Feb. 26, 2019

From click to doorstep, Amazon's fulfillment centre teaches MBA students about supply chain management

Haskayne Career Centre organizes an eye-opening tour of Amazon’s Calgary distribution centre

How do household cleaner, the latest piece of hot fiction, and your sister’s birthday gift arrive on your doorstep after just a few clicks?

The popularity and convenience of shopping online, even for basic day-to-day items, is on the rise. When the Career Centre at the Haskayne School of Business first heard of the Amazon “fulfillment centre” opening near Calgary, they knew it would be an unmissable opportunity for students to experience. Recently a group of 25 MBA students traveled to Balzac for an educational tour. The initiative was graciously supported by the Canadian Centre for Advanced Supply Chain Management and Logistics at Haskayne.

“It was a pleasure welcoming the students from the Haskayne School of Business,” says Jas Khangura, general manager, Amazon Fulfillment. “We hope that the students not only walked away with an appreciation for the symphony of technology, processes and people, but also of the great customer-obsessed culture that Amazon is known for.”

Operational efficiency the heart of each fulfillment

During the tour, Haskayne’s MBA students experienced the gold standard in supply chain management, technology and operations management. The facility itself opened in October 2017 and is 600,000 square feet in size. Amazon’s Calgary fulfillment centre joins a Canadian network of other centres in Ontario (Brampton, Mississauga and Milton) and British Columbia (Delta and New Westminster) that service Amazon orders from coast-to-coast.

Students explored how the click of a mouse turns into a package on your doorstep. The process is complex yet efficient. If the product you ordered is one of millions housed in the fulfillment centre, it is located by a fulfillment associate (over 2,300 are employed there) using computer software. The software also tells them the quickest walking path to take through the warehouse.

A group of 25 MBA students from the University of Calgary toured the Amazon fulfillment centre, which opened in 2017 near Calgary.

A group of 25 MBA students toured the Amazon fulfillment centre, which opened in 2017 near Calgary.

Haskayne School of Business

From here products are put into boxes and placed on a conveyer belt for distribution — all this done by human power. The final product arrives at its final destination via one of Amazon’s many delivery partners.

It was an eye-opener for student Shannon Snaden, who expected to simply see rows and rows of boxes. “I wanted to visit the Amazon site because they’re a leader in technology first and foremost,” says Snaden “What I was pleased to see was a fantastic team culture, top-notch safety practices and a really modern facility. It’s much more than just a fulfillment centre.”

Seeing a workplace in action helps students to better understand the theories that they are learning in the classroom. For Snaden it was just that – the perfect way to see distribution and technology concepts in the real world.

Career Centre team adds value to student experience

The Haskayne Career Centre believes that career development is so much more than writing a résumé and cover letter, and applying to online job postings. Their team of career development specialists encourage the local Calgary business community to take an active part in the career education of Haskayne students. The team is continually looking for opportunities to expose students to a wide cross-section of roles, industries and work environments.

“The feedback I hear from students is that they want to have meaningful conversations with employers,” says Kimberley Dart, manager of the Haskayne Career Centre. “We devote a lot of time to forging positive relationships with organizations to do just that. Also, to create experiential learning opportunities for our students, such as facility tours.”

To connect with the Haskayne Career Centre, please visit their website or follow them on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.