HUNTSVILLE — Jason Riley, an associate professor of Supply Chain Management for the College of Business Administration at Sam Houston State University, recently received a Fulbright Specialist Program Award.
The program called for Riley to spend 37 days in Bucaramanga, Colombia, developing logistics plans for farmers and small companies through a Fulbright project in Colombia and establish partnerships benefiting participants, institutions, and communities both in the U.S. and overseas through a variety of educational and training activities.
Riley became one of over 400 U.S. citizens who share expertise with host institutions abroad through the Fulbright Specialist Program each year. The program states that recipients are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, demonstrated leadership in their field, and their potential to foster long-term cooperation between institutions in the U.S. and abroad.
“I have known about the Fulbright Program for years and it was a true honor to work with community members and engage with these groups,” Riley said. “These are farmers and a lot of family-run businesses that I worked with during this project. Similar to small businesses here in the United States, they have a passion for their businesses because they are family driven. It was very rewarding to be able to help them.”
While in Colombia, Riley answered questions relating to supply chain management, which is the management of different supply chain activities in an effective and efficient manner that maximizes customer value and helps the firm achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.
The challenge was coordinating hundreds of one- and two-acres farms and other small businesses to be able to efficiently get their product to consumers. His focus was on the first and last mile logistics of the agriculture industry in the department of Santander, Colombia. While working with six universities that are part of the UNIRED network in the city of Bucaramanga, Riley provided three recommendations.
“First, I outlined best practices for the first mile logistics,” Riley said. “Second, I outlined best practices for the last mile logistics. Third, I offered my opinion on how to structure the Center for Logistics and Innovation.”
He elaborated that the first two recommendations came with real world examples on how to improve logistics in an area such as Santander by referencing other countries’ processes of transporting agricultural products from the field to their destination outside the country.
While he worked with his colleagues to come up with these solutions, obstacles such as poor infrastructure and the pandemic loom over exports in Colombia. These struggles, if not remedied through Riley’s suggestions, could impact the export of agricultural products from Colombia.
“Fundamentally, supply chains are in a constant state of change because business circumstances are changing,” Riley said. “Because of these changes and the pandemic, companies are working to build more resilient supply chains. To do this, companies need to hire people who understand the global issues and can develop robust new supply chains. This implies building supply chains that are designed to be flexible, rather than just purely efficient.”
Hiring these new, savvy supply chain managers is essential to maintaining global supply chains. According to Riley, the industry is growing in all directions, from manufactured goods to services that can streamline processes in banks.
As of 2019, SHSU offers supply chain management as a degree option in the COBA. After learning the keys to maintaining a supply chain here, SHSU graduates can go out and work to remedy the issues that Riley advised his peers at UNIRED on.