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Credentialing in the Late 1990s: More Important than Ever

Author(s):

Randall W. Luecke, CPA, CMA, C.P.M.
Randall W. Luecke, CPA, CMA, C.P.M., Vice President, Administration & Chief Financial Officer, International Approval Services, Inc., Cleveland, OH 44131, 216-524-4990.
S. Randolph Hayas
S. Randolph Hayas, President, Network Services Company, Cleveland, OH 44106, 216-844-8650.

82nd Annual International Conference Proceedings - 1997 

In this era of downsizing, combinations and consolidations, it is more important than ever that purchasing executives seek to maximize their credentials. Purchasing professionals are under immense pressures to accomplish that which is necessary to retain their positions as companies slash and pare general and administrative positions. Job security is perhaps at an all-time low.

This session will focus on (1) how to retain one's present position, and (2) be positioned to seek a new position in the instance of an unfortunate event. We will focus on significantly enhancing four categories of one's resume: (1) current position and accomplishments; (2) educational background; (3) publications; and (4) certifications.

CURRENT POSITION AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS. Retaining a position is a function of the individual's performance, the performance of the staff that the individual manages, and avoiding uncontrollable circumstances (i.e., luck). However, if the individual and the staff perform well, the probability of long term employment in the purchasing profession increases.

A key factor for success is the training and credentialling of the purchasing professional's staff. Most of the task are performed by the manager's staff. His/her performance is evaluated based upon the ability to manage, direct, train and develop an effective staff.

Purchasing professionals should strive to have their contribution to their company recognized by being named to a position which connotes authority, responsibility and rank within the organization. There are a number of titles which meet this goal: Chief Purchasing Officer, Vice President of Materials Management or Director of Purchasing, for example. 'Materials management' in the title is preferable to that of 'purchasing' because it implies a wider scope of authority and responsibility. Strive to achieve the best title possible within your company -- not for the glory of the title, but because (1) it best positions you to make a meaningful contribution to the company, and (2) it best serves your interest in marketing your skills to other organizations. Be proactive and aggressive in expanding your duties and responsibilities even if, initially, an enhanced title and greater compensation do not come your way. Do whatever you can to make yourself indispensable!

The second area of your resume that we want to focus upon is the accomplishments which should be documented following the brief listing of responsibilities of your present position. If you have accomplished great and marvelous things in your tenure with your present employer, list them. If you haven't accomplished great and marvelous things for your present employer, you best be about it! Have the vision to study the company's current situation, and determine where you can best make a significant contribution to the company being successful in that environment. If your company is in the automobile industry, focus on reducing the cost of raw materials or parts; if you are in the healthcare business, focus upon reducing the cost of supplies or outside services. Then quantify your accomplishments and communicate them within the company. Effective job performance is not rewarded if it goes unnoticed by top executives. In addition, list the achievements in your resume. Several examples follow:

  • reduced cost per manufactured widget from $.38 to $.26 over a two-year period
  • reduced supply cost per patient day from $1,316 in 1994 to $1,117 in 1996
  • reduced purchasing staff from 12 to 7 while maintaining level of service to internal customers

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND. Many of us probably feel that we have all the degrees we are going to get in this life. Whether we have a high school diploma, a bachelor's degree, a master's degree or a doctorate, we probably feel as though we do not have the time, energy or money to invest in achieving a higher level of education. And this may, in fact, be the case -- but don't jump too readily to that conclusion!

Each of us should assess our current position, our aspirations and our future plans to determine whether we have what we need, in terms of academic credentials, to get to where we want to be. Perhaps you're fortunate enough to have already secured the degree that positions you to attain your goals and objectives. But if not, if a more advanced degree is necessary to position you to achieve what you want to accomplish, then there will never be a better time to obtain that advanced degree than right now!

Many colleges and universities have established flexible programs that allow for evening, weekend, or periodic classes. Check the reputable schools near you to determine if there is the opportunity to pursue a degree through classes that fit your schedule and budget.

It will never be cheaper, or easier, to return to school to secure an advanced degree, so commit to it and get started!

PUBLICATIONS. Publishing articles in recognized professional journals is important for several reasons: (1) it enhances our credentials as professionals; (2) it reflects well on our employer organization; and (3) it allows us to make a contribution to the industry in which we serve. Publishing articles helps convince our current employer of our mastery of our trade, and demonstrates that we have credibility within our profession. And, in the event that we wish to seek employment elsewhere (or we are told to do so!) a resume which reflects several articles is differentiated from the resume of those who haven't taken the time and effort to publish. Particularly if you can demonstrate the ability to publish consistently over time, you communicate to a future employer a sense of organization, determination and discipline -- a work ethic that any employer would welcome.

Taking this a step further, our publishing also reflects well on the employer we serve. Whether our employer is a college or university, a public accounting firm, or a savings and loan institution -- our employer will have an enhanced image in the industry if the employer's name is frequently seen in industry publications. Whether we are providing, through our articles, improved ways of doing things, insights into complex processes, or prognostications on where an industry is heading -- we represent our employer, and when we do so, we burnish our employer's reputation -- and our own.

So, as you can see, there should be adequate motivation for us to publish -- for ourselves, our employer and our industry.

CERTIFICATIONS. The final area of our resumes that we would address is that of professional certifications or designations. We can partially, or in large measure, compensate for the lack of an academic degree by obtaining relevant professional certifications. The certification sponsored by the National Association of Purchasing Management is an excellent example. The Certified Purchasing Manager (CPM) designation signals to our employer, and to the industry, that we have mastered a body of knowledge that includes procurement policies and procedures, vendor selection criteria and processes, handling of hazardous material, ISO 9000, and other timely materials management issues.

There are other designations that compliment the CPM certification. If you have aptitude in the area of accounting, for example, there are a number of certifications that can be pursued. If you are responsible in any way for the procurement of employee benefits, the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) is becoming widely respected. By securing certification in these tangential areas, you not only enhance your worth to the company, but you also increase your flexibility in the event that you need to seek a new position in the marketplace.

CONCLUSION. These are difficult times! Change is rampant and if we are not in a position to demonstrate that we have developed skills, vision and capabilities consistent with today's trends, technologies and challenges, we will find ourselves unemployed, or worse yet, unemployable. More positively, by enhancing our credentials, we might enjoy whatever job stability there is in today's workplace, and in the event of any unfortunate development, we position ourselves to gainfully seek employment in the marketplace.


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