Brazilian immigrant Viviane Hembrock ’13 grew up surrounded by the shipping industry. Her hometown of Santos, São Paulo, processes more than 3.5 million cargo containers annually, making it the busiest port in Latin America.
“My city was all about logistics,” Hembrock says. So a supply chain career seemed natural when she came to Baltimore as an au pair and found an opportunity to study at the University of Maryland.
Her career got an extra boost when the Robert H. Smith School of Business selected her as a Supply Chain Management Fellow. Since 2007, the reality-based learning program has served undergraduate students with support from the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA).
Counting the spring 2015 class, the program has produced 167 graduates in eight years. More than 80 percent work in logistics or related fields today, while others will resume business careers after finishing various graduate degrees.
“The fellows program was a great addition to my education,” Hembrock says. “We were able to learn from real-world experience.”
Besides attending the annual IANA exhibition and conference in California, Hembrock and her classmates visited UPS, Union Pacific and Caterpillar facilities in Illinois. They also met industry leaders on campus in College Park, Md.
The experience helped Hembrock launch her career as an inventory control supervisor at Nestlé in Laurel, Md. Today she works as a buyer for McCormick & Company, a manufacturer of spices, herbs and flavorings in Hunt Valley, Md.
“Employers recognize that our Supply Chain Management Fellows have real-world experiences that set them apart from other students,” says Carson Billingsley, who manages employer relations for the program at the Smith School’s Office of Career Services.
Casey Bessell ’14, another fellow, used her experience to impress hiring managers at W.L. Gore in Elkton, Md. They selected her for a two-year rotation program that includes assignments in planning, procurement, logistics and customs compliance.
“It’s an accelerated learning path,” says Bessell, the third Supply Chain Management Fellow that W.L. Gore has hired for its rotation. “After that, you get to find your sweet spot in the company.”
Already, the 2015 fellows have taken supply chain jobs at PepsiCo, Unilever, Northrup Grumman, Volkswagen and other large firms.
“Supply chain management drives every business in the global economy,” says Smith professor Thomas M. Corsi, co-director of the school’s Supply Chain Management Center and director of the fellows program. “Whatever direction these alumni go with their careers, they will be in demand.”