Penn State Lehigh Valley holds supply chain alumni panel

PSU-LV Alumni Standing in front of back drop

Penn State Lehigh Valley Project & Supply Chain Management program graduates discuss working in the industry and the importance of networking. L-R: Tyler Gehris, class of 2018, logistics specialist, Factory LLC; Barbara Awad, class of 2019, consumer research and engagement manager, Factory LLC; and Hemil Patel, class of 2021, business technology solutions analyst, Deloitte. 

Credit: Penn State Lehigh Valley

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Every day on the job is different for Penn State Lehigh Valley alum Tyler Gehris, class of 2018, but there is one constant: Every day is busy. 

Gehris was one of three PSU-LV alumni who shared his experiences in the supply chain industry at the Alumni Career Panel Series: Business and Supply Chain, held on Feb. 16. Gehris, a logistics specialist at Factory LLC in Bethlehem, was joined by Hemil Patel, class of 2021, now a business technology solutions analyst at Deloitte, and Barbara Awad, class of 2019, a consumer research and engagement manager at Factory LLC. Kirsten Mears, alumni and stewardship officer at PSU-LV, moderated the discussion. 

Gehris pointed out the industry is constantly moving, which is why no day is ever the same. “My typical day can go from demand planning, forecasting and e-commerce sales, to direct-to-consumer (DTC) and typical retail or outbound orders, to working with Amazon. There is a lot going on in any given day,” he said.  

Awad spends a lot of time online, reading articles and staying current with trends to keep pace in her role. “Every day changes at Factory,” she noted. 

Each alumnus said that PSU-LV instilled valuable lessons in them — most notably in the discussion around networking. Yet all three agreed they did not fully appreciate the value of these interactions until they were well into their college careers.

“Without it [networking], you’re living in the bubble of your friends,” Gehris said. “If you don’t enjoy the diversity, you’re not opening up value for yourself in terms of career development and enrichment.” 

Working at Deloitte showed Patel the true value of making connections.

“Networking is your net worth,” said Patel, who was a project and supply chain management major at PSU-LV. A former career counselor from PSU-LV introduced him to LinkedIn. That’s where he connected with Gehris, began to discuss internships, and was invited to Factory for a job shadowing experience. 

“That’s so important. All employers are looking for some sort of experience,” Patel said. 

Awad, too, said she benefited from the professional connections she made on LinkedIn. A marketing major while at PSU-LV, her resume was a bit light, she said.

“I didn’t understand the value of networking until my junior or senior year. That summer I was looking for internships with nothing on my resume. I met someone here, and if I didn’t have that connection with him from PSU-LV, I wouldn’t have that internship,” she said.

She also found her current job at Factory through LinkedIn. Besides making professional connections with other alumni, Awad advised students to get to know and stay in touch with their professors because it could lead to job openings. 

The challenges faced by the supply chain industry in recent years was also discussed at length.

“Due to interruptions caused by COVID-19 and other factors, senior management understands that supply chain has a lot to do with their ability to continue to do business,” Patel said. He does a lot of consulting in his position and is now working remotely 100 percent.  

The Lehigh Valley is home to countless businesses that rely on the supply chain in their daily operations. Many of these companies have partnered with PSU-LV for initiatives like internships, job shadowing, and advisory board opportunities.  For more information on the project and supply chain management program, please contact Maung Min, associate teaching professor and director of business programs, at [email protected].