The Business Year

Maximiliano E. Jimenez Arbelaez

PANAMA - Transport

Tricks of the Trade

Managing Director, Georgia Tech Panama Logistics Innovation & Research Center

Bio

What is Georgia Tech’s role in raising the level of education in the logistics sector? Improving education is one of our main objectives. Mostly, our contributions are at the academic […]

What is Georgia Tech’s role in raising the level of education in the logistics sector?

Improving education is one of our main objectives. Mostly, our contributions are at the academic and professional levels. At the academic level, we collaborate with industrial engineering and logistics schools, meeting with professors and conducting workshops on topics such as curriculum, new approaches, and techniques. We established—with the support of the Secretariat of Science, Technology, and Innovation—a dual master program in supply chain engineering, which provides scholarships to qualified students at the Technological University of Panama and the Universidad Latina de Panama. In 2015, as part of their capstone project, students in this program analyzed the flow of the Metro Bus, which involved conducting a public survey, gathering GPS data, and analyzing timetables, stops, bottlenecks, and passenger numbers. At the professional level, we offer two certification programs: the Lean Supply Chain and Supply Chain Management. We also have a Breakfast and Learn program where we cover state-of-the-art subjects targeted at the private sector and the academic sector, respectively.

Can you tell us about your new partnership with National Institute of Vocational Training for Human Development (INADEH)?

A study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) identified a weakness in technical-vocational education in Panama. We recently started collaborating with INADEH on a program called Supply Chain Fundaments, oriented toward entry-level individuals who intend to work in the supply chain and logistics field. This program, consisting of nine courses, was designed by a consortium of eight universities in the US, one of which was Georgia Tech. This program was offered to us at Georgia Tech Panama, and we translate the courses for INADEH and will help them integrate this program into their regular training programs. In this line, we have just signed a MoU that opens the possibility of further collaborations.

How do you foresee the canal expansion affecting trade flows and volumes? What new opportunities will this create for Panama?

The expansion of the canal represents a paradigm shift in the maritime industry; we are abandoning conditions that have existed for many years. It is difficult to predict what will happen in the near future in terms of flows, trade, and services provided to the ships that pass through the canal and the impact on the value-added services to cargo. In terms of value-added services, the expansion has made available about 1,200ha that could be used for warehousing, consolidating cargo, and other services related to postponement of merchandize, including light manufacturing. The integration of the local supply chains of producers, agricultural and industrial, with global supply chains is another opportunity that needs to be discussed. Both sectors are not performing well and work practically in isolation of the booming logistics sector, especially the manufacturing sector. The integration of these two sectors into the logistics sector will contribute to extending the benefits of international trade.

What are your expectations for Georgia Tech Panama in 2016?

We are now part of the Logistics Cabinet, which means we are more involved in supporting government strategies, policies, and regulations. We will continue our work with maritime and land transportation stakeholders and will increase our presence in the area of air transportation. We expect to continue strengthening the center’s relationship with universities and start working more directly with the private sector in 2016. In this direction, we have become members of various private sector organizations such chambers of commerce, including AmCham, as well as the Maritime Chamber of Panama, where we participate in their respective logistics committees. Even though the government regulates and facilitates business activities, actual competitiveness rests with the private sector.

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