The Supply Chain Engineering Master’s program in the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering has prepared graduate student Lee Burrell for a bright future in supply chain engineering. After graduation in July, Burrell will move to Chicago where he has accepted a position with Menlo Worldwide, an industry-leading, Fortune 500 supply chain management firm.
One of only two Americans in his Supply Chain Master’s class, Burrell had the unique experience of collaborating with students from all over the world, with a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds. In addition to the unique classroom experience, the intensive 12 month program gave Burrell the opportunity to learn from and network with industry leaders and experts in the field.
Read more about his experience in the interview that follows.
ISyE: What motivated you to pursue a master's degree in Supply Chain Engineering?
LB: Working at Syfan Logistics after I completed my MBA introduced me to the world of logistics and supply chains, and I became passionate about those fields and the opportunity to leverage them to make a positive impact on people, profits, and our planet. From there, I knew that getting more specialized skills through a master’s degree in supply chain engineering would allow me to become more impactful in those fields and more marketable as I looked to advance my career. I was encouraged by the owners of Syfan Logistics to further my education and Georgia Tech couldn't have been a more perfect choice.
ISyE: What influenced your decision to come to Georgia Tech?
LB: It's reputation, rigor, rich history, and ranking. In searching which school would be the best fit for what I was looking for, I performed detailed research on all of the nation's top programs in supply chain education, and Georgia Tech was continually at the top. Having a background in business and accounting, the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering's #1 ranking for the last 20+ years further proved to me that Georgia Tech would provide the best opportunity to see a sizable return on my education investment, in the quickest amount of time. In addition, Georgia Tech has such a rich history, and the opportunity to be a part of that was very exciting for me.
ISyE: What is it like moving through an intensive 12 month program with the same group of students?
LB: Unbelievable. Being one of only two Americans in the entire program, it was incredible to be able to work with, learn from, and become close to such a diverse set of classmates. We had students from Germany, Greece, India, China, Japan, Pakistan, Singapore, and Panama. I was able to learn from everyone's different experiences and backgrounds, as well as make plans to visit many of them in their home countries. I'm already scheduled to go to Singapore next summer to meet up with some of my classmates there, with India soon after. How exciting is that?! If I hadn't moved through the program with the same group of students, I wouldn't have been able to form deep friendships with people from all over the world and gain valuable insight into their countries and cultures.
ISyE: What skills did you acquire from this program?
LB: Well, beyond learning to work closely with people with very different backgrounds from my own, I learned a host of supply chain engineering skills, including: linear and mixed-integer programming, optimization models such as berth scheduling and network planning, and warehouse optimization, among many others. What was also exciting about the program was that we intertwined real-world experiences into all of our classes in order to better connect what we were learning to what happens outside of the classroom. We had numerous industry professionals present to us, we visited a host of interesting distribution centers and warehouses, and were exposed to real supply chain problems with the task of solving them.
ISyE: As a master's student, what has been your most memorable experience?
LB: Wow. There's so many! Among the most memorable would be meeting and becoming friends with so many smart and interesting people, being able to learn from world-renowned professors, and also, ironically, the struggles and hard work it took to make it through this incredibly rigorous program. (Winning the grad school intramural basketball championship was also a nice touch!)
ISyE: What extracurricular activities are you involved in outside of your studies?
LB: I enjoy working out, reading, playing guitar, traveling, and officiating college football. I'm currently the youngest college football official in the United States, although by coming to Tech I've unfortunately all but eliminated myself from ever working under the lights at Bobby Dodd Stadium. I think that's a small sacrifice to pay for what I've been able to experience and learn, however.
ISyE: What are your long-term career goals?
LB: Besides becoming an NFL official, my goal is to eventually work my way to a C-level position within the supply chain management field. It's such an exciting and ever-changing field, the problems and opportunities are endless. There aren't many other fields where you get to travel throughout the world and work to solve incredibly complex problems that have an impact on people's daily lives, while still being relatively unknown. Just like officiating, when supply chain managers are doing a great job they are hardly noticed, and that is the goal.
Burrell received his bachelor’s degree in accounting and MBA from North Georgia College and State University. He is an IDEALS Leadership School Graduate, a member of the Georgia Tech chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, a member of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, and a member of the Advanced Technology Development Center. Burrell was also a NCAA Scholar Athlete from 2004-2008. Previous to his time at Georgia Tech, Burrell co-founded the Atlanta-based Edtech startup, and was a cost analyst and sales manager for Syfan Logistics.
More information on the MS in SCE:
The Georgia Tech Master of Science in Supply Chain Engineering is a professional graduate degree program created to meet the growing demand for business-savvy engineers who can design and synchronize highly complex global supply chains. The program's intensive 12-month curriculum delivers academic knowledge in analytic methods, supply chain engineering, and enterprise management while building professional practice skills and real-world industry experience, all leading to a respected graduate degree from the #1-ranked Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE). http://www.sce.gatech.edu/
Industrial and Systems Engineering