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In line with its constant drive to provide industry-relevant training programs, emlyon business school offers an MSc in Supply Chain & Purchasing Management that prepares future graduates and professionals for the evolving reality of the marketplace. Program Director Eric David and alumni Juliette Brun and Alexandre Gauvrit share their views on the key role played by innovation and technology and the preparation they received during their studies to face this challenge.

Q. What is your view on the Supply Chain & Purchasing industry and how has this shaped the MSc?

Eric David: There is a clear and present need for innovation and technology to carry out these professions, and so prioritizing the importance of digitalization and robotics, for example, in the program is a no-brainer. Smart contract technology is essential for developing automated payment systems, big data for forecasting, cybersecurity for confidential electronic data interchange, etc. In fact, not only does the Supply Chain and Purchasing industry demand these kinds of skills and tools but also treats and sells them to other companies requiring technological evolution and solutions to do business better!! So yes, we are very much seeking to meet a need whilst providing a little something extra in relation to other available Masters of Science .

Q. In terms of course content and design, how have you met this objective?

Eric David: For starters, 20% of the course content, credits and exams are focused on digital technologies and robotics. Components encompass as broad and essential areas as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Industry 4.0, Information Systems for Supply Chain & Purchasing, Data Science, and Supplier Innovation. And the main aim that differentiates our training from others? To provide a truly harmonious blend of technology and business management. In the Supply Chain & Purchasing industry there is a thirst for Business Intelligence, and this comes from training future managers who are also technologically-savvy.

Q. Looking at Purchasing Management to begin with, what experience has brought you to your current position?

Juliette Brun: Well, I currently work as an Apprentice Project & Commodity at Volvo Trucks, where I also gained previous experience in Finance and Accounting as an intern and in Logistical Operations. I also have experience as an Assistant Category Manager at Arkema, and as a Digital Marketing Intern at Taskl. This has given me a broad overview of matters.

Q. And now that you are settled within the industry, how do you perceive the needs for and importance of technology and innovation?

Juliette Brun: Clearly high-tech and innovation are essential in helping us carry out our job as best as possible, especially Industry 4.0. The handling and treatment of data is crucial in Purchasing, so without technological advances our job won't be made any easier!! Projects can take between 5 and 7 years to be completed before release, and so digital innovation and robotics are key to what we are trying to achieve. The fact that I benefitted from a well-constructed training program providing both core courses and the option to specialise, and then apply knowledge in the field has enabled me to hit the ground running since.

Q. Is this same trend identifiable in the sphere of Supply Chain Management?

Alexandre Gauvrit: Yes, I think so. I come from a more engineering-oriented background but since I have re-focused my career trajectory on Supply Chain, currently as a Digital Transformation Consultant at Sopra Seria Next in the aerospace industry and previously at The ONERA French Aerospace Lab, it has been plain to see. My Information Systems knowledge was relatively limited before, so the MSc offered by emlyon ticked all the boxes as I now find myself where technology and innovation are not options but necessities. Much like Juliette's experience, we can have projects that take even up to 10 years to roll out.

Q. And you feel that the emlyon business school MSc has helped you in this process now you are working in the field?

Alexandre Gauvrit: Change Management is something that some companies are urgently in need of and to ensure the process is not too protracted, you need the professionals with the necessary command of the tools to do the job. Luckily emlyon understood this from the outset with the design of their MSc. In all honesty, I would say that there was a 30%-70% split between academic and corporate contributors to the program. The theory is of course essential but having so industry-specific and relevant a dimension to the course prepared us for the industry and the profession

Q. What future developments could be expected in the near future within the sector?

Eric David: Maybe the most interesting aspect of this transformation is that we are just at the beginning. Not all of these technologies are mature, many applications are still to be discovered, risks and opportunities remain a vast “terra incognita”. Our students' first objective is not to become IT specialists, but rather project managers and decision makers on this New Frontier.