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Why I Volunteer

By Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE | July/August 2013 | 23 | 4

Even as supply chain and operations management achieves greater awareness, it faces new and emerging challenges. One area in particular that is critical to the future of the profession is that of workforce development and talent management.Recently, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) announced its 2014 board of directors, and I have the honor of being nominated to serve as treasurer for the 2014 fiscal year. ASAE serves the association and nonprofit communities, providing resources, education, and advocacy for its members, who come from numerous associations across the globe. I am happy to have the chance to play an important role at the organization, and I would like to take a moment to reflect on the significance and value of volunteering, particularly in the professional realm. 

The responsibilities and activities of volunteers at professional organizations are diverse. Here at APICS—along with ASAE and thousands of professional associations around the world—volunteers provide governance, determine mission and purpose, approve long-term strategic goals, guide the development and advancement of the association’s body of knowledge, and ensure that the organizational is sustainable. At the local and regional levels, APICS partners—including chapters, international associates, and authorized education providers—maintain their own networks of volunteers, who, alongside paid staff, help administer their businesses, manage seminars and professional development meetings, prepare candidates for APICS exams, and improve the overall member experience. 

Through our student programs, mentors and scholar coordinators help guide future supply chain and operations management professionals, expanding their education as they enter the early phases of their careers. At APICS conferences and events, volunteers help ensure a top-quality event from start to finish and assist the speakers, who themselves often are APICS volunteers. 

Volunteers are some of the most visible frontline advocates of what we do and represent and why supply chain and operations management is so important. It is safe to say that our volunteers are the backbone of the association. 

A rewarding experience 

Despite all these reasons, volunteering would be more difficult to recommend if it didn’t deliver some significant personal benefits. For one, volunteers gain access to a strong, devoted network of like-minded professionals in their fields. The value of networking is a major reason many people join associations in the first place—volunteering only increases the power of this community and the advantages it provides. Gaining leadership experience is another appealing aspect of volunteering—indeed, depending on your job, the leadership skills you can learn by becoming a volunteer are greater than what you might find in the normal course of your career. Increasing your exposure to current best practices and trends and enhancing your marketability are additional benefits.

Of course, some of the strongest recommendations I can make for becoming a volunteer come from the sense of pride, accomplishment, and appreciation for the profession it engenders. As a supply chain and operations management professional, you have many opportunities to make a difference in your field by volunteering with APICS. If I have piqued your interest, visit apics.org/volunteers to discover what you can achieve.

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