Prepared to Succeed

PROVO, Utah – Nov 04, 2019 – Joey Chen, a senior in BYU Marriott’s global supply chain management (GSCM) program, returned to her home country of China this past summer to assist Tom Foster, the GSCM department chair, with case research. Though Chen had less experience than the other researchers also working on the project, by using the knowledge she has gained during her time as a student in the GSCM program, and with Foster’s assistance, Chen became an integral part of the research project.

The case research, which Foster is performing with Sophie Yang, a BYU Marriott MBA alumna, and He Zhong, a professor at Tianjin University in Tianjin, China, focuses on quality management in Chinese state-owned enterprises. State-owned enterprises are businesses a government completely or partially controls; these businesses can participate in commercial activities for the government.

“Nobody has done this type of research—quality management over state-owned enterprises—so it was  an honor for me to participate in this project,” says Chen.

Chen was the only undergraduate student placed on a team of doctoral students that collaborated with Foster and Zhong. The team conducted interviews with eight different state-owned companies. “We had to conduct interviews with managers and CEOs, just trying to get to know their quality cultures and how they implement those quality tools,” says Chen. Foster went to three of the companies with Chen, but she led an additional five interviews without him. 

Though Chen recognized the importance of the research, she sometimes doubted her ability to effectively aid in the research since she was “only” an undergraduate student. “At the beginning of the research, I felt like I was unqualified because the rest of the students I worked with had doctorate degrees or were earning their doctorate degrees,” she says.

However, Chen quickly learned that the knowledge she has gained during her time as a student in BYU Marriott’s GSCM program had prepared her for this opportunity. “At the facilities we visited, I was able to notice things management could do better just by implementing SIGMA or audit tools,” she says. “Not all of the state-owned enterprises in China are implementing the use of high-end technology for their quality control, so there are methods they haven’t explored. I saw how a lot of the things I had learned in my classes could be implemented in their systems.”

In addition to the knowledge Chen has gained as a student in the GSCM program, Foster helped her develop the necessary skills to successfully participate in onsite visits and conduct interviews. “Professor Foster encouraged me a lot because he knew that I was going to be alone during much of the research,” she says. “He practiced conducting interviews with me, and he gave me tasks to help build my knowledge and confidence. Without that confidence, I don’t think I could have gone to company meetings and met with all those managers.”

Though Chen’s participation in the case research is finished, she still collaborates with Foster as his teaching assistant in GSCM 401, Operations Management. As a TA, she now helps to prepare other GSCM students for success. “I loved this trip and research project,” Chen states. “At the beginning of the project I thought, ‘Maybe I don’t know enough,’ but the GSCM junior core program helped me to succeed in the supply chain field.”

Joey Chen
Joey Chen, a senior in the Global Supply Chain Management program. Photo courtesy of Joey Chen.
Joey Chen with Dr. Foster and his research partners.
Joey Chen with Tom Foster (second from the left) and his research partners. Photo courtesy of Tom Foster

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Natalia Green