The USD Summer Business Institute, launched last year in conjunction with the office of Continuing and Professional Education, is a program designed for liberal arts majors. We offer three very intense weeks of business training for recently-graduated, or soon to graduate, students whose majors include, English, Chemistry, Art History, and Theology, among many others. I had the pleasure of teaching them in four sessions over the last two weeks.
My area is Operations and Supply Chain Management, both of which cover a wide range of topics, so choosing what to discuss in the 1½-hour sessions is a challenge. My decision was to focus on several key topics that students often face in interviews, and that I know from my consulting experience add great value to companies.
First, we discussed a framework for Operations Strategy, an absolutely critical approach that has helped numerous companies set priorities among competing objectives. We then applied the framework to the inspiring case of Southwest Airlines, illustrating how Southwest has built a tight, consistent operations model.
Our second session honed in at an operational detail level by looking at a case about a company that makes cookies. We worked on finding bottlenecks in the cookie production process and identifying opportunities for improvement. Bottlenecks are the parts of the process that slow down the whole operation, and addressing them can significantly improve a company’s production.
Finally, I introduced Supply Chain Management topics using an approach that resembles a consulting or other job interview. That was fun to do with the students, and provided them with hands-on experience for career development opportunities they could encounter.
I really enjoyed being in the classroom with this group of students, who were active and engaged in their business studies. I can guarantee they are learning valuable lessons about business that will serve them well regardless of their career direction.