Written by Nelson Calero, SCMb Candidate

California Love

View of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, California from atop the Gap building

I will preface this by saying that I’m an East Coaster, born and raised.

Often the “friendly” debate over which coast is better can become contentious, both sides offering bold claims about the merits of their beaches, mountains, people and food. Through MIT SCM’s Study Treks (which have been discussed by my peers in earlier posts), the opportunity to travel west was presented. Once I found out I would be venturing out to California, specifically Los Angeles and the Bay Area, I knew I had to set aside pride and be ready to embrace what the West Coast had to offer.

Departure from Boston (Nelson Calero, Pratik Yadav, Juan Martinez, SCMb ’19) and Arrival in Los Angeles

Our trip began in sunny Los Angeles (a whole 50 degrees F warmer than Boston!).  Our Los Angeles leg of the trip consisted of trips to Matson Shipping, SpaceX, and Niagara Bottling. At SpaceX, they have a very simple yet very challenging mission: “…to revolutionize Space Technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” The very bright folks at SpaceX supply chain live by that mission with exemplary vigor, and channeled that enthusiasm during our visit. Below you can find a picture of SpaceX’s Falcon 9, which has traveled to space and successfully made its way back.

Yao Zhang, SCMb ’19 in front of the Falcon 9

Niagara Bottling is impressive in a different way – while they aren’t aiming to fly to space, they aim to keep us here on Earth hydrated with high quality, value priced water. The 56-year-old water company has state of the art facilities that make them a powerhouse in the bottled water market.

Arun Nagarathinam, SCMb ’19 holding his Niagara water bottle in front of Niagara

During our Bay Area leg of the trip, we visited ABB, Tesla, Google, Flex, and Gap. Visiting ABB, Tesla, and Flex provided us a snapshot of the innovations occurring in Silicon Valley – with ABB’s leading research in robotics, Tesla’s awe-inspiring commitment to moving the world towards sustainable energy, and Flex’s wide industry experience that produces innovations with incredible agility.

SCM ’19 Class in front of Tesla in Palo Alto

Google and Gap enlightened us on how their respective industries leveraged the power of supply chain to support not only the growth of their companies, but to also support as strategic enablers in both organizations. At Google, a company firmly rooted in the tech sector, the principles of supply chain are applied in very unique ways to support both the (traditional) physical and digital supply chains. At Gap, supply chain differentiates the company in a highly competitive market and continues to make them successful.

Richard Serra sculpture at the Gap in San Francisco, photo credit to Oriol Garcia, SCMb ‘19

From a personal perspective, the West Coast culture of pushing the envelope in terms of moving the world forward was invigorating: the people care about making big changes in our world and are immovable in their missions. As supply chain graduate students at MIT, we all hold the belief in our hearts that we will change the world. The professionals and companies we met hold that belief as well and exemplify our motto – Mens et Manus – or “mind and hand.”

Picture leaving SFO; See you Next Time!

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