Spring 2019 Project and Supply Chain Management Newsletter

In This Issue:


Message from the Department Chair

Dr. Ray Venkataraman

Welcome to our newsletter for the spring 2019 semester. Enrollment in the Project and Supply Chain Management (PSCM) major continues to remain strong. Two new courses, SCM 340 Introduction to Supply Chain Analytics and SCM 430 Project Risk Management, will be offered in the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters. 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.

This newsletter has several features. First, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Ying Cao, assistant professor of PSCM, as she has significant expertise in the areas of inventory management, behavioral operations, retail operations, and supply chain sustainability. Second, our alumni are working in a variety of positions across the United States and have highly successful careers. We are pleased to showcase alumnae McKenna Aleksivich ’17 of Clark Associates and Sarah Jacobs ’16 of Lockheed Martin. The newsletter also features two of our PSCM students, Angela Baranowski ’20 and Donovan Owens ’19.

The PSCM Club Speaker Series continues to be very active. In the month of April, we had speakers from Clark Associates and Wegmans, and Suman Sarkar from Three S Consulting. The PSCM Department also had a meeting with its external advisory board members. I am pleased to report that in the future several of the board members will be more actively involved in promoting our program and supporting our students. Finally, we thank the following PSCM Club faculty advisers: Dr. Varun Gupta, assistant professor of operations and supply chain management, and Dr. Richard Peng, assistant professor of project and supply chain management. Special thanks also should go to both Nicole Overby, newsletter coordinator, and Grace Martin, staff assistant, for their efforts in publishing this newsletter.

—Dr. Ray Venkataraman, Professor of Management and Chair of PSCM Major

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Ying Cao, Assistant Professor of Project and Supply Chain Management

Ying Cao

What is your educational background?

I received my Ph.D. in management science with concentration in operations management from the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in 2018. I also earned my M.S. in supply chain management from UTD in 2015. Prior to that, I got my bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and master’s degree in management science and engineering from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in China.

What is your favorite part about being a professor? What made you want to become a professor?

My favorite part about being a professor is to help students reveal their talents and equip them to become knowledgeable professionals. It is also a great experience to link teaching with research. I enjoy exploring in-depth research questions to generate impactful knowledge to our society.

What do you like most about Behrend? What are you looking forward to?

I love the friendly and supportive environment at Behrend where student education as well as faculty and staff professional development is valued. I am impressed by how innovative and dedicated people are in designing programs and enhancing students’ personal and professional advancement. I look forward to working with colleagues to make intellectual contributions, advance class learning experiences, and serve students and the Penn State community.

How would you describe your teaching style or method?

I am passionate about creating a classroom environment that facilitates interactive learning through innovative class activities and accessible examples. I design games to help students understand operations and supply chain management questions, and I draw examples from both industry and daily life to engage students in discussion. In my lectures, I often introduce business models through discussing the trade-off and motivation for them, as well as the problem-solving process using these models. I believe doing this can effectively nurture students’ learning because students can easily capture how to formulate a problem and apply an extracted model in business environment.

What is your favorite topic to research?

My favorite research topic is retail operations. The retailing industry is one of the top revenue-generating industries in the U.S., and a lot of retailing decisions are difficult and complex. My research projects study retailing questions, including assortment planning, pricing, and inventory management. In my research I use analytical models, experimental study, and numerical study to derive structural properties of the optimal solutions to retail operations problems and develop impactful managerial insights.

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

I encourage PSCM students to link the qualitative and quantitative methods from courses to not only your professional aspirations but also your life. I hope, in this way, all of you will lead a happier life and a more fruitful career and keep pursuing the best version of yourselves!

Student Spotlights

Angela Baranowski

Angela Baranowski ’20
Project and Supply Chain Management and Marketing

What is your current position and where?

I am currently doing a spring internship for Long Term Care and Medicaid Innovation, a portfolio company with the branch of Comfort Care located in downtown Erie. I am a quality control intern and a social media identity intern.

How did you find your internship?

I found my internship through a professor’s recommendation about a posting on the Nittany Lion Career Network page. All students have access to this website and it is a great source to go when looking for internships or jobs.

What attracted you to this particular internship?

I was looking to improve my experience and this internship was conveniently located. The position interested me because I could do it while at school and it was in the healthcare field, which is a high-growth industry.

What are some of your internship responsibilities?

I handle going through employee files. I track their progress and make sure the paperwork is up to regulation standards in preparation of audits. On the marketing side I am currently working on creating a Facebook page and drafting responses to reviews about the company posted on Google.

What are your future career goals?

I am excited to try out other areas of supply chain and marketing industries to find what is the best fit for me. For the future, I want to find a company I can grow personally and professionally in. Eventually, I want to be a project manager of my own division.

What advice about internships would you give to current students?

To current students looking for an internship, the advice I would give is to always apply for it, no matter if you think you will not get it or worry you will not like it. Internships are a great way to try something new and develop your knowledge. It is frustrating at times to not receive answers right away but worth it in the end.

Donovan Owens

Donovan Owens ’19
Project and Supply Chain Management

What is your current (or past) position and where?

  • IBM – Enterprise Applications Consultant (starting in June in Harrisburg)
  • Erie Insurance – Unified Communications and Disaster Recovery (internship)
  • Army Reserves – Transportation Officer

How did you find your internship?

I found out about this internship when Erie Insurance came to campus and I talked to the recruiter to see if I was a fit for the position.

What attracted you to this particular internship?

What attracted me to Erie Insurance was the company culture. It’s a family environment, and the company treats its employees as family members. They are all about bringing the human touch to their customers and always making their customers a top priority.

What are some of your internship responsibilities?

When I worked in Unified Communications, my responsibilities were to manage and assist with the phone system upgrade that they were preparing to do. I also assisted in maintaining their call centers.

When I worked in Disaster Recovery, my responsibilities were to manage and assist with the disaster recovery exercises Erie Insurance has twice a year where they bring up a whole new data center at a different site. This allows Erie Insurance to be able to continue conducting business in case of a disaster.

What is the biggest takeaway from your internship?

My biggest take away from my internship was the new-found knowledge that I gained, which includes knowing how to fulfill tasks relevant to how I want my career path to go but not only that, I also spent time sharpening and honing the skills to better myself for my future.

What are your future career goals?

My future career goals are to one day become an executive at a top company or start my own business with Dr. Richard Peng, assistant professor of project and supply chain management.

What advice about internships would you give to current students?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t know something. Companies are big on using acronyms, so ask what they are because people just assume that you know what they are talking about. Employers also believe that interns who ask questions are motivated and really want to learn all they can about the industry.

Set personal goals that you want to achieve during your internship. Goal setting is especially important to ensure that you gain the relevant skills employers are seeking when hiring future full-time employees.

Ask your supervisor for things to do. If you find that your work is done, ask for new projects or look to read company literature or professional journals.

Alumni Spotlights

McKenna Aleksivich

McKenna Aleksivich ’17
B.S., Project and Supply Chain Management, and B.S., Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies

McKenna currently works as a procurement analyst at Clark Associates in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Please describe Clark Associates.

Clark Associates is a leading restaurant supply company with stores in eastern Pennsylvania and distribution centers all over the country.

How did you find your current job?

I attended the supply chain career fair at University Park in the fall 2017, right before I graduated in December.

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

I feel like this is a loaded question. Being super proactive about the entire job search process was a major key. That started freshman year as I started looking at meaningful summer internships. I also took a few summer classes between my freshman and sophomore year to make it easier to graduate early, which was definitely a key to helping me get a job. I had two summer internships in my field while at Behrend, which gave me the experience I needed to stand out to employers. I attended most of the Behrend career fairs starting my freshman year. I wrote my resume and made my LinkedIn my freshman year and had it critiqued by the ACPC many times. Speaking of the ACPC, I was in there almost every day during my last semester, talking with Pablo Reyes about offers and interviews and negotiating. He helped me so much. All in all, I would say the key is to start early so you don’t stress yourself out when it’s time to enjoy your last semester before graduating.

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

Definitely the culture. I work with a lot of people my age, which is fun. We have a very casual office environment. Dogs are walking around the office every day! We have company happy hours, food trucks, annual parties, organized volunteer events, team events, and a designated “fun committee” that puts most of it on.

Do you intend to pursue any further education or training?

Maybe my MBA in the future, but that is not something I’m actively pursuing right now.

How has your minor/certification helped you?

Having my SAP certification has helped me to understand the concepts in our (non-SAP) ERP system. Working in purchasing, I do a lot of ordering and invoicing and inventory control, which are all managed by our ERP systems.

What advice do you have for future graduates?

Use your connections! Both of my internships came from Behrend alumni I personally knew who told me about their positive experiences, and it doesn’t hurt that they can probably put in a good word for you. My second point would be to definitely highlight the projects and work you do at school. I talked a lot about my IBE capstone experience in my interviews, and employers are impressed.

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

Stay an extra semester.

Sarah Jacobs

Sarah Jacobs ’16
B.S., Project and Supply Chain Management

Sarah currently works as a subcontract administrator and proposal lead at Lockheed Martin in Orlando, Florida.

How did you find your current job?

My boyfriend and I were looking to relocate to Florida. I looked for well-known companies within major areas that were looking to fulfill supply chain management positions. I applied, went through a series of interviews, received the job offer, and relocated to Florida within three weeks.

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

The first and most important thing was finding my path and knowing what I wanted to do along with the direction I wanted to go. Also, creating a plan on how I was going to achieve it was important. Learning to adapt quickly, embrace change, and manage numerous objectives simultaneously has been the foundation of my preparation. All I can say is that time management and prioritization are key. If you can get a good handle on these and stay focused, you will be prepared for anything.

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

I love that it is exactly what I went to school for and it is something that I love to do. I cannot stress it enough that if it something you truly love, it doesn’t even feel like “work.” I also like that Lockheed Martin encourages its employees to expand and grow within the company and offers various trainings to help you do so. With my role at Lockheed, it allows me to see full visibility of the supply chain and work with various customers on a broad spectrum, which has allowed me to learn so much.

Do you intend to pursue any further education or training?

In just a few short weeks, I will become a certified Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma and am strongly considering going back to school for my master’s in supply chain in the fall semester.

How has your minor/certification helped you?

Having an SAP certificate has helped me tremendously due to Lockheed Martin using a very similar platform. My certificate enabled me to be able to adapt quickly to our system and help others who did not have the same experience or training, which made me valuable to the team.

What advice do you have for future graduates?

Do not be afraid of change and make sure you are following something you truly love to do. You’re going to go through many tough times but understand that those are growing pains and to continue pushing forward. It is just a part of the process of the bigger picture. Having the ability to accept change and adapt quickly to your surroundings is one of the things I wish I learned earlier in college.

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

If I could go back now, I would really focus more on my studies, be more engaged, network, and limit my distractions. Although I received good grades, it is so easy to get caught up in the college life and having fun that you don’t even realize that it could be the major thing that is holding you back or slowing you down. I can’t emphasize this enough! Stay focused, have a plan, and stick to it.

Updates and Events

Clark Associates Conference Call

Clark Associates employee McKenna Aleksivich ’17 interacting with PSCM Club members via video conference on February 20, 2019.

Wegmans Corporate Event

Wegmans corporate event, April 2, 2019. From left, Nicole Lehr; Hayden Grack ’17, Behrend Communications and Media Studies alumna; and Craig Shinko ’12, Behrend Marketing with Communications minor alumnus.


Suman Sarkar

Suman Sarkar, partner in Three S Consulting, speaking at a PSCM Club Speaker Series event on April 2, 2019.