APICS is about people: A personal account of how early involvement with APICS can help achieve your career goals.
Yanick Lavoie lives in Ottawa, Ontario. He holds two APICS certifications, CPIM and CSCP and is Treasurer of the APICS Ottawa Chapter. He is a solution consultant for a leading edge supply chain management planning Software Company whose customers are some of the largest and most respected companies in the world.
I read once that supply chain management is about where the rubber hits the road: where value is created and how big ideas become reality. Therefore, based on a little research and the fact that I am the type of person who thrives on creating value and improving how value is created, supply chain management seemed like a natural fit for me and in September of 2006, I chose this as my field of study and enrolled in a full-time supply chain management undergraduate degree program at a local college.
Today, just six years after graduating, I am a successful supply chain management practitioner. I love my work, my colleagues, and the company I work for, and I can honestly say that I have achieved all of my original career goals. This is due in large part to an early and continued involvement with APICS on my part and in hindsight, it was the most impactful decision I have made in the recent past.
In this, the first of three short articles, I will share with you how this rewarding journey started; how I came up with a vision to guide the creation of my career strategy.
In the second article, I’ll tell you about how APICS was a factor in each part of my journey, while at school and after, and of those whom I met along the way.
I have reserved the third and last article to share with you how I expect APICS will play a part in the next phase of my career plan. One always needs goals and since I’ve attained all of mine, it’s that time again, the time to plan the next phase!
In the spring of 2005, I found I was less than hopeful about my career future. I didn’t have any formal education so my choices were limited. I decided to start from scratch, and after some research, analysis, and a great deal of soul-searching, I enrolled in a reputable Supply Chain Management degree program and started school in the fall of 2006.
Within the first month, my focus shifted to what I call the “Then what?”, This is how I summarize many questions, such as: “How will I leverage this degree into a rewarding career?”, “Who are the people who work in this field?”, “Where are the jobs?”, “What is the earnings potential?”, and the ever-lingering “What is supply chain management, anyway?”. This last question was key, as I live in a government town and for government supply chain management is all about procurement. Given the context, this is correct, but suspected that this was a very narrow definition of supply chain management. After all, it is concerned with managing, or finding the balance, between supply and demand along the entire value chain, both forward and backward.
I knew that finding the answers to the questions above would require some effort on my part, so to narrow things down somewhat, I started by defining what eventual success looked like for me. It boiled down to fulfilling four desires (listed below), which I trusted would eventually become my vision, or a beacon if you prefer, such as a role, a company name, an industry or even (God forbid!) a graduate degree.
1. To eventually work in my field of choice; Supply Chain Management
2. To work with a group of people considered to be on the leading edge
3. To be surrounded with people who are smarter than me so that I could be challenged and learn from them
4. To have a job that could provide me with the means to eventually retire, but not the desire to ever want to
The next step was to create a strategy that would guide my actions and decisions for the next four years and beyond.
Like most college and university programs, ours had access to many professional organizations, and APICS was just one of them. Student memberships were made available, in most cases, seats on the board of local chapters were also offered. I took advantage of this, as I knew that this would be a good way to meet people who held different roles in the field of supply chain, expand my professional network, and gain a better understanding of the course material by providing industrial context.
A classmate of mine was the APICS representative, but I got involved nonetheless, and she kept me informed of any developments and events.
In addition to these organizations, we created our own club, and organized events where professionals and students would gather to listen to keynote speakers and mingle with each other to learn more about each other.
One of these keynote speakers, who spoke at an event a few months after I started school, turned out to be a presence and play an extremely important role in my career. I will tell you more about this person, and about others, in the next article.
The architect of your program has already defined your learning plan. When defining your career plan, start with a vision, plan early, plan way past graduation, and start executing your plan now.
Oh, and don’t forget to reach out to your local APICS chapter for help. Do it. Right now.