Fall 2017 Black School of Business Project and Supply Chain Management Newsletter

In this Issue:


Ray Venkataraman

We invite you to explore our newsletter for the fall 2017 semester. Enrollment in the Project and Supply Chain Management (PSCM) degree program continues to remain strong. Proposals for two new courses – Project Risk Management and Introduction to Supply Chain Analytics – are now making their way through the curricular approval process. The addition of these two new courses will further strengthen the PSCM curriculum by enabling students to enhance their skills in the project management and supply chain areas. We are also delighted to welcome Dr. David Ding, associate professor of PSCM, who has significant expertise in the field of health care, service operations, and project management areas.

Our alumni are working in a variety of positions across the United States and have highly successful careers. We are pleased to showcase two alumni in this newsletter, Taryn Testa, supply chain analyst for PPG Industries, and Teresa Lotarski, associate master scheduler at American Textile Company. Ariana Yunik and Robert Byrd, both PSCM majors, are currently doing their internships with Erie Insurance and Logistics Plus respectively. This semester also featured a Corporate Day for Bechtel Plant Machinery on September 14. The company will visit our campus again in spring 2018.

Finally, we thank the officers of the PSCM club, Alyssa Clayton, Brandon Wampler, Christopher Boyd, and Joe Martone, faculty advisers Dr. Ozgun Demirag, associate professor of operations and PSCM, Dr. Varun Gupta, assistant professor of PSCM, and Nicole Overby for their dedication in publishing this newsletter.

Dr. Jeff Pinto Receives Research Award

Jeff Pinto

The International Project Management Association has selected Dr. Jeffrey Pinto, professor of management, for its annual research award.

Pinto is the Andrew Morrow and Elizabeth Lee Black Chair in Management Technology. He is the lead faculty member for the college’s Master of Project Management degree program, which is offered online through Penn State World Campus. 

Pinto’s research is in the field of human and organizational behavior in project management, including cross-functional cooperation on project teams and the interoperability of geographic information systems. He also has studied gender bias, manager burnout, and the effectiveness of virtual work teams. His current project involves polycentric architectures, or regional approaches to project planning. One project he is studying is High Speed Two, the 250-mph rail line being developed between London and the West Midlands in the United Kingdom.

2017 Business Analytics Symposium

Dr. David Ding, associate professor or PSCM, and Dr. Varun Gupta, assistant professor of PSCM, attended a panel discussion on supply chain analytics as part of their visit to Bowling Green State University for 2017 Business Analytics Symposium.

David Ding and Varun Gupta

Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences

PSCM faculty members Dr. Varun Gupta, assistant professor of PSCM; Dr. Ray Venkataraman, professor of management; Dr. Sourish Sarkar, assistant professor of management; and Dr. David Ding, associate professor of PSCM, attended the annual meeting of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) in Houston, Texas, in October. The Black School of Business was a bronze-level sponsor for the conference, which was attended by over 5,000 professionals from academia, industry, and government. Faculty also conducted preliminary interviews with candidates for the new PSCM faculty position. 

Informs 1

From left, Varun Gupta, assistant professor of PSCM; Ray Venkataraman, professor of management; Sourish Sarkar, assistant professor of management; and David Ding, associate professor of PSCM.

Informs 2

Student Spotlights

Robert Byrd

Robert Byrd
  • Major: PSCM
  • Minor: MIS
  • Certificate: SAP
  • Graduation: December 2017

What is your current internship?

International Logistics Analyst

Can you describe your typical workday?

On a typical workday I am dispatching orders, updating the system, and observing shipments so that they arrive before a deadline. This job is done entirely through email. Logistics Plus has warehouses in a number of locations, so my job is to collect the products from vendors and choose the best way to get them to those warehouses. I am constantly communicating with other employees on getting the information and rates that I need to get the items picked up and shipped. I sit and monitor my emails to make such everything is picked up and delivered, and from there I input all the information for each shipment into the system.

What have you learned outside of class?

I have learned about the importance of communication. I am constantly reaching out to vendors so that I have the correct information for each shipment. There are times where vendors become hard to contact, so I have to learn to adapt depending on how urgent the situation. For example, if it does not seem that a shipment will make it before the deadline, it is up to us to decide on what our options are and which one to pursue. Although Behrend works hard to prepare me for a career, working in a corporate setting has allowed me to expand on the skills I have learned in college.

How did your classroom experience help you on your job?

The many group projects that we students are involved with helped me learn how to work with a team effectively. Having the opportunity to work with international students has really prepared me to interact with people in foreign countries. Also, learning how to manage all my classes each semester has helped me to better balance all the different vendors and emails that I have to attend to. I am thankful for professors challenging me because it prepared me for life outside of the classroom.

What is your biggest takeaway from your internship?

I have gained more confidence in my career direction. I realized that I would love to pursue a career at Logistics Plus because of the many opportunities they have and how fast they are growing. Working in an office environment is not easy to get used to, but this internship has given me a better understanding of how to interact in an office setting. 

What advice about internships would you give to current students?

For starters, do not wait until the last minute to apply. The sooner you get an internship, the easier it is to get your name out there. Take advantage of every networking opportunity because this could be the deciding factor if you receive a job offer or not. The more experience you receive from internships the more opportunities you will after graduation.

Arianna Yunik ’18

Arianna Yunik
  • Major: PSCM Minor: MIS Cert: SAP
  • Senior, 7th semester
  • Graduation: May 2018

Why did you choose your major?

I decided that PSCM was right for me because I could have an educational background in managing both projects and supply chain. I know I’d like to be in a management role, and with this major I have more than one option. With PSCM, there are a variety of majors, minors, and internal/external certificates that you can pursue to complement your degree and still graduate in four years. That’s an attractive feature that not every university offers.

Are you pursuing any minor/certifications?

I am pursing an MIS minor and the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) designation thanks to the Black School of Business.

Do you intend to pursue any further education or training?

After attaining the CAPM, I’d like to leverage my certificate to help with acceptance into a top-ranked MBA program.

Where was your past internship?

IT intern at Erie Insurance.

What have you learned outside of class?

In particular, I spent a lot of time learning and practicing the agile methodology before learning about it in class. This is a well-known project related concept, and I was able to add value in the classroom since I already had the industry experience. In class, I heard about the Project Management Institute, and by chance my current mentor at my internship recently did a presentation for a local chapter. I learned more details on why I should pursue a certification from an industry perspective and decided that it would be a good idea. 

How did your classroom experience help you on your job?

In project management, I’ve learned useful tools such as work breakdown structures, scheduling, and the triangle of constraints. Having a knowledge foundation of concepts like these make it easy to speak the industry language and adapt to the lingo a certain company uses. I hope taking the initiative to extend my project management knowledge with the CAPM certification will give me an edge when I get the opportunity to lead a project.

What are your future career goals?

With the CAPM, I want to be prepared as much as a can be when given the opportunity step into the role of a project manager. To get that opportunity, I’ve learned very useful and simple tools in strategic management. I’d like to showcase my combination of knowledge and experience by leading a successful project team in the near future.

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. David Ding

David Ding

What is your educational background?

I received my Ph.D. in operations management from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah in 2007. Prior to that, I earned my M.S. and B.S. in mechanic engineering from South China University of Technology and Tianjin Polytechnic University, respectively.

What is your favorite part about being a professor?

My favorite part of being a professor is twofold: shaping our future generation through teaching while addressing issues of national importance through research. Full-time tenure-track and tenured faculty positions require a very high level of commitment that includes balance among teaching, research, and service. I usually work late nights providing feedback to students about research submissions, reviewing manuscripts from peers at other institutions, and crafting exciting and new research ideas. It is a challenging yet rewarding career – we help students learn to be critical thinkers and to apply knowledge to make a real impact. It is awesome seeing them grow personally.

What do you like most about Behrend?

I worked for ten years at the University of Houston prior to joining Behrend this fall as an associate professor in project and supply chain management. Compared with other institutions that I worked for, I think Behrend is a unique place that values student learning, faculty development, and work-life balance. I enjoyed interactions with students, colleagues, and industry speakers during my first semester at Behrend. I look forward to engaging PSCM students in innovative learning activities and industry-related projects.

How would you describe your teaching style or method?

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Involving students in the learning process is one of the main focuses of my teaching philosophy. Toward this end, I use a combination of learning-by-doing activities including examples, hands-on practices, and games to involve students in active learning processes. Another important part of my teaching philosophy is to help students reinforce their learning by developing their problem-solving and critical-thinking skillsets through case studies and team-based projects. 

What is your favorite topic to research/work on?

Currently, my main research stream examines issues around cost and quality in hospital operations. As part of national priorities, the triple aims of better health, better care, and lower costs have been the foci in the healthcare industry. Working with multiple national and state health agencies, my research applies data analytics to examine potential approaches that can reduce operating expenses and improve clinical outcomes within acute-care general hospitals. In addition, I am also working with the Cornell Institute of Health Future to study healthcare needs of a diverse population in different care settings. 

Do you have any advice for current students majoring in PSCM?

As the global economy transitions from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, one of the major challenges for PSCM students is to refit their skillsets and knowledge towards market needs. While I intend to add service-related components in teaching course materials, it is also important for PSCM students to understand and appreciate the value of project and supply chain management within a larger context. I encourage PSCM students to take the opportunity to talk with industry speakers, attend local chapter meetings, and intern with various companies before graduation. All above experience will help you find your personal inspiration and lay out the future career path.

Alumni Spotlights

Teresa Eleanor Lotarski ’15


What is your current position and where?

My current position is an associate master scheduler at American Textile’s headquarters located in Duquesne, Pennsylvania. 

How did you find your current job?

My current job is from a promotion that I received in August. My job before that was an inventory and planning analyst at American Textile, which I acquired right out of school. I found my job by searching through Indeed.com

What steps did you take while at Behrend to help you prepare for your current job?

While at Behrend, the PSCM major was brand new. To ensure that I liked what I was going into, I did a lot of research. I wanted to make sure that there was a market in the SCM field because I didn’t want to come out of school with student loan debt and no job. To ensure that I was on the right path for graduation and looking for entry level jobs, I made multiple meetings with my adviser, Dr. Ozgun Caliskan Demirag. Without her help, I wouldn’t have known where to start. In addition, prepping interview questions and doing research on the companies I applied to helped me find where I would fit best, which led me to where I am now.

What do you like best about your job or your employer?

The best part about my job is being able to travel to El Salvador to work with my team, the challenge of finding new ways to improve processes and manage inventory, the ability to make decisions on my own and being given the opportunity to learn something new every day. The best part about ATC management is that they make this place feel like home. They truly care about each individual who works here and they make sure that we are recognized for our efforts. At the end of the day, they care about our improvement and making a career here at ATC.

Do you intend to pursue any further education or training?

Yes. I am currently enrolled in the master’s program for Supply Chain Management through Penn State World Campus. I am also pursuing getting my CSCP certification from APICS. This certification is highly recommend for anyone pursuing a career in the supply chain field.

How has your minor/certification helped you?

The certificate that has helped me the most was the ERP with SAP that I got while at Behrend. Working in the manufacturing industry of home textiles, I work with an ERP system daily. This helped me understand what ERP systems are capable of and why they are the heart of an organization that uses them. This certification made me marketable and played a big factor in why I got my job with ATC six weeks before graduation.

What advice do you have for future graduates?

Leading up to graduation, do as much as you can to make yourself stand out from others whether that is acquiring certifications, internships, minors, or double majoring. The more experience you have in the field you are entering into, the better. Knowledge is power. Embrace that. Become an expert in what you love. Do not settle for the first job you are offered. Going into interviews, make sure that you will fit in with the company. I want all future graduates to feel what I feel when I come to work. It isn’t just work, it’s home, it’s a family.

What would you tell your college self if you could go back in time?

If I could go back in time, I would have told myself that all the obstacles I encountered and the discouragement would be temporary, and that never giving up will pay off. It wasn’t always easy, but some of the greatest rewards in life aren’t earned easily.

Taryn Testa ’17

Taryn Testa

What is your current position and where?

I work for PPG at its Corporate Headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh as a supply chain analyst on the Corporate Supply Chain Excellence Team. I am in the supply chain rotational program that consists of two six-month rotations in inventory and logistics and in sales and operations planning and portfolio management.

How did you find your current job?

I knew I wanted to start out my career in a rotational program to get a deep dive into all different aspects of a company’s supply chain. I started doing some research on companies that offered supply chain rotational programs. I found the PPG supply chain rotational program and it sparked my interest. PPG was attending the supply chain career fair at University Park campus so I attended and received an interview.

What steps did you take while at Behrend to help you prepare for your current job?

A strong GPA is important but differentiating yourself is just as important. Make sure to get involved in different organizations, ones you are passionate about. It is never too early to start looking for internships. Internships give you the ability to contribute to a company. They also help you figure out what type of work, culture, and company you enjoy. Utilize the career fairs at Behrend but also the career fairs at University Park. University Park holds major-specific career fairs that I found to be very beneficial. Take advantage of all the team projects Behrend offers in its courses. The ability to work well with others on a team, to lead a team, and to communicate effectively are vital to your career.

What do you like best about your job or your employer?

PPG offers opportunities to work on stabilizing, improving, and innovating. Supply chain at PPG offers continuous learning and growth. Working on the corporate supply chain team allows to me to work on projects for our different business units including architectural coatings, protective and marine coatings, automotive refinish, and our packaging business. I enjoy working on a small team for our automotive refinish business unit. My team consists of the director of the global supply chain, the director of inventory optimization, a global supply chain specialist, and another supply chain analyst.

Do you intend to pursue any further education or training?

I intend to go back for my master’s in the next few years.

How has your minor/certifications helped you?

The SAP certification should be a must for all PSCM majors. It is not offered at most colleges and puts you ahead of the competition by having the immediate job-related experience. The Excel classes I took at Behrend through my minor in Management Information Systems have helped significantly. Companies use Excel on a daily basis and having Excel skills to bring to the table saves you a lot of time and effort but also makes you stand out.

What advice do you have for future graduates?

Some of the best advice I have ever received was to find a sponsor, not a mentor, whenever you begin your career. Mentors will help guide you but a sponsor will advocate for you and try to advance your career. I am a strong supporter of rotational programs specifically for PSCM majors. There are so many different functions in the supply chain industry and rotational programs allow you to get a taste of the different functions to see what you like and dislike. Rotational programs are key to development. You learn how to deal with all different personalities and management styles.

What would you tell your college self if you could go back in time?

Take advantage of everything Behrend has to offer. Enjoy your time in college; you are only there for a short four years. It goes fast. Get involved early on and meet with your professors. Apply to internships as early as sophomore year – it will put you way ahead of your competition. As cliché as it sounds, networking is just as important as your professors told you it would be. Sometimes who you know is more important than what you know.

Logistics Plus Visit

Logistics Plus representatives' names, titles:

  • Jeremy Chaffee, director of domestic transportation
  • Scott Frederick, vice president of marketing

Presentation topic

  • An Overview of Current Logistics/Transportation Practice at Logistics Plus
Logistics Plus Visit

Jeremy Chaffee, director of domestic transportation for Logistics Plus, speaks to a group of students.

Bechtel Plant Machinery Corporate Day


Pictured above are employees of Bechtel Plant Machinery visiting Behrend for a Corporate Day. BPMI will be visiting again next semester to talk about its work, future opportunities, and more! The tentative date for this is Wednesday, March 14, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. Watch for updates in the spring.

PSCM Club Updates

Officer elections to be held for next semester

During our next meeting, we will be holding elections for positions. We will likely be doing some shifting in our executive board, but will be looking to onboard one or hopefully two more members! Please join us on November 6 at 6:00 p.m. in 104 Burke to learn more about the opportunities within our club and how you can be a part of them!