Saturday’s New York Times featured an interesting opinion piece with an even-more-interesting opening paragraph: “In India, people ask you about China, and, in China, people ask you about India: Which country will become the more dominant economic power in the 21st century?” In “How Mexico Got Back in the Game,” Thomas Friedman suggests that the answer is Mexico.
Friedman goes on to advise that Mexico is in a good place to compete for the world’s manufacturing. First, it has 44 free-trade agreements, more than any other country in the world. Mexico also has increased its numbers of engineers and skilled laborers. In April, I travel to Mexico City to speak at the International Logistics Summit & Expo. I’ll be able to directly witness how supply chain professionals are seizing the opportunities created in this increasingly global marketplace.
Over the last two years, we at APICS have been working to connect opportunities in China, India, and Mexico with workforce development in those markets. What APICS professionals know__and business leaders quickly are learning__is supply chain and operations management professionals contribute to economic growth in these markets and all over the world. In this issue of Operations Management Now, I’m excited to share with readers what we are learning from our travels.
When I was in China last December and then again a few weeks ago, all indications looked good for manufacturing and business there. I had many opportunities to speak about the benefits of APICS education and certification, including at the 2012 Conference on International Exchange of Professionals in Shenzhen and the Consumer Goods Supply Chain Officer Summit in Shanghai. Discussions like these are ongoing as Chinese business leaders connect with APICS to further develop a highly trained workforce.
As I walked through the Chinese cities that I visited, something else became clear to me: The growth in consumerism since I made my first trip to China. Messages about Christmas gift-giving and buying were everywhere in December, and the same consumer-focused signals were evident over the Chinese New Year as well. For manufacturers all over the world, it became inescapably clear to me that China presents a significant customer growth opportunity.
In preparation for APICS Asia Supply Chain and Operations 2013, April 4 and 5 in Mumbai, India, we visited the country and made some important connections with business people and APICS partners. Here, too, APICS has an important role to play. These conversations reiterated how APICS can improve quality and encourage supply chain operations excellence in India’s rapidly growing manufacturing environment.
The APICS conference in Mumbai underscores the relationships APICS has been building and will continue to build with businesspeople in India. Recently, APICS announced the conference general session will be delivered by Behram Sabawala, CFO of Drive India Enterprise Solutions Limited (DIESL). He’s sure to be a highlight during this already-dynamic conference.
EU and US
Lastly, and along the international theme, I want to note an article that ran in the February 20 issue of the New Republic, “Obama’s Pivot to Europe.” William A. Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution urges support of a US-EU free trade zone, which President Obama announced during his State of the Union address. In short, he writes, “the US and the EU have it in their power to enact a potentially game-changing policy that could boost economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic.”
The rest of the world
Opportunity is not restricted to the countries I’ve mentioned here. As I travel all over, it is apparent that companies, governments, workforce development agencies, and associations are pulling together to create growth. All of us have learned a lot from the collective experience of the Great Recession, and I believe we are emerging smarter and stronger. APICS is positioned to be a partner in growth because of you, our members and partners. You play a critical role in the success of your companies and economic growth around the world.