Linking up with supply chains

Sometimes, moms really do know best.

When Ana de Zamacona Cervantes ’20 was checking out colleges and majors, she struggled choosing between engineering and business.  “I was really indecisive about what I wanted,” she said. 

Originally from Monterrey, Mexico, de Zamacona and her parents emigrated to St. Louis in the mid-2000s. Her mother suggested industrial engineering because it seemed to combine elements from both skill sets. That led de Zamacona to investigate Bradley. 

“They (IE department) gave me the best presentation; they really highlighted industrial engineering.” 

In turn, de Zamacona discovered an interest in supply chain. 

“To me, supply chain is the best of both worlds,” she noted, because it combines business and engineering skills with strategic and tactical perspectives. “We’re a lot more intertwined than we think. It (a product) may be manufactured in Singapore but the materials are sourced from Germany … It has so many different points of connection.

“I think people sometimes just don’t realize that everything you have, from the clothes you wear to the phone you use, goes through a supply chain.”

After interning with both Caterpillar Inc. and Eli Lilly and Co.., de Zamacona has already accepted a supply chain position with Lilly after graduation. She sees her bilingual skills and cultural adaptability as additional benefits.

“Even between Mexico and the U.S., there are a lot of differences,” she said, adding she still annually visits family in Mexico.  “Getting to know people and learning how to connect with them, I think that’s something that’s always interested me.” 

Bradley’s IE department focuses on project-based learning, using actual client issues and industry problems as a base and then optimizing resources and processes. 

“Although we have the same foundational background as an electrical or mechanical engineer, we are taught more how to be business people than other engineers,” de Zamacona said.

This hybrid discipline is growing in popularity with more schools offering majors and concentrations in supply chain studies and management. Bradley’s chapter of APICS (originally the American Production and Inventory Control Society) has been around since 2012 and growing. In addition to APICS, where she was the 2019 president, de Zamacona has been active with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Epsilon Sigma Alpha service sorority and is an Admissions STAR.

 “We are one of the only organizations that is focused for engineering and business together,” she said of APICS, adding the group attends events for both the Foster College of Business and Caterpillar School of Engineering and Technology. “So we really encompass that convergence aspect.”

— Bob Grimson '81

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