New center director says trade can be fun

By Sam King - Staff Reporter

International trade shouldn't be dull, Highline's new center director of Center of Excellence for Global Trade and Supply Chain Management said. 

He plans to make international trade a fun experience for students entering the field. 

Sam Kaplan was recently named the college's new director of the Center of Excellence for Global Trade and Supply Chain Management. Kaplan replaces Dr. Meg Ryan, who retired last fall.

He has spent most of his career working on international trade, including 20 years working for Trade and Development Alliance of Seattle. 

During the time he worked at TDA, Kaplan worked on creating an international competitive strategy for Washington state and connecting Washington state industries with international industries. He then worked for an international consulting firm providing business development and planning communications consulting.

"I was always in love with what's going on in other countries and how international trade helps the economy," he said. 

Kaplan's No.1 advice for students is to try different things academically. 

"Majors are important but you might end up doing something else," he said. 

Kaplan said he believes the most important thing is to always be curious and to take the opportunity of different paths.

Global trading students should dig deeper, Kaplan said.

"It's a fast changing field so dig deeper," he said.

 Also, Kaplan advises global trading students always look for different solutions. 

"Don't just accept the answers. Things are always much complicated than they appear. Whether you're looking at the supply chain and how to get things from point A to point B or whether you're looking at international trade, you always need to look at the much-complicated picture," he said.

Kaplan said his professional goal is to continue the great work Highline College Center of Excellence staff have done. 

"My goal is to make the Center of Excellence a useful tool for Washington state and Highline College. I want to fulfill the Center of Excellence mission and build new pathways to help students and guide them to productive and fun carries," he said.

He said his personal goal is to have fun doing it.

"My favorite major is math. I believe math is an underrated major. It's not as hard as people think. Also, I'm an English minor so I like combining the left brain to the right brain," Kaplan said. 

In recent years, it has become more popular to get away from liberal arts majors in favor of other majors such as computer programming he said.  However, he said he believes that while it's important to build applications for computers, we also, need to build applications for the real world and the best way to do that is to understand humans. 

"Art and  English literature give the brain a foundation to do other things," he said.

"My main mission as the new center director is to help students finding a productive and fun career in supply chain and global trades and helping them getting into the training program," Kaplan said.  

The Center of Excellence works for the whole state and is designed to help students finding good jobs. 

"Companies who have employees will benefit from having such training and helping students find jobs and internships in these fields," Kaplan said. 

The Center of Excellence can help to connect students with internships. Kaplan and the Center of Excellence are working on building a job board on its website for global trade and supply chain management. 

"We have done a variety of grants. Also, we are trying to help to build companies and train their workers to do trades," he said.

Understanding the language of international trade or global trade can be very important to your job if you're working in Washington state.

"Forty percent of jobs in Washington state are tied to international trade in a way or another," he said. 

And a huge percentage of Washington state companies, sales are coming from international customers. 

"Almost every company is connected in international trade in the supply chain," he said.

For more information about the Center of Excellence for Global Trade and Supply Chain Management, visit

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