RickCleaveland large

Director of Education and Accreditation
SCMA National
Toronto, ON

Describe your current work; what is your role there?

As Director of Education and Accreditation for Supply Chain Management Association (SCMA), my role is to ensure the integrity of the Supply Chain Management Professional (SCMP) designation and provide supply chain training that meets the needs of current and future employers. Besides working on policies, my three primary duties are planning and hosting In-Residence Week, writing, grading and overseeing the distribution of the Final Examinations, and upgrading the course material for the 21 SMT and SCMP program components.

Why did you choose a career in the field of supply chain management?

I actually studied operations management at Centennial College because I wanted a job working with numbers, but I began my post-college career in purchasing. From there I moved into inventory management, importing, customs management and freight forwarding management before applying for actual logistics training. I was one of the first designated professional logisticians in Canada, back in 1995.

What do you enjoy the most about your work?

I was very lucky early in my career to have met some wonderful mentors. For me, the best part of my job is connecting with people who are moving up in their careers, whether they’ve been in the field for a few years or a few decades. Sharing stories and ideas on how to improve consumer value and collaborate for profitability never gets dull.

What major changes have you to seen in the supply chain industry over the past five years? What trends do you think we will see over the next five years?

I don’t think much has changed except that access to supply chain education has improved. The ideas of collaboration and sustainability were trends five years ago and remain trends today. The change in SCM (supply chain management) from operational to strategic planning has continued to evolve slowly. There are more success stories today, but there’s still a long way to go before all professionals in supply chain receive the respect they deserve.

What advice would you give to someone just starting their career in supply chain?

Take every challenge that comes your way. Get on every cross-functional team that you can because it’s the connections outside of your department that will make you successful in your career. Never shy away from a lateral move. You need to have breadth of experience in supply chain before you’ll be asked into the executive suite.

How has the SCMA membership (or your SCMP designation-if applicable) been of value to you?

I was a member of SCL and an employee of PMAC prior to the merger. The combination of current trend workshop opportunities and networking are the valuable aspects of SCMA membership to me. The annual conference allows me to stay on top of my game, partially because of the speakers and topics covered, but even more so because of the conversations with my peers on what issues they’re facing and how they’re changing their corners of the world.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

I have done just about every job in supply chain, from order picking to designing international networks, and I am proud to be able to work equally with professionals at every level. In fact, the one job I hadn’t done was driving a truck, so I got my trucker’s license and spent six months doing US-Ontario runs. Six months was long enough, but I’m proud to say I am a well-rounded professional in supply chain management.

Rick will be speaking as part of the panel, Meeting the Demand of Supply Chain Professionals, on Friday June 11 at the SCMA 2014 National Conference in Edmonton. The panellists will discuss the pending shortage of talent as the greying supply chain leaders move into retirement and how the skills gap will be filled. Participants on this panel will discuss the reality of the situation from several points of view, including the transition from education to employment and from employment to continuing education, in pursuit of the senior leadership roles.