What is logistics?

It's how large companies like Michaels keep enough Rainbow Looms in stock to meet the latest craze for rubber band bracelets, or how life-saving supplies quickly get to a tornado-ravaged town.

U.S. News & World Report ranks logisticians as one of the top 20 best business jobs and top 100 jobs overall.

Students in Saint Leo University's online business administration degree program now can pursue a specialization that will prepare them to enter the lucrative and expanding field of logistics and supply chain management.

Dr. B. Tim Lowder, chair of the Department of Management & Business Administration in Saint Leo's Donald R. Tapia School of Business answers the questions what is logistics and more from prospective students.

What is logistics?

Dr. Lowder: What is logistics? Logistics refers to the planning and management of all activities involved in the life cycle of a product. It's attaining component parts, manufacturing, packing, warehousing, transporting, and delivery.

Take raw copper in the ground, for example. Logistics includes mining it, refining it, processing it, packaging it, and getting it to the consumer in a usable form. It's a very comprehensive field that involves all steps needed to get a product to consumers.

Why is logistics growing?

Dr. Lowder: In today's world, everything is being shipped further. At the same time, everyone expects products to be shipped faster and more inexpensively.

Today's supply chains are global in nature and have become more complex with a myriad of interdependent and interconnected component parts. Practically every business or organization needs a highly trained professional to keep their supply chain flowing seamlessly in order to minimize expenses and maximize net profit.

Why is logistics a lucrative field?

Dr. Lowder: Look at Walmart – it's is a logistics powerhouse. If a hurricane is heading towards Corpus Christie, Texas, within hours, Walmart can have supplies such as water and generators from other stores around the country diverted to Corpus Christie stores to meet the upcoming demand. Logistics is what has made UPS, FedEx, and countless other companies successful.

When you're on the front line making critical decisions that affect the company's bottom line profit margins, you can expect to receive a good salary for such an important role in the company.

What is Saint Leo's experience in logistics?

Dr. Lowder: Saint Leo started offering the specialization in logistics four years ago at our Virginia centers. It was a joint partnership with Northrup Grumman which was later purchased by Huntington Ingalls Industries. They needed to train their employees in logistics and project management, so Saint Leo developed a program designed around their specific needs. We have been offering the logistics and project management specializations at our Virginia Centers on-ground ever since.

Why is the program being offered online?

Dr. Lowder: Our students are more mobile than ever. A student may start his or her program at a center in Virginia, but if they are a member of our military or a major corporation, they could be transferred or have to move for advancement purposes.

One key aspect of our mission is to ensure that our students have accessibility to courses so they can complete their degree requirements from anywhere.

In addition, there is tremendous employer demand for the degree.

What are the key strengths of Saint Leo's logistics specialization?

Dr. Lowder: The main strength is the program's relevancy. We work with industry and military partners to develop our curriculum so that it is designed around current industry needs.

Another key strength is that Saint Leo's core values are integrated into every class in the logistics program. Students not only gain the knowledge they will need for future careers, they develop the character and integrity to become ethical leaders in a challenging world.

Who would be interested in this specialization?

Dr. Lowder: Anyone who is seeking a diverse business degree that will prepare them for a challenging and important position within the organization. The logistician position possesses the key knowledge to help a business operate successfully and offers an excellent starting salary.

What industry challenges does the program prepare students for?

Dr. Lowder: Two issues students will have to deal with in this industry are ethics and rising costs.

Our program prepares students for ethical decision-making, particularly in doing business in countries with customs and practices that differ from ours.

For example, in many places, accepting bribes or gifts in exchange for doing business may be acceptable. Our program teaches students how to deal with these challenging situational issues. Saint Leo's integration of core values into every class prepares students to be morally responsible leaders.

Second, our program prepares students to deal with the issue of rising costs in the industry such as the increasing raw materials and shipping costs.

There is a great demand for logisticians to provide strategic solutions. Our curriculum is designed to make sure students can use decision-making tools in the right way to help organizations work smarter in order to reduce costs and optimize efficiencies.

Why is it a good degree in today's marketplace?

Dr. Lowder: Logistics is a broad and comprehensive field with courses that prepare you for wide array of career paths in just about any industry or field.

Yet, the beauty of logistics is that while it is broad, you are prepared for success because you learn a concrete set of theories, tools, and real-world applications. This is accomplished through the case-study method which helps our students understand how to apply the theories and tools they learn.

Logistics is also mathematical in nature and formulas and calculations are taught that assist in making key decisions about efficiently moving products and/or component parts from one place to another, minimizing inventory requirements to lower costs, and minimizing delivery time to increase customer satisfaction.

Students also learn how to effectively use technology and decision-making software tools to maximize problem solving and more importantly are taught how to analyze the output to make sound decisions.

In summary, once you learn the concepts, tools, techniques, and technologies, you are ready to work in any industry where products are eventually sold to consumers. There is no doubt in my mind that logisticians are in high demand and are well paid for their specialized knowledge.

Now that you can answer, what is logistics, are you thinking about specializing in this field?

Image Credit: Pixabay

Other posts you may be interested in reading:

5 Reasons To Earn An Online Degree In Logistics

Finding The Right Logistics Certifications

Saint Leo Logistics Program Receives Industry Certification

Online Logistics Specialization Now Available