This week supply chain management focused media outlets have featured the news that current Council of Supply Chain Management Professional (CSCMP) President Rick Blasgen has indicated that he will retire from the professional organization in March 2021, after his 15-year leadership of the organization.

For those unfamiliar with this organization, it serves as one of other professional education, career management and networking organizations in the area of supply chain management. Founded in 1963, the origins were as the Council of Logistics Management (CLM), when the role of logistics and transportation was not as visible as it has come today.

Reportedly, Blasgen will be replaced on an interim basis by the organization’s current chairperson, Mark Baxa, while a search for a permanent successor will be conducted.

Blasgen indicated in a release that he was enormously proud of the staff and dedicated volunteers of the organization. He was recruited to the organization after an extensive career in the consumer products industry including serving as the Senior Vice President of Supply Chain for ConAgra Foods before leading the organization.

A statement from CSMP indicates that Blasgen will remain in an advisory capacity.

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First, as a long-time member of CSCMP, this author wants to extend congratulations and best wishes to Rick on his retirement. He has provided CSCMP and this platform active support in advocating the supply chain management profession, along with perspectives on overall industry supply chain trends and needs.

Having a 15-year tenure leading a professional organization in good times, not so good, and highly uncertain times is indeed an accomplishment.

At the same time, changes in executive leadership provide opportunities for different directions and perspectives regarding the charter and goals of a professional organization.

It is now little secret that supply chain management has become far more visible in enabling overall business outcomes, all the way up to C-Suite and boardroom levels.  The days of viewing supply chain functions as merely cost center or administrative overhead are changing rapidly. That was especially the case in 2020 and with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on multiple industry supply chains and their respective supply chain management teams. Supply chain capability and abilities to pivot, among large global companies or small and medium businesses were the extension of business and operational strategy and outcomes. As noted in our predictions from prior and the upcoming year, securing and retaining skilled talent in supply chain management have become essential, and that value was outwardly recognized more than ever last year.

Fifteen years ago, supply chain management professional organizations provided functional identities and tenures. There was CLM for transportation and logistics teams, APICS for manufacturing and supply chain planning and operations management, ISM for procurement and supply management, among others.

During this span, the roles of what is today’s supply chain management have become far broader, involving all of these functional dimensions along with elements of product, services and increasingly skills related to business and technology strategy and management.

The reality today is that these professional organizations are competing with one another for value-added services from both a personal member and a corporate wide services perspective. Education needs are broader in cross-functional and cross-industry perspective. Education and certification are now a continuous changing need, and delivery mechanisms for professional networking and idea exchange are often, on-demand and virtual focused.  Professional organizations supplement one-time academic degree attainment in a fast-changing business climate. Networking and education can be in local chapters, venues, or increasingly online share groups.

Like any other business, keeping the lights on and compensating paid staff requires consistent revenue flows, in good times and in challenged times.

One of this author’s ongoing concerns has been when professional organizations stray from the mission of professional advancement to that of becoming a product or brand marketing extension of certain technology or services providers. Selling lists of members, featuring product marketing content disguised as independent or academic thought leadership, leaning on vendor sponsors for increased revenue flows have always been a slippery slope.

From our lens, CSCMP has had its own set of challenges in attracting a broader audience and body of knowledge beyond its logistics and transportation heritage. While these areas are far more recognized for their value in business outcome dimensions, the professional skill requirements have dramatically changed.  There are sometimes conflicting goals among service providers, carriers, and supply chain business professionals relative to service, cost, and technology requirements. Education and professional development are different. It is again little secret that added numbers of talented young people need to be attracted to the profession in recruiting and other mechanisms of recognition.

Therefore, we trust that the CSMP Board will be take this opportunity to recruit a new leader with a bold vision, perspective and charter and that CSCMP members have their voice added to what they seek in organizational leadership.


Bob Ferrari


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