CIPS prepares for a new President

I was delighted to be invited to the President’s dinner the other evening, held as David Smith comes towards the end of his year as President of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply. Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller was a brilliant speaker at the event, but as she is the ex MI5 (Secret Service) Chief, I cannot of course pass on anything she said... (actually, she was not indiscreet, just very impressive and interesting).

Anyway, it’s been a successful year for the Institute, with continuing growth, particularly in countries such as China and regions like Africa and the Middle East. The changes in governance as well, such as the replacement of Council with the Congress, will make this a significant year in CIPS history – it’s too soon to say of course whether it will be regarded in retrospect as a great step forward or not.

Smith’s theme for this last year – promoting the profession and encouraging new entrants – has I think resonated more than any other Presidential theme I can remember. And he has used his contacts and talents to promote it actively, and encouraged others to do the same. It helps that he is one of the very best public speakers in our profession, with the ability to combine humour, insight and passion into the same 10 minute session, and anyone who hears him I’m sure would be motivated to look at procurement as a excellent career choice!  And he will continue to be a great personal advertisement himself for the profession and for CIPS.

But CIPS also faces some challenges. The number of public sector professionals is falling in the UK for the first time ever under public spending cuts, threatening a chunk of CIPS core business. The contrast between the “old” UK-dominated Institute and membership, and the rapidly growing global organisation which is booming in China, Africa, and the Middle East is not without tension and potential risk.

And as more and more “intellectual property” material is free online (including Supply Management, and of course our sites), justifying the £140 annual membership fee for CIPS becomes tougher – making tangible and worthwhile benefits such as the Regus membership more important, by the way. (Thanks for that – a genuinely appreciated benefit for me at least).

So interesting times ahead, and good luck to Paula Gildert, who takes over as CIPS President from David shortly. He’s a tough act to follow, but I’m sure she will do well and we wait with interest to see what her Presidential theme is going to be.

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