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An Interview with WSU Student Luke Tappen

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Wayne State University (WSU) student Luke Tappen is no stranger to the automotive industry; Although he’s just preparing to graduate from WSU with his bachelor’s in global supply chain management and finance, he already has experience working, networking, and even mentoring in the field!

At AIAG alone, Luke has built his expertise exponentially. After working with our Supply Chain team as an intern, Luke went on to participate in the annual WSU/AIAG Auto Industry Certificate in Purchasing and Supply Chain Management program, where he was one of three students to be awarded the new Joel Karczewski scholarship.

Read on for more!

LukeHow did you first learn about AIAG, and what was your initial impression of our organization and its purpose?
I first learned about AIAG through Wayne State University faculty. I seized the opportunity to become a student member and attended my first Future Automotive Expert (FAE) event* within the first two months as a transfer student to WSU. Due to a lack of prior experience, my initial impression was a combination of confusion and curiosity. Nevertheless, I understood that the role AIAG had was important, and I looked forward to becoming an active student member.

*Editors Note: Our next FAE event is scheduled for Wednesday, October 2nd, with recently retired vice president of global quality for Dana, Inc., David Kneisler, presenting "Key Career Success Factors: They May Not Be What You Think!" Click here to learn more and register for the event! 

How have those initial impressions changed in light of your experiences at AIAG?
My impressions shifted drastically after meeting the right representatives and eventually being offered a Supply Chain internship, showing me the power of networking and participating at events. Additionally, it made me more confident in myself and proved that students are not expected to be experts but rather motivated go-getters.

From my time working at AIAG, I also came to comprehend the amazing impact they have on the industry through their trainings and publications. I now have a firm grasp on the importance of various industry-wide topics, but one thing that has not changed is my curiosity!

In what ways has getting involved with AIAG benefited you as both a student and professional?
From an academic perspective, my involvement with AIAG has given me the ability to weave classroom concepts together with real-world industry concerns and innovations. This ties into the professional perspective since my involvement in this organization at a young age has given me the boost necessary to excel early in my career.

Given your current educational path and experience in automotive, what specific goals have you set for your career in automotive supply chain management?
Through both my educational and hands-on experiences, I have noticed a multitude of opportunities in supply chain management. That being said, it is a goal of mine to take on several different roles within the industry, preferably early in my career. There is a plethora of wonderful firms with rotational programs to develop emerging leaders and expose them to various roles within the supply chain management realm, and I think that one tangible way to achieve my goal would be to participate in one of those programs. In addition to working in more than one role, another goal is to choose a position that will continuously challenge me and make me a greater professional, day-in and day-out.

In the future, how do you see yourself giving back to the industry? (e.g., participating in AIAG initiatives, mentoring, etc.)
The immense blessing I have had through interacting and learning from professionals involved with AIAG has given me an excitement to pay it forward and help others in any way that I can. I have been mentoring a couple members of the Global Supply Chain Management Association (GSCMA) for the past year and it brings me joy to help others who are going through challenges similar to those I have been navigating.

One way I plan on continuing to give back to the industry is by keeping close ties with GSCMA, and hopefully helping future Supply Chain students by recruiting/volunteering at their events. In addition to that, I hope to further my involvement with AIAG through Future Automotive Expert Events, along with other events such as the Supply Chain Summit and Customs Town Hall, and even contribute to a project team or work group at AIAG.

What advice would you give a sophomore or junior level student considering a path and career in global supply chain management?
I could take up this entire newsletter with my thoughts regarding that question! Drawing from my own experiences, here is some advice I would share with anyone pursuing a career in global supply chain management.

  • You do not need to be limited by your current understanding or situation (have a growth mindset).
  • Take every opportunity, within reason, to grow professionally, personally and academically. Sometimes your setbacks are even more powerful in launching you to new heights than your successes, so use those times to your advantage.
  • Get involved in student and professional organizations. This allows for touchpoints with professionals who can provide insight and resources to propel your career.
  • Compete against yourself, not others.
  • Stay humble and never forget those who invested time or resources into helping you grow. Let these people know you are appreciative, and always ask for constructive criticism.