Applying Management Skills

Applied Logistics Management is a field of study that refers to the planning required when an organization acquires or sells materials giving rise to inventory movement from one area to another. Those who work in the field coordinate the movement of ocean, aviation and land freight. They select routes and ports, work with suppliers or customers, document the clearing of customs, manage contracts while assessing the risks and costs involved with trading goods. Mount Royal has a program dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of this field.

According to Lloyd Ash, associate professor of business at the University, the program got its start in 2003 when members of the logistics industry started approaching post-secondary institutes, requesting that they give management education for students in these areas. Clearly, he says, there was a need for this knowledge to be shared and for trained individuals to enter the business sector.

Ash teaches two introductory courses related to applied logistics management, but always struggled to provide relevant materials to his students. Instead of using the generic American textbooks that are published in this specialized field, he says, he created custom classroom materials and encouraged students to purchase an industry association handbook. The resources worked well until recently when he recognized the demographic of students in his class started to change. Initially, he was largely teaching students who already had a few years of industry experience. For them, these resources worked well. But in recent years, younger students made up the majority of his classrooms, and these resources were no longer as effective.

In April, Mount Royal received funding from the Alberta Campus Open Educational Resource (OER) Initiative to create a free online textbook that could be customized to meet the needs of their students. Ash is co-authoring the textbook with Dr. Garland Chow of the University of British Columbia. Both Ash and Chow have strong industry backgrounds—they will use their own experiences in order to tailor the textbook to specific industry examples within our province and country.

Ash’s industry experience encompasses 30 years—he’s on the verge of retirement, as is Garland—and the two are looking forward to “leaving a legacy of materials.” Ash was trained as an engineer, and he’s worked for Transport Canada in their Arctic airports program, he’s worked for a trucking company, and he’s done consulting work for clients who transport virtually all types of materials including chemicals, food and lumber.

“There are topics in our textbook about frontier transportation, frontier resource development, and the logistics of moving into and out of those remote areas,” says Ash.

Ash would also like to include case studies from across Canada and is looking to collaborate with other professors at other post-secondary institutes. He’s also hoping the colleges and universities across the country will be interested in using the textbook as a resource. Ash is excited to share his knowledge and to provide a free resource to students. And he recognizes that the applied logistics field is gaining traction. The Mount Royal University program in supply chain management was one of the first post secondary programs accredited by the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council (CSCSC). That organization has undertaken LMI (labour market information) studies that show a significant looming skills shortage in this discipline for Canada. “We’ve seen a significant interest from industry in hiring graduates with these types of skills. So, it’s an area of growing importance,” he says.