Today’s successful supply chain leaders must be lifelong learners to keep up with technological advancements and trends for a digital future; they must be flexible in their reactions; and they must embrace multicultural teams to drive the triple bottom line. The time required to stay current with new technology and best practices is considerable. The focus is on maritime ports in the supply chain, a vast industry where specialization is encouraged by globalization. Meet Margaret Kidd, Program Director and Instructional Associate Professor at the University of Houston continues to advance as a supply chain leader through research, participation in conferences and events, as well as discussions with key players in global trade about trends.
Steadfast Career Hike
Margaret Kidd graduated with a BBA (General Business) from the University of Houston Clear Lake (UHCL) in 1985 and immediately headed to Wall Street, where she worked as a broker’s assistant for nine months before landing a seat in a broker training program at Smith Barney. Over the next fifteen years, she successfully advanced her career in the financial services industry while working with several of the biggest investment companies. She spent six years in Texas working for her family’s privately held real estate management company’s senior executive team. She enrolled in UHCL’s master’s program in Cross Cultural Studies in 2007.
Margaret wanted to connect her educational experiences as a committed lifelong learner, having completed both a BBA and an MA. She began her doctoral studies in urban planning and environmental policy in the fall of 2009, completing 60 doctoral credits with a port-city interface, sustainability, and economic development focus. This was her launch into a second career in academia.
Margaret started working at the University of Houston as an instructional assistant professor in 2016. She was promoted in August 2018 to Program Director for the SCLT BS degree program and again to Instructional Associate Professor in 2022.
The University of Houston is a Carnegie Tier One Public Research University in the country’s fourth largest city. The university is also among the most culturally diverse in the country. The amalgamation of industrial corporations from the energy, healthcare, transportation, logistics, ﬁnance, aerospace, technology, e-commerce, and distinctive innovation environment, along with Texas role as the largest export state in the country overall, provide endless opportunities for students entering the workforce and an abundance of collaborative research for faculty. The University of Houston is certainly a beneficiary of the economic prosperity driven by a robust statewide economic development strategy, as well as the regional port ecosystem.
One of only three STEM-recognized supply chain undergraduate degree programs in the state is the Supply Chain & Logistics Technology BS program; the other two are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Refining the Duties
As program director, Margaret has developed an advisory board that is a “global powerhouse.” She has negotiated partnerships with internationally renowned professional organizations within the SCLT program to develop certificate programs that are advantageous to both students and the local workforce. Margaret’s primary responsibilities include overseeing the supply chain program, which includes developing the semester schedule, recruiting adjunct instructors and leading the team in a collaborative manner. She needs to concentrate on creating marketing and social media materials, completing accreditation reporting, instructing, developing new courses, supporting research proposals, organizing industry engagement events, driving student success, and interacting with local and international business partners. She also speaks at conferences, in the media, and engages in community service. Additionally, Margaret oversees the non-credit professional development programs, creates insightful articles, and interacts with students.
Margaret believes that her happiest days are when students are with her for service learning or attending a conference with her.
Partnerships and Affiliations
The National Customs Brokers Forwarders Association America, the Chartered Institute Logistics & Transport, the Association of Ship Brokers and Agents (USA) Inc., and 4D-Supply Chain Consulting are a few of the organizations involved in the partnerships with Margaret as representative of UH. Her leadership and contributions to maritime/supply chain/logistics workforce competitiveness and economic development efforts supporting the regional and national economy have recently been recognized by grants from KBR, Government Solutions, Port of Houston Community Grants, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Margaret currently acts as a liaison for the Education Committee of the Exporters Competitive Maritime Council, the Port of Houston Partners in Maritime Education, and the Houston Electric League. She also sits on the boards of the East End Chamber of Commerce Advisory Board, the North & Central America Regional Advisory Board for the Energy Industries Council, and the Houston Maritime Center Board of Trustees. She is also represented as the Education Ambassador for North America, Mexico, Panama, and Brazil for the Chartered Institute of Logistics Transport.
Margaret as a Speaker
Margaret is frequently in the media discussing supply chain disruption and solutions on shows including BBC World News, Fox Morning with Maria, Fox Sunday Night in America with Trey Goudy, NPR, CNBC, Transport Topics, and local TV networks. Her market reach was in excess of 620,000,000 individuals in 2021. She spoke in 2022 at ASCM Houston, Turnaround Management Association, Fort Bend Chamber Commerce Infrastructure, University
of Houston Board of Visitors, Port of the Future, PCB, ASCM Houston Innovation Summit, Energy Industries Council North and Central America Quarterly meeting, Houston Maritime Center, Port Region Supply Chain Forum, Harris County CPA Accounting Expo, UK Energy Export Conference, Hamburg-based HPC Connecting Ports Talk Show, YTexas Summit and Breakbulk Americas Education Day. As a well-known and sought after speaker, panelist and moderator for academic and business conferences she is scheduled to speak this fall at a number of conferences including Southeast Texas Transportation Summit, Fort Bend Infrastructure, Southeast Texas Association of Public Procurement, West Point Society Greater Houston, Brazoria Economic Development Alliance Infrastructure and International Association Drilling Contractors are among the other events where she is scheduled to speak in the fall of 2022.
Challenges in the Supply Chain Sector
Pandemic Outbreak: Organizations are generally replacing “just in time” with “just in case.” Lessons learnt during COVID have encouraged supply chain managers to consider the risks of becoming overly dependent on a single geography, such as China or Southeast Asia. This has implications for manufacturing and sourcing, and it partially motivates a near-shoring and on-shoring approach. There was also a sobering reminder of the need to diversify the ports of entry for the importation of manufactured goods, parts, and raw materials (recall the more than 100 ships that were waiting outside LA/LB). Considering the present geopolitical situation with the Russian war in addition to COVID, Margaret shared the following thoughts
Russian war on Ukraine: The “energy trilemma”—energy security, affordability, and sustainability during a period of energy transition—has created another set of supply chain challenges, requiring a diversification strategy not only from sourcing but also from the reality that energy transition must occur in a parallel system of fossil fuels, looking beyond COVID and at the current geopolitical situation with the Russian war on Ukraine.
A step in the right direction: People in the US have seen how the supply chain has held up in the face of extreme pressure, as well as the risks to the economy and security that come with an overdependence on Asian manufacturing of semiconductors. The Chips Act, which was passed this summer, strengthens American chip supply chains while also fortifying domestic semiconductor manufacturing, design, and research as well as the economy and national security. With Samsung’s planned $17 billion expansion in Taylor and Texas Instruments planned $ 30 billion semiconductor wafer fabrication plants in Sherman Texas has benefited significantly from the siting of expanded and new manufacturing in this industry.
Stepping-Stones in her Journey
According to Margaret, there was no such thing as diversity, equity, or inclusion in the middle of the 1980s, and there was also a huge discrepancy in pay and opportunities for moving up the corporate ladder. There is no doubt that gender-related barriers existed in Margaret’s early career and still do, albeit in a milder, more nuanced, and more constrained manner, in academia. Males predominate in the supply chain, particularly in the logistics sector. There is a small group of women that oversee supply chain programs at Tier One Universities. Margaret is proud to be one of the few members of this “club,” but it has only been in the past 36 months that she has been requested to speak at events that typically have panels made up entirely of men.
A Note to the Leaders
“Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer—be a servant leader.” – Margaret insists.
Since life is not linear, Margaret suggests that the sooner you accept that there will be setbacks in life, the sooner you can prepare and position yourself for resiliency in both your personal and professional spheres. Margaret offers advice based on her own life experiences and the best ways to live a resilient life. She suggests having several mentors or trusted friends or family members to whom you may turn for advice and discussion of ideas. Establish a broad network of contacts among colleagues, educators, and industry stakeholders, as well as political, religious, economic development and non-profit leaders.
Leaders are urged by Margaret to get involved both professionally and locally in their communities. In order to address difficult challenges or situations, leaders must be creative and innovative in their cognitive processes. Successful leaders are agile and collaborative.
Quote: “This is the safe space we create as educators for students to expand their knowledge and skillsets outside of the classroom.”
Written by Steve Sanchez.
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