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Membership of a professional association is critical now and beyond Covid-19 crisis

Membership of a professional association is critical now and beyond Covid-19 crisis

SAPICS business development executive Tonya LambProfessionalism, networking, training, career advancement and advocacy are among the benefits of belonging to a professional organisation. In difficult times like the Covid-19 crisis, membership of a professional body is especially important, offering members a platform to connect, to discuss challenges and share knowledge and learnings, as well as crucial support, stability and a sense of community through the uncertainty, according to SAPICS, The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management.

“The Covid-19 crisis has put supply chain management in the spotlight and highlighted the increasingly vital role played by SAPICS in building supply chain management excellence and developing individuals and enterprises through education, training and events, comprehensive resources, and networking opportunities with a community of accomplished industry professionals,” says SAPICS business development executive Tonya Lamb. She notes that for young professionals starting their careers, it is especially important to be a member of a professional organisation.

“When you are first starting out in the field, belonging to a professional organisation helps to establish legitimacy,” she advises graduates and young professionals. “While you may not yet be part of a well-known company, being a member of SAPICS adds to your professional brand and credibility when applying for jobs. It gives you access to a network of seasoned industry professionals from diverse backgrounds, including potential mentors. Their experience, expertise and guidance will help you to expand your knowledge and advance in your career.”

The networking and skills development opportunities provided by membership of a professional body are important for businesses and for individuals at every stage of their career. “This is especially true in a dynamic, ever-changing field like supply chain management, where cutting edge technologies – including AI (artificial intelligence), blockchain, robots and drones - are increasingly being leveraged to optimise supply chains and logistics. The training and education provided by SAPICS is geared towards addressing the specific needs of members and advancing the profession. The annual SAPICS Conference, which was established 42 years ago, is the leading education, knowledge sharing and networking event in Africa for supply chain professionals. It features powerful presentations from local and global specialists and leaders in the field. Members are offered discounted packages on this and all SAPICS training and education events. The 2021 SAPICS Conference will be a virtual event from 24 to 26 August 2021.

“Attending events enables SAPICS members to grow their networks beyond their own organisation and their colleagues. They have opportunities to interact with competitors, to build relationships across a diverse range of industries and discuss trends and innovations. Connecting with like-minded members of a professional organisation can open doors to new career opportunities.”

SAPICS’s collaborative partnerships with associates across Africa and around the globe deliver enormous value for members. “SAPICS connects its members with the global supply chain community. As a Coalition member of ‘People that Deliver’, a global initiative, SAPICS is striving to improve health outcomes by promoting sustainable workforce excellence in health supply chain management,” Lamb explains. SAPICS represents the international Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) as its premier elite channel partner in Sub-Saharan Africa. “This collaboration with ASCM, which has existed for over 50 years, supports our drive to build a vital community of educated supply chain professionals in Africa and beyond,” she states. The partnership between SAPICS and the International Association of Public Health Logisticians (IAPHL) was established to promote professionalism and community in South African public health supply chains with the objective of improving the availability of healthcare supplies and live-saving medicines, including the Covid-19 vaccine.

Advocacy is another important function of a professional organisation. Lamb reveals that SAPICS is at the forefront of the drive to professionalise the supply chain management profession in Africa. “By professionally designating individuals, SAPICS will increase supply chain management competence, knowledge and skills, and industry professionals will have prescribed values and ethics to uphold. The ongoing professional development required to maintain designations will ensure that African supply chain management keeps pace with global best practice, so that optimised supply chains can drive the competitiveness and growth of African businesses and economies,” she states, adding that, up until now, the supply chain field has been unregulated in terms of levels of competence, skills and ethics.

Covid-19 has seen SAPICS pivot and adapt to ensure that members enjoy the same support and benefits throughout the crisis. “In response to the pandemic and associated challenges, SAPICS launched a number of special initiatives, including a supply chain management helpline, a tool kit and a Covid-19 collaboration platform for the profession. SAPICS’s role in facilitating knowledge and resource sharing, in offering support and guidance, and in disseminating information and education to supply chain professionals has been absolutely vital during these challenging months. It will continue to shape the African supply chain profession beyond the Covid-19 crisis, as it has done since SAPICS was founded in 1966,” Lamb concludes.