Joe Cavinato, Ph.D. Named Winner of the 2012 J. Shipman Gold Medal Award

At an honorary luncheon during today’s 97th Annual International Supply Management Conference and Educational Exhibit in Baltimore, Joe Cavinato, Ph.D., became the 81st recipient of the J. Shipman Gold Medal Award — the highest award within the Institute for Supply Management‘s (ISM) power to confer.

The J. Shipman gold Medal Award originated in 1931 with the New York City affiliate of ISM (then known as Purchasing Management Association). It was established in honor of Johnson Shipman, a modest, ritering man highly regarded for his vision, intellect and influence on important issues. Despite the accolades, Shipman refused all honors and posts, both local and national.

Since that time, the J. Shipman Gold Medal Award is presented annually to an invidiviaul who has made a major contributions to the supply management profession, to ISM and to the community. Cavinato fits all these bills exceedingly well.

As Norbert Ore, CPSM, C.P.M., chairman of the ISM — J. shipman Nomination Committee, pointed out, innovation is certainly one Cavinato’s trademarks. In the mid-1980’s, the medalist created financial models he called “financial supply chains” — the cash-to-cash cycle among them. He used these models in his writing, teaching and client presentations.

Another Cavinato trait, in droves: conceptual thinking. “In the early 1990’s, [Cavinato] began to definte and promote ‘supply management’ as a field greater than just ‘purcahsing’ or ‘procurement,'” Ore told attendees. “He expressed the differences in the following: ‘You’re a buyer when you get involved once you receive a requisition; you’re in procurement when you get involved before the requisition is produced; and you’re a supply professional when you get involved before the product is even created.'”

Although the time allocated wouldn’t allow Ore to list all the contributions and accolades already bestowed on Cavinato — including several outstanding teacher awards from universities across the United States — one in particular bears recoginition: his leadership as executive director of the Center for Strategic Supply Leadership (CSSL) at ISM since 2004. He also pointed out that Cavinato has written, co-written or contributed to 15 different supply management books, and has nearly 250 published articles under his belt.

“[Cavinato] is a visionary and recognized leader, mentor to many, and friend to many more,” Ore told attendees. “He has received many awards — awards befitting an original thinker, a valued contributor and a respected teacher and scholar. He has excelled in all his roles with a scholar’s mind and a buyer’s heart.”

For those familiar with Cavinato’s speaking talents, his acceptance speech was engaging and — as he rarely wastes an opportunity to be so — educational.

He took attendees back to the 1980’s, when CPOs had a frustrating time getting executive-level recognition for the value they delivered. Based on his groundbreaking interviews with CEOs, Cavinato determined that the CPOs who were on their CEOs’ radar were perceived as (a) businesspeople first and procurement people second, (b) problem-solvers and (c) oracles.

In the 1990’s, supply managment became “all about value-add and ‘doing things better,'” Cavinato continued. And, in the 2000’s, ‘outside-the-box’ capabilities became distinguishing characteristics of highly visible CPOs. These included low-cost country sourcing, new product reveneus, end-to-end supply chains and corporate social responsiblity. This was also when CPO-to-CEO career ambitions gained the most traction.

Wrapping up, Cavinato outlined three trends he sees on the supply management horizon: 3-D printing (which he predicts will have particularly major impact on medical device and aerospace supply chains), unpredictable dynamics, and ever-increasing CEO expectations of CPOs and their supply management teams. “We’ll be more highly regarded as sources of opportunity for our companies,” he said. “CEOs want CPOs who’re predictive — who see not only opportunities, but potential dangers.”

Cavinato also expressed his excitement that supply management now attracts the “best and brightest in the class.” He suspects it’s due to the forward-thinking reputation the profession has gained: namely, as a growing field.

As Cavinato pointed out, the hallmark of any growing field is refusal to accept the status quo. “It’s looking outside your own job, your own company and your own country, and then applying what you see for your organization’s benefit and growth,” he concluded. “My advice is six words: Be a leader in what’s possible.”

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