Remaining Competitive in Today's Market

Barbara Christopher
Industrial and Systems Engineering
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As the world flattens, having a firm grounding in international logistics is imperative for the success of many businesses. More and more, companies are leveraging their supply chains to compete in this global market as they struggle to stay in touch with the rapid changes in technology, strategy, and rules of engagement. To remain competitive, companies must expand collaborative relationships, enhance supply chain efficiencies, execute proven supply chain strategies, and educate and empower their brightest stars.

However, the importance of logistics education is often overlooked, but not with Omar Gonzalez, MS IL 2005, CEO and president of Almacenar Logistics in Bogot-, Columbia, and many of the other graduates in the Executive Master's in International Logistics (EMIL). In 2005, Gonzalez made a strategic decision to expand his knowledge in international logistics and supply chain strategy. Before joining EMIL, Gonzalez had never studied logistics in any systematic way. "I ran my company with intuitive knowledge," he said. Now he is using his EMIL degree to advance the logistics industry throughout Latin America. In 2006, Gonzales was elected president of the Latin American Association of Logistics, a nonprofit organization that integrates and combines the resources of fourteen independent associations from Brazil, Venezuela, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Chile, El Salvador, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia. Gonzalez's expertise in international logistics made him a prime candidate to lead the organization. "It is our dream that in the near future, merchandise will ride freely through our territories day and night, 365 days a year, transporting wealth and development to all corners of our lands," Gonzalez said.

EMIL, an eighteen-month executive master's program, is one of the first advanced degree programs to combine business management with the growing field of global supply chain management.

"EMIL was created specifically to groom executives at the world's leading companies," said Greg Andrews, IL 2005, and managing director of EMIL. "The program incorporates five intensive two-week residences. Two of the residences take place in Atlanta, and the remaining international residences are held in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. For two weeks every three a half months, students attend one of the residences. For the remainder of the time, participants are on the job using the practical techniques taught during EMIL residences to improve supply chain efficiencies for their real-world problems."

EMIL may appeal to industry executives for a multitude of reasons. The flexible schedule, online assignments, and global residences allow professionals to make optimal use of their time while remaining employed full-time.
EMIL graduates also have a world of memories to go with their diplomas. During their busy international residences, students become immersed in the different cultures as they tour and interact with various international companies and their executives to see how they conduct business.

Luca Mugnaini, MS IL 2006, vice president of logistics at Salvatore Ferragamo in Firenze, Italy, said he was attracted to EMIL "because of the highly ranked reputation of Georgia Tech, the international distance-learning format of the program and, the ability to obtain my master's degree while continuing to work full time at my job. In addition to learning from the distinguished professors and industry speakers, I was able to see in person how logistics is handled in different parts of the world."

Not only are EMIL's executive students exposed to the leading edge of industry trends from a global perspective, but they also build a network of other senior executives who have various levels of experience across supply chain management that they can draw from during the class and even after the program ends.

"Attending EMIL was a turning point for me," said Bublu Thakur-Weigold, MS IL 2005, director of European Region at e3 associates, "The program exposed me to global operations and industries that I would never otherwise have seen. The peer group in class was another inspiration, something I continue to benefit from today."

EMIL Program Doubles in Size with New Schedule

The directors of EMIL are themselves a lesson in international logistics. Strategic planning has allowed them to double the size of the program this year. Compared to previous years, 2008 has seen twice as many executives pursuing their master's degrees through EMIL.

Typically, a class of top-level industry executives enters the program and spends eighteen months completing the five residences around the world. In the program's history, one class began every eighteen months and only after its graduation would the subsequent class begin. Now EMIL is accepting one class every twelve months.

The directors at EMIL make it a priority to recruit a variety of culturally diverse students from all areas of supply chain and logistics. According to Andrews, EMIL recruitment efforts emphasize different industry verticals with an interest in attracting not only high-tech supply chain strategists but also automotive, chemical, medical, retail, defense, and aeronautics professionals. The wealth of knowledge these industry executives bring with them is priceless. "Senior executives bring with them a suitcase full of knowledge, and we want to open that suitcase and share that field of expertise among their classmates. There is a lot of benefit to that because seldom do you get in a room with a climate that is fostering an exchange of ideas unabated," said Andrews.

EMIL graduated its fifth class in August 2008. The sixth class recently came on board in April 2008 and is slated to graduate in spring 2009. The seventh class arrived on campus in October 2008 and will graduate in the summer of 2010. "These two classes firing off in 2008 have enabled us to sync up the class schedule to allow us to run concurrent classes. Our plans going forward will be to start a new incoming class each October. The eighth class, the class of 2011, will arrive on campus in October 2009," said Andrews.

Prospective students can apply on the EMIL Web site at

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School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISYE)

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  • Created By: Barbara Christopher
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Nov 19, 2008 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:06pm