For Kayla Leung, carving out a good career has always been a priority, but that didn’t mean her chosen path was always set in stone. She was reasonably sure that business administration would be her preferred field, but it took some serious thinking to figure out just how to achieve that goal.
One key step was deciding to enrol four years ago in the bachelor’s programme in Global Supply Chain Management (GCSM) offered by the Department of Logistics and Maritime Studies (LMS) at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).
“Many of my schoolmates were also taking degrees, but most of them opted for courses in marketing or management,” Leung says. “I felt that route usually means dabbling in many subjects, but getting no expertise. The way I see it, employers are now more likely to recruit graduates with a specific educational background. I didn’t want to commit myself to things which could be done by anyone. I wanted my future position to require specialist knowledge and skills.”
Leung believes that supply chain management (SCM) plays an increasingly crucial role in day-to-day business operations.
“Many industries have taken off as a result of good SCM,” she says. “It helps them to optimise logistics networks and control costs and ensures that company operations are expertly planned and smoothly run.”
She adds that many businesses are going through a period of rapid evolution. This has also led to an ongoing shift in employment trends. One result is increased demand for qualified supply chain professionals who are needed to keep industry moving. In response to that, institutions like PolyU have put greater focus on their SCM programmes to meet the needs of an ever-changing job market.
Besides learning relevant theory and practical aspects in her PolyU courses, Kayla also took part in a university-level internship programme and, last year, did a three-month summer internship with DHL Global Forwarding, an industry-leading logistics firm.
“I remember the first day there was a bit of a shambles for me,” Leung says. “DHL had a new electronic cargo documentation system just up and running. And while my colleagues had the previous three to four months to get familiar with it, I had a mere half an hour to grapple with it. At least, I learnt a lot in a short time.”
The overall experience, she notes, gave her insights on the internal operations of one of the top companies in the field and was a good chance to put her SCM knowledge into practice in the workplace.
“The internship also helped me improve my communications skills by interacting with colleagues,” she says. “And their strong work ethic reminded me that I still had a lot to learn to become a true professional.”
Now a fourth-year student at PolyU, Leung is getting ready for her final exams and looking forward to the world of opportunities that awaits.
“Those three months as an intern helped prepare me for a career in the logistics sector,” she says. “Unlike classroom learning where the focus is on facts and theories, you have to think differently and sometimes go to great lengths to get things accomplished in the workplace. You must be willing to take on any tasks that come your way and remember that every job has a steep learning curve.”