UMSL Business Blog

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Virtual Speed Networking Provides Supply Chain Insight

By Alexandria Diercks

Ever wondered what a virtual speed networking looked like? Me too, and lucky for you I got the chance to join in this past week’s held by UMSL’s Supply Chain Club.  I got the opportunity to join in, learn about employers, and get connections virtually. This event was great for students who are interested in the behind-the-scenes work of local companies. It also allows students to get a better idea of what a career at each of these companies would look like. We heard from companies such as Schnucks, Mississippi Lime, St. Louis Food Bank, Anheuser Busch, and Forsyth Advisors. Some of the speakers are alumni, current professors, and members of UMSL’s Supply Chain & Analytics Advisory Board

This event is usually held in person, but due to COVID-19, the Supply Chain Club had to get creative and figure out a way to still make the event successful online. I wasn’t really sure what to expect in the beginning, but it turned out great! Once we did some icebreaking, we were split into different rotating groups, 15 minutes a piece to get the chance to speak to each company. All of the companies were related in many ways, but more than ever in the supply chain industry. Mississippi Lime had three representatives at the virtual event, Terry Zerr, Chris Daniel, and Robert Rasche. All three explained how their product is shipped by either truck, rail, or barge. Although they are in different positions each of them described the shortage of truck drivers that are available to haul Lime. This is a huge issue in the supply chain, with trucking being 1 of 3 ways they transport their products. 

Aside from finding truck drivers, an issue that the St. Louis Food Bank is having deals with the prices of fuel currently. Lenora Gooden from St. Louis Food Bank, said that they rely heavily on donations from outsources, getting the food to location isn’t cheap. It can cost anywhere from $1,100 – $4,000 a freight just for fuel! While the budget is blown from fueling, the need to get food to those in need is still a very high need. 

Sarah Rizzo, from Anheuser Busch shared her experience with supply chain issues from the Texas winter storm in February. Rizzo explained that they were expecting the product to come to via port in Texas, but due to the storm it continued to get delayed again and again. The delays created a shortage of product, once they finally were able to receive it there was a surplus and it was no longer needed anymore. Even though each of these companies are so different, all of their supply chains are dealing with change in demand and delivery requirements. 

Once the virtual speed networking event was over a number of questions I wish I would have asked flooded my mind. Advice I would give to those that are considering joining in on a networking event like this in the future would be to write down any questions that pop up and don’t be afraid to ask! It makes you more noticeable, and shows that you are truly interested. Check out the Supply Chain club to see future events like this!