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LONG BEACH, Calif. — More than 100 high school and college students attending the IANA Expo took part in learning opportunities tailored to those considering careers in the intermodal and logistics industries.
“Hopefully, we’re curating the next generation of intermodal leaders,” said Joni Casey, CEO of the Intermodal Association of North America.
This is the first year IANA has offered the Intermodal University Track, which included sessions tailored to students.
Edwards (left) and Banks shared career advice with students and industry professionals. (Mindy Long for Transport Topics)
Jennifer Edwards, senior director of sales and agency relations for the Evans Network of Cos., and Ben Banks, vice president of TCW Inc., were among those who spoke during Intermodal University sessions.
“Universities are doing a much, much better job of teaching students what they need to know out of the gate,” Banks said while addressing students as well as those within the industry.
New talent needs to get in the ranks and learn how to solve supply chain problems, Banks said.
“This isn’t a flash in the pan. Ever since I’ve been at TCW, we’ve been looking for solid talent to come on board,” he said.
Yoseph Almetnawy, a student at the University of North Texas, said he is interested in supply chain operations because of the challenges they present. “You get to keep solving minor puzzles,” he said.
Adriene Bailey, a partner with Oliver Wyman, said supply chain leaders need to have an insatiable desire to fix problems. “Things will go wrong,” she said. “Some people get a kick out of it.”
Bailey said bringing students to IANA Expo gives them a greater understanding of what intermodal really is. “When someone says intermodal, you have no idea, but when you see it, you understand,” she said.
Jairus Cherry, a student at the University of North Texas, said he is interested in aviation logistics but wants to be more well-rounded. He used the Expo as an opportunity to learn about other segments of the industry and new technology.
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Almetnawy and Cherry were part of the team that won the 2022 IANA Academic Challenge earlier this year.
While schools prepare students for the basics, Edwards recommended students continue learning on their first job.
“Go on a ride-along with a driver. See what he really goes through. See how long it takes to get in and out of the port,” she said. “How can you sell something you don’t understand or you haven’t done? Until you do it, you won’t even know what questions to ask.”
Edwards also advised students to never burn a bridge. “It is a small world. You will come across the same people over and over,” she said.