A few days before it took place, I was sharing with somebody that I would be attending the 2015 CSCMP Annual Conference in San Diego, even though my employer wouldn't sponsor my trip. The person asked, "Why would you do that?" I believe I responded with something weak like, "Well, because I like it." But the question kept turning in my head. After the conference was over, I came to the realization that I like it because I'm a little bit of a dreamer and an idealist combined with a hard-facts- and results-driven businessperson. For me, the conference offers something in all of those respects.
For example, the conference was a great opportunity to Connect with friends I have made from past conferences and to more great people. It was an opportunity to Learn about the hot trends and best practices in supply chain, and how others address the same struggles I have. It was also an opportunity to Develop my leadership skills some more. And finally, it was a great opportunity to continue my volunteer work for CSCMP, particularly helping the organization to grow internationally.
Additionally, this year, I discovered the human side of supply chain. It all started with "Stop Hunger Now," [where attendees packaged meals for the hungry]. Volunteering Sunday afternoon for this cause reminded me of 2013, when I attended a very similar team event in Peoria, Ill., which inspired my wife and me to help others in my home town, Nuevo Laredo in Mexico.
The next day, on Monday, Mr. Robert Martichenko almost broke up in tears while trying to thank his wife when he received CSCMP's Distinguished Service Award, showing how human he is ... very moving.
Then, at the first general session on Monday, I was amazed by the message Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, shared with us: "Bring love and humanity to the workplace and to the boardroom, and profits and opportunities will follow," he said. "I'm not alone, I'm not crazy," I thought. "It is possible to combine humanism and profits and be successful." I felt hopeful.
On Tuesday, there was a presentation about ALAN (American Logistics Aid Network), a not-for-profit born at the heart of CSCMP 10 years ago that is dedicated to saving lives by helping to coordinate logistics efforts during disaster events. [ALAN Vice President] Mark Richards and [Executive Director] Kathy Fulton challenged the audience to help to raise $100,000 in a few months. Immediately after they completed their plea, Dave Clark, Amazon's vice president of customer service, donated $25,000 on behalf of Amazon and offered to match donations made that same day. By the end of the conference, we had contributed more than $75,000 to ALAN. This is one of the things I envy about the American culture—that powerful sense of community.
The next event happened after I completed my participation as a panelist at a conference session. A professor who lives in California stopped me on my way to find a table for lunch. With tears in her eyes, she said that I touched her by talking about humanism at work. She also shared her passion for Mexico and her desire for my country to do better. She moved me to the point of tears. Again, I was reminded that I'm not alone.
So why do I attend the CSCMP Annual Conference? Because it makes me feel like I'm home, because it lifts up my spirit, because it gets me a bit closer to finding my path every time ... and heck, because I like it.
Javier Zarazua, CSCP, RCWT
Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, México