Congratulations to the Supply Chain Management 2019/20 HOPA Ports Scholarship Recipient, Darien Head

[:en]May 20, 2020

Hamilton, ON – As a recent graduate of the Supply Chain Management Graduate Program at Mohawk College, Darien Head has a very fresh perspective on supply chains during the COVID crisis. Unfortunately, he finds not many people even know what a supply chain is.

How does he describe supply chain to someone who is unfamiliar? “I say it’s the collaboration of different organizations and resources to get products from one destination to another in the most effective and efficient way possible,” said Darien, or more simply, he likes to explain to family and friends: “It’s how you can get your Amazon package delivered the next day.”

Darien was presented with a HOPA Ports award at Hamilton waterfront, at a distance, by HOPA Ports Communications and Community Relations Coordinator Emily Paivalainen and his former professor and Supply Chain Management Program Coordinator, Carol Fleck. Darien was grateful for the scholarship as it helped ease financial stress during his second semester, while allowing him to focus on his coursework and participation in class. Now that the program has wrapped up, Darien is applying to jobs and plans to pursue a career in the field.

The Supply Chain Management Graduate Program began as a collaboration between HOPA Ports and Mohawk College only a few years ago. Each organization wanted to provide an education pathway into the industry, because it’s something Hamilton relies on as a manufacturing stronghold and a port city. As HOPA’s CEO notes, however, the specialization is rare. “The management of supply chain is largely invisible, yet a vital function. One bright spot in this crisis has been the resilience of the Canadian transportation system and supply chain, in its ability to continue to deliver the essential goods for industry and consumers. We’re proud to be part of the comprehensive and well-functioning system that ensures Canadians can be confident about having the supplies they need. We welcome Darien into the fold, and wish him well in building his career in supply chain management.” said Ian Hamilton, HOPA Ports President & CEO.

Carol Fleck was happy to acknowledge the hard work Darien put into his studies over the past year. “Darien was easily selected as the top performer in his cohort,” said Fleck. “He maintained a 90+ average the entire way through the 8-month program and helped a company in Texas overcome a real supply chain issue for his capstone project.”

Enrolling in the program for Darien made a lot of sense well before COVID-19. “I had completed an Honours BA in Commerce at McMaster; however, I needed a more practical, real-life networking experience.” His parents both worked in the industry and it peaked his interest because no day was the same for them.

What excites Darien about a future career in supply chain? “I think it’ll be exciting to be directly responsible for purchasing raw materials that a company is going to use in a product is exciting and having that autonomy to make business decisions. The quality of a product can be the difference between a success and a failure for an organization. I’d also love to be able to travel around the world to different countries and source out new materials.”

What does he think will change about Canadian supply chains after COVID? “We take for granted having such a robust and responsive supply chain in Canada. We take for granted having a constant supply of essential items like food and health-related items in grocery stores, along with next day delivery of products purchased through e-commerce. A lesson that we should take from the COVID-19 crisis is to source locally. There are so many Canadian businesses out there that companies can work with to ensure that Canadian families have access to all the essentials, and this way our economy can thrive.”


from Program Coordinator Carol Fleck

Darien is correct… As Canadians, and consumers, we rarely think about the work that has gone into the food we eat or the products we buy, but most of what we take for granted is linked to a complex network of manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and purchasers working behind the scenes. Supply chain is the basis of the modern global economy, and keeps us inextricably tied to one another.

What is the biggest misconception about supply chain? “I think the biggest misconception is that supply chain is just about warehousing and transportation, but it is so much more! Supply chain covers purchasing, inbound logistics, inventory management, manufacturing, distribution and quality. I always explain it as, everything you touch, eat, use, and wear has supply chain involved – how do we increase our customer demand but yet keep costs down.”

What do you think the COVID crisis has demonstrated about the strength or weakness of Canada’s supply chains? “You have seen both sides of this virus when it comes to supply chain. One of the weaknesses is companies not being prepared for the risks of a pandemic, and has globalizing put us in a precarious position? I think companies will be looking at regionalizing part of their supply chain. The upside is that we have seek how creative and resilient companies have been to provide their services and how quickly the supply chain was able to be reactive of those changes. Supply chain is now becoming a household word – as opposed to the usual, “supply chain, what is that?!”

What do you think will change in the industry as a result? “I am certainly positive that once we get back to normal, a pandemic risk-management practice will be in place. Supply Chain companies will have learned how to be reactive, what worked, what failed and what was the best outcome going forward.”

Are you interested in Supply Chain Management?
Applications for September 2020 are now open and the program can also be completed part-time, online as part of Continuing Education. Anyone who is interested in the program should visit the Supply Chain Management Graduate Program page on Mohawk’s website for more information:[:]

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