Opting for the Department of Logistics and Maritime Studies (LMS) wasn’t a difficult decision for Katrina Lau, who is now in the senior year of Global Supply Chain Management (GCSM) programme at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).
She was aware that industry analysts had long spoken of supply chain management (SCM) being the future of the global logistics business and she was keen to pursue a career in the field.
“These days, almost every company relies on efficient SCM and they can’t afford to fall behind,” Lau says. “Demand for qualified professionals is on the increase, but the supply keeps falling short. Some people see this line of work as a bit of a niche, but I believe being an SCM specialist will lead to a good career, which is why I’m here at PolyU.”
With the global economy driven by international trade, the fast and reliable transport of goods is essential to keep everything moving as required.
“That’s where SCM comes in and why it’s here to stay,” Lau says. “It makes sure the flow of goods and services is well managed and tightly controlled. For me, a future in the sector looks both promising and exciting.”
As someone who believes in stepping out of one’s comfort zone, she has taken every chance to spend time overseas.
“In 2018, I took a course at DHBW Mannheim in Germany on a five-month student exchange programme,” she says. “Over there I tried hitchhiking, something I’d never done before and, with a number of fellow students, I hopped my way through Scandinavia to Oslo in Norway. It was a little reckless, but also character building.”
Lau also went on a nine-day study tour to Melbourne in her second year. She had to make all the arrangements for the trip herself, from booking flights to reserving rooms and planning the itinerary. Her SCM studies helped her along the way.
“The most intimidating part was making contact with Australian logistics companies to set up meetings,” she says. “I still remember getting tongue-tied during the first phone call when they asked me to explain the purpose of the visit. Looking back, I’m not sure if it was the Australian accent or my rusty English which caused the problem, but my heart was definitely pounding.”
In the end, her group was able to visit several warehouses in Melbourne to see how thing operate, and that proved to be an eye-opening experience.
“The warehouses were run so methodically, and the safety procedures had to be strictly followed,” she says. “Their management systems were very advanced, so we definitely learned a lot. In comparison, I have to admit that Hong Kong rehousing management still leaves a lot to be desired.”
Not surprisingly, Lau urges fellow students to step outside their own circles and see the world.
“It is worth your while to go into uncharted territory once in a while and explore. You get to know yourself better and become a stronger person.”