During the pandemic, the struggle to keep the supply chain moving impacted many people’s lives. For some, it meant that some of their usual groceries were nowhere to be found at their local stores. For others, the problem wasn’t even noticeable. But for Michael Canton, it was an opportunity to redefine his future and make his mark in the supply chain management industry.
A Mohawk College graduate, Michael attended the Pre-Media and Entertainment program, and the Broadcasting – Television and Communications Media program while he was in his twenties. “After graduating I did an internship at a company for videography and editing, and that company then ended up folding or downsizing. I don't think that it really exists anymore,” said Michael. “After that, I went on employment insurance (EI) for about a year. After EI ran out, I ended up finding a job in a warehouse. I've been there for the last 10 years coming this August.”
Working in a warehouse, Michael is already a part of the supply chain. He has a good understanding of how it operates and the importance it plays in our lives. Seeing the effect, the pandemic had on the supply chain got him thinking about the future, both for himself and how to prevent these problems from happening again.
“Supply chain management has been interesting over the past decade. The pandemic has changed the way that we operate. You take for granted all these things that are right at your fingertips, all of the time. And then all of a sudden, the pandemic hits, and they’re not readily available. You go into the store, and you might not get that toilet paper or whatever you were going to grab. It caused me to think about where I want to go in the future, how I can hopefully help and how to get more knowledge,” said Michael.
While the pandemic spurred his interest, Michael’s belief in Canada’s manufacturing position helped him decide the Supply Chain Management program was the right choice for his future.
“I picked now not only because of the pandemic, but because there could potentially be, in Canada at least, more manufacturing done in house,” said Michael. “Rather than just outsourcing manufacturing to other countries, you can see that everyone's saying, ‘we’ve got a problem and we need to fix it.’ So, I think, especially in Hamilton, there's going to be a lot of manufacturing jobs coming out pretty soon.”
Michael has continued to work in his warehouse position since starting at Mohawk, managing to balance both work and school. “This is only a two-semester course. It was only going take a year to complete, so if I felt any kind of pressure, it's not going to last very long,” said Michael. “I felt like the first semester went really, really well. The balance was very good. I had ample time to do my schoolwork and then still not be tired or drained by going to work or anything like that. I’m in the second semester right now, it's a little different, and I'm just kind of getting used to it. There's a lot more group work involved, but you just have to keep on top of it and stay organized.”
Now that he is returning as a mature student, Michael finds he has a better focus on his goals and achieving them than when he first attended Mohawk. “I found myself having more discipline going back to school at an older age. I'm 40 now, and I was probably 24 or 25 when I was taking pre-media,” said Michael. “You do develop more discipline, and you take it a little bit more seriously than what you would when you're in a younger state of mind.”
His advice for those thinking of entering the industry? Don’t take your instructor's experience for granted.
“Your teachers have worked in the industry for decades. They're retired from their supply chain management jobs, and they have a wealth of knowledge to pick at. They've seen pretty much everything, so why not take advantage of it? So, come to class. Engage with your teachers as best as you can and go after opportunities - even if the opportunities don't make sense, just be open, because you never know where it's going to lead.”