With an undergraduate degree in English, Natalie Miknaitis found herself in unchartered waters in February 2011 when she began her MBA at Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business.
But the introductory classes in operations management struck a chord, and now, just a little more than a year later, Miknaitis, 24, has won the Future Supply Chain Stars graduate-level scholarship from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.
To compete for the $2,000 award, Miknaitis submitted an essay that focused on the benefits of a “green” supply chain management—moving products from one place to the next in the most economical, environmentally friendly, and efficient way possible.
“The supply chain contains the greatest potential for sustainable change within a business since it manages many of the business processes that use natural resources and also because the nature of supply chains stretches beyond the company itself, allowing positive changes to be implemented with partnering suppliers,” her paper stated.
The essays were judged on several criteria, including coherence of arguments presented, evidence of critical thinking and analysis, and relevance and poignancy of topic, says Charles Slutz, chair of the Chicago CSCMP’s Education Committee, which bestowed the award.
Sustainability is a subject that is near and dear to Miknaitis’s heart. She researches sustainability issues outside of class and did an independent study of sustainability and operations management as part of her coursework last winter. She is also a huge proponent of green living.
“Every decision I make, I try to consider the impact that it has on the planet and other people,” Miknaitis says. “The reason I push this so frequently in my projects at the business school is that I think corporations and businesses are also duty-bound to preserve the planet.”
With the rise in fuel and gas prices and environmental regulations, the issue is gaining the attention of industry leaders.
“I think sustainability is crucial to a business’s survival,” Miknaitis says. “Addressing these issues and finding alternative solutions is really going to be an asset when it comes to competition.”
This is the third time in four years that a Loyola student has taken home the CSCMP award, says Maciek Nowak, PhD, director of Loyola’s Master of Science in Supply Chain Management program, which will be the only such accredited program in Illinois when it debuts this fall.
“Chicago is one of the premier international supply chain hubs, but there have been no formal supply chain management programs,” he says. “Loyola saw a vacuum in the supply chain world.”
Since announcing the program, the feedback from industry leaders in search of supply chain talent has been extremely positive, Nowak says.
After she receives her MBA with a concentration in operations management/sustainability in May and gets married in July, Miknaitis plans to look for a position in the supply chain field. With her scholarship—which includes a free, one-year membership in the CSCMP and distribution of her resume to all who attended the council’s spring seminar—she’s off to a great start.