Look around you. Almost certainly, whether you are inside or out, your eye will fall upon objects manufactured in dozens of different countries from hundreds or even thousands of different materials. The miracle of supply chain management is that all those myriad components managed to converge to this one location to serve the purpose for which they are needed.

"There’s no industry you can look at where supply chain management doesn’t play a fundamental role."

This incredible convergence does not happen on its own. It is the work of highly-trained supply chain management experts in businesses large and small to keep this complex system running smoothly. There was a day when supply chain management was something that people learned on the job, but that day is long gone.

Not one industry untouched

“Supply chain and logistics is one of these professions that has suddenly come into vogue,” says Catherine Viglas, President and CEO of CITT, an industry organization that offers logistics courses and certification. “It has always been around it’s just that, until recently, most people didn’t realize its incredible importance to the financial well-being of an organization. There’s no industry you can look at where supply chain management doesn’t play a fundamental role.”

Increasingly, employers are relying on industry-specific accreditations and designations, like that provided by CITT or the Supply Chain Management Association (SCMA), to provide their supply chain experts with all the necessary real world skills. “With a designation, you are getting an education that is led by the industry,” says Rick Cleveland, Director of Education and Accreditation at SCMA. “We reach out to employers and ask them what skills and competencies they need in their supply chain experts.”

This results in a course of study that is constantly being reshaped in accordance with the shifting needs of the marketplace, something colleges and universities are simply not agile enough to achieve. “When you are an association like we are,” says Cleveland. “You can make curriculum changes fairly rapidly as compared to post-secondary institutions.”

As supply chain management continues to grow more central to success, expect to see a sharp growth in the number of accredited supply chain management experts being employed at every level of successful organizations, from the C-suite on down. “A company would never hire an accountant or a CFO without a proper accounting designation,” says Viglas. “More and more companies are recognizing that they should hold their supply chain experts to the same standard.”

Look around you again. I think you’ll see why.