EICC graduate finds success in Supply Chain program

Karen Bell is a busy woman. As a manager for Promotion Fulfillment Center, a local product fulfillment and promotional services company, she’s on the go 24/7.

“We’re a third party center,” she said. “Clients send their inventory and we ship it out. We work with leading brands in e-commerce, apparel, bicycles…you name it, we handle it.”

Supply chain and logistics has always been a critical piece of most businesses. Over the last year, the importance of this field has especially been in the spotlight. We all have experienced shortages on store shelves, or heard stories of supply chain concerns, disruptions and triumphs. As Bell will tell you, moving product from point A to point B, C, or D is no easy task — but she’s always enjoyed a challenge.

“When COVID started, everything came to a halt, except the supply chain,” she said. “There have been so many changes during this time. Space issues have always been a problem, but especially now with back-ups and clients over-ordering inventory because they couldn’t get it last year.”

“I do well with a challenge though, I know how to handle it,” she smiled.

That’s because in addition to more than a decade of experience in fulfillment, she’s a graduate of Eastern Iowa Community Colleges’ (EICC) Supply Chain and Logistics program. It’s made all the difference in both her ability to excel in her work, and quite frankly, get the job she wanted.

“The last company I worked for I was there 13 years,” she said. “However, they got bought out and shut-down.”

Despite the hardship of losing her job, Bell was confident she’d soon land something new. However, after several months of job hunting, her confidence began to wane.

“I was getting interviews, but not getting hired anywhere,” she said. “What I was finding out is not many places were looking at experience, and everyone wanted a degree or some kind of formal training.”

With that knowledge, she enrolled in EICC’s online Supply Chain and Logistics program. Within one month of starting classes, she received a job offer. Bell says when she started, she didn’t really think she had much to learn. She’d been in the field for a decade, after all.

“When I first met and sat down with the instructor, Susan, I thought I knew everything,” she said.

Once classes started, her attitude changed pretty quickly. There was still a lot left to learn, such as international shipping and radio frequency identification systems or RFID, return on investment and how it affects the business, how to communicate with corporate and upper-level management — the list goes on.

“It made a huge difference, number one in my confidence, and dealing with anything in the supply chain. I now deal with international shipping all the time, and I’m the only one in the company who knew how to handle the shipments when they got backed up.”

It’s made her a woman in demand, a woman who solves problems, and a woman whose expertise others value. Simply put, a woman in charge.

Supply Chain and Logistics at EICC

  • 100% online program
  • Perfect for working adults
  • Two-year degree or one-year diploma
  • 30% projected job growth through 2030
  • $76,270 median annual wage

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Learn more about the program at eicc.edu/logistics