When I joined Celanese 11 years ago as a customer service representative for our Acetate Tow business in Geleen, I soon found out how important the Triple Bottom Line (Social, Environmental and Financial) is for our company. We are all aware that, at the end of the day, we have the responsibility to create value for our shareholders, and we have the obligation to do so in a way that minimizes the impact on our environment while treating our employees fairly.

Over the past years, I found that giving back to our communities and having a positive impact on the world around us became more and more part of our DNA as a company and an important part of this Triple Bottom Line as well. Besides all the philanthropy activities we organize with our teams around the world, I would like to share a different approach to volunteering, and I hope to encourage others to do something similar.

In 2013, I decided to start expanding my Supply Chain knowledge. One of the business leaders in our commercial organization suggested I look into getting APICS certified.

For those of you who are not familiar with APICS, it is the educational part of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), which is a non- profit organization based in Chicago. Its mission is “Fostering the advancement of end-to-end supply chain management through a body of knowledge, innovative research, systems and methods to create value for customers, members and organizations.” It is considered the leading authority within the Supply Chain world. In 2014 I attended the annual APICS conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. During a networking lunch, I was sitting at the same table as the CEO of APICS. During our conversation, the topic of corporate social responsibility came up. I shared how we have the opportunity at Celanese to help others in need in various ways, and how this is an important part of our culture. He mentioned that serving the community could be done in many ways, including dedicating time to help others develop their Supply Chain skills and sharing knowledge. He said that APICS relies on volunteers from certification committees to ensure the body of knowledge stays up to date, references are valid as well as accurate and exams test the right skills and knowledge while maintaining a certain level of complexity. He told me that if I was interested, I should keep an eye on the APICS website since openings in those committees are advertised there.

Shortly thereafter, I received an email from the chair of the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) certification committee. She explained that they had an opening on their committee, and they were looking for an international member to ensure relevance from a global perspective since all other members were Americans. She invited me to send over my CV if I was interested, and plan a call, and that is how it all started.

During our call she explained what it means to be on this committee and what tasks were involved.

I realized joining the committee would mean a significant contribution of my free time, but I also realized that the benefits far outweighed the costs. I’d be able to give back to the Supply Chain community and achieve valuable personal development

During our first meeting in Chicago, I discovered I was the youngest member of our committee, and the level of experience of the others blew my mind. The other four members of the committee brought a different perspective on Supply Chain Management. Their experience ranges from a retired college professor who wrote various well-respected Supply Chain books to a Supply Chain VP of a pharmaceutical company. It is a privilege to spend time with them and absorb their knowledge wherever possible.

With all these activities in Chicago or remote, I feel we are making a big impact on the development of students and professionals aiming to become true Supply Chain specialists across the line at corporations and NGO’s, but also in family-owned small businesses. By mastering different tools and speaking a common Supply Chain language, they take Supply Chains to a higher level.

Finally, I wanted to share this knowledge from my certifications and committee experience with students as well, and therefore, I decided to become a licensed APICS instructor. I spend about 10 vacation days per year on teaching APICS classes in Europe. The benefits to this are twofold: I share my knowledge with others, and at the same time, I can learn from students how other companies approach their supply chains.

I think it is worth investing time in developing others to make the world around us better. I would like to encourage all of you to think about ways to give back through the knowledge or skills you possess. I can assure you, there is something in it for you as well! Oh, and don’t forget that if you log these hours, you are able to donate “Dollars for Hours” as well!  It’s a win/win situation!