Futureproof Focus Podcast: Making an Impact with Engineering – Building the Supply Chain for Offshore Wind

March 26, 2024 Podcasts

In episode 13 of Futureproof Focus, Dr. Sharon B. DeVivo, president and chief executive officer of Vaughn College and host of the podcast, had an engaging conversation with Okera Bullen ’22 about his career as a supply chain manager at Nexans, a global cable products and solutions company. Read on to learn how a degree in mechanical engineering can lead to a job in supply chain management (SCM) which covers a variety of industries along with a multitude of opportunities to advance and grow.

Finding solutions

For as long as he could remember, Okera Bullen always enjoyed solving problems with innovative, low-risk solutions. It therefore came as no surprise that he decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Vaughn. Or was it? “I always visualized myself working in the aviation field,” Bullen explained, “but it was my passion for problem solving that sparked my interest in mechanical engineering.” Okera mentions that thinking things through and finding the best possible solution is how his brain works. He said he chose Vaughn College for its small campus environment, outstanding faculty and close proximity to home.

Making a difference in the world

“Early in my professional life, I worked in the international public sector,” Bullen explained. “I wanted to make a difference in doing things for the planet.” After graduating from Vaughn, Bullen started out with the goal to work in the aviation and aerospace industry, but his path soon changed. “I had an interesting career segue,” he said. “I ‘fell into’ the supply chain and procurement field. After working in the international public sector for many years, I was looking for a growth opportunity where I could make an impact on people’s lives. The supply chain management position at Nexans—although challenging—drew a direct line to the work I was already doing. It was an easy decision for me.”

His role at Nexans

Bullen describes Nexans as a ‘pure electrification player’ in the offshore wind industry. This company has more than 100 years in the cable manufacturing sector. For the past several decades, Nexans has been a leading manufacturer and engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) contractor in the offshore wind space and electrification space, where it has produced export cables that connect wind farms to land. He went on to say that he works with interconnectors—which are huge, high-voltage cables which transmit electricity for hundreds of miles. There are in fact a few wind farms in the Northeast—right off the coast of Long Island— under development. Nexans has been contracted to engineer, design, manufacture, transport and install export cables to connect those wind farms into different parts of Brooklyn and Long Island.

With a passion for making a difference in the world, Bullen said working at Nexans as a tender and project purchasing manager is in line with his lifelong dedication of helping the planet. “I want to have some impact—in some small way—to move the needle toward renewal resources and sustainable energy to leave the planet in a better place than I found it,” he said humbly.

Vaughn’s new supply chain management certificate

Dr. ­DeVivo was excited to share information about Vaughn’s new supply chain management certificate program, which builds upon existing bachelor’s degrees in airport management and airline management, thus providing a seamless pathway for students who wish to specialize in supply chain management.

When asked about the choice of supply chain management as a great career direction for today’s students, Bullen replied: “Supply chain professionals do much more than support the safe travel and delivery of goods. It’s all about setting the strategies for how the goods are flowing across the chain, to prevent breaks or issues.” As for Bullen, his roles in sourcing, procurement, logistics and inventory management are helping to improve sustainability and energy efficiency. “The job is challenging, but we are all making a difference. Supply chain professionals come with a skillset that is transferable to various sectors. The problem-solving skills you learn in one job can easily transfer to other industries. We work in the background so things can move seamlessly.”

Advice to students

When asked by Dr. DeVivo for advice to students who are considering careers in supply chain management, Bullen was pleased to say: “Vaughn offers great resources for students. It’s not all about the coursework. The professors are working professionals with real-world experience. They are an invaluable resource that you can learn from. My professors were always there to guide me.”

Are you interested in a career in supply chain management? Learn more about Vaughn’s supply chain management certificate program. Apply today!