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ASCM Insights

The Supply Chain Secret Is Out


For those of us in the field, it’s no surprise that supply chain encourages innovation and generates high-paying, rewarding jobs. Thanks to a new joint research project by the Copenhagen Business School, Harvard Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the value of the supply chain economy is now evident to people of all backgrounds and disciplines.

“The research rethinks what academics and practitioners have simply called the supply chain — a loose federation of individual suppliers that feed companies with the goods and services necessary to create products,” writes Michael Blanding in “The Secret Life of Supply Chains.”

Blanding compares the study to archeologists digging on a remote hillside and asserts that the research has unearthed a source of jobs that are crucial to the ability to produce goods and services. It also reveals that supply chains jobs are the highest paying in the United States and the majority are focused on services, such as engineering, computer programming and design.

Importantly, the study bridges the typical manufacturing-services divide, clearly demonstrating how supply chain drives progress and advances careers. Researcher Karen Mills believes this is a revolutionary means of “categorizing the economy that recognizes the unique role of suppliers.”

Mills previously worked for the U.S. Small Business Administration in the Obama White House. While there, she noticed that most people were unaware of the myriad industries that encompass the sector and how many jobs supply chain creates. “If we want to continue to grow our economy and become innovative and spur creativity, we need to make sure we have the inputs, including the workforce,” Mills says. “Being sure that suppliers have access to the workers and the capital they need is good for everyone.”

Excavation tools

These findings make a strong argument for increased investment in supply chain education and training, which are made possible by the industry-leading APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) professional development tools. I am reminded of last year’s winner of our Emerging Supply Chain Leader award, Hollie Elliott, CPIM. A materials manager at Leggett and Platt Automotive Group of North America, Elliott’s team describes her as an inspirational leader and mentor with crystal-clear vision, excellent communication skills and the ability to identify potential risks and plan accordingly. “This has resulted in numerous supply chain breakthroughs at our company,” her award nomination states.

The corporate front-runner in Education, Weir Group, also had CPIM at the heart of its winning initiative. Weir provided CPIM education for 120 employees from 24 different countries, which led directly to a 45% lead time reduction and 67% increase in orders. However, Mark Duncan, value chain excellence lead, believes the most valuable result was developing more capable people. “The CPIM participants used their learning to not only improve the supply chain in their location, but also educate others,” he says. “Consequently, many of them have taken on additional leadership roles.”

Best-in-class supply chain organizations around the world are choosing to support their employees’ CPIM journeys because these professionals add value, reduce costs, heighten customer satisfaction, and maximize returns on investment in systems and technologies. Furthermore, ASCM’s soon-to-be-released salary survey reveals that designees enjoy an average 30% increase in salary.

Bring to light the incredible value of supply chain: Discover what CPIM education and training can do for you and your business today.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted at

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