When Woody Wu decided to study global supply chain management, he had already taken what many consider to be one of the toughest exams in the world - the gaokao, otherwise known as China’s annual National College Entrance Examination. His parents, though, also encouraged him to take the DISC (dominance, influence, steadiness, compliance) personality test, which showed he was well-suited to the world of logistics and to his current role at Ralph Lauren.
While completing his secondary education in Beijing, Wu had applied to universities in Hong Kong and China, but like many people his age was still unsure what career path to pursue.
However, the results of the DISC test showed he leaned towards compliance and dominance, indicating that his strongest traits were to be conscientious, process-driven, decisive and results-focused.
“Therefore, I thought studying supply chain management would be a good fit for me,” he says.
Accordingly, he opted for the BBA in Global Supply Chain Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which was also a chance to see more of the world and gain practical experience in one of the world’s leading logistics hubs.
In particular, Wu knew Hong Kong as the place where Li & Fung, one of the city’s oldest trading companies, had evolved into a leading supply chain business.
Now working at Ralph Lauren, he is currently the manager for creative, supply chain and global transportation, having previously gained experience with the firm’s e-commerce department and, before that, with third-party logistics (3PL) company DHL.
In his present role, if there is a shop opening, closure or renovation, Wu and his team must coordinate with different divisions and suppliers to ensure everything runs smoothly. This requires extensive supply chain expertise, so that each item gets to the right place at the right time.
Wu believes his previous roles gave him a good foundation in terms of industry knowledge and understanding what service providers must offer. In the last financial year, his team handled 50 new shop openings.
“I can apply much of what I learned at university in my current work,” Wu says, adding that courses like management science gave him the tools to make efficient decisions in running warehouse and transportation operations. “The project work at PolyU covered situations that closely resemble what happens in real life and highlighted factors that must be taken into consideration.”
During his time at PolyU, Wu was also an exchange student at the University of Texas in San Antonio. He completed five business courses there, was able to transfer the credits back to PolyU, and even found time for a coast-to-coast trip during which he visited San Francisco, New York, Washington DC and took in many famous sights. Wu also made new friends from around the world by playing for the university’s table tennis club and joining in pick-up basketball games. It is a kind of overseas experience he thoroughly recommends.
His top three reasons for working in supply chain management (SCM) are:
1. Being able to look at the big picture and optimise every opportunity in figuring out what is most important.
2. Making new connections with people in other industries and learning about other companies outside the field of logistics.
3. Always having opportunities to accumulate more knowledge about front and back-end operations and putting that to good use.