Andel and Handling: Even Attendees can be Exhibitors at MODEX 2014

March 4, 2014
Vendors at will be selling technology while some attendees will be selling their ability to make that technology pay.

We at MH&L are always telling you how important you are and how much you're worth. Last month we put a number on it: $106,152 was the worth of our "typical" reader, based on our salary survey.

But just as in a long marriage, when spouses keep telling each other how special they are, that compliment eventually seems obligatory. Well, here's corroboration of your value from a disinterested third party: US News & World Report recently reported that the average starting salary for a full time MBA with a specialization in Supply Chain Management was about $96,000.

They added that even a supply chain management intern could pull down $6,000 a month.

There's just one problem. There aren't enough of you. That's because your job is hard and gets more challenging all the time. A new book about this challenge, Global Supply Chains, characterizes the scope of your job as EPIC. EPIC is both an adjective and an acronym invented by the authors (Mandyam M. Srinivasan, Theodore P. Stank, and Kenneth J. Petersen, all Ph.D. professors at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Philippe-Pierre Dornier, Ph.D. professor of operations management at ESSEC Business School in Paris, France). They put this label on a supply chain framework encompassing Economy, Politics, Infrastructure and Competence.

The authors conclude that supply chain managers will have to learn to deal with regional "pods" of demand, and that these managers will need access to information to help them coordinate multiple inputs and outputs among various enterprises spread across several countries—then learn how to mitigate the effects of time delays and cost distortions as well.

Yes, your job is hard, but it's also interesting and rewarding. That explains why the MODEX show and conference that the Material Handling Industry (MHI) started in 2012 is this year attracting nearly twice as many participants. Many of them already have jobs, but the 2014 event was also designed to fill jobs.  MHI's CEO George Prest told me why supply chain is getting so hot.

"There's $2 trillion in corporate reserves right now and we're seeing rising investment in our equipment and solutions to increase productivity," he says. "Workforce development is key to making that investment work, and that's why we have a Classroom Day and a Young Professionals Day at MODEX.  That's geared to creating awareness that there are good opportunities. In our Network Lounge exhibitors can sign up to show what careers they have so attendees can go to a kiosk in the lounge and scroll through the companies on the show floor that have jobs available and find who to contact."

So MODEX has turned the concept of exhibits into a two-way street, with many attendees exhibiting their experience to exhibitors shopping for talent. And Prest reminded me that this is an international event, so there will be attendees with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. He says he's seeing this international exchange displayed outside the context of trade shows—even in his very own community.

"There have been announcements that two Chinese textile manufacturers are building new facilities in the Carolinas," he says. "The textile industry represented 40% of the employment in the Carolinas in the 50s. In 2012 it was 1.1%. Now it's coming back to these shores. A lot of that has to do with the economic cycle but also what technology can do and the cost of supply chains."

If you're looking to purchase equipment or a system, or even to hire or be hired for a supply chain job, I hope to see you March 17-20 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. After all, my job depends on yours.

Follow me on Twitter @TomAndel.