students on the latest industry trends. An industry-sponsored “hackathon” brought together supply chain management MBA students, industrial and systems engineering students from the College of Engineering, IBM, and Kimberly-Clark. Student teams were given a business problem faced by Kimberly-Clark, a large set of real data, and access to IBM’s Watson platform. Using Watson and other tools, the students spent a day drawing business insights from the data, which they presented to Kimberly-Clark. Industry and UW–Madison collaboration is an incredibly valuable experience for students, as the ability to work with data has become a core competency in supply chain management today.

Three Wisconsin MBA students in supply chain management working in a group on laptops
Wisconsin MBA students in supply chain management teamed up with College of Engineering students to tackle a real-world business problem during a day-long hackathon.
Students visiting AGCO
Students visit AGCO, a designer, manufacturer, and distributor of agricultural equipment in Argentina.

Create Innovative Business Strategies

Wisconsin MBA students in supply chain management are regular participants in case competitions that create innovative solutions aimed at meeting actual business needs. For example, students recently traveled to annual competitions at Michigan State University, Brigham Young University, and Texas Christian University. At the Annual MSU Bowersox Graduate Supply Chain Challenge, Wisconsin MBA students used supply chain operations decision environment software to predict key performance indicators, including revenue, profit from supply chain activities, customer service, and inventory turns. The BYU competition was sponsored by Deloitte, and placed students in the role of consultants making a proposal to a panel of senior Deloitte partners, who played the role of the client. At TCU, the students presented their proposal on how to source cage-free eggs for a national restaurant chain. In all of these competitions, Wisconsin MBA students in supply chain management gained valuable experience applying the skills they’d learned in their classes to real-world problems using data management programs and industry standards.

Receive Training and Certification Sought After by Employers

The amount of data generated by and available to supply chains has exploded as a result of the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as collaboration tools that link internal and external supply chain partners. Organizations that can derive business conclusions from this data are at a significant competitive advantage. The Wisconsin MBA specialization in supply chain management prepares students to work with data and information systems through course work in supply chain analytics and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, in addition to applied learning events in partnership with industry. Students gain valuable process management expertise, including Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification.

Photo of Dawn Luo

“UW–Madison’s specialized program jumped out at me when I was browsing through all the top full-time MBA programs. The Wisconsin MBA Program in supply chain management has a robust applied learning program with industry-led workshops, international study tours, Six-Sigma Yellow Belt certification, site visits, and a lot of other activities and events tailored to expanding knowledge and experience in the supply chain management field. This is exactly what I was looking for.”

—Dawn Luo, MBA
Logistics Manager, Microsoft

Photo of Thushan Hemachandra

“I really can't overstate the value of being in a specialized MBA program. In addition to core MBA curriculum (finance, operations, strategy, etc.), my classmates and I were immediately immersed in specific supply chain management coursework. As first-year students, we had intensive classes in logistics management, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and strategic global sourcing—all of which went far beyond just textbooks and lectures.”

—Thushan Hemachandra, MBA
Global Marketing Manager–Energy, Rexnord

Photo of Lisa Kirkwood

“The Global Business Project was one of the best experiences I have had during my first year of my MBA. It allowed me to work with and get to know other MBA students throughout the country, and I was provided the opportunity to work with a company and industry I may not have had access to otherwise.”

—Lisa Kirkwood, MBA
Senior Material Program Manager, Raytheon Company

The Supply Chain Management Experience

Supply chain management students receive hands-on training through interdisciplinary group projects, global industry immersion, and individualized mentoring from alumni and management executives alike.

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