I interviewed Cheryl Paradowski who discussed the importance of supply chain credentials.
Dustin: Cheryl, it’s great to speak with you today. We look forward to hearing your views on supply chain credentials. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?
Cheryl: Yes, absolutely. I’m the national president and CEO for the Purchasing Management Association of Canada, and we are the leading and the largest association in supply chain management in Canada. We have over sixty-five hundred members, and we’re divided into a federation, so we have provincial and territorial institutes in ten of the provinces and territories across Canada.
Dustin: Can you talk about why supply chain credentials—what are supply chain credentials?
Cheryl: I’ll give an example within our organization, PMAC, and I’ll refer to PMAC as the acronym as the Purchasing Management Association of Canada. We offer a designation called the supply chain management professional, or SCMP designation. That would be a credential that individuals would use to demonstrate to employers in particular that they have a certain set of skills, knowledge, and aptitudes that demonstrate that they can perform as a professional in this field of practice.
Dustin: Thank you. And why are they important?
Cheryl: For us, they’re really an important demonstration of the evolution that’s going on within supply chain management right now, and we made a transition with our designation about nine years ago. It was based on feedback that we heard both from our members, who are practitioners in the field, and from their employers, indicating that this was a field of practice that was evolving. Typically, in the past it may have been operational in nature and quite a tactical role, but what was happening, the field was moving into a position where supply chain was becoming recognized as a way in which a company could gain competitive advantage in the marketplace, and that moved it into a much more strategic role.
Certainly in Canada that was happening at a time where there wasn’t a lot of support for the field of practice in the post secondary community, so as a result, we have stepped forward as the professional association in the field of practice to say we’re in a position to be able to define what those skills, knowledge, and aptitudes should be and to be able to develop a program not only to allow people to go through education programs to gain those skills, but also a way to be able to evaluate and to be in a position to confer a designation on people. So, for us, it’s a very important part, if nothing else, in terms of establishing the credibility of this field of practice and the fact that our members and individuals working as professionals in supply chain as a whole can contribute on this level to organizations and can make a real demonstrable difference.
For us, then, that extrapolates not just within businesses, but it’s something that governments should be keeping an eye on for the economy as a whole. Without having this kind of credentialing system or some way to establish that, it makes it very difficult for companies themselves, particularly if they’re looking to try to evolve this field within their own organizations, to know what they should be looking for in terms of a skill set. Professional associations that can do this kind of work provide a proxy for employers having to do that definition and figure out just based on résumés what people would be bringing to a role.
Dustin: And how do you establish supply chain credentials?
Cheryl: Well, we have gone about it at two levels. When PMAC first developed our program, we did it based on a competency profile. What you basically do, then, is you develop a working group of individuals who are in the field of practice and work through with them and with their employers to define exactly what the skill sets are that individuals need to possess in supply chain management.
The competencies that we established for our supply chain management professional include: procurement and supply management; logistics and transportation; operations and process management; knowledge management; global sourcing; supply chain management in the public sector as a separate skill; being able to perform the skill in doing procurement for services, capital goods, and major projects. Then there are some more generic, what we would call leadership skills, involved in the competency profile such as: professionalism; negotiation skills; communication and relational skills; contract writing and tendering; ethical and social responsibilities; as well as international business and multicultural skills. We basically used that as a general profile, and around that we built a program with a series of learning objectives related to achieving those competencies.
Then we developed a measurement program. It includes going through classroom-style and workshop-style training; it includes assignments and exams related to each of those individual modules; and then our designation in particular culminates with an in-residence week at the end, where we bring all our candidates together across the country to prepare for a final exam and also to review the most current trends within the field of practice to make sure everybody’s going forward with the same base of knowledge.
We also have quite a rigorous final two-day exam that’s all case-based that our individuals participate in. So, for the individuals looking at participating in a program like this, it is a commitment of anywhere from three to five years for the individuals who are involved. When we have looked at comparing it in the marketplace, we very much consider it equivalent in rigor to taking a master’s in supply chain management. Where an additional step comes in, PMAC is also involved with an international federation, the International Federation of Purchasing and Supply Management, or IFPSM, and that’s basically an association of associations from around the world in the fields of purchasing and supply chain management. Within the last year, that organization has launched a global standard for credentialing programs in supply chain management. PMAC’s SCMP program is only the second program around the world that has demonstrated compliance with that global standard, and we now have that as an additional stamp on the program that we offer to our members.
About Cheryl Paradowski
President and Chief Executive Officer
Toronto, Canada Area | Nonprofit Organization Management