Last week I had the chance to catch up with an old friend, Bill Michels, CIPS Americas Vice President of Operations. The reason for our conversation was the recent announcement that CIPS has opened a new office in the US, co-locating a business development manager, an education manager, and a program coordinator with CIPS’ industry partner, ASCM (formerly APICS) in their Chicago office.

But, as it is with old friends, we talked about a whole lot more than the press release.

We talked about how different professional development is today than it has been in the past. People want easy access through eLearning and virtual programs, they want the variety of multiple formats (articles, podcasts, animation) and they want it to fit into their day – digestible content that can be consumed in minutes rather than hours.

We talked about knowing the difference between what will make the money and what is good for the profession. Any organization that wants to stay in existence has to have one or more revenue streams, but that doesn’t mean they have to charge for everything they offer. The CIPS Global Standard is an example of an open source asset maintained for the good of the community. Available on the CIPS site, the Global Standard “helps individuals to identify current operating skills and abilities and what is needed to progress.” Another example is the work CIPS does with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to increase procurement capabilities in Africa.

We talked about the importance of knowing when to call in an expert. Although CIPS produces a lot of their own content, in some areas it is wise to bring in a specialist – robotics is an example.

We talked about trends in networking. The old model relied upon by traditional regional associations may struggle to meet the wants and needs of professionals who have very little free time, even less desire to travel, and an active interest in meeting people across the globe rather than just across the city.

And finally, we talked about knowing your audience. CIPS works to support procurement professionals at all stages of career development, whether they are new to the field, established in procurement, or moving into a leadership position. The expanding partnership with ASCM also increases CIPS’ reach to include supply chain and logistics professionals (along with their knowledge and expertise) to their own procurement audience.

All of this might just be ‘talk’ if it weren’t so well aligned with Bill’s own approach to professionalism. We all want the organizations we work with to have values – like the point above about making money AND doing things for the good of the community – but that isn’t possible if the individuals leading and making up those organizations don’t hold themselves to the same standards.

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