Certified Professional Designation builds Supplier Development Corporate
To make the playing field equal for small, minority- and women-owned businesses, many major companies with large supply chains have diversity initiatives programs. Supplier diversity provides historically underutilized businesses equal opportunity to penetrate large-scale contracting markets enabling them to grow their business development potential. Since minority business enterprises (MBE's) are the fastest growing small businesses in the nation, it makes sense to target MBE markets.
Alex Alvarez, of Irving, Texas, understands this firsthand. At 34, Mr. Alvarez has a history of advocating the importance of equal opportunity in contracting, and made it his career soon after he graduated from Michigan State University where he obtained a degree in supply-chain management. In college, he was a minority aide, (similar to a resident assistant), where he helped minority students prepare and adjust to university life. He also founded the Young Knights Leadership Academy, which helps underrepresented students get into college and provides them with mentoring.
To further his knowledge in supplier diversity, a topic he speaks passionately about, Mr. Alvarez enrolled in a pilot program and became the first individual to earn the Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity (CPSD) accreditation that was offered by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), a 96-year-old nonprofit organization. Mr. Alvarez is enterprise manager of supplier diversity for CoreLogic, a data and analytics company based in Santa Ana, Calif. He said a firm knowledge of supply chain and procurement is the fundamental first step in approaching this certification.
"That understanding enhances our profession because we are able to interact with procurement and supply chain on why it makes sense to utilize these diverse suppliers, and how it can impact our bottom line," Mr. Alvarez told HispanicBusiness magazine.
He earned his CPSD in November 2010, and the program is now available to the public, via satellite testing offices across the United States. He said the CPSD provides tools for communication, including how to create a comprehensive communication plan, marketing tools, and sample rewards and recognition programs to promote supplier diversity.
"I strongly believe that, because it forces you to have a strong understanding of the entire supply chain and not specifically just supplier diversity, it would really enhance our profession," he said.
In his role at CoreLogic, Mr. Alvarez trains more than 10,000 employees in diverse-supplier initiatives. He said the certification has enhanced how he teaches people in senior management roles down to entry-level employees on the importance of embracing supplier diversity.
CPSD will allow participants, he states convincingly, to gain enhanced knowledge as it pertains to diversity policies, sourcing and supplier development, tailored metrics, as well as training and development.
"In addition, someone attaining this certification also gains awareness of legal aspects of various supplier diversity processes by gaining a high-level understanding of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), Antitrust and Trade Regulation, Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), Small Business Act and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) to name a few sources," Mr. Alvarez said.
ISM CEO Paul Novak said supplier diversity is a corporate commitment to society and sustainability, and agrees that including a mix of talent to a business will provide meaningful benefits. And he reminds that supplier diversity has been around for a long time, especially in large companies and applies to global markets as well.
"You want them as customers, obviously, and you have to involve them as suppliers," Mr. Novak said. "They bring with them valuable input that helps you understand how to deal with your customers more successfully."
The certification will codify the knowledge that an individual needs to be successful in supplier diversity and it will, Mr. Novak hopes, discourage exclusiveness, and instead encourage professionals in supply management that supplier diversity is part of their job.
Mr. Alvarez said that working with diverse suppliers can bring a new and fresh mind-set as well as innovation.
"Because many (of them) tend to be smaller, they tend to be more nimble and more responsive as it pertains to our business needs."
Aside from being on the cutting edge of supplier diversity, Mr. Alvarez encourages others to seek the accreditation because it demonstrates to a company and its customers that the employee possesses the tools to lead a comprehensive supplier-diversity program.
"In a competitive marketplace, earning a certification like this one is essential for any company," he said. "The certification can demonstrate that I possess the subject matter expertise to be valuable to my employer. I plan to utilize my knowledge within industry forums, panels and roundtables at local, regional and national events to support supplier diversity at my company, and encourage it among my peers."
As of mid-January, more than 80 individuals have become CPSD certified, according to ISM. Mr. Alvarez recommends the certification to any individual in supplier diversity.
Prior to his current stint with CoreLogic, Mr. Alvarez spent three years as executive director at the Alabama Minority Business Opportunities Center¸ a federally funded agency under the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency, but his career began at General Motors, starting in GM Worldwide Purchasing and transitioning to the role of global creativity team leader. While working at GM, he attended Wayne State University in Detroit, where he received his master's in business administration.
"I was kind of the informal supplier diversity champion for our particular team, so it evolved a passion to where I was kind of helping providing access and inclusion to the underrepresented," he said.
Mr. Alvarez also was a former president of the South Region Minority Supplier Development Council, which is one of 37 regional affiliates under the National Minority Supplier Development Council. Mr. Alvarez said at least 700 of the Fortune 1,000 companies have supplier-diversity programs enacted.
"Diversity and inclusion are key values within CoreLogic and supplier diversity is a great way for us to demonstrate this principle," said Anthony Piszel, former CFO and executive champion of the CoreLogic Supplier Diversity Advisory Council. "We are very proud of Alex for being the first individual to attain the Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity designation from ISM."
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