What is globalisation?

I don’t know if you have noticed, but many of the online master’s degree programmes we at Robert Kennedy College offer either have the word Global or International in them. Why do you think that is? Is it because of “globalisation”?

Business globalisation. Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash.

I know the word is self-explanatory, but we have to start somewhere, so let us begin with the meaning of globalisation. According to the BBC, Globalisation is the process by which the world is becoming increasingly interconnected due to massively increased trade and cultural exchange.

How has this come about?

The first thing that happened was transport became cheaper and faster. We invented the wheel, then the steam engine, then the combustion engine, and so on. People and goods were able to be moved around the world almost overnight and in large quantities.

Then the communication boom. From snail mail to the telephone, it took a bit of time. Then came the era of mobile phones and the internet, and everything changed. The changes seen just in the last 25 years have been miraculous. The world has been brought closer together (Only in business. In every other way, the world is still pretty divided). Companies have become truly multinational and cross border trade – a mundane reality. At this rate, Gene Roddenberry’s vision in Star Trek of an Earth utopia could become a reality (fingers crossed here).

Advances in communication technology changed how we do business. Photo by Stellan Johansson on Unsplash.

Now, if you combine the two (travel and communication), what you get is globalisation.

To understand this better, let us take Apple Inc. as an example – Designed in California, Made in China. The iPhone may be designed in California, but everything that goes into the iPhone is global. The phone itself is manufactured in China with semiconductors sourced from Italy and Germany, memory chips and processors from South Korea, wi-fi and Bluetooth from Japan, and minerals from Mongolia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  

While this looks impressive, what is really impressive is the Supply Chain Management that must go on behind the scenes. Apple sells upwards of about two hundred million iPhones a year globally, and they bring out new models of the phone every year. This means the material has to be sourced, the components manufactured, the phone assembled/manufactured and then shipped to ensure they reach the customers’ hands-on time. All this has to be carried out like clockworks across multiple countries. Let’s face it, none of us has any patients anymore, and if there is a delay, I am going to Samsung (Oops, I already have, but for a different reason).

How does Apple Inc. sell 200 million iPhones a year? Supply Chain Management! Photo by Kyle Ryan on Unsplash.

For all this to happen, the communication behind the scene has to be real-time, continuous and spot-on. The shipment planning has to be on-time and seamless. Because remember, you are operating across countries here.

There are a lot of positives to globalisation, such as creating jobs and new income in poorer communities, thereby giving them food and a roof over their heads, making a cheaper yet high-quality product for the customer, and keeping manufacturing costs low, thereby enabling the company to invest the money into some other aspect of the business (hopefully no into the pockets of the executives), just to name a few.

While it is hoped that working with companies from developed nations, the local business partner will be able to adapt the best business practices from the developed countries and raise the standard of living of its employees, the reality is companies still need to secure future contracts with the “big fish”, and the way to do that is by giving a lowball quote on future services. They get this done by cutting corners, cutting wages, and cutting the workforce by increasing the workload.

While this is more likely with companies operating in blue colure job segments, it comes down to the laws of the nation they are operating within at the end of the day. If the countries have strong labour laws and enforce them, then this is less likely to happen.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash.

Then there is the question of what happens to the people whose jobs just got outsourced? Are they being retrained and upskilled, or are they just let go? Do companies pass on the cost-benefit of outsourcing to the end-user?

So, while outsourcing and globalisation can be great to the bottom-line of any organisation, companies must ensure ethical business practices of their partners because no one else will. Companies must also provide training and upskilling of their employees before outsourcing because a strong and happy workforce is the backbone of any organisation.

If you are ready to be an efficient and knowledgeable global/international business manager, consider joining one of our 100% online master’s degree programmes. Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors today.

#DILO – A Day in the life of an RKC Student – Ms. Hall 

Through the #DILO series of blog posts, we have been bringing you insights into our master’s students’ lives, sharing their thoughts and opinions, ups and downs, and key learning points during their online studies. The whole idea behind this series is to make you aware of the realities of online studies and help you in decision making.    

Here are a few insights and some words of wisdom that one of our online master’s students had to share from her own experience.  

Who you are, really?  

Nicola Hall, a full-time employed junior manager, with a small family, including a primary school child.  

Which Uni are you studying at?  

University of Salford  

University of Salford

Which programme did you choose and why?  

I chose Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management because of the growth in demand for skills in the field.  

How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?  

I had planned to devote five to six hours each evening for four days a week to the module, and 8 to 10 hours on the weekends spread conveniently. The reality was that I sometimes barely got 2 hours of work done after getting home from work. I had to get my time covered in patches during the night after resting for 3 or 4 hours. I got no work done most Sundays, so I ended up doing a great deal on Friday and Saturday nights. Coming closer to when my assignment was due, I had to take a few days of study leave away from work and give it 10 to 12 hours a day.  

The best time to study is night time or early mornings before going to work

What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)  

My best study time is at nights; the next option is early morning before getting ready for work. Friday nights were very good for me as well, as I didn’t have to get up for work on Saturdays.  

How did travelling impact your ability to study?  

The only travelling I did was my daily commute, which was 2 hours of driving time. After RKC launched their mobile app, I used my travel time to listen to lectures and go over to catch up on anything I may have missed.  

How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?  

Being mindful of the time difference, I would send my email/queries in the evening and check my email early the next morning for a response. I had a few colleagues with whom I worked closely given our cultural background, and I kept a mental note of the time in their region if I needed to call or instant message. It worked out pretty well once the time difference got stuck in my mind.  

How much time did you devote for each assignment?  

I tried to start working on my assignment from the second week. And throughout each day, I may get ideas that contribute to the assignment, and I’ll make a note on my phone.  

What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you?  

I get up at about 3 am and get some theory covered by 5:30 am. Then I will get an hour’s rest and begin getting ready for work. While I’m making breakfast, I may have Microsoft Edge read an article in PDF to me. Once at work, I don’t usually have any downtime; I’ll use my lunch break to really have a break and not rush my meal. But when work ends, I’ll spend the rush hour at my desk doing some schoolwork instead of sitting in traffic. After getting home and attending to any home affairs and kids homework, I would settle into my own studies at about 10 pm. I will go online, read through the forums, research for any weekly assignments given, then make my own contribution. I go to bed at about 1 am and go at it again the next day. On the weekend I’ll make sure to get time with the family and go to my schoolwork when they are asleep.  

Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies.  

It would be ideal to go on study leave to pursue your masters, but if that isn’t possible, the Robert Kennedy College online master’s degree program is such a flexible program. There is usually a break in-between modules, and this time should be utilized to get up to speed on theory ahead of classes beginning and assignments being posted. Always seek to defer a module if you feel pressured but do use the free weeks in between to focus on covering as much theory as possible.  

If you have been dreaming of joining a master’s programme or have had this personal goal to gain a higher degree, now is the time! Take the valuable advice from our current students, gain from their experience, add your own unique study strategies, and make your own success stories! I would love to feature you one day on our college blog.  

Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time. 

Challenges facing Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management professionals in Africa

Once I started writing this blog, I realised my folly. The topic of my blog might sound simple, it was anything but, especially for me – (1) my knowledge of Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management (PLSCM) is entirely academic, and (2) I am not African, nor have I ever worked or even visited Africa.

But I do know that Africa is the future and has the potential for dramatic growth (if she is able to tap into that potential), and effective management of PLSCM will play a pivotal part in this future, given the resources in raw materials that Africa has.

And hence my topic, and my folly, and something I felt needed to be done.

What I didn’t realise when I picked this topic was the resources I had on hand. As of today, Robert Kennedy College (RKC) has a very large number of students from Africa who are doing or have successfully completed our 100% Online MSc programme in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, and this is the resource I tapped into when writing this blog. 

I conducted an online survey of these students (of which about a hundred participated) and asked them about the challenges they face as PLSCM professionals in Africa, the image below indicates a country wise breakup of the response we received from our students to the survey.

Country wise breakup of the survey response received

The following are the top five responses I got back from the survey. Now, while this blog is Africa-centric, I find that these challenges are universal, and effect Africa as a whole, other developing nations, and even the developed or “first world” nations to some degree.

Top 5 challenges facing PLSCM professionals in Africa

Infrastructure – is the foundation on which a strong PLSCM function is built. The whole point of having a streamlined and efficient PLSCM department is to effectively purchase (at best costs) and move raw materials and finished products from point to point in a timely and less resource intensive manner. Efficiency also means having the products readily available, while at the same time not leaving them idling in a storehouse somewhere. To enable this, state of the art, physical infrastructure is needed – from roads and railways to airports, seaports, and safe and secure areas (such as industrial zones, etc.) for manufacturing and storage.

“A change in policy is required as there is a lack of willingness by African governments to invest in infrastructure development.”

Current student of our MSc programme in PLSCM

Corruption – the universal bane to businesses, and something that is global, encouraged and fostered by everyone involved, willingly or unwillingly. It is easy to blame a corrupt official for delays and holdups, until palms are greased to get thing moving without looking at the reasons why. Are you encouraging the behaviour by paying the bribe? Is your competitor paying bribes to hold you up? Why does the official need the money, is he paid enough? Are the laws strict enough to prevent corruption?

“Effective specially designed civic education programs at the grassroots level, to empower the people to make the right choice of leadership to drive the change that is needed.”

Graduate of our online MSc in PLCSM

Policy Change – As one of my former managers once told me “If you are comfortable then you are not growing”. And while this is true, who doesn’t like being comfortable? From our survey, this seems to hold especially true in Africa. For policy changes to take place, something big should have happened for the powers that be to even consider a change, and even then, comities have to be put in place to suggest the changes and then review the suggested changes, all this taking forever. By the time the policy change comes about, it will usually be outdated.

“A paradigm shift from traditional procurement method to e-procurement method. Also, government policies need to be critically reviewed across the board in order to encourage small and medium scale enterprises in Africa. Manufacturing sectors should not be left out as well as they are the process owners.”

A suggestion from one of our online MSc in PLSCM student

Stuck in time (Slow to incorporate modern methods) – A follow on to the previous point, it is not just the people in power who are slow to incorporate change, but also the people who do the work who are slow to embrace change as well. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But what people don’t realise is, it is not about fixing it, it is about bettering it. People get comfortable and don’t want to change or learn new ways of doing things, and then complain about the people above them making life difficult by not embracing change and current best practices.

“Changes in technology are associated with high set-up costs. Financial constraints are a major drawback, especially in some developing economies, when it comes to capital projects. Modern procurement is now taking place online, but many companies still haven’t adopted to these technological changes. Most functions now and procurement is done online while in Africa most countries still do their procurement manually. This is basically because of poor infrastructure, weak strategic alliances and reluctance to change that makes people not adopt these changes.”

A thought from one of our MSc PLSCM students

Cutting corners to save time – another universal truth. After doing a job for a period of time, we begin to believe that we know best, and can make a process better by cutting corners. But what we fail to understand is that we are but a single, small cog in the machine, and a process is in place to help the whole machine run smoother. By cutting corners and not following the process, all that might be achieved is to throw a spanner in the works. If you believe there is a better way to do something, take it to the management and make you case, it might just increase the efficiency of the whole machine.  

“Build Collaborative supportive systems and structures that work for both governments and stakeholders.”

Suggestion from a graduate of our online MSc in PLCSM

These are just some of the most basis challenges that a PLSCM professional faces in Africa. I am sure there are a lot more complicated and technical challenges out there that will confound even the most seasoned PLSCM professional. Constantly learning and getting your knowledge up-to-date is required to stay ahead of the curve. Robert Kennedy College, through our exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK, offers a 100% Online MSc in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management to better prepare you for the challenges to come. Here’s what our students said about this in our survey:

This is what our students had to say when asked during our survey

You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programmes offered, application process, and for more information on any discounts we might be running in this rather strange period of our lives.