The Last Mile: Keyword: Logistics

How do you demonstrate your value to your current or future employer? In a world that has become more complex, where compliance means more governments, more agencies and more regulations, and where technology seems to leap ahead every time you come close to grasping it, how can you demonstrate you have the skills and knowledge your organization needs?

Experience speaks volumes, but it is how you interpret what you have learned and how you apply it that will matter. Increasingly, logistics and supply chain professionals must guide that discussion because your true qualifications don't show up in the string of letters following your name.

Did your BA or MBA degree with emphasis in logistics cover homeland security and compliance with the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)? Did the exams you completed for your CTL (certified in transportation and logistics) or CSCP (certified supply chain professional) prepare you for Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX)? Does the executive development workshop you attended address the current issues plaguing your company in optimizing its elongated supply chain?

All of these qualifications are steps in a neverending logistics education process, and they only begin to quantify the knowledge you have accumulated.

Compliance has always been an issue in logistics, even before the days when an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) Practitioners License was a strong credential indicating you knew the regulations and understood how transportation law worked — well enough to practice alongside lawyers in front of the ICC. Today, with no ICC, compliance issues are coming at your organization at light speed from every direction. There's no single credential demonstrating you have the knowledge and requisite skills for the task.

If you went through the evolution of total quality management (TQM) and the formal documentation of processes that was part of ISO 9000 certification, your experience is your "license" for C-TPAT and SOX. Your process orientation helps you ensure compliance whether for internal practices or for the benefit of regulators.

In today's thin organizations, there's little time for formal education. You rely on your prior education to help you identify areas you must address and then you move quickly to develop, document and put into practice the processes that will keep you in compliance with government regulations and corporate goals.

When asked what value you have delivered, the letters after your name are only part of the answer. Executive placement specialist Don Jacobson with LogiPros sums up the issue as being akin to a keyword search. Organizations examining their logistics needs want certain key elements to be present. Their attitude can be extremely reactive. Today, they need someone with experience in a particular warehouse management system, someone who has helped implement a Six Sigma program, or someone to establish an Asian import operation.

The tools that prepared you to recognize and respond to those and other needs may be implied by the letters after your name, but it won't be apparent to upper management unless you refer directly to the factors that interest them most at this point in time. Don't stop pursuing your professional education, but make sure you include a few other initials and terms besides MBA or CTL — things that will be part of management's keyword search like SAP, Six Sigma, C-TPAT and SOX.

NOTE: CTL certification is handled by the American Society of Transportation and Logistics, www.astl.org. The CPIM, CSCP and other certifications are administered by APICS, www.apics.org.

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