This commentary was written by Patrick Stumpf, the economic development communications manager for the Greater Green Bay Chamber. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.
By Patrick Stumpf
When considering an education and jobs of tomorrow, there might not be a better match than the institutions of higher learning and the booming logistics industry in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Transportation and logistics (T&L), a strength of Green Bay’s industry, is quickly becoming one of the country’s fastest-growing fields — one that encompasses careers in everything from purchasing, inventory management and data analytics to warehousing, lean manufacturing and much more.
Already a hub for several top-tier companies, another asset of the Greater Green Bay logistics industry is its proximity to several exceptional college campuses — whether Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), St. Norbert College or the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay — which advantageously positions it to foster future talent pipelines.
Recent data shows that an education in a logistics-related field pays off, providing immediate opportunities for job placement.
NWTC’s Supply Chain Management program, for example, boasts a 100% job placement rate, with 80% of students landing a job in a supply chain-related field, according to Angela Hansen-Winker, lead supply chain management faculty member at NWTC.
As quality education meets unmatched internship opportunities for students to build their experience close to home, “there is simply no better place to be than Green Bay for those passionate about the profession,” according to Schneider President and CEO Mark Rourke.
“Students that study T&L improve their employability and earning potential with local companies,” added Hansen-Winker. “We have one of the largest transportation companies in North America [Schneider] located right here. Our students are mission-ready to work for any Fortune 500 company in the field.”
Dan Heiser, dean of the Donald J. Schneider School of Business & Economics at St. Norbert College, sees a similar abundance of opportunity for students in Greater Green Bay, which can ultimately be a conduit for filling the local talent pipeline.
“One of the best ways to supplement a classroom education is through an internship,” Heiser said. “Greater Green Bay has an abundance of manufacturers and logistics providers in search of talent, and we’d love to collaborate more with local businesses to help fill their needs.
“A well-crafted internship program allows the company to directly observe the intern’s skill set. Perhaps more importantly, it also allows the intern to see what career opportunities the company can offer upon graduation.”
While students learn about the industry over the course of an internship program, they aren’t the only ones who benefit. MatchBack Systems Inc., a Green Bay-based company that uses an innovative approach to manage shipping container costs, has seen firsthand the benefits of differing points of view which drive growth.
“We’ve seen tremendous benefit from the internship programs,” said Tammy Leurquin, chief technology officer at MatchBack Systems. “Students receive hands-on exposure to an industry they might not have considered, while we benefit from the interns’ expertise and fresh perspectives. At MatchBack Systems, our interns are excited to learn how technology is transforming logistics, and some have become valued employees.”
Companies and colleges in the area also understand the importance of playing the “long game” when it comes to getting in front of students. That means everything from tailored curriculum to meeting students where they are.
“Greater Green Bay’s higher education establishments have brought T&L into the classroom,” Leurquin said. “They recognize the area is a hub for this sector and gear education to real-world experience by engaging with local companies.
“We’ve forged deep and reciprocal relationships with the region’s colleges, speak to classes about our logistics technology business, participate in IT program development and attend career fairs.”
As the industry looks to a prosperous future in Greater Green Bay, the ability to continue to innovate will remain top of mind. For example, more and more decisions are being driven by data.
Logistics generates an enormous amount of data, such as GPS coordinates, sensor data, smart contracts or time stamps. And using that data correctly to drive decisions related to route optimization, preventive maintenance, scheduling and inventory levels can mean the difference between profit and loss.
For instance, the C.H. Robinson Labs, an innovation incubator, drives the industry forward with the latest predictive analytics and technology to solve supply chain challenges.
In the same way innovations challenge the industry, companies also continually need to keep an open mind when it comes to what qualifications they look for in a candidate.
“Innovation is crucial to ongoing success in business,” Heiser said. “Understanding both the technical elements of process improvement and the human aspects of change management are necessary for an organization to become competitively nimble.
“I recognize that not every position requires a college education. However, hiring someone with a formal business education can pay real benefits, too, particularly when an organization is faced with complex and ill-defined problems or unfamiliar situations. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills can help cut through the fog to generate new ideas and avenues to explore.”
Schneider National and Green Bay
A quick look at Schneider’s headquarters in Green Bay.
Similar new technologies will continue to shape the future of education, the types of jobs that companies seek and ultimately, the future of the business.
“Technology is changing everything, fast. By necessity, this dictates that it is also a period of immense experimentation and innovation,” said Matt Dornbush, dean of the Cofrin School of Business at UW-Green Bay.
“Partnership between higher education and local T&L companies is more important than ever, because no one knows exactly where and how technology will play out in their organizations. Organizations can’t afford to experiment with all promising innovations, nor can we as a higher education provider train learners with all promising technologies.”
As business and higher education move forward, Dornbush says that not losing sight of continued partnership will remain integral for the industry to flourish regionally.
“Partnerships are the key … [and] provide for the collective learning we as a region need to navigate this period,” he said. “Faculty are trained researchers, so periods of experimentation really speak to the heart of who we are and what we can provide for regional business.”
About the author
Patrick Stumpf is the economic development communications manager with the Greater Green Bay Chamber, where his team’s goal is to grow and sustain business and entrepreneurial prosperity throughout the region.