William Rapisarda teaches the online Supply Chain Management program at Herzing, and is an Associate Category Manager with Cabela's Canada
We started offering a Supply Chain Management program at Herzing a couple of years ago, when we saw big demand in the field across Manitoba.
But the truth is, not many people are aware of how fast this industry is growing...or what supply chain management even is!
We got so many questions about the training, career path, and job options that we decided to bring in an expert to answer them.
Who better to ask than William Rapisarda? He teaches the Supply Chain Management program at Herzing and has been working in the field for almost 25 years.
William is a true veteran of the supply chain world. He started out in an entry-level position at a company here in Winnipeg, and worked his way up into management roles.
William has worked for a range of businesses, in several different supply chain positions, and managed millions of dollars in purchases. Now, he balances a full-time career with teaching the online Supply Chain Management program at Herzing College.
This week, we interviewed William to get your questions answered on what to expect in class, and career paths after graduation.
Meet the teacher, tour the program, and see if the wild world of supply chain and logistics is right for you.
Q: William, can we start with some background on your professional experience in supply chain management?
William: My career in supply chain management started in 1995 when I was hired as a buyer for a textile company in Winnipeg called Standard Knitting.
I quickly learned how important my role was to the overall success of this company. Soon I was buying from overseas in countries like China, Italy, Egypt, and the United States. I dealt with brokers, duties, taxes, customs documents, container sizes, and lead times.
The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. The fast pace of manufacturing really suited me. I was negotiating hundreds of thousands of dollars on a continual basis, and soon realized I was good at it!
Eventually, I moved on to a retail buyer position where I dealt in clothing and sporting goods. I built my skills as a negotiator and became a very effective buyer. After a couple of years, I was hired by Motor Coach Industries and promoted to Senior Buyer.
Here, I worked more with the strategic aspects of procurement. I also gained experience in lean manufacturing, Kanban, production cells, material handling, working in cross-functional teams, and the corporate hierarchy.
I managed vendors, negotiated contracts, and sourced new products from around the world. My portfolio was in the millions of dollars. Nine years later, I moved back to retail, and am currently working at Cabela’s Canada as an Associate Category Manager.
In the evenings, I become instructor extraordinaire and help students with their assignments, discuss real-life supply chain scenarios, mentor students, mark assignments, and grade exams. I love every minute of it.
Q: You already have such a full career...what inspired you to become a supply chain instructor at Herzing?
William: I first had the opportunity to mentor buyers at Motor Coach industries. I quickly discovered that I was good at helping them through situations with vendors to achieve the desired goal, and all the other good stuff that goes along with being a buyer.
I want to pass along everything I've learned to the next generation. My mission is to ensure Herzing students leave the Supply Chain Management program with the proper tools to build successful careers in this industry.
Q: What is the most important skill students learn in your class? The biggest takeaway?
William: The most important skill students learn in my class is how to become a real supply chain professional. We learn about each stage in the supply chain process, and how to handle all kinds of challenges and scenarios.
My goal is to teach students how to deal with a wide range of contingencies. Essentially, how to stay "one step ahead." When you boil it down, this is what it takes to build a successful career in this field.
Q: What's the toughest course in the Supply Chain program? Where do students struggle?
William: Good question...I would say the transportation course is challenging for a lot of students. They have to calculate metric cubes versus weight, area versus volume. And they need to determine the chargeable fees that come along with each calculation.
We take them through scenarios of optimizing products on a pallet, then a pallet into a truck, then into shipping containers, and finally, optimizing the area on a railway car. This is essential for managing costs through the transportation part of the supply chain.
Q: This program is only offered online. How do you stay connected with students? How do you keep them motivated?
William: I am in constant communication with my students through text, phone calls, and emails. In addition, for some courses, students need to prepare and present PowerPoint presentations on business cases. They often present via Skype, where they can get personal feedback in real time.
But the best part is when students respond to classmates with positive comments on our weekly discussion questions. We built this into the program as a participation requirement, and it really helps keep everyone connected.
This is how we simulate an in-class experience, while allowing students the flexibility of online learning. It's a win-win situation for everyone.
Q: Where do students do their supply chain internships? What responsibilities do interns have?
William: Our students have various opportunities for their internship. The majority of students are placed in manufacturing environments, such as MacDon Industries.
Others are placed in health services such as the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, and in logistic transportation carrier companies such as TransX or Bison.
For the most part, students perform junior roles in these organizations. It’s also an assessment point for the organization to understand the level of knowledge of the student.
In most cases, students have their roles increased fairly quickly to include more challenging tasks and responsibilities.
Q: What are some typical jobs supply chain grads can get straight out of college?
William: Typical career paths are in procurement, logistics, warehousing, and production. Our graduates are qualified to become purchasers/retail buyers, material handlers, shipping receiving managers, warehousing managers, and production managers.
Q: In your experience, what's the best part of working in supply chain management?
William: In my opinion, the most rewarding aspect is the contribution you make every day to the success of your company. Also, the field keeps expanding, and has become more and more important to success in business. The opportunities within the profession continue to grow.
Q: How does someone know they'd be a good fit for a supply chain career?
William: If you are patient and can handle a fast-paced environment, this career is for you. Supply chain management challenges you to be quick on your feet and think outside of the box.
You must be ready for any eventuality, and able to resolve problems quickly. I believe this program gives our students a very strong foundation to build on.
It teaches students to give attention to detail, the importance of time management, and how to be disciplined. These are all crucial skills to have in the world of supply chain management.
A big thank you to William Rapisarda for walking us through training and explaining more about career paths in supply chain management. We are very lucky to have you on the faculty at Herzing!
Quick Facts on Herzing's Supply Chain Management Program
Herzing College Winnipeg offers an online Supply Chain Management diploma. The program is 12 months long and includes a 6-week internship.
- contract law
- negotiation skills
- business planning
- accounting and finance
☑️ Herzing is the only private career college in Winnipeg offering a Supply Chain Management program endorsed by Supply Chain Canada (SCC).
☑️ Graduates of this program receive two diplomas: a diploma from Herzing College, and a Supply Chain Management Training (SMT) diploma from SCC.
Click below to explore the Supply Chain Management program in more detail. You are welcome to request free information by email, or chat live with an Admissions Advisor.
Book your personal advising appointment to learn more about class schedules, financial aid, admission requirements, and career paths. We're here to help you get started!