Daniel Djerf, MSCM '12

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Daniel Djerf, MSCM ’12, currently works for Steelcase Inc. in Grand Rapids as a Supply Chain Leader. This former United States Marine is a success story in so many ways, including his transition from the military into the corporate world. Here’s how he got there and what he’s up to now:

Q: Where did you get your undergraduate degree?

I attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland where I received by Bachelor of Science in American Politics and Law.

Q: Why did you decide to attend the University of Michigan and participate in the Tauber Institute for Global Operations?

I consider myself a life-long “Michigan Man” and have always wanted to attend the university in some manner. A Marine Corps career as a Supply and Logistics Officer piqued my interest in the Masters of Supply Chain Management, of which the Tauber Institute for Global Operations is an integral part.

Q: What was your favorite class?

My favorite class was Supply Chain Analytics. Despite the fact it contained the most difficult material, and most burdensome workload, discovering the power of simulation and optimization in business decision making was both amazingly interesting and particularly useful for my upcoming career.

Q: What was your favorite campus activity?

My favorite campus activity was a football Saturday at The Big House considering I am a lifelong fan. However, I have also enjoyed the various corporate speaking and networking events that only distinguished organizations such as the Ross School of Business and Tauber Institute for Global Operations are capable of putting together.

Q: How does your operations management training and your Tauber experience – in addition to your military experience -- help shape the leader you are today?

At its core…supply chain management is a multi-variable optimization problem…and several of those variables may be controlled within other areas of the organization.  My operations and Tauber experience at Ross has allowed me to gain cross-functional credibility and influence though my ability to create, use, and most importantly explain sound data-driven decision making tools and techniques.       

Q: What challenges are you currently faced with and how are you solving them?

In my current role at Steelcase, I am charged with designing optimal supply chains for new products in development. These projects range from low-volume, custom pieces to more traditional, high-volume office furniture.  Each of these presents its own unique challenge for procurement, materials management, operations, and logistics…particularly because Steelcase is largely a make-to-order business. It is vital that I understand and present product criteria in such a way that decision makers in these areas are willing and able to help me shape a robust and cost-effective supply chain. 

Q: How do you think your experiences at the Tauber Institute for Global Operations helped you in life after graduate school?

My experience within the Tauber Institute for Global Operations has been a tremendous compliment to my previous education and experience. The classwork, and particularly the team project, has demonstrated the great potential in applying an operations mindset to even the most administrative and seemingly obscure business processes.

Q: What advice would you give to an incoming student?

I would recommend to an incoming student to immediately recognize the Tauber Institute as the tremendous career-building resource it is and accordingly hit the ground running with the appropriate levels of initiative and desire to learn so that he or she may depart with the maximum benefit.

Q: What do you do with your free time?

I have been married to my lovely wife, Sara, since 2006 and we have two young children…so free time is not something we get often…but we wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Gunnar is five years old and keeps his dad occupied with sports, video games, and Legos while Anna, who is one, is learning that cuteness is an effective negotiating tool.  Otherwise, I am an avid Michigan and Detroit sports fan and enjoy playing golf when I can.

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Daniel Djerf working on his 2012 Amway team project: Advancing the Idea-to-market Product Development Process
Daniel Djerf with his 2012 Amway team  (Jessica Skinner and Alec Cohen)
Daniel and Sara Djerf with their children