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Hands-on learning

S.P. Jain students gain insight into logistics by studying at the university's Dubai and Singapore hubs.
Dr Rajiv Aserkar
Dr Rajiv Aserkar

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S.P. Jain students gain a global insight into logistics by studying in two of the university's hubs - Dubai and Singapore.

By its very nature, logistics is a truly global business. Its capillaries snake out around the world, but originate from just a handful of key hubs.

In order to gain a unique insight into the industry, one Indian college has set up business schools in two of the biggest sites that are leading an explosion of development in this industry.

S.P. Jain Center of Management is offering an MBA specialist logistics and supply chain management course where students complete the first six months in Singapore and the latter six months in Dubai.

"The course is global MBA and the specialisation is global logistics and supply chain management," says Dr Rajiv Aserkar, course leader.

"Our students spend the first six months in Singapore, where they learn the core subjects - economics, finance, HR and other courses that a manager should know. And when they come to Dubai they learn all of the specialisation courses such as logistics operations, transportation management, supply chain management and networking.

"These students get to experience the real-life situations here in Dubai, as well as in Singapore. They get the best exposure possible."

The college was set up five years ago in Dubai Knowledge Village with the backing of the Mumbai-based S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, which is ranked among the top ten business schools in Asia.

The Global MBA programme was launched in 2006, with a variety of other subjects grouped under the broad categories of marketing, finance management, IT management and global HR management.

For working executives, S.P. Jain offers an exclusive course for residents of the UAE and Singapore.

Under the umbrella of finance there are options in investment banking, wealth management and banking management. So why offer an MBA in logistics and supply chain management?

"Both of our campuses are in major logistics hubs - Dubai of the Middle East and Singapore of South East Asia," says Dr Aserkar. "So this course has a lot of relevance in this area."

Dubai Logistics City (DLC) will begin its first operations in the near future, taking its first tentative steps to becoming the world's first truly multi-modal integrated logistics platform.

The 25 square kilometre development will be the first phase of the Dubai World City, a hub for air, sea and land-based logistics.
It is likely to become a gateway for companies to convey goods to the Middle East and Africa. The S.P. Jain course is one of a number of others which have sprung up of late to plug the skills gap in this burgeoning jobs market.

"Our students are getting very good placements," says Dr Aserkar. "We have 100% placement of this batch. The placements are in Dubai, Singapore, Kuwait and also in India. They range from companies such as Moss Logistics and Johnson & Johnson."

Perhaps aware of the industry rewards, there has also been an explosion in interest in the course in recent years.

"This year a thousand applicants were there, out of which we select probably 150. So you can see that there is a very keen population," Dr Aserkar says.

The course is, however, incredibly intense. The usual two years for an MBA is condensed here into just one year. Despite the pressure and the obvious high workload, students say that the course improves their time management skills.

"We have a rigorous procedure for the selection of our students. The first hurdle is the entrance examinations," explains Dr Aserkar. "Then we have discussions and personal interviews. The minimum work experience we expect from students is two years.

"When the students come here they already have some experience behind them plus they are here to learn the new ways of conducting business."

The Dubai campus has a 'chill-out zone' where students can unburden themselves. The school's website says that the room is a place for students to "escape" and play table tennis, watch TV or catch up on "forty winks".

Despite having the entrance exams in India, the centre prides itself on opening its courses to a wide range of people.

"We are trying to reach out to other countries as well for example Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and other Asian countries where this kind of knowledge can go a long way for the development of their full conomy.

As well as the S.P. Jain programme, there are also other schools offering similar qualifications in logistics across the UAE, not least the MSc in Logistics offered by the University of Wollongong in Dubai. So what sets S.P. Jain's course aside from others in the region? "There are other courses but our course stands out for various reasons," says Dr Aserkar.

"Number one is that it is a one-year intensive programme and it focuses really only on logistics and supply chain management. Number two is that our course is driven by the diverse faculties. We have faculties here, in Singapore and we get facilities from IAMs in India as well as leading US universities. Number three is our case study mentality, which is very strong - case study and simulation.

"When our students go out to face the real world they are very well prepared. To that extent I don't think we have any competition in this area.

Students themselves have praised the range of real-world experts who teach at the centre. Among staff there is Bill Keough, who also works as a consultant in supply chain management and Professor Arif Siddiqui, who founded Coign Consulting - which advises 3PL companies.

Dr Aserkar himself has some 20 years experience in marketing and exports and is the author of Logistics in International Business.

"It was a very modest beginning," says Dr Aserkar. "But over the last few years it has evolved into a major learning centre here."

Student profile

Nisheeth Sanwal

What attracted you to a career in logistics?

I used to feel the supply chain industry was not taken seriously by people. In fact when I was in my career at times I felt like we were just working as a support function. But in time I felt differently as the business was expanding worldwide. This course came along and I thought I'd be able to learn a great deal more at this school and broaden my horizons further.

How has this course benefited you?

When you are working for 14 years you adopt the mindset and ideas of where you are working. To get a broader perspective and new notions, you really have to come into an educational centre and that's what I've done.

What is your dream job in the industry?

I received a dream job offer to work at Al Sallan, which I thought would be the best place to use my new skills.

Priyanka Gupta

What attracted you to a career in logistics?

I was working with Siemens Medical Solutions in India and was fascinated about what was actually happening. I looked for a logistics course because I didn't have much background in the subject. After gaining several offers from Australian universities I chose this course because I felt it was much more specific and more industry focused.

How has this course benefited you?

The major benefits of this course are more the industry interaction and the networking that has happened here. Also this course teaches you to deal with time management, which is a very important thing to learn.

What is your dream job in the industry?

I think I have found my dream job. I have found a position at Reliance Tech, which is a great opportunity.

Manoj Gupta

What attracted you to a career in logistics?

I had been in the industry for the last 16 years and I had been involved with the supply team itself. This is a unique course; nobody else in the Asian continent offers this insight into the logistics and supply chain.

I've had experience in India so I wanted to see Singapore and Dubai as they are also upcoming logistics hubs. I think it's important to get a good overall syllabus.

How has this course benefited you?

I have come into contact with the financial and marketing aspect, which I had not been exposed to before.

What is your dream job in the industry?

Back in India I have got a job with the Reliance Group. This is my dream job as it will give me lots of responsibility.

Sanjit Kumar

What attracted you to a career in logistics?

The thing about the logistics industry is that it is growing and has a lot of opportunities.

I have a background in shipping.Transportation is a part of the logistics and supply chain and I have been in this field for nine years, so that was another reason why. It's really important to learn all about my own strengths and weaknesses and this is something I can do here.

How has this course benefited you?

You learn to understand the economies of both Dubai and Singapore, which has been great.

What is your dream job in the industry?

I have already been placed with Essar Logistics in India, which I think is the perfect job for me.

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