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ASCM Insights

Three Reasons to Commit to Lifelong Learning


To hear more about Gary's experience with CLTD check out this short video. 

This past year, I took the exam for what would be my third supply chain certification. While my other credentials have definitely been valuable to my career, the APICS Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) designation was special because it so directly applies to my work in logistics. Furthermore, I had been a member of the international committee that developed it, and I now would be one of the first to take the exam.

It’s no secret that earning a certification is challenging and time-consuming, and I am often asked by colleagues about what motivated me and why I think this kind of lifelong learning is worth my time. Three reasons come to mind.

1. We live in a world of accelerated change.
Gordon Moore, the cofounder of Intel, predicted in 1965 that the storage capacity of an integrated circuit would double every two years. This prediction, now known as Moore’s Law, still holds true today, more than 50 years later. Moore’s Law has greatly accelerated the rate of technological change and paved the way for such inventions as the smartphone, 3-D printing, advances in renewable energy, cloud computing, big data and LED lighting — all of which have greatly improved our lives. Science fiction has truly become science fact.

But there is a downside. We have reached the point where the rate of change now exceeds what many of us have already learned. As a result, we must constantly acquire new skills. Earning certifications expands our knowledge, keeps us current and relevant, and enables us to grow with our careers.

2. It’s important to develop a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.
When we learn new techniques and methods, we make those small changes that are easily absorbed and understood. This leads to new best practices that eventually bring about the big changes in our operations that keep them moving in the right direction.

Continuous improvement and innovation also teach us to think critically. Critical thinkers are able to focus on facts and logic to solve problems. In such an environment, dissent becomes an asset from which knowledge can be gained rather a liability to be avoided.

3. My final reason is the desire to surround myself with people who are smarter than I. I used this approach when I was in school, and it pushed me to apply myself. In my professional career, I continue to seek out people who are bright, dynamic and inventive. I learned a number of lessons along the way. I discovered that many smart people do not always agree with me, and this taught me to see different points of view, compromise and be humble. Likewise, many smart people do not have the same world view as I do. This helped me value diversity and inclusion. Lastly, smart people are happy to share ideas, which fosters team-building and synergy.

One of my professional goals is to help prepare the next generation of supply chain leaders. By surrounding myself with smart people — people with a passion for the field and a desire to succeed — our dedication to lifelong learning will only continue to spread.

About the Author

Gary A. Smith Chief, EAM/Supply Chain, MTA New York City Transit

Gary A. Smith, CPIM-F, CSCP-F, CLTD-F, is Chief, EAM/Supply Chain for New York City Transit. He may be contacted at

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