Xuesi Li loves shoes. She has always believed that a good pair of shoes will take her many great places.
Born and raised in China, Li moved to the United States during her teenage years and attended high school in New York City. After graduating, she attained a bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain Management with a specialization in International Business from Michigan State University.
Li then moved to St. Louis to start her supply chain career as a Research and Development Buyer for Monsanto Company, a multinational agrochemical corporation. The job often required Li to work in the research labs with scientists and travel to a number of farms and seed processing sites across the Midwest.
“The experience was instrumental, as the scientists were great at challenging my everyday thinking and training me to be a critical thinker,” she said.
Seeing the beautiful farms while on the job helped Li appreciate nature, but she soon found herself feeling homesick.
“West Michigan is one of the most beautiful places in the United States. The four seasons, the clean water…and it’s the home of the Spartans,” she said. “Hence, I made a life-changing decision and took on a unique opportunity at Wolverine Worldwide and moved back to Michigan.”
Working with a global marketer of branded footwear like Wolverine Worldwide allows Li to exercise her passion for shoes every day. As an indirect procurement specialist, Li works with other cross-functional teams to develop and manage sourcing processes for a number of different categories, such as software as a service (SaaS), marketing, logistics, professional services, temp labor, employee benefits and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO).
“Working at Wolverine over the past few years has given me a broader exposure to the integrated supply chain in the footwear industry and has led me to develop a deeper interest within change management,” she said.
After working a few years with Wolverine Worldwide, Li was ready for new challenges in her career. When searching for supply chain education providers, she looked no further than Michigan State University, her alma mater. The University’s reputation as “The King of Supply Chain Talent” was a key selling point.
“I have always been proud to be a Spartan and appreciated the education I received from Michigan State, which has shaped me into a strong person and prepared me to handle different challenges in the competitive business world,” she said.
The high caliber of staff and the globally-recognized strength and diversity of the program’s curriculum was also a deciding factor for Li.
“I felt the combination of these distinctive qualities would provide me with a competitive advantage in an evolving and ambitious market,” she said.
Li enrolled in the Master of Science in Supply Chain Management (MSSCM) program in 2015 and is set to graduate in 2017. She’s enrolled through Michigan State’s blended program, which is a mixture of online and on-campus learning.
“The professors challenge us and guide us to dive deep when solving problems, which really allow us to practice our analytical skills and learn to appreciate the results we achieve from the critical thinking process,” she said.
The course material is already making an impact in Li’s career, as she has incorporated concepts from her courses into her current role at Wolverine Worldwide. “I applied the ‘process mapping’ concept I learned from Dr. Whipple’s Introduction to Logistics and Supply Chain Management class (SCM870) to identify pain-points and bottlenecks in our purchase-to-pay process,” she said.
Li also expressed her love for being able to work collaboratively with fellow students in and out of the classroom. “Each of the members from my team has his or her own strengths,” she said. “I was also surprised how much I learned about my own strengths and weaknesses through reflections from my teammates while working on group assignments.”
Li understands the doubts a potential student may have about enrolling in a blended program that combines online and on-campus learning, but she encouraged others to embrace the opportunity it provides. According to Li, Michigan State’s blended Supply Chain Management program was beneficial in many ways, such as:
Ultimately, Li’s drive throughout her journey has been her eagerness and passion to stay competitive in the industry and position herself for long-term success.
“I am eager to further my education, enhance my understanding of the supply chain profession, and equip myself with the analytical skills and critical thinking ability that I will need to advance my professional career,” she said.