Written by Craig Schreiner | Photos by Craig Schreiner
In WHY I TEACH, Anna Land, an assistant professor of supply chain management, talks about deciding to teach, building relationships between her students and local businesses — and how the COVID-19 pandemic has made “supply chain” a buzzword.
“Growing up, I saw how hard my parents worked and the sacrifices they made to provide my siblings and me with the opportunity to go to college — something that was not possible for my parents when they were younger. I am grateful that they taught us early to value education. It wasn’t until grad school that I discovered my desire to become a professor. I was absolutely fascinated with the problems supply chain professionals must address, from sourcing raw materials to coordinating transportation and ensuring proper return of materials after consumption. I found myself constantly hungry to learn more. After shadowing my Ph.D. advisor and teaching my first courses, I was hooked. Being able to be a part of a student’s journey, helping them prepare for their future careers, watching them grow, and following their success after graduation has turned out to be far more rewarding than I ever anticipated.”
“I teach several undergraduate and graduate courses in supply chain management. Topics include supplier selection, evaluation, and improvement, sustainability performance, transportation and logistics, strategy, forecasting, and inventory management. Most of my courses involve some element of community-based learning, where students work on specific challenges local organizations are facing. Our students at UW-Whitewater are hardworking. Many of them maintain part-time jobs to support themselves financially. Most students aim to begin working full-time upon graduation, so I try to push them out of their comfort zones through class discussions, presentations, team projects and case study analyses.”
“We tour companies, conduct interviews and observe process flows. Most recently my students in my “Operations Management” course partnered with Burns Industrial Supply in Whitewater to analyze their order fulfillment process and assess various options for process improvement. Last year, I mentored a student in the Undergraduate Research Program. We were able to publish a peer-reviewed journal article on our results and secured a stipend to present at an international conference in Sweden. Researchers at the conference were shocked that the student was only in his undergraduate studies. It was the student’s first time in Europe, and I was so proud of the hard work he put into the project — and thankful to be in a position where I could help provide that opportunity for him.”
“UW-Whitewater is situated in a small town similar to my childhood hometown in North Florida, and we have many supportive business partners in town that welcome student projects, provide internship opportunities and give back financially to our campus. We have a beautiful campus, with a modern business school, and offer small class sizes that allow us to engage and build relationships with students. These were critical factors that I considered when deciding whether to accept the job offer at UW-Whitewater.”
“One positive outcome of COVID-19 is that the buzzword ‘supply-chain’ now rings a bell for people. It’s sparked a lot of interest. People are understanding the importance of the relationships along the supply chain and that it’s not just the brand on the label that is responsible for production and transportation and selling to the customers. Even though many stages in the chain might take place in other countries, they’re all very valuable and critical to getting us the products that we consume.
“Remote teaching and learning is new territory for us all, and it is critical for instructors to be open to student input and adapt accordingly. I found that the virtual setting often made conversations more personal than in our usual pre-pandemic classes. Each one of us may be facing different struggles, and students were thankfully and respectfully willing to share perspectives and suggestions for a successful transition.”
WHY I TEACH is a series about the dedicated professionals at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, including professors, coaches, advisors and other staff members, who make every day a teachable moment — and every place a learning place — by their expertise and example.