“At WashU, I have the luxury of sharing my opinions and listening to the opinions of my peers. That's a major difference from my school experience in China.”
After Lei received his bachelor of engineering degree, he worked for Starbucks in Changchun, China, and was responsible for inventory and material management, weekly order placement, and demand forecasting.
Overstocking was a problem; excess items took up a lot of shelf space. So Lei developed an Excel tool that reduced inventory by 30 percent – and took his career in a new direction.
“I started thinking about the implications,” he says. “If I could improve performance in one store, what impact could I have on 10,000 stores? My manager suggested that I get a degree in supply chain.”
The benefits of a small class size
From the get-go, Lei was looking for an “American program with a small class size” and for spirited discussions instead of traditional lectures.
“At WashU, I have the luxury of sharing my opinions and listening to the opinions of my peers. That’s a major difference from my school experience in China.”
Several of his WashU classmates were Professional MBA students who worked for Anheuser-Busch, Boeing, Emerson, Express Scripts or Monsanto. “I had firsthand exposure to their industry knowledge and to the logic they used to tackle business challenges.”
His favorite courses
“So far, my two favorite courses have been Operations Management and Projects Management. Professor Sergio Chayet has an intuitive teaching style that makes concepts understandable.”
Applying program teachings
“Last semester, I worked on a practicum project for Emerson Tool Co. My team and I met weekly with the company’s vice president of operations and supply chain management.
“To assess the probability of a risk event, the company’s commodity managers filled out a lengthy questionnaire-type document. It took a long time since there were thousands of suppliers. Using what we learned in the program, we designed a tool that reduced the amount of data that had to be input manually.
“I followed up with the client a few months ago. The new tool decreased errors and cut the assessment time in half.”
Marcus Lei, MS in Supply Chain Management
MS internship: Strategic sourcing intern, ADT Securities, Boca Raton, FL
Pre-MS: Demand planner, Starbucks, Changchun, China
Education: BE, electrical engineering, Southwest University for Nationalities
Hometown: Changchun, China
National third, Global Supply Chain Management Initiative/Purdue University Case Competition
Practicum, BJC HealthCare
VP of internal relationships, Supply Chain & Operations Association