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Linderman’s adjustment to Penn State Smeal College of Business virtually seamless

October 22, 2020

By GREG METZ

Kevin Linderman
Kevin Linderman
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In an unprecedented time where the unexpected has become the new normal, adjustments have to be made in all aspects of life, including one’s career. This is the environment that Kevin Linderman has begun his time at Penn State in.
 

Linderman was hired as the successor to Nicholas Petruzzi as the department chair of Supply Chain and Information Systems in the Penn State Smeal College of Business this summer. 

Since then, he has had to take a new approach to the role, and acknowledges it has been an unusual time to join a new department amidst the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I can’t just walk down the hall and ask a colleague a question,” Linderman said. “I must set up a zoom session and make a calendar invitation for even simple questions.” 

Changing jobs is never an easy adjustment, but as a department chair, it becomes even more difficult when one must quickly adapt without the ability to start developing personal, working relationships with coworkers. 

“It is unusual to start forming bonds with people that I work with and I have never physically met them,” Linderman said. 

Still, he has avoided some of the pitfalls of these obstacles by working to build camaraderie with associates, even if it is remotely. 

“I think what helps is having standing or periodic meetings which creates a sense of connection,” he said. “My colleagues have a lot of experience teaching in the online context [and] they feel very comfortable working and coordinating in the online setting.” 

Linderman began his career working at Electronic Data Systems where he developed software for manufacturing systems at General Motors. 

He was first exposed to supply chain management while developing software that coordinated shipments between General Motors and their suppliers, and has been interested in the field ever since. 

“I loved the idea of spending my life studying and teaching supply chain management,” Linderman said. 

This drove him toward pursuing further education and earning his Ph.D. before later becoming a professor at the University of Minnesota.

As he progressed in his teaching career, he started to look into broader issues within the supply chain field. 

“One constant theme throughout my career is trying to understand systems,” Linderman said. “Systems need alignment and purpose which gets into leadership and strategy.” 

After a long, distinguished career at Minnesota, the stature of Smeal, combined with his experience, attracted Linderman to take advantage of the position offered at Penn State.

“I liked the reputation and programs at Penn State Smeal,” he said. “The department has a long-standing reputation and a large and loyal alumni base, [and] I was attracted to the Center for Supply Chain Research, which I think is one of the best supply chain related research centers in the country.”

Linderman sees his new role as an opportunity to build on the success of an accomplished faculty on a higher scale than he has been accustomed to in the past.

“With a large faculty, you can take on more initiatives and programs than a small faculty,” Linderman said. “I think having a large faculty is critical when business schools are moving towards specialized degree programs.”

This movement has built the foundation for what he hopes to achieve in his new role at Penn State.

In the short-term, Linderman hopes to align curriculum at the undergraduate, masters, and Ph.D. levels to meet the changing needs of students. 

His long-term goal, however, is to create a climate, culture, and community of engaged scholars who collectively work to create and disseminate knowledge. 

With the help of his coworkers, Linderman looks to create a promising vision at Smeal for years to come. 

“I want to create a context where the department’s future is bright,” he said. “I look forward to working with the other faculty [members] in making this happen.”

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