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CPSM® Update

What's It Worth to You?


RaeAnn Slaybaugh

July/August 2009, eSide Supply Management Vol. 2, No. 4

Recent CPSM®s Talk About the Career Benefits They've Enjoyed So Far — and What They Hope to Gain in the Future

Recently, eSide surveyed more than 40 recent Certified Professionals in Supply Management® (CPSM®s) about their motivations — and rewards — for obtaining the credential. Some have received promotions within their companies. Others have taken new roles in their organizations or switched employers altogether. Still others regard staying current in the profession as its own reward.

Some respondents were anxious to share their opinions and stories, and others preferred anonymity. But, one thing they all had in common was a unique perspective on the CPSM®'s career value, both now and in the future.

An Eye Toward the Future

When the survey respondents were asked which aspects of the CPSM® Exam would probably prove most crucial to their future success, their responses were all over the board.

For example, Craig Thornton, manager of corporate purchasing for Weston Solutions, Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said completing the management module of the certification will likely offer the biggest payoff for him. "It was the most comprehensive part of the test," he recalled. "It provided valuable insight and solutions for dealing with everyday management obstacles."

Other respondents expected a wide variety of skills tested in the CPSM® Exam to be critical in the future, ranging from globalization, to driving cost savings, to supplier evaluation/tracking, to embracing a more cross-functional mind-set.

Embracing cross-functionality has been key for Jeffrey Penhall, a procurement specialist at international dental equipment manufacturer A-dec. He said the CPSM® has fostered within him a broader, more holistic view of supply management's effects on the company-at-large.

"I've enhanced my ability to interface with other managers, with a solid understanding of their scope of work," Penhall explained. "I now have a better understanding about how the business elements come together and function as a single entity."

Expertise Is Evident

For most of the survey respondents, obtaining the CPSM® certification was one way to demonstrate mastery of the profession and gain a competitive edge, whether their goal was to secure a promotion or to switch jobs and companies.

"For jobs that require procurement functional expertise, I've proven myself against an extremely recognized standard," explained Mark S. Schwiebert, global procurement director at BP America, Inc. in Geneva, Illinois. "I believe that sets me apart from others who don't hold the designation."

Schwiebert alluded to another often-stated goal among survey respondents: keeping current on the supply management profession. For Randi Klein Greenberg, purchasing manager at G&W Laboratories, Inc. in South Plainfield, New Jersey, obtaining her CPSM® was the best way to do that. "Getting my CPSM® shows I'm knowledgeable about today's issues," she shared. "The world is so dynamic — but so is my knowledge and skill set."

Sharon Hauht, purchasing and contracts manager for Las Vegas-based Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, echoes Greenberg's sentiment. For her, studying for the CPSM® was a reminder of the vastness of the supply management profession. "Even though I've been in it for more than 20 years, [I know] how important continuing my professional development and education is if I want to stay on the cutting edge of my career," she said.

Last but not least, having CPSM®s on staff also pays dividends for the companies employing them. As James M. Truog, manager of strategic purchasing for Wacker Neuson Corp. in Waukesha, Wisconsin, pointed out, staying current on the latest dimensions and factors related to supply management ensures his company stays competitive.

Advance: Business people in a bike race.
Payoffs Abound for Job Hunters

These days, looking for a job is a pretty common phenomenon. To this end, the survey respondents agreed that having a CPSM® is a definite selling point.

One respondent is facing this scenario right now. As of press time, he was involved in a workforce reduction process with his current employer, a chemical company. As he scouts other job options, he said he believes his CPSM® designation will be a sign that he understands the processes and interactions of the entire supply chain. "I'm counting on it to demonstrate my mastery of supply management to future potential employers," he explained.

Another respondent — a strategic sourcing specialist for a well-known audio equipment manufacturer — is not currently job hunting. Nevertheless, she feels confident the designation would be very marketable if she was. "In fact, I get more recruiter calls ever since I got my CPSM® last year," she confided. "Now they're even more interested in getting me a new job."

Finally, a Texas-based healthcare contract manager said he expects his CPSM® designation to help him switch industries. "Many times, supply management professionals are locked into the industries in which they developed their careers," he said. "But, having the CPSM® shows companies you possess the necessary skills and knowledge to cross industries."

A Strong Case for Internal Promotion

On the other hand, many respondents were content with their current employers. For them, securing a promotion was a more appealing goal — something they prioritized in their pursuit of the CPSM®.

For example, one respondent was promoted last month from quality engineering manager to manager of quality and manufacturing at a world-renowned manufacturer. He says his new credential "absolutely" factored into his boss's decision to promote him. "In fact," he added, "my manager pulled me aside and mentioned it was one of the direct reasons for my promotion."

Another respondent received a promotion last year after her supervisor was laid off, taking over the role of global sourcing manager at her employer, an international manufacturer of engineered interconnect assemblies. "Attaining the CPSM® helped me get a wonderful overall view of our company's purchasing and sourcing strategies," she said. "That made my boss more confident in my ability to take charge of our global sourcing."

In April, another was promoted at a well-known defense systems supplier. He said he is confident the credential was a determining factor. "I believe I was the only candidate with a CPSM®," he explained. "It helped me switch from contracts to subcontracting."

Paul R. Jones, a CPSM® in Orange Park, Florida, took things to the next professional level and started his own business: MorphaSource, LLC. Launched in March, the firm offers all-inclusive supply management services. Jones said his diverse skill set, combined with an entrepreneurial attitude, was "strengthened tremendously" by the CPSM® process.

"The skills required today aren't the skills that will be necessary tomorrow," Jones adds. "Anyone who wants true, sustainable advancement potential needs [to understand that] keeping current is critical to avoid being left behind."

For more information on ISM's professional credentials, visit the Institute's Web site.

RaeAnn Slaybaugh is a senior writer for the Institute for Supply Management™. She can be reached at

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