Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Dr. Henrik Sternberg, Assistant Professor, Iowa State University.
Iowa State University is a public research university in Ames, Iowa. It has 30,000 students, 1,800 educators, 10 schools and colleges, and more than 100 bachelor degree programs.
The Ivy College of Business is among the top 10%* of all accredited, full-time MBA programs in the United States. Its Supply Chain Management (SCM) program is ranked #7 worldwide, taught by internationally known faculty, and covering the logistics and operations of an organization, including demand planning, purchasing, inventory control, and strategic supply chain management.
Dr. Henrik Sternberg is an Assistant Professor in the Ivy College Department of Supply Chain Management. He has a PhD in Supply Chain Management from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. Prior to joining Iowa State University, he was an Associate Professor at Lund University in Sweden. Over the years, Sternberg has ran his own consulting companies and is the author of many supply chain and logistics articles.
Sternberg uses Oracle NetSuite to teach supply chain management.
Oracle Academy: We’re pleased to see your use of NetSuite for supply chain management teaching. What made you select NetSuite?
Henrik Sternberg: When I came to Iowa State, my goal was to build up the best possible enterprise resource planning (ERP) class covering supply chain management. I looked at where the market was going, what modern systems were in high demand by both small and large companies, and my choice fell to Oracle NetSuite.
I felt that NetSuite’s flexible architecture would bring students up to speed quickly and would also give them the best career opportunities. My predecessor had been using other products. But for teaching supply chain, Oracle NetSuite had more to offer.
I got in touch with Oracle Academy, studied their excellent training materials, and began the class in the Fall of 2018.
Oracle Academy: What was it about NetSuite that made the difference?
Henrik Sternberg: You know, although I’ve been using other ERP software in teaching, very often it becomes an exercise in ‘click this to submit an order, press that to round out the SKUs.’ But when it comes to achieving deep learning in the student’s mind, you need to help them to take things apart, show the mechanics of ERP systems.
In my classes, students gain a perspective not only on how a supply chain operates―distribution, purchasing, planning, inventory control, warehouse management―but also how SCM integrates business processes across organizations. That’s why it is an essential part of an ERP system, and Oracle NetSuite gives them a chance to start with a blank slate with which to configure a company from scratch.
Oracle Academy: Is configuring an ERP from scratch one of their assignments?
Henrik Sternberg: Yes, in the final assignment. In the early assignments, it’s very important that they have a quick positive experience, that they get the feeling they are truly executing business processes. For this purpose, I start them off with Oracle Academy prepopulated accounts, meaning examples of real-world companies with order data, customers, items, and they get to understand business value chains.
However, to go deeper in the learning you want them to grasp not only supply chain but the related aspects of ERP. And this is where we introduce them to blank slate accounts, meaning that they must set up every single aspect of a company, from the inventory management to the CRM to the finance, the accounting―the works!
Oracle Academy: And how do you go about that?
Henrik Sternberg: We have the great pleasure of working with an Oracle partner, Abaci, a NetSuite implementor. They share with us the same training materials used in their own bootcamps. So, students work on an actual consultant training case for their final project.
The challenge is precisely to construct an e-commerce backend solution from scratch. The blank slate is a fictitious company Nerd Secrets, a clothing company for nerds! Well, it has to be fun.
Anyway, the project is for students to take Nerd Secrets and configure it with item management, order management, and reporting. They also have to assign user access according to role, link to charts of accounts and ensure that the systems can be customized.
What’s great is that their final presentations are made to the company’s senior consultants, specialists in NetSuite, who give powerful real-world industry feedback. This final project manages to get undergraduates into action very early in their career. A couple of them are already supply chain erp consultants, have had consulting internships and work with Iowa companies, such as Nebullam, implementing NetSuite.
Oracle Academy: What types of career paths can Iowa State graduates expect?
Henrik Sternberg: The market is broad, from manufacturers, retail distributors, logistics services providers, and consulting firms. Here in Iowa, there are large agricultural and manufacturing businesses.
Also, smaller firms here in Iowa are selecting NetSuite as the ERP system, due to the access to trained undergraduate and graduate students. Our graduates are ready to work with Oracle NetSuite from day one. Companies all around the United States are recruiting from our program.
Oracle Academy: Do you have any plans to expand the use of Oracle Academy resources?
Henrik Sternberg: Yes, apart from myself and a colleague teaching SCM, there are some teachers of accounting and purchasing classes who are planning to enhance their current course material with Oracle NetSuite.
I also would like to use NetSuite to unleash fuller potential, because it’s not just a software package but an ecosystem. Already in Iowa State University we have students with supply chain and business analytics majors in my course, many of them doing double majors. Yet it’s rare to find students with skillsets both in advanced business analytics, including machine learning, and in ERP automation.
Therefore, what I am planning on next, using Oracle NetSuite’s open architecture, is to develop a class that merges those skills so that students can work within the ecosystem to create useful business applications.
At Iowa State University we are already one of the world leaders in NetSuite training, and I believe once we have that kind of training in place, we will be the #1 university in the world of its kind.
Oracle Academy: Awesome. What are you interests outside of the classroom?
Henrik Sternberg: I’m an avid bicyclist, pedaling 365 days a year and commuting by bike to the university, in minus 20, or in sunshine.
I’m also a shareholder in Nebullam, an indoor hydroponics farm―a subscription-based business, from seed to door, which ties into supply chain.
Thank you, Dr. Henrik Sternberg, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.