UWF logistics degree offers career options and stability for new graduates
When running to the local grocery or convenience store for a gallon of milk, most people never even imagine the logistics involved in getting the milk to the right place at the right time, ready for purchase.
Did it arrive by train? Plane? Truck? A combination of all three? How was it kept fresh?
UWF students majoring in marketing and logistics understand all too well the challenges of getting a product to the right place at the right time and in the right quantity.
Logistics, according to Scott Keller, professor of logistics and marketing, is currently one of the hottest and fastest growing business fields. In fact, the field is growing so rapidly that international multi-billion-dollar shipping and logistics corporation UPS embarked on an advertising campaign educating consumers about logistics.
“Businesses are being forced to offer a larger variety of products in a variety of quantities in virtually any place on earth,” Keller said. “This requires a multi-faceted approach to ensure that consumers have a greater variety of product via more frequent but smaller shipments. Companies are aiming to hold less inventory and basically move the supply of products much more rapidly. And this applies to all businesses, large or small.”
Due to the exponential growth of this field, UWF graduates with degrees in logistics expect promising career prospects right out of college.
“The skills and knowledge that I have gained here at UWF can be applied in all the career fields that I am looking into,” said Thomas Cahill, a senior majoring in marketing and logistics. “From the military to corporations like Coca-Cola, my education applies in some fashion. Military or civilian, the opportunities are virtually endless.”
Since the program’s inception five years ago, 47 UWF alumni graduating with logistics degrees or certificates in logistics earned job placements soon after graduating, from national companies like CSX Corporation, Georgia Pacific, CEVA Logistics and the Federal Railroad Administration to regional or local companies on the Gulf Coast, such as Ascend Performance Materials, Knight Transportation and the Pensacola-based Certified Transportation Brokerage (CTB).
The logistics program in the College of Business is only five years old, yet already UWF students in the program are competing with graduates from Michigan State University (MSU) and Pennsylvania State University (PSU), recognized by U.S. News and World Reports as two of the top 10 supply chain logistics programs.
Keller, the driving force behind the department, brings experience in large-scale warehousing, transportation management and ocean freight port management and taught at both MSU and PSU. He earned his doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas, which also boasts an impressive logistics program.
“Dr. Keller is well noted in the logistics and academic field, and like many other professors here, he cares about his students and truly wants us to learn,” said Cahill. “This is a quality that you can’t find at the bigger schools, and it’s one of the biggest advantages a college student has here at UWF.”
With the support of UWF administration, Keller initially launched a certificate program in supply chain logistics offered by the Department of Marketing and Economics, and now has expanded the program to offer the bachelor’s degree in marketing/logistics.
“Corporate recruiters like the fact that our students graduate with a mainstream degree in marketing, but also have a targeted specialization in supply chain logistics,” Keller said. “The career opportunities are broad, and students specifically tailor their education with specialized elective courses.”
The broad degree in marketing allows graduates to understand the complex relationships between sales, marketing and the logistics of meeting consumer demand.
“Essentially, having knowledge of logistics allows our students to bridge the ‘corporate silos’ once they are in the workplace,” Keller said.
“The program has given me a good understanding of logistics, supply chain management and marketing,” Cahill said. “It has given me the ability as a student to communicate with industry professionals in a ‘real world sense’, meaning that they know that I know what I’m talking about.”
While classroom instruction is significant, real-world practical application of knowledge is extremely valuable. Students in the marketing and logistics program compete for spots on the UWF logistics team that competes in Denver each year.
In five years of competition, UWF has earned first, second and third place against other student teams from top national logistics programs. The team finished first place in the 2008 competition.
Students interested in learning more about logistics also have access to the Student Marketing and Logistics Association. This student-run organization brings in corporate logistics professionals for educational luncheons and hosts tours of logistics operations in the field. Students have seen firsthand the loading of merchant ships at the Port of Pensacola, a nearby highly mechanized Walmart distribution center, the industrial distribution operations of International Paper and other manufacturing plants and large-scale logistics facilities.
Keller plans to further grow the program at UWF with the addition of a new faculty member who will bring a broader international logistics background to the department.
For more information about the supply chain logistics major in the Department of Marketing, visit http://uwf.edu/market/ or contact Professor Scott Keller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kelly Russ, University Communications