Celebrating CITT’s 50th Anniversary: An Executive Interview Series with CITT Chairmen
In this executive interview roundtable LQ celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Canadian Institute of Traffic and Transportation (CITT) with its former and present chairman, who share their insights on the evolution of CITT and logistics as a discipline.

Patrick Cullen (CITT Chairman, 1986 and 1987, Honorary Chair, and Past President), Chief Financial Officer, Bellville Rodair International Douglas Harrison (CITT Chairman and Honorary President, 1996 and 1997), President, The Calyx Transportation Group, Inc. Ron Carter (CITT Chairman 2000), Director of Logistics, Clearwater Fine Foods John Chipperfield (CITT Chairman 2002, 2003), Founder of Bellville Rodair International Patrick Bohan (CITT Chairman 2008), Manager, Business Development, Halifax Port Authority

LQ: The role of logistics in many organizations is becoming increasingly important. In your opinion, how has the role evolved, and how has CITT mirrored this evolution?

Patrick Cullen: Interestingly, the vision the founders of CITT had back in 1958 is still valid today. The label on the profession has changed dramatically, from traffic manager, to distribution manager, to logistics manager, to supply chain manager, and so on. In some industry environments, nothing has changed other than the label; in others they have truly embraced the fact that logistics and supply chain management is a collective, and within the collective there are a number of disciplines and cost centers. Furthermore, there should not be anticipation that the most effective management decision is to reduce costs in each aspect, but rather to understand that there may be a need to make tradeoffs so as to generate greater savings in the overall. I think CITT has done a great job in reformulating its program to recognize that evolution and its broader scope.

Doug Harrison: There has, indeed, been a huge evolution in the past twenty years. In transportation logistics, the wholesale sector has shifted from being a minor component to a key competitive advantage and a key financial driver. We have shifted from a regulated environment to a deregulated environment in North America. We have also focused more and more on distribution, logistics and supply chain. Today, the supply chain is a global model. We are now dealing with the complex task of trading with other countries, and the instability of the financial market today has added more complexity to this. The transportation logistics supply chain field has become multifaceted and is now a true management competency and discipline.
CITT has mirrored this evolution through its course offering. It encourages feedback from its students and its membership base and it is more committed than ever to providing relevant education for professionals in the industry.

Ron Carter: Logistics has become increasingly complex, and the exposure to penalties and risks for not understanding ever-changing rules and keeping a company compliant with them can be very substantial.
A good example is cross-border trucking. A decade or so ago, little attention or concern was paid by many exporters to the accuracy of documentation to send a truck to the U.S. Then came things like AMPS Penalties, the Bioterrorism Act, and 9/11, so that now valuation, origin, advance notification and participating in CTPAT are part of a new cross-border world that we have to live and do business in. You, not your customs broker, are responsible for the accuracy of all this.

CITT courses and textbooks are updated regularly to provide insight to members and undergraduates on these and the myriad of issues changing on other logistics fronts.
John Chipperfield: I graduated in ’93. At that time, and continuously through [the years], the role of the logistician became more and more recognized as a profession. Previous to that, in the ’80s, you saw a big financial role, and the accountants were streamlining things; previously to that you had large sales roles. When the ’90s hit, during the recession, everyone was looking at where they could trim costs. The role of the supply chain professional was recognized at a board level.

CITT had a vision to try to raise the bar in recognition from a hands-on traffic and transportation focus to more professional, well-run, well-rounded logistics. The courses were modified to reflect this. We’ve had a continuous upgrade program now for the last fifteen years of trying to ensure that our textbooks are relevant to the marketplace. We changed our approach to recognize the need for supply chain professionals, and we upgraded the education we provided, upgraded the image of the industry as a whole and became a leader in logistics education.

Patrick Bohan: Certainly logistics is recognized as a more important strategic corporate consideration now more than it ever has been. CITT saw this a number of years ago, and has endeavored to provide our members with more offerings in order to elevate their professional capabilities. In the past year, we have reached even further into this “leadership” area by presenting these topics at our annual conference and in workshops held across the country.

LQ: Under your stewardship as chairman, what were the key objectives that you sought to achieve?

Patrick Cullen: When I became the president, the institute was at a crossroads. It had managed to right itself financially, but it was now facing two challenges: first was the fact it was totally tied to the University of Toronto for all of its professional courses and thereby lacked flexibility, a condition created in the beginning, because the institute needed a way of ensuring its credibility in the eyes of potential candidates and employers alike; and second, it only had one primary method of delivery, i.e., by correspondence. When I took on the project as president, my view was that we had to change those positions. We had to give ourselves independence and flexibility so that people could take courses through various institutions, gain credits at colleges and universities and work toward professional designation in a variety of ways. We had to also recognize the benefits of an evolving multimedia world. Over a period of nine years [of my presidency], we managed to increase the course availability through 25-plus campuses across the country, we had control of our course material and content, and we began to deliver courses over the Internet.

When I decided to step down, the institute was better known, the designation had greater acceptance and respect, and the quest for continued growth and success had begun. Under Catherine’s guidance, the designation has achieved greater recognition and the annual conferences have provided tremendous opportunities for its members and the industry.

Doug Harrison: When I was chairman, Pat Cullen was general manager, and he had come on board to help CITT plan for its future. At that time, I was interested in identifying and refining the role of the institution and its board. I also wanted to start investing in CITT. Working side by side with Pat, I began to think about a marketing campaign, how we could retain and develop new memberships, and how the board could help support CITT in new ways.

Ron Carter: This relates to the earlier question regarding the evolution of the logistics in organizations and CITT’s programs, because focused business plans have ensured that there is an ongoing continuity as different chairs have served in that capacity. The underlying objective of any initiative is to add value to the membership.
Marketing was, and continues to be, a major focus, so that employers understand CITT difference, and look for it when they are hiring. The exploration of strategic alliances with other organizations and increased classroom and Internet delivery of our courses were other major initiatives.

John Chipperfield: During my term, I focused on inclusivity. I believe that industry groups have to work together. With the Supply Chain Sector Council coming on board, that was probably one of the better times of seeing SCL, CITT, CIFFA and National Defence working effectively towards the same goal. The important issue for me was to try and expand our educational offerings by involving other associations, colleges and universities.

Patrick Bohan: We are moving forward and elevating the logistics professionalism and leadership exemplified by CITT membership. For the seventh year in a row, our designation has been ranked most relevant and most widely held among a leading survey of logisticians on the subject.

During the past year, we committed to a substantial update and investment of our core course materials and strengthened our membership and training participation in a very challenging economic environment at the same time.

LQ: What is the value of professional credibility in the field today versus ten years ago?

Patrick Cullen: From an organizational position like CITT, which calls itself the “certifier of professionals,” its biggest challenge is to create public awareness that will attract people to seek the designation.

The importance of the designation itself, in my opinion, is in the hands of the holder. It is like a university degree. To say you have it does not necessarily do anything for you unless you understand what the value is, but if you use it to present yourself as having greater credibility, then I think the [designation] has a great deal of value. The misconception that people have is that the designation itself is what is going to open doors. It will help, it will give you a network, but it will not do the job; the holder has to do it.

When I was president of CITT, the most often-asked question of me was, “Now that I’ve got the designation, what are you going to do for me?” and my response always was, “Understand what we have given you is an excellent tool, but if you don’t use the tool, it’s useless. It’s not up to us to make the tool work; it’s up to you to make the tool work.”

Doug Harrison: The value of professional credibility has evolved in tandem with the requirements of the discipline—from a shipper at the back door of an organization a decade ago, to a senior VP at the boardroom table. Education is far more important today. You can certainly learn in the trenches, but the market has become quite competitive, and given the speed and complexity of the business, there is not as much time to train and groom entry-level employees. Accreditation is helpful because it allows employers to look at individuals and know right away that they have the necessary base of knowledge; they’re competent and certified in a specific area, and this gives the employer a foundation to build upon.

Ron Carter: The value of CITT designation has increased a lot, largely through a series of very successfully executed three-year strategic business plans undertaken by the board and executed by Catherine Viglas and her staff.

John Chipperfield: The status of the supply chain professional continues to have a much higher profile, as CEOs and CFOs recognize the value that the professional brings to the industry. Globalization has changed a lot for a lot of companies, and that just adds to the complexity of the supply chain. So it requires a professional with the necessary education.

Patrick Bohan: Like all professions, a substantive and relevant common body of knowledge needs to be accessible and constantly growing and evolving. This is what CITT has focused attention on in the logistics space for the growth of our members. In the past ten years, CITT has concentrated on rounding out its body of knowledge to fit with the demand for leadership and soft skills that are essential for enhanced credibility and value. There is a need for independent professional designations, and CITT fits that need in the logistics sector.

LQ: How does CITT distinguish itself from other organizations offering accreditation in Canada?

Patrick Cullen: What also differentiates CITT from many industry-specific offerings is that CITT does not dwell on a lot of how to do something, but rather it gives its candidates an understanding of why it is done. The program is much more universal and prepares its candidates to better understand the role supply chain has in the world.
Doug Harrison: CITT accreditation program has a niche in the Canadian market as a leader in transportation, regardless of mode, and offers a broad overview of the supply chain. Other organizations’ accreditation programs are not as rigorous and in-depth as CITT’s, especially in transportation. However, when it comes to warehousing and supply chain, other organizations offer programs probably just as broad.

After being a part of CITT for more than twenty years, I can say with confidence that it is a marvelous organization; it’s one of the organizations I’ve been a member of for the longest period of time. CITT is a great professional body with an excellent group of individuals, and offers a host of valuable networking and educational opportunities for its members.

Ron Carter: CITT designation is the most respected in Canada, and the scope and depth of the educational material sets it aside from other organizations, and when you combine that with five years of industry experience, a commitment to lifelong learning and the opportunity to network with the best and brightest—membership in CITT offers the complete package.

John Chipperfield: CITT programs have improved in leaps and bounds. I recently attended my fifteenth conference in a row since my graduation, and I see a new development every year. In the [last] four years especially, we have tried to market the conference and the content of the conference to all logisticians and CITT members in particular, making it broad-based. So it’s been personally satisfying to me to see the growth over the last fifteen years that I’ve been involved, from the board of directors to the staff to the conference to the textbook improvements. All this has allowed us to be a leader in the industry. CITT has had longevity throughout all the peaks and valleys that this industry has gone through.

Patrick Bohan: I am very proud of the continued progress on our annual “Reposition” conference. This past year in Winnipeg, we celebrated our 50th anniversary, a milestone that testifies to the depth and viability of our professional body of knowledge in the logistics field. With great credit to our president, Catherine Viglas, and the hard-working staff at our institute, we delivered a great Reposition 2008 conference and recruited significant new membership to our board of directors.

And perhaps most importantly, at our 2008 conference we heard from leading CITT logisticians who are taking an active role in the economy and honored Mr. Paul Kurrat, CITT, a long-time contributor to our organization. We have broadened our outlook with our Honorary President David Newman coming back for a second term, and are well placed to continue our work to take the institute to an ever more relevant and leading position.