Coastline College proudly presents their distinguished faculty through the Teacher Feature blog series. This week’s feature showcases Erin Thomas, Supply Chain Management Professor at Coastline. Professor Thomas gives great insight into the supply chain industry and how Coastline students can get their careers started!
What inspired you to get into teaching and specifically teaching about the supply chain subject?
Teaching has been in my family for generations. My maternal grandmother was second-generation Irish who taught elementary school in New York City. My Mom taught kindergarten and first grade in Garden Grove. My sister taught middle school special education, bless her. I always thought I’d end up in the classroom and here I am!
Supply Chain Management is an exciting topic because, with education in this area, there is just so much opportunity for growth and high paying jobs. Our programs prepare students to work in professional positions at supply chain companies (logistics providers, freight-forwarders, distributors, etc.). But supply chain expertise is needed in all industries where physical products are moved. So, if you have a passion for fashion, combine it with supply chain and make sure that clothes get where they need to be. Or pharmaceuticals, food/restaurants, consumer goods – all businesses use their supply chain to move products.
What do you want students to know about your courses?
Our business and management courses are designed around the needs of the working adult while also being accessible to students who are new to college. Wherever possible, we move beyond the theory into the practical application of the subject. For example, in our Introduction to International Business course, students will select two countries to study in the context of a US firm doing business there. In Principles of Management, you will select a company to analyze throughout the course of the semester, so that the topics we are studying are applied directly to a company. We make the material come to life and we all learn from one another.
What do you see in store for the future of the supply chain industry?
It’s funny you should ask as I was just meeting with an advisory board of supply chain management professionals last week. They were meeting with me because they are desperate to see more students enter into two and four-year supply chain degree programs and they offered their assistance to me in getting the word out. The future is supply chain, period. Covid has created a permanent shift in consumer buying habits and it will take years if not decades for our supply chains to adapt to that. Many current industry professionals, who were the ones to launch global supply chains by outsourcing and offshoring operations in the 1990s, are ready to retire. They are desperate for new talent to come along behind them and create what will become global supply chain 2.0. These are not jobs driving trucks. These are high-paying office (remote even) jobs managing and coordinating the movement of goods, identifying supply chain risk, establishing new supply chain partner relationships, etc. And, if you are interested in global travel on the company dime, this is the industry for you!
What do you love about working at Coastline College?
Coastline college employees truly care about our students and put students first. They are innovative and entrepreneurial in their thinking. The college is not afraid to try new and different things, if those things help our students in the short or long term. Its an honor to work here. I learn something new from my colleagues and students every day. It’s the place to be for lifelong learning.
What are some tips for students who are supply chain majors?
Start now! Our certificate and two-year Supply Chain Management degree program is designed to help front-line workers move into the office, bringing your hands-on working knowledge with you into a higher paying job. If you are on an Associate Degree for Transfer in Business academic path, take MGMT 171 – Supply Chain Management Fundamentals, to see if you want to pursue this as a concentration or option when you transfer to one of our four-year university partners. In our program you will be exposed to business and managerial basics, to prepare you for your future as a supply chain management professional.
What are some of your favorite interests?
Visiting and hiking in national parks with my family. We’ve visited 10 so far including Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Yosemite. But Glacier National Park is our favorite. I’m also an avid reader and was in two different book clubs at one point; in only one at the moment.
What was your birthplace?
Quantico, VA where my father was in basic training in the US Marine Corps. We moved around a lot when I was young because of his assignments.
Where did you attend college?
UC Irvine as an undergraduate (degree in Information and Computer Science) and UC Irvine again for MBA school.
We are fortunate and lucky to have such amazing professors like professor Thomas. With her insight and teachings on the Supply Chain Industry students will gain great knowledge from the supply chain program. Stay tuned for our next teacher feature with David McDevitt.