As a long-time Indiana logistics industry executive, I am acutely aware of the need to build a strong talent pipeline as the business of moving products from manufacturing floor to store shelf is projected to double by 2035.

Last year, logistics leaders dedicated their time and resources to enhance its talent development strategy. With the support of Conexus Indiana, executives across the state launched the first-ever Conexus Indiana Logistics Case Competition, networked with hundreds of students on college and university campuses and hosted students at their logistics facilities. This trifecta of events has already begun to pay off. 

The Conexus Indiana Logistics Case Competition served as the cornerstone initiative for the Conexus Indiana Logistics Council, a 60-member group of statewide logistics leaders focused on strengthening Indiana’s logistics advantage. More than 65 post-secondary students came together for this 3-day event to solve a real-world logistics case. The event also served as the backdrop for students to interact with CEOS, COOs, VPs and other executives who illustrated the exciting high-tech, good-paying career opportunities in the logistics industry.

The students who participated in the inaugural competition displayed impressive insight and resourcefulness and presented business cases that rivaled those of logistics professionals. Many of the students affirmed their interest in a logistics career after participating in the case competition, a promising sign that our collective efforts to energize students and educate them about logistics worked.

The team from Valparaiso University took home the first-place, $5,000 prize, with Purdue Polytechnic Institute earning $2,000 for their second-place finish, and the University of Evansville winning third place and $1,000. Clearly, Indiana’s colleges and universities are providing innovative programs that are preparing tomorrow’s logistic leaders to maintain and grow Indiana’s reputation as the “Crossroads of America.” We believe our collaboration is a critical part of that equation.

Building a robust talent pipeline is a year-long commitment, and my colleagues and I have embraced that responsibility as essential to our industry, our future leaders and Indiana’s economic vitality. As part of its long-term talent development efforts, logistics industry partners visit Hoosier college and university campuses for roundtable discussions with students and faculty. These same executives host students at their businesses giving them a behind-the-scenes view of logistics operations.

Since launching these talent development programs, we have seen more students consider logistics as a career option; we’ve had many students apply for internships and send us resumes for full-time employment. We’ve also partnered with several colleges and universities to create and refine logistics and supply chain management curriculum. 

Indiana’s need for a skilled talent base continues to increase as more companies locate and grow in Indiana because of our strong business environment. We encourage other top executives to join us in this work to ensure Indiana’s economic future. Whatever your business, supporting the education and preparation of tomorrow’s workforce is an indispensable part of your success and your legacy.

Mark DeFabis is Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Distribution Services (IDS).

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