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Presidents Viewpoint: Global Connections
In 1994, a quotation appeared in Fortune that focused on the emerging strategic significance of global supply chains: As the economy changes, as competition becomes more global, its no longer company vs. company but supply chain vs. supply chain.
We no longer have the luxury of remaining domestic only, and for the Canadian economy, we can no longer limit our thinking to NAFTA. Strategic supply chains are de facto global in scope and nature.
This is as true for logistics professionalism as it is for logistics business strategies. The P.Log. is emerging as the standard of competence in a global market, much as ISO certification is the entry requirement for companies who want to play in that market.
With admittance into the WTO at the end of 2001, China committed to develop business and commercial practices in line with global standards. In addition to all other requirements, this process also entails the implementation of international standards, the development of workforce skills to meet these standards, and the delivery of training to build those workforce skills.
Logistics has been identified by the Peoples Republic as one of the most significant business processes, and consequently, among the most important skill sets, to be developed in China at this time. In the rush to build logistics infrastructure (regional DCs) and implement networks (IT management systems), little has been done to train the Chinese workforce in logistics skills. The demand runs the gambit of the workforce, ranging from operations to senior management and executive leadership, from inventory handling to supply chain strategies.
Occasional efforts at training are flooding the China and Asia Pacific markets. Two recent ones include:
To date, however, no attempt has emerged to design, develop and deliver a systematic, comprehensive and consistent approach to logistics skills development aimed at the entire workforce.
Since the Summer of 2001, the Logistics Institute has been contacted by a number of individuals, agencies, groups and businesses, from Canada, the US and China, interested in delivering skills development and training programs. A number of these contacts are expressly interested in professional certification as the way to meet and tie into global standards. The P.Log. is the value add in this equation.
The Institute is exploring entry into China on three levels:
Strategic Level: top-down approach, transferring expertise in a consultant capacity, working with Chinese national, provincial, regional governments to develop policies and programs focused on workforce development:
Professional Level: top-down meets bottom-up, creating a Chinese professional community allied with the Logistics Institute focused on;
Commercial Level: bottom-up approach, providing training products/services, working with in-country agents:
China Steering Committee
In 2002, the Board established a China Steering Committee to lead these efforts in China. Chaired by Frank Bennett of BC Hydro, who is also Chairman of the Board, this Committee consists of a group of Chinese-Canadian businessmen and Institute professionals with connections in Hong Kong and on the Mainland.
Concrete possibilities are already emerging in 2003. Discussions have opened with the China International Chamber of Commerce and the Shanghai Professional Association, to deliver the Executive Certification Program to Chinese businessmen. Contact has been established with the Shanghai Vocational Institute, to design Logistics programs at the operational level. Opportunities are being explored to work with National Universities to develop degree programs in Logistics.
With a bit of luck the first cadre of Chinese nationals will earn their P.Log. designations by the AGM in April 2004. To celebrate the lunar Year of the Ram, we say Gung hey fat choy (we wish you prosperity and good fortune).
Patience is essential to succeed in the global arena. Much can be accomplished by planting seeds and watching new sprouts grow. To rush the process is to kill the plant.
Similar to China, the Institute has a vision to deliver workforce development, training, and certification in South Africa, and by extension to all of Africa. Complexities arise over the differences in culture among nations and regions, but the overall aim is comparable to the goals set for China. The strategies are the same, even if the points of access differ.
Precisely a year ago this month I was in New York City being introduced to the World Confederation of Productivity Science. I am now a member of their board of directors, with leadership responsibility to help develop the 13th World Productivity Congress.
The WCPS Vision is deceptively simple: build peace through prosperity; develop prosperity through productivity. Peace, Prosperity, Productivity are integrally linked at all levels of development: from global and national, to systemic and programmatic, organizational and institutional, as well as individual and personal.
As a global group, WCPS works with local Productivity Centres, to sponsor Congresses every two to three years. Working with the Pan African Productivity Association (South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana), WCPS is planning to hold the 13th Congress in Johannesburg, South Africa, in October 2004.
Fortuitously, both the WCPS and the Productivity Centre in South Africa expressed interest in developing professional certification for their members. The P.Log. process is being positioned by them as the model to follow. This opportunity emerged despite the Institutes plans to enter the South African market; we had not yet begun to roll out our plans when the South Africans initiated their request to work with us on certification.
The 13th World Productivity Congress is indeed emerging as a lucky event for the Institute. As a member of the Congress Development Team, I will be traveling to Johannesburg on a regular basis between now and October 2004. The Congress and Certification will be on my agenda.
The Institutes US strategy focuses on building partnerships. The Institute is not an educational institution; we are a professional organization where practitioners can have their professional competence certified by earning the P.Log. The Institute has no intention of competing with American institutions on American soil. That would be suicide; hence the partnership strategy.
Formal negotiations have begun to deliver the Executive Certification Program in partnership with the US Merchant Marine Academy by Autumn 2003. The added advantage is that I get to go to New York City on a regular basis. Both my parents are enjoying good health at the age of 83, and it is fun to visit them at the end of the business day.
The Institute of Industrial Engineers (Atlanta) started the process of building from our joint membership agreement to developing professional certification for their members. A partnership to deliver the Executive Certification Program is emerging, with implementation planned before the end of 2003.
Opportunities are being explored with a number of university-based Logistics institutes to develop certification partnerships. Centres in Texas, Kentucky and Florida all expressed interest in delivering the Executive Program.
The uniqueness of the Executive Certification Program is the integration of strategic supply chain issues with change leadership and management processes. The P.Log. is a leader, and not just a practitioner, in the field of logistics. That is core to our professional identity. And the US market is ready to embrace P.Log. logistics professional certification.
Conclusion. We have grown quickly from the first 52 P.Log.s in 1997 to the current 1,300 in 2003. Annually, we process 1,000 registrants through the standard and executive certification programs, and include 80 major corporations among our members.
Statistics, however, are relatively insignificant compared to the Institutes emerging leadership role in the global marketplace. The Logistics Institute is a model to emulated by others in workforce development, sector standards, and professional certification. The question is: do we have the ability to respond to the demand, and the energy to sustain our response?