APICS Conference

I’m back from the APICS Conference in Toronto.  The event was extremely valuable.  If you are not familiar with APICS, the organization provides operations management education, research and professional development.  This was the first time I have attended an APICS Conference.  I’ve been a member for a long time, but had never made it to conference.  I now know what I was missing.

Two elements made the conference exceptional.  First, the people at the conference are leaders in their fields.  They are constantly reinventing manufacturing, operations and supply chain practices, and they are committed to improving not just their companies but their own potential.  Second, APICS developed an educational curriculum offering tremendous value. 

What stood out to me was the scope of the challenges people were tackling.  For example, the theme of the conference was Global Ability.  With this theme, people talked about how they were cutting costs and reducing their impact on the environment at the same time.  The discussion was not how to balance these priorities.  Balancing requires tradeoffs.  The discussion focused on ways to achieve both simultaneously without having to hurt one area to help another.

The goals were impressive, but the results were what really stood out.  I had the opportunity to hear from people who were succeeding in some of the most challenging situations.  For example, one food manufacturer had committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing waste and improving profit margins.  Several years into their effort, they had made substantial GHG cuts, and they reduced the total waste from a manufacturing plant to less than one dumpster a week.  They also demonstrated specific savings from each of the activities they undertook.  The result was a company doing significantly more volume, with less overall GHG emissions and waste, and a higher profit margin.

This is a great story and should inspire people to stretch to achieve beyond what appears possible today, but that’s not why I’m telling it.  The people who developed the plan, solved the technical problems, led the teams to implement the changes, worked through the details and made this happen, and everyone else involved in the effort delivered substantial success.  Do you think there are companies who would like to achieve similar results?  Do you think there hiring managers who are tasked with delivering similar results and need help?  Absolutely.  

With the global theme of the conference, it became clear that the companies around the world face the same challenges.  There are differences, but much more was the same.  The demand for solutions and the people who can provide them is strong – even as the job market is weak.

To standout in the job market, you need to show how you are exceptional.  There are plenty of people who will be average in a role.  Hiring managers want people who will deliver results well above average.  The key to this is showing what you have done. 

Over the next couple weeks, I’m going to focus on operations positions and show how you can differentiate yourself and get hired.  Some of the advice will related to resumes and some to interviewing, but most will help across the board in a job search.  Although I am focusing on a specific set of careers, the advice holds for anyone.  It doesn’t matter what your career field is.  Demonstrating your potential through specific examples of your past success is proven technique and very effective in a job search.

So, check back every couple days for the operations management articles.   To make it easier, you can sign up for the newsletter and receive all of them, sent twice a month.