Doing the MIT-Zaragoza International Logistics Program (ZLOG) was a dream because I think it’s basically the best supply chain management program in the world. One of the major advantages I saw in the program was the specialization and very specific focus on the supply chain on an institutional level. I saw this as an advantage compared with programs at other engineering schools where there isn’t as much specialization.
If I’m not mistaken, you had been studying an MBA at INCAE Business School. Why did you make this academic and professional turn to the field of supply chain management?
That’s right. I came to ZLOG to complete a dual study program between the Zaragoza Logistics Center and INCAE. With my personal situation, studying Supply Chain Management was more a natural path rather than a career change. Supply Chain Management combines operations research, industrial engineering and business management. My experience and passion lie in these areas.
Did you make your first contact with Amazon through ZLOG? How did you get your current job?
Yes. My contact with Amazon was through the Zaragoza Logistics Center corporate relations office. They organized recruiting days on campus. That’s when I had the opportunity to interview for the first time with the people responsible for campus recruitment at Amazon. I received an offer after several rounds of interviews by phone and at the Amazon offices. It is worth mentioning that the support provided by Zaragoza Logistics Center was exceptional. ZLOG accompanied me throughout the process: from reviewing my CV to preparing me for the interviews. People of very high caliber and professionalism were involved like Vegard Jansson (who was responsible for corporate affairs at the time) and Marija Milenkovic (former director of ZLOG).
Do you use many of the skills and tools you worked on at ZLOG in your day to day at work?
Of course. I use something I learnt at ZLOG practically every day. The Supply Chain is the heart of my current job. In my particular case, I learned key concepts through the program on handling inventories and planning networks which are particularly useful now. Beyond the specific tools, what I think is most useful is the structure of thought, the means for resolving problems and the leadership they instill in you at ZLOG.
From an academic and professional point of view, what was the most valuable thing ZLOG gave you? And from a personal perspective?
Academically, ZLOG is designed to cover fundamental concepts related to the supply chain without forgetting the latest trends. What you learn through the program is very much applicable to your professional life. On the other hand, the program is rigorous meaning you must be disciplined and structure your thinking. These values are useful in any work environment.
Moreover, ZLOG offers a powerful network. The alumni network extends across many places in the world and the large majority of graduates are approachable and many of them rise to influential positions. Plus, there’s the opportunity to meet professors with a very high profile whom you have access to thanks to the moderate class sizes.
From a personal standpoint, my time doing the INCAE and ZLOG programs changed my life and this has been the most important part for me. I met very good and intelligent people. I formed true friendships in both places and continue to have close relationships today with several of my colleagues, professors and staff members.
What type of student would you recommend for the ZLOG program? What values and concerns do they require?
To begin with, I’d recommend the program to someone who wishes to make a difference and is a hard worker. The international scope of the program means it fits well with people who are flexible, who appreciate other cultures and wish to work beyond borders. And they should like tapas because they’re particularly good in Zaragoza.
Would you say logistics management today offers interesting job opportunities and that it’s a sector of the future?
The supply chain is more relevant today than ever before. Some mega-trends such as the explosion in the quantity of information and speed at which it’s transmitted have made it so consumers are better informed and rate companies on their actual capacity to operate and fulfill their promises. This has made it so logistics management has become a basic need for many companies.
On the other hand, globalization has made the logistics structures somewhat larger and more complex meaning logistics management is a discipline in and of itself. Added to this are consumers that are more and more demanding and refined who want a large variety of goods and services. In the future, I hope consumers will expect even higher standards. I see logistics management as a discipline of the future and a need that most companies have in order to remain competitive.
In your opinion, what do you need to get a job like yours?
I think anyone with a good amount of determination, discipline and support can get a job like mine and many more. For me, it’s just the beginning. There’s still a long path to go down.
Beyond intellectual or technical capabilities, I think the bottom line is you must have a positive and constructive attitude, be convinced you can go far with honest work and must value the support networks around you. Attitude and self-efficacy lead to determination and working hard and intelligently and that’s how you can develop the skills you want. On the other hand, it would be very difficult to advance professionally and personally without support from other people. In my case, I believe my family, friends and colleagues have been my main artifices for practically all of my achievements to date.