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An Exciting Journey to Supply Chain Success

  • Elizabeth Rennie
July/August 2012

“Back in the Dark Ages—when cost and price were synonymous and manhandling a 5 percent discount out of a vendor was considered the pinnacle of negotiation—I had my first introduction to purchasing,” explains Denise Hansen, CPIM, CSCP. She began with her employer as an administrative assistant to the production manager, but volunteered to assist her company’s buyer on a part-time basis. “Three days later, I was congratulated and advised that I was the new junior buyer.”

Hansen appreciated this opportunity, but was understandably anxious about all the new skills, knowledge, and experience she would have to acquire. “Luckily, I learned the mechanics rather quickly,” she says, “which is a good thing, because, within a matter of three weeks, the senior buyer who had trained me moved on to other endeavors ... I was suddenly the senior buyer on board. My job rapidly developed into something that didn’t in any way resemble what I had volunteered for.”

The events of September 11, 2001, resulted in Hansen losing that job; but she was hired by a new company just one month later. “My new position was a real eye-opener, as I migrated from a low-[stockkeeping unit] (SKU), fairly high-volume environment to a high-SKU, low-volume job shop environment—and a brand new enterprise resources planning system.”

Not long after, a group of coworkers from different divisions decided to sign up for the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) certification. Hansen calls studying for her exam “an enlightening look into the brave new world of the supply chain”—a concept that was formerly unknown to her. “I began to understand the puzzle and how all the pieces fit together,” she explains. “Planners are not enemy forces who are out to get the buyers; and the manufacturing group isn’t a disembodied entity that just happens to reside in a different area of the plant. Strange and wonderful concepts like concurrent engineering and partnership throughout the supply chain came to life … I was now part of the supply chain, a solid link in the chain that makes it happen.”

A couple of challenging years later, her company’s operations manager made it clear that she should pursue her APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designation. She identified both instructor-led and online study courses and signed up. Hansen says it wasn’t easy—and failing one module did point out where she had some weaknesses and gaps in her experience. But not long after, she earned her CPIM designation and now believes strongly that APICS training and certification are what led her from buyer to supply chain career professional. “This is a realization that doesn’t necessarily hit during the process of certification,” she notes. “But it slowly becomes part of who you are.”

Looking back
Hansen says what she does today in no way resembles what she was doing 20 years ago—and  she adds that she’s sure “it won’t bear much resemblance to what [she] will be doing in five years,” noting, “This is one of the wonders and pains of a supply chain career. It is a mega-dynamic environment fraught with obstacles and rewards.”

Hansen believes her affiliation with APICS has revealed a fascinating landscape of collaborative thinking and sharing; a diverse experience, encompassing myriad cultures, processes, and ideas; and education that helps her innovate, succeed and improve herself.
“I was fortunate enough to work for companies that promoted education and training,” she says, “and I hope to encourage individuals— especially those who may become discouraged by the rapid evolution in the field and the challenges this can bring—to embrace education and certification and elevate their positions.”

Elizabeth Rennie is managing editor for APICS magazine. She may be contacted at



  1. Jay Fazal August 24, 2012, 06:53 AM

    Hello Denise

    Very impressive, I can understand the ride you were into and the drive you are in now. I have driven the same route and today very far. When I look back I have tears in my eyes when I understand where did I come from. I am starting to pursue my dream of CSCP. I am a certified ERP and MBB (Master Black Belt in Six Sigma).

    Kepp it up..... Supply Chain is a big world of surprises and gifts.


  2. Jose Paulo Macedo Soares Junior September 01, 2012, 02:57 AM

    Congratulations, good vision...


  3. Yenzi Madida September 19, 2012, 04:27 AM
    Congratulations Denise. You've insired me in growing my career with CSCP, I've just been advised by my collegue to visit this site and already I'm hooked because I see I am going places. I've submitted my eligibility CSCP application and looking forward to the response as I believe in SCM there's always a more room to grow. I'm currently an administrator but since I am working for a small organisation I have learnt so much and everyday I am excited about my career..........let alone I've been introduced to SAPICS so I see myself climbing that ladder sooner than I've expected.
  4. Scherri October 02, 2012, 02:22 PM
    Wow, Your story is almost indentical to my own as far as getting the job without asking and then the trainer moving on! I love my job but I had my doubts about how far I could advance and how much stress I could endure. We had one cental supply warehouse that supplied seven external sites...We still only have one warehouse but now we supply seventeen external sites...a lot of growth has happened in the past ten years and my office still has only two we have had to really learn the methods that APICS supports and I finally have a manager who sees the real potential of my group. I'm three semesters shy of my degree and I am studying for the  CSCP right now! Your story is very inspirational to me and others and I wish you luck in your continuing journey!

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