I am often asked by supply management professionals — "What is more important, education or experience? Should I pursue formal education or focus on improving my work experience?"
These are very common questions in many dynamic professions, especially supply management. Typically, individuals asking such questions are looking for an "either/or" answer — either education or experience. However, as we know in life, there are no easy answers. This also holds true in the education versus experience question, especially as it relates to the supply management profession.
The answer is that a proper balance between education and experience is needed for a successful career in supply management. Focusing too much on one at the expense of the other will be detrimental to your career. In many leading organizations, the requirements for entry-level positions in supply management include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, typically in a business administration, technical, legal or other related area. Without this college degree, résumés and job applications are quickly sent to the circular file. On the other hand, employees with college degrees who do not increase the depth and breadth of their supply management experience are ultimately directed to the exit doors and told not to return.
Freshly minted college graduates starting their careers in supply management should concentrate on obtaining the most valuable job experience in their organization. Asking for the most challenging assignments and tasks, and volunteering for the tough projects, add to the fullness and richness of their job experience. As college-degreed supply management professionals become more experienced and seek higher-level job responsibilities, the question of education versus experience must be readdressed. After all, supply management professionals can rest on the laurels of their undergraduate degrees for only so long. Research shows that today's college degrees have a shelf life of approximately three years. Professional credentials are the best option for balancing the education versus experience question. The Certified Professional in Supply Management® (CPSM®) qualification requires both formal education (a four-year college degree) as well as real-world supply management experience (three years of full-time, professional supply management experience). Additionally, the continuing education requirements for the CPSM® ensure that this qualification will not go stale or lose its value.
How are you addressing the education versus experience dilemma? Are you properly balanced? What's the expiration date on your college degree? Are you due for a credential makeover? I encourage all supply management professionals to seriously consider pursuing the CPSM®. It provides proper balance and builds upon your formal education and supply management experience. Pursuing your CPSM® qualification is your chance to leverage your formal education and your supply management experience into career advancement and success.
Rene G. Rendon, DBA, CPSM, C.P.M.
Chair, ISM Professional Credentials Committee
"CHANGE" is a word we heard a lot in 2008 ... change in unprecedented economic challenges, change in our political fabric and even change in the basic way many of us do business.
Yes, there was also change in the ISM professional credentials.
The C.P.M. program is transitioning toward a "recertification only" program. The registration deadline to take the C.P.M. Exams for the first time has passed. Of course, if you registered less than a year ago, you can still schedule to take that C.P.M. Exam. And you can register throughout 2009 to retake an exam you may have not passed.
Looking ahead, we are excited about the success of our new credential — Certified Professional in Supply Management® (CPSM®). The new CPSM® credential was launched at the 2008 ISM International Supply Management Conference. Since then, the CPSM® has been awarded to professionals in at least nine different countries around the world.
As you know, the CPSM®, which focuses on more than just the purchasing function, more accurately reflects the extensive and strategic role of supply management. When you achieve the CPSM®, you indicate to current and future employers that you have also changed with the new environment and challenges in the field.
In addition to the CPSM Study Guide and CPSM Knowledge Series already available, ISM will soon release the CPSM Diagnostic Practice Exam to assist with test preparation.
If you have not already achieved the CPSM®, we challenge you in 2009 to ... Dare to Lead!
Andrea Waas, A.P.P., APR
Vice President — Professional Credentials
Institute for Supply Management™
What makes the CPSM® different from other certifications? It encompasses all areas of global supply management and incorporates highly strategic skill sets that are proactive instead of just reactive, tactical or operational skill sets.
The CPSM® gives you the multifaceted foundation to continuously improve and innovate in this highly competitive global marketplace. As a CPSM®, your skills in areas such as supplier relationship management, commodity management, risk and compliance issues, and social responsibility will drive value in every link of the supply chain.
You will have the capacity to effectively manage projects, whether you work in the nonmanufacturing or manufacturing sector. Your additional knowledge will be relevant to improve your direct and indirect spends, making you more valuable to the organization.
The CPSM® has been well-received all over the globe. Listed here is the first CPSM® from each country. Watch for future issues to read about why the first CPSM® from each country felt that it was an important step in their career and what they recommend to others who want to accomplish the same goal:
ISM has provided several marketing tools on its Web site that incorporate the "Dare to Lead" theme. To access these tools on the Affiliate Advertising and Promotional Resources page, go to www.ism.ws and select Members Only, Affiliate Resources, Affiliate Support and then select Newsletter Resources and Other Items for Affiliate Use.
Dare to Lead — Affiliate Template
Tri-fold brochure with editable text boxes to enter your event, review course or seminar information. Download only.
Dare to Lead — Get Your CPSM® to Compete
Brochure targeting individuals. Download available; update of print version coming soon.
Dare to Lead — Can Your Team Compete?
Brochure targeting companies or executives with a team of employees. Download available; update of print version coming soon.
The criteria you need to earn the CPSM® designation are:
Current C.P.M.s with a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution (or international equivalent) can take one Bridge Exam to attain the CPSM®. The Bridge is a single exam covering contemporary subject matter and material not covered in the current C.P.M. Exam.
There are three CPSM® Exams that cover the major areas of supply management. To see the detailed exam specifications, visit the ISM Web at www.ism.ws and select Certified Professional in Supply Management® (CPSM®) and then ISM CPSM® Exam Specification.
165 questions (150 scored); two hours and 45 minutes allowed to test
165 questions (150 scored); two hours and 45 minutes allowed to test
180 questions (165 scored); three hours allowed to test
Bridge Exam — Only for current C.P.M.s with a bachelor's degree.
180 questions (all scored); three hours allowed to test
Three levels of learning are tested in the CPSM® Exams:
The primary focus of CPSM® Exam questions are application and comprehension with minimal recall knowledge being tested.
The pass rates for the CPSM® Exams average about 65 percent, which is very similar to the pass rates we have historically seen on the C.P.M. Exams.
ISM offers the CPSM® Study Guide and the ISM Professional Series three-book set to assist in preparing for the three CPSM® Exams. A CPSM® supplemental reading list is available to assist in gaining knowledge in any area where you may have a particular concern.
If you prefer face-to-face instruction, many affiliates offer CPSM® review courses. Check your affiliate's calendar of events for schedules.
The CPSM® Diagnostic Practice Exam is currently in development and will be available during the first quarter of 2009.
Have you been studying diligently for your CPSM® Exams? Well, now you are ready to register for your CPSM® Exams with ISM. There is an online registration process. It's quick, it's easy and you get your confirmation fast.
To get started, just decide which exam you are ready to take — 1, 2, 3 or the Bridge. You may take as many exams as you like at one time.
You must first register with ISM. Registration is available in the following ways:
Computer Exam Fees: $180 USD per exam for ISM members and $265 USD per exam for nonmembers.
Registrations are valid for one full year from the date you register with ISM. Once you have registered with ISM, you will receive an e-mail confirmation within 24 hours that will include scheduling instructions with Pearson VUE Testing Centers.
Once you register for your CPSM® Exams (Exams 1, 2, 3 and Bridge), you can schedule and take them at Pearson VUE's worldwide professional testing centers. Your registration is valid for one (1) year from the date of registration.
Within 24 hours of processing your registration, you will receive a confirmation letter from ISM with instructions on how to schedule an exam and locate the test center near you on Pearson VUE's Web site: http://pearsonvue.com/ism.
Examination fees are $180 USD per exam for ISM members and $265 USD per exam for nonmembers.
Questions concerning online registration for computer-based CPSM® Exams can be directed to ISM Customer Service at 800/888-6276 or 480/752-6276, option 8, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find a list of CPSM® review instructors that have taken ISM's Train-the-Trainer course, go to the Professional Credentials section of the ISM Web site and select Certified Professional in Supply Management® (CPSM®) and then download a spreadsheet of CPSM® review instructors.
The last day to postmark C.P.M. Original/Original lifetime applications is December 31, 2013. Beginning in 2014, the C.P.M. designation will be in recertification-only status. At that time, ISM will only accept C.P.M. recertifications and will no longer accept new C.P.M. original applications.
You have one year from the date you registered in 2008 to take your C.P.M. Exams. But don't wait until the last minute to actually take them. ISM recommends that you complete all your C.P.M. Exam modules as soon as possible to avoid any scheduling issues. Don't get caught in the rush — get your C.P.M. now.
If you happen to not pass one or more modules, you will be able to retake the module(s) (as space is available at the test site) that you failed throughout 2009. However, the last day that anyone can take a C.P.M. Exam, whether it is a first time or a retake exam, is December 31, 2009. If you tested as part of an on-site program, contact your employer for information on retesting.
If you are a current C.P.M. with a bachelor's degree, you have a distinct advantage to bridge the gap between where you are now and the career you intend to have. You only need to take one Bridge Exam instead of three exams. The Bridge Exam covers content not included in the current C.P.M. Exams.
Did you know that your C.P.M. can count for up to 12 college credits at many universities and colleges? What a great way to get a jump on a bachelor's degree. Remember, with a C.P.M. and a bachelor's degree, you can participate in the CPSM® program.
To download the evaluation from the National Program on Non-Collegiate Sponsored Instruction (National PONSI) and a transcript request, go to the ISM Web site at www.ism.ws and select Professional Credentials, Certification Forms and then College Credit Information and Transcript Request. Transcript requests can take up to three weeks to process, and there is a nominal fee for the service.
Do you need help telling your human resources department, or former employer, what to include in a work documentation letter? Your letter should include the following information: each job title, the beginning and ending month and year for each title, and the responsibilities of each position.