MS in Supply Chain Analytics student Abhishek Solomon gearing up for job at Bunge after graduation
Abhishek Solomon knew for a while he wanted to attend graduate school in the United States.
He’d grown up in India and earned his bachelor’s degree there, but he wanted to experience another culture and way of living. He’d also been impressed by the high standard of research and quality of programs, especially in data and analytics.
Solomon’s brother had moved to St. Louis 15 years ago and earned his PhD at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. He recommended Solomon look at enrolling in the MS in supply chain analytics program, launched in 2020.
“I spoke to Dr. Li and in that conversation he explained the field, the vision and the demand in the field,” Solomon said. “That completely swayed me.”
After initially delaying his enrollment because he didn’t want to leave his family, including his 70-year-old mother, and risk not being able to return home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Solomon started in the spring of 2022. He is currently working as an intern at Bunge and hoping to transition into a full-time role as a product owner for supply chain digitization initiatives after he graduates in May.
Solomon, whose bachelor’s degree was in mechanical engineering, had spent 12 years as a software product consultant, but he knew he needed to upgrade his skills if he was going to remain in the software field.
He considered pursuing an MBA, but after the suggestion from his brother, he looked at the supply chain analytics program and learned it was an industry with many opportunities, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coursework in the program has been even more beneficial than Solomon anticipated.
“There are a lot of generic analytics programs out there,” he said. “Half of it is analytics, and the other half is essentially how this science is applied to supply chain. So, not only does it give you a technical background, it teaches you how to use the technical information in the field.”
Solomon is currently utilizing what he’s learning in his internship at Bunge, a St. Louis-based agribusiness food company. The company is represented on UMSL’s Supply Chain and Analytics Advisory Board, and the connection with the university was instrumental in helping Solomon secure his role.
Assistant Teaching Professor Mitch Millstein connected Solomon to an employee at Bunge who was one of the speakers at a supply chain symposium. Solomon appreciates the department’s willingness to help students begin and advance in their careers.
“When I told them I wanted to do an internship, I got referrals left, right and center,” Solomon said. “They were not just referring me to random roles. They looked at my experience, what I could contribute, and they referred me to roles that were appropriate for that. I’m very thankful to the department for that.
“It’s not just me. I know that they work very actively to put students in contact with the industry. They put students in touch with alumni, with industry leaders across several events to make sure we network and get those connections that could potentially help us when we’re looking for a job.”
Li has been very supportive of Solomon, hiring him as graduate research assistant, and has observed his aptitude and potential.
“Abhishek has been working with me as a graduate research assistant since he joined our MS supply chain analytics program in spring 2022,” Li said. “He is intelligent, highly motivated and hard working. Abhishek made significant contributions to several of my ongoing research projects on indoor farming supply chain network design and dynamic farm planning in collaboration with the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. I am very pleased to see our UMSL supply chain program made an impact in Abhishek’s endeavor to fulfill his dream.”
Solomon feels positive and confident about his professional future and that a role in food supply chain offers more security than if he were to have stayed in the software field. Though his stay in the U.S. is contingent on a visa, he believes his work experience – and soon a master’s degree – have positioned him for success in his new job and any other opportunities.
“The work permits are always an uncertainty,” Solomon explained. “It changes with the political climate as well. The job would be big reassurance. It would be a big weight off my chest because you come all the way here to a new country, to a new culture, bring your family and you want to study, you want to work. You’re qualified to work and there are employers who are ready to offer you that, but the visa situation does not allow that. But an organization like Bunge, for example, where I have gotten into, I know that they do sponsor. And yeah, it seems good, reassuring.”
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