Imagine the volume of merchandise landing on the return desks of megastores like Walmart, Target and CVS. Working as an intern for Church and Dwight, Kevin Tallaksen ’14 monitored the products flowing back to the $2.6 billion consumer packaged goods company that sells famous brands like Arm & Hammer, Oxi Clean and Nair.
Examining the shipping schedules of a multitude of trucks coming and going from a vast number of stores, he was tasked with helping to create a more efficient system to handle returns. Any solution he could devise could deliver significant savings and add to the bottom line.
“Companies love the cost savings,” Tallaksen says, summing up why supply chain studies has been at the forefront of business curriculum for the past two decades. “They look for students with a supply chain background,” he continues. “And a lot of supply chain employees now move up into higher positions fairly quickly.”
As he prepares to graduate, Tallaksen has already accepted a job as an operations management trainee at the global technology company SKF, a leadership development position that will expose him to every side of its supply chain operation during the next year. Working from the company’s Landsdale, Pa., location, Tallaksen will travel the globe, seeing some of the company’s 150 plants throughout the world and preparing him for a more focused role after one year of employment.
“This job is aligned with what I wanted,” says Tallaksen, a West Caldwell, N.J., native who came to Rider to study accounting. He eventually added a global supply chain major as well, in addition to a minor in Chinese.
As he did during his internship, Tallaksen will be looking at a lot of data as he works to innovate on long-set patterns and systems. To be successful, “You have to think critically,” he says. He’ll be using the skill set that — along with Rider’s high rate of placement for global supply majors — initially drew him to the growing field. “I enjoyed math and was interested in business,” he says. “I knew accounting was good place to start, but I loved the critical thinking and problem solving aspects of supply chain studies.”
Tallaksen was a member of the Rider team who recently won the Supply Chain Management Case Competition at Rutgers Business School, where his team of undergraduates beat graduate students from Rutgers, Syracuse, Fairleigh Dickinson and other schools.
Tallaksen’s not all business. He founded Rider’s table tennis team and is also an active volunteer who’s contributed time as a student to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen and other service organizations. Last year he traveled to Belize with his church to conduct community service. “I really enjoy volunteering and giving back to the community,” he says. “Rider’s done an awesome job of giving students opportunities to give back.”
He also took advantage of the University’s study abroad program. Over spring break in 2012, Tallaksen traveled to China, where he earned three credits toward his minor while visiting cities like Beijing and Shanghai. “That was a really good exposure to the differences of global culture,” he says. “I’m thankful to Rider for setting up that opportunity.”
While he’s now focused on his emerging career, graduate school and an MBA are in the back of his mind. “I would love to continue learning,” Tallaksen says. “To be an effective person in the business world, that’s important.”