Bill Michels To Head Up CIPS In The USA – A Direct Challenge to ISM?

In a fascinating announcement on Friday, CIPS (the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply) announced that it has appointed “procurement expert Bill Michels to be Vice President of Operations, Americas with immediate effect”.

Duncan Brock, one of CIPS’ board directors, said: “This is a really exciting development for CIPS and recognises the growing demand we are seeing from both our existing client base and new organisations looking to develop their procurement standards and capabilities across the US.  Bill is an excellent addition to our global CIPS team and we look forward to expanding our existing US network.”

But there is some fascinating history to this.  ADR is a long-established originally UK-based procurement consulting firm that the great Jon Hughes (amongst others) worked for in the 1990s. Michels, a well-known and respected figure in the procurement world, was in charge of ADR in the US, with significant equity in the business we believe, and in 2012, ADR US was bought by ISM – the US-based Institute of Supply Management.

That seemed a bit of an odd move for the Institute, but ADR did a lot of training and consulting work for ISM at the time so you might look at it as supply chain vertical integration for ISM.  But Michels left ISM / ADR in December 2014, and went out on his own again, setting up Aripart Consulting. Now, he is back in the world of professional Institutes, but with CIPS, not ISM.

So this looks like CIPS not just “parking its tanks on ISM’s lawn”, but pointing the guns in their direction and loading both barrels. We wrote here about President Sam Walsh's remarks at last year’s CIPS dinner, and CIPS North American ambitions were becoming more obvious over time, but things we suspect got somewhat put on hold a year ago with David Noble’s sad death. Clearly though, Brock and the Institute have continued to move forwards and it will be fascinating to see what happens next.

There has been co-operation between CIPS and ISM over the years as well as competition, but there is little doubt that in recent years CIPS has raced ahead of ISM in terms of finances, membership, and global reach. ISM seems hamstrung by its governance structure in the US, and maybe also a less than positive perception of the US in certain parts of the world where the CIPS British heritage is easier to take for local professionals.

We also believe that CIPS has been more successful than ISM in maintaining a very high level of educational credibility. While many of us moan from time to time about certain aspects of the CIPS qualification approach, curriculum and so on, it is still the gold standard globally for procurement certification at both individual and (increasingly) corporate level.

So we wish Michels good luck, and await with interest to see how he and CIPS address the US market.

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