Driving Results: From the Classroom to the Bottomline
“It is amazing — the one-to-one correlation between the courses in the Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Master’s degree program and what I’ve been able to achieve in my work.”
-- Edwin Quezada (MSCTL ‘18)
From the Classroom to the Workplace
While still a student in the Master of Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics (SCTL) degree program, Edwin Quezada ( MSCTL '18) was hired as warehouse and procurement manager for Artisan Electric, a solar and electrical contractor in Seattle.
From his first day on the job, Edwin found that the tools and concepts he had learned in the program could be directly and immediately applied to his job, with powerful results. He researched, introduced, and implemented software to control the company’s inventory—based on the concepts he learned in Logistics & Analysis and IT Systems & Supply Chain Integration courses.
“I knew from my coursework that I needed data on which to base decisions, so my first step was to ensure I had access to data—lots of data,” Edwin said.
Using principles from the Facility Design & Operations Management course, Edwin redesigned the company’s warehouse to improve the overall flow of materials. With a growing body of inventory data, Edwin then discovered opportunities to streamline inventories while also improving customer service using tools he learned in the program’s Inventory Management course. In particular, Edwin reduced inventory flow for the three top SKUs (stock keeping units) that make up 80% of sales. Before his improvements, he said, “those three SKUs could be in inventory for three months. Now, it’s two days, which means my cash flow is much better and we’re saving a huge amount of money.”
After a few months, he had cut inventory by nearly half. “Even I was surprised,” Edwin said, “When you have the data, it’s amazing how quickly you can spot opportunities for improvement.”
From his work in the Collaboration Across the Supply Chain course, Edwin knew that developing more effective partnerships throughout the supply chain can pay powerful dividends.
“Many times, companies view their supply chains as a series of win-lose relationships—which can be incredibly unproductive. Here at Artisan, with limited warehouse space, I’ve worked with two of our largest parts suppliers who agreed to increase their inventories at their local distribution facilities. They now allow us to make pick-ups directly at those facilities, invoicing me only when we pick up those parts. They get a stable customer and I get a stable supply of important parts without burdening my warehouse. It really is a win-win,” Edwin said.
From the Finance and Performance Management course, Edwin developed techniques to continuously find ways to improve operations, all with an eye toward improving cash flow.
“I’m doing a lot of stuff regarding process improvement, and applying as many concepts and knowledge from the program as you can imagine,” he said.
“My goal is to train our students to view their job as a strategic financial function,” said Dan Stull, instructor for the Finance and Performance Management course. “Moving cash from unproductive uses, like slow moving inventory inefficient processes, allows that cash to be used in far more strategic and productive areas. Edwin proves the case. We are all excited for him and for Artisan Electric.”
Edwin’s employer, Artisan COO Liam Morgan, affirmed the successes: “Edwin was able to cut stale inventories of well over 60 days into just-in-time deliveries of two days before the parts were needed. Carrying costs were cut almost to zero compared to what they were before he joined Artisan. This single change has made significant improvements to cash flow. Our inventory turnover rate is well above the industry average. Anyone familiar with the financial implications of this single move will understand its value across several measures.”
"Investing in My Career"
When Edwin Quezada moved to the U.S. from Guatemala in 2015, he had an undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering and ambitious career goals, but struggled to find an opportunity in his chosen field: supply chain and logistics.
After reviewing several options, he was confident that the furthering his education with a Master of SCTL would be the perfect choice for the next phase of his career.
Edwin said: “I had an excellent undergraduate education. I had worked in many different countries. But, like most people, I wanted to be at a higher level. So I decided to make the investment.”
Learning From Anywhere
Going back to school wasn’t an easy decision. Edwin had a family and a full-time job. How would a master’s degree program fit into the mix? Completing a degree online, with two hours a week of real-time online instruction, made it possible.
“It was very helpful that it was an online program — I didn’t have to drive all the way to the university to take classes,” he said. “I took classes from home, from my job, or sometimes even when I traveled abroad.”
He also enjoyed the live online classes.
“Usually, we have this impression that an online program means watching pre-recorded videos, reading stuff, and that’s it,” he noted. “But here, it was exactly like being in class without being physically present. So that’s a huge advantage for the program as well.”
Professional Faculty and Career Support
Edwin also emphasized the value of being taught by instructors who have first-hand knowledge of the industry.
“They work in the field — they’re completely involved in what’s going on right now in the world of supply chain transportation and logistics,” he said. “So not only do they have the knowledge, they also have the experience.”
The faculty also made a difference when it came to career advice and networking.
“I’ve received plenty of support from the professors and staff regarding my career, including advice regarding interviews and help with my resume,” he said. “They also provided me with mentors— C-level executives from big companies in the area—people I never imagined I was going to know. I’m so thankful for that support.”
“It has been rewarding for all of us to work with Edwin during his journey. He is energized about his work, delivering incredible value for his employer, and building momentum in his career. His decision to invest in himself is already paying dividends,” said Bill Keough, SCTL managing director.
In addition to work and family, Edwin serves on SCTL’s Alumni Council, which provides insight and advice to the faculty and students.
About Artisan Electric
Artisan Electric is a full-service solar and electrical contractor based in Seattle. Since 2007, Artisan Electric has helped shape the Puget Sound’s energy future. Artisan does this by educating communities, simplifying processes and creating solar energy solutions that are both practical and elegant.
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