MT: C.I.T.T. has been been providing professional development for our industry for over 40 years. How have the needs of your students have evolved over that time span?Viglas: When I first took on this...
MT: C.I.T.T. has been been providing professional development for our industry for over 40 years. How have the needs of your students have evolved over that time span?
Viglas: When I first took on this position a few years ago and was researching the educational needs of the industry, I thought it was an emerging profession and I think it is there now. Our members are at the boardroom table. Their needs have broadened to encompass more than just the transportation component. What we now educate people in is how to think of the big picture in terms of integrated logistics strategy. Of course, within that are all the hard components, the transportation, the warehousing, the distribution, etc.
MT: What are employers looking for in today’s transportation and logistics professional?
Viglas: They’re looking for sound analytical skills, good business skills, strong abilities with technology, the ability to work in a team environment and big-picture thinking.
MT: In reference to big-picture thinking, you’ve said in the past that the silo functionality of departments within corporations has resulted in conflicting objectives and overall poor corporate performance. For those silos to come down it’s necessary for both corporate executives and transportation and logistics professionals to communicate effectively. What is C.I.T.T. doing to ensure that people with a C.I.T.T. designation are equipped with what it takes to bring down those silos?
Viglas: Contained within our course of study is a requirement for a number of proposals, case studies and formal reports that students must prepare that teach how to convey sound strategy and thinking in the written form. If you can’t convey your thoughts in writing you will have a harder time getting into the boardroom. Strong communication skills, especially written communication, are a necessary component of career success. And also within our course of study are a number of business courses – commercial law, finance, administration, business strategies, organizational behavior, marketing, economics, risk management, business communication – that provide students with a well-rounded background. Combine that with courses in the core transportation and logistics areas and you create a well-rounded individual who then is able to sit at the boardroom and talk.
MT: Two years ago C.I.T.T. implemented certification maintenance guidelines. Can you elaborate on the thinking behind this approach and what it entails?
Viglas: The market dictates that if you don’t stay current you don’t stay in business. We really believe that you have to stay fresh and therefore the people that hold the C.I.T.T. designation must stay current. It’s about stretching their minds. We require that every year our members report to us what they have done to continue to upgrade their skills. They are given two years to meet the upgrading thresholds. There was some initial concern but I think our members have embraced it. We’ve just ended our first cycle and at the end of last year we had 87% disclosure. We’ve had members say that they now make it their business to go to a least one seminar a year; the new provisions give them that extra little push they needed during their busy work schedules to get that updating. And it also boosts our ability to market the value of the designation. People that got their designation a decade ago are remaining current.
MT: You now offer courses online. What are the challenges of delivering a course in an online environment?
Viglas: Four of six courses we personally develop are available through the Internet now. The response has been excellent. Every time we’ve launched a course on the Internet we’ve witnessed an interesting phenomenon: 50% of the people enrolled in the course end up taking it over the Internet. But there are challenges involved with the delivery. You want to enhance the students’ feeling that they are part of a community. That’s the whole point of going to something Internet-driven. And you want to diminish the amount of onscreen reading that they have to do because that won’t work. What we have developed is a bit of a hybrid. We still ship them the textbook but on the Internet students have a bulletin board they can use to communicate with the facilitator and other students and they are encouraged to do it. It’s on the Internet where they can access their assignments and post them and in some cases can get instant marking back. With traditional correspondence courses there are vast periods of time where you are not in contact.
MT: How would you like CITT positioned 10 years from now?
Viglas: We want to be viewed within the corporate community as a major resource for information in transportation and logistics management and have members who hold the designation seen as being the leading logistics professionals. I see that as being within our grasp.
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