The benefits of studying logistics at university
Ask the Expert: Carrie Annabi, MSc programme director, Heriot Watt University
Studying a logistics degree
Logistics degrees provide transferable skills to help students remain competitive and ready for industry challenges − not just from a traditional transportation stance, but from unleashing advantages from within the supply chain itself, to include quality, costs and lead-times. The supply chain revolutionises the ‘value’ concept, therefore studying this discipline helps unlock the stepped potential of adding value and cutting costs between the way information and physical goods travel from the supplier to the customer. Our MSc in Logistics and Supply Chain Management begins in Dubai this September, but
the main campus in the UK has run this program since 1997. The degree can widely benefit anyone interested in maximising value in a range of business operations, as well as those specifically involved in the established logistics field.
The MSc degree conducted by Heriot Watt, examines current practices, trends and issues in logistics and supply chain management. Students review decision making processes and analytical techniques employed by real logistics professionals. The program provides specialist knowledge of logistics and supply chain management and a basic training in related business disciplines. The core modules cover themes around Distribution Centres, Multi Modal Freight Transport, Global Purchasing and Supply, Inventory and Operations Management, and Strategic Logistics and Supply Chain. An upcoming area, Green Logistics, which is already gaining wide recognition within the UAE as a key theme, is also examined.
Industry professionals enrolling in a university degree
In short, they would gain a competitive advantage. Let me provide you with a bona fide example. At a recent logistics meeting I was fortunate to encounter Stuart Hayman, vice president, cargo operations, dnata, and a recent Masters graduate. Stuart’s animation about his Master’s thesis was infectious. Stuart’s research centred on the hypothesis that GDP figures time-lagged air cargo transport volume by about three months, meaning that prudent economic use could be made of reviewing this modal utility rate when assessing economic buoyancy. He indicated that air cargo generally transports the top five per cent of luxury goods, so contraction or inflation of country specific cargo can be seen as the first indicator of relative national economy. Whilst it would be unfair to speak firsthand about what effect this now has on dnata’s strategy, it would be reasonable to suggest more widely that knowledge is power. Logisticians will undoubtedly increase competitive advantage where they can develop demand gauges. This underpins my argument that even seasoned professionals find fresh impetus through honed study.
Student demand for logistics study
The GCC particularly, and Dubai expressly, has already invested heavily in the logistics industry and the recent World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI) illustrates that growth in new regions will provide Dubai logistics companies with lucrative opportunities. The report however, equally recognised that in order to capitalise, players need to develop competitive advantage, which is precisely what this degree enables. As a result, demand for this course will be from those individuals who see personal development as intrinsic to their own success, and
from companies who are poised to become market leaders. The program also provides certificate and diploma options for stepped qualification options.
Negative employer perception of logistics degrees
Astute employers realise that to substantially improve and maintain performance, they need to effectively manage the supply chain. Undoubtedly, there are many professionals who have previously relied on practical exposure alone. However, the global nature of logistics and the fact that core logistical activities prevail across sectors, now supports the need for an accredited and internationally recognised qualification to show a constant standard for well qualified logistics and supply chain managers. The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS), have both provided accreditation for this MSc program.