They’re the members of APICS The Association for Operations
Management, and they wrap their minds around the intricate
details and processes that make our world hum.
“You can get everything you need at Walmart but you don’t
know how it gets there. That curiosity drove me into the field,”
says APICS member Natasha Steenbergen, an aftermarket
planner/scheduler for P&H Mining Equipment in Milwaukee.
“We may be behind the scenes, but we’re the go-to people,
lots of times in a crisis. It’s all about putting the puzzle together,
finding out where something, how to get it and how much of it,
as well as what order gets priority and what goes on the shelf.
It’s a great technical challenge.”
Steenbergen is among 34,000 APICS student and profes-
sional members worldwide. Their education and jobs in produc-
tion, inventory, supply chain, materials management, purchasing
and logistics continue to evolve and become more high profile
in these recessionary times. After all, time, inventory and the
meticulous management of product and information flow can
save and squander big money. Meanwhile, outsourcing and glo-
balization are creating more layers to operations management
positions, requiring more education and training to get the job
“Crunch time” seems to bring out the best in APICS members. It also has brought forth an idea within this powerhouse
association that seems likely to shore up its place in the lives
of its members. It’s called the “Future Leaders” program, and
it may inspire you to do the same within your group, too.
FORKLIFT FOR THE FUTURE
APICS still uses the acronym for American Production and
Inventory Control Society, even though it changed its decades-
long name in 2004 to encompass all the specialties involved
in “getting the wheat to Walmart.”
Even with an inclusive modifier, however — The Association
for Operations Management — the distance between a local
inventory manager and the association’s board chairman can
seem mighty wide. The Future Leaders program, currently in
its second year, is like a three-pronged forklift aimed at bridg-
ing the gap by raising the group to new heights.
“By the time you serve on boards, you have been with an
organization a long time,” says APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi.
“When you have as many members as we do, you don’t see
younger individuals, or those just entering this workforce,
onboards. The passion and commitment our members have
means they stay. It’s great, but it can present a problem for
The first prong of the year-long Future Leaders program is
the future leaders themselves. They are members, nominated
by those who have been impressed with their commitment to
their field and to APICS. It’s hoped that long after Future Lead-
ers they will continue to serve the association, perhaps rising
one day to the board. In sports lingo, it’s creating a deep bench.
“We were from around the world, but we understood each
other right away because we deal with the same issues,” says