Indiana State University

ISU program gives students reason to stay in Indiana

As a professor of operations and supply chain management in a state where 30% of post-secondary graduates take jobs beyond its borders, Dr. Kuntal Bhattacharyya knows that Indiana’s prosperity depends on its ability to show grads the benefits of staying here to build their careers. 

And, in a state where advanced manufacturing and logistics account for nearly 31% of GDP, Bhattacharyya – better known as “Dr. B” – believes one key to improving retention is exposing students to the innovative and entrepreneurial makers and movers that operate in Indiana. That’s why every spring you will find Dr. B taking seniors in the Supply Chain Management program at Indiana State University on a tour of Indiana advanced manufacturing and logistics companies.

Through two- to three-day trips across the state, the program takes students to a range of operations, from massive manufacturing companies to small start-up makers, and from full-scale logistics firms to standalone distribution centers.

While such programs are not unique to ISU, Dr. B – who also heads up the Logistics 4.0 Innovation Hub at the Made @ Plainfield education and training center – makes Indiana State’s decade-old program stand out by focusing on a wide range of workplace environments and meeting with people who have made their own way in the marketplace.

He especially enjoys showing off entrepreneurs who have launched their own businesses in Indiana, he says, because it helps young people see that the state supports and nourishes innovators, that capital can be found and that there is endless opportunity. 

“It helps students to see that Indiana has much to offer,” Dr. B says. “It allows me to show them that ‘oomph’ factor that impresses them.”

Most important, perhaps, Dr. B works to create a program specifically tailored to appeal to the expectations of the next generation entering the workforce. He appreciates that up-and-coming generations are technologically fluent and that they seek to work with organizations that align with their values. “For example, when I graduated, the only thing I cared about was a good-paying job,” he says. “I can’t tell you how many students today give up on lucrative offers because they don’t match with things like their notions of sustainability.”

This concept of cultural fit is especially important to rising workers, Dr. B says, and helping them see and experience different workplaces helps them find that fit.

And the impact of that is revealed in the metric that Dr. B finds most compelling. “If you ask me what my biggest success is,” Dr. B says, “it would be that about 90% of my students continue to work where they started.”

Our state’s post-graduate retainment rate is just one of the factors impacting Indiana’s talent pipeline. To learn more about the unprecedented opportunity that exists for Indiana to fix its leaky talent pipeline, check out Conexus Indiana’s industry action plan, Leakproof: Strengthening Indiana’s Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics Workforce Pipeline.