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Remedying Old-School Supply Chains

Cho Zin Thant 1500x400

Cho Zin Thant

Cho Zin Thant grew up in Yangon, Myanmar, surrounded by stacks of heavy three-ring binders, each one containing volumes of columnar papers and manually written records. These meticulously kept binders represented the bookkeeping system for her family’s mid-sized retail outlet, a business offering basic grocery items to smaller retailers. Thant cites the manual records as a motivation to study manufacturing operations, supply chain management, and logistics. She wanted to help improve and grow her family’s business, ushering it into modern-day management—not just in bookkeeping, but in all forms of efficient operation, too.

“Even small businesses like my family’s have to deal with logistics and utilizing supply chains more efficiently,” Thant says. “Companies can cut costs where appropriate and avoid wasting time and materials if they understand operations management.”

Her interest in supply chains became a passion, leading her to the Republic of Polytechnic in Singapore in 2010, where she earned a degree in Supply Chain Management. Hungry to learn even more, Thant applied and was accepted to the University of Minnesota’s Manufacturing Operations Management (MM) program in 2014. She moved from Singapore to Minnesota and delved even deeper into her study of manufacturing. Through the MM Program at the U, Thant was exposed to practical application and studies—just what she was looking for.

“I chose this field because logistics and operations management are the key functions for every business,” Thant says. “I look forward to being able to make recommendations in supply chain management and eventually see the results through careful analysis. Every business is trying to reduce waste and reduce its environmental impact. Companies are implementing change that’s good for the environment, but also good for the bottom line. These positions will grow in the coming years, and the MM program has helped prepare me to grow along with it.”

Thant’s favorite classes in the program included Management in Organizations and Manufacturing Outsourcing decisions. She admits that writing in English was a challenge for her, but graduating from the MM program this spring gave her the education to get a solid position in an operations management field.

“I have always been interested in becoming a high-level line manager,” Thant says. “The MM program provided me with real-world applications of management fundamentals as they are practiced in modern organizations. I understand a range of functions now, from technology management to workforce, equipment, materials, and information flow.”

Thant wants to pursue a career in the food manufacturing sector, working in the supply chain and manufacturing development of products she knows and can relate to. No doubt she’ll also lend her knowledge and insights to her family back in Yangon. The towers of binders in Thant’s family might then come tumbling down, making room for a more efficient system.

Cho Zin Thant is a recipient of the CCE Centennial Scholarship & CCE Tuition Assistance Program Award