An Immigrant’s Advice for College Graduates
Immigrants, because of their international heritage, bring a unique perspective to a career in supply chain management
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This past weekend, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao spoke at the Bryant University commencement ceremony. With experience as the first female Secretary of Labor, director of the Peace Corps, and CEO of the United Way non-profit, she brought a unique perspective. Chao came to the United States from Taiwan and has made a tremendous impact on our country.
Immigrants, because of their international heritage, bring a unique perspective to a career in supply chain management because many of them, regardless of their country or family’s country of origin, bring valuable language and multi-cultural skills which give them extra sensitivity that they can parlay into being a successful international business executive.
Here’s my take on some gems from the first woman of Asian descent to achieve a Cabinet position that also sound like good advice for supply chain managers.
1. Embrace our immigrants: Secretary Chao arrived in the United States at 8 years old with no knowledge of English. She navigated the transition by working hard and learning from the role model of her parents.
2. Embrace mistakes: The innovative capacity that the U.S. is famous for depends on being able to make mistakes and learn from them. She talked about how the culture of Silicon Valley is accepting of mistakes. Companies and individuals need to encourage making mistakes – it’s the only way to discover and make yourself better.
3. Be grateful for free markets: Free markets may not always be fair, but they create prosperity, and give the opportunity to advance. Free markets and innovation go hand-in-hand, and prosperity can be shared.
4. Live for others: Non-profits like United Way and the Peace Corps do great work, yet you don’t have to work for a non-profit to make a meaningful contribution. The purpose of any meaningful life is to create value for others, so make sure you do that.
5. Power of reputation: The older you get, the more you appreciate how the value you’ve created for friends, family, those you work with, and other people in your life is the most important legacy you leave behind – more than money, a fancy title, a nice house or other material things.
Times are good for graduates of supply chain programs: employment is at all-time lows, and the talent gap assures favorable odds of finding a good entry-level job. Let’s be sure to provide our young new leaders with mentoring and empower them to follow these words of advice!
About the AuthorMichael Gravier Michael Gravier is a Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at Bryant University with a focus on logistics, supply chain management and strategy and international trade. Follow Bryant University on Facebook and Twitter.
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