Supply Chain: A Career that Combines Business and Engineering

The business world is constantly evolving. With technology growing more advanced each year, employers see increased value in hiring employees not only with skills in business, but skills in technology, math, and science as well. Many universities have seen the need for programs that combine the business and STEM fields, and have created majors such as the Management and Engineering for Manufacturing Program here at UConn that allows students to pursue both engineering and business.

I spoke with Paul Sainsbury of Sanofi Genzyme, who did not have that choice when choosing a major in the 1980s, but always knew he had a passion for problem-solving. He chose to major in mechanical engineering, but after working in the field for a short period of time after graduation, he realized his interest in the business side of the work. He went back to school to get his MBA, eager to work more closely with the project management and cost-estimating he had experienced at his first job. He has worked in supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry for almost twenty years and is very happy with where his education has brought him.

When asked if his engineering background puts him at an advantage or disadvantage in the business world, he says that engineering has put him at a great advantage in his field, but it would not have been enough on its own, as he needed that business education as well. He feels he has a leg up over his colleagues when it comes to new programs and software tools, being able to pick them up with ease, while they are left struggling, saying to him, “Well, you are an engineer, so of course it is easy for you.” Sainsbury feels that there are ample elements of engineering in supply chain management, so studying the field during undergraduate years paves the road to a career in supply chain, though he feels that studying data analytics would also be a great segway into the field.

He emphasizes the importance of analysis in supply chain management, stressing that supply chain is not simply “managing trucks” as many people mistakenly think it is, instead it is about “understanding business forecasts and plans, and then figuring out how to best coordinate supply resources to meet that demand.” Sainsbury feels that supply chain has worked well for him in that it appeals to the engineering side of his personality that likes problem-solving and technology, but the business component fascinates him as well, getting to work with the marketing, finance, and research and development departments of the company. He describes supply chain as the “hub” that interacts with all parts of a manufacturing business, which brings challenges and innovation every day.

If you find yourself caught between wanting a career in science and technology or one in business, supply chain management may be the right path for you. A great place to start looking for opportunities is our career fairs held each semester. Another great resource is Husky Mentor Network, where you can get paired up with UConn alumni currently in positions that align with your career goals.

By Chloe Sainsbury
Chloe Sainsbury Chloe Sainsbury