This author recently had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Abe Eshkenazi, the CEO of APICS. Many of our reader audience is probably aware of the APICS organization, primarily from the organizations array of local chapter educational and certification programs. However, some may not be aware that APICS has been undergoing its own transformation as a professional educational organization. Most supply chain professionals probably have awareness to APICS from its various certification programs. But as Eshkenazi clearly communicated, the organization is much more, and its DNA is about “investing in content”.
This author has prior knowledge of the organization, having been recruited by APICS in 2008 to serve as a three year member of the original CSCP Certification Exam Review Committee.
In October 2013, APICS rebranded itself to position the organization as the: “professional association for supply chain and operations management and the premier provider of research, education and certification programs that elevate supply chain excellence, innovation and resilience. “ Throughout our Interview, CEO Eshkenazi provided an enthusiastic endorsement of the many dedicated members of supply chain and operations management professionals who continue to make-up both the past and now, future educational outreach programs of APICS. He described them as “second to none”. We would add from our Supply Chain Matters point-of-view, that indeed, this is the secret sauce to APICS and its efforts as an active provider of professional education.
The APICS organization is evolving to be more responsive to the future needs of corporations with needs for experienced professionals along with individual members who find themselves with needs to constantly hone and refine their overall skills and competencies. These competencies are quickly moving beyond operational and tactical, to include more aspects of bigger picture and critical thinking skills. One of the most impactful statements communicated by Eshkenazi is that supply chain management itself has an awareness problem for what contribution the discipline provides for businesses. According to Eshkenazi: “Today’s supply chain management professional needs the ability to understand every aspect of the company. With the exception of perhaps Finance, no other function has such a broad sphere of impact. “
We could not agree more, which is why our blog banner was titled Supply Chain Matters back in 2008, and why we continue to provide readers reference points for how professionals who have cut their teeth in operations and supply chain management have risen to C-level and senior leadership roles in multiple industry settings.
Our interview touched upon the three new strategic pillars for APICS:
- Being more strategic in the understanding of how supply chain management impacts business outcomes and has become a competitive differentiator for various industry settings. Being more strategic further relates to helping individual members to acquire the required skill level competencies to provide such differentiation and leadership for their organizations. Acknowledgement of one of the most frequently expressed challenge among supply chain executives, that being supply chain talent management on a global basis was expressed as a part of this pillar. An area that APICS continues to focus on is providing analysis and articulation of well-defined supply chain management career paths that can be utilized for talent management initiatives. Career-path analysis includes collaboration with universities and other professional organizations related to supply chain management to insure that training programs are adequately addressing such needs.
- Being a more responsive professional organization to the needs of firms to recruit, retain and constantly re-skill supply chain professionals for today’s supply chain challenges. The CEO noted that the organization has taken great pains to insure that the content and supply chain body of knowledge is relevant to current and future skill needs. Stressed in the interview is that the organization takes special efforts to insure that certification testing is applications based vs. memorization. Programs directed at job task analysis are focused on what supply chain organizations desire and need. Such analysis is transferred to programs that can prepare supply chain and operations management professionals more successful in current and indeed, future roles, whether they are just starting out, in mid-career or later stages of development. APICS’s goal is to be relevant to members throughout all stages of their careers and as an organization, building a body of knowledge not only on current needs, but cutting-edge supply chain topics. The latter includes the rebranding of the organization’s research arm to the APICS Foundation, which according to Eshkenazi is focusing on more forward-looking topics related to supply chain needs of the future.
- The final pillar described was being a globally-driven organization, extending both educational and certification programs across broader geographic regions across the globe. Today’s supply chains extend to Asia, Latin America and other countries and the need for skilled supply chain talent is just as important. “APICS certifications need to be relevant across the globe” according to the CEO.
Our interview dived into many other efforts underway, enough to convince this author that APICS is indeed, a re-energized professional organization that is laser focused in operations and supply chain management education initiatives and continued programs that provide value to members.
A final note to our interview was that this CEO wanted to express the organization’s sincere appreciation to all of the existing APICS membership for their continued volunteerism and active interest in contributing to the organization’s mission and programs.