Bright shores ahead—March/April 2013

PMAC board chair Mike Whelan says professional development is a key to success

May 10, 2013
by PurchasingB2B Staff

PurchasingB2B sat down with Mike Whelan, chair of PMAC’s board of directors. Whelan, manager of supply chain management and administration for Nalcor Energy, spoke about PMAC’s direction and gave advice on professional advancement for those entering the field.

Describe your educational background and work history.
I studied business administration at Memorial University and completed my PMAC Certified Professional Purchaser (CPP) designation in 2002. In 2009 the CPP was changed to the current Supply Chain Management Professional (SCMP) designation.

After about 15 years in sales, I moved to supply chain. My first position was with a mechanical engineering firm, responsible for all supply chain aspects, then a major manufacturing firm where I was responsible for procurement, logistics and inventory control. After six years I went to a supervisory procurement role for Newfoundland & Labrador Hydro, eventually moving to my current position as manager of supply chain management & administration for Nalcor Energy. I’ve facilitated supply chain modules and workshops at Memorial University for the SCMP certification program. I serve as the chair of PMAC’s national board of directors and have worked with the Newfoundland & Labrador Institute of PMAC since 2002.

How did you get involved in procurement and supply chain?
After 15 years involved in various sales roles, an opportunity arose in what was then a materials management area. I did everything from procurement, logistics, expediting, receiving goods, quality assurance and accounts payable—the full supply chain! Over the years, opportunity drove me to larger firms with a more specialized role in procurement.

Describe your current role
I’m manager, supply chain management and administration for Nalcor Energy. I have ultimate responsibility for the supply chain management functions. Nalcor is the provincial Crown Corporation responsible for the management of all energy assets in Newfoundland & Labrador, including power generation, oil and gas and development of new projects.

What do you like most about your position?
My position keeps me in touch with the entire supply chain, giving me the opportunity to work with professionals in all areas to improve how the supply chain works for our users. I have great people working with me who ensure we continue to take the right steps to move forward.

What do you like most about your geographic location?
Newfoundland & Labrador is a great place to live and work. While some people may consider it somewhat remote, the advantages of living here far outweigh the travel time to get here. The location makes logistics that much more challenging, and strong planning skills become even more critical when strategically managing inventory levels and production requirements. Contrast that challenge with the great environment, and a safe place to raise your family within a strong community setting, and it is all worthwhile.

What’s your proudest moment?
My greatest pride comes from my family, and the many accomplishments we continue to achieve. Professionally, I have many moments I am proud of. I enjoy a senior position with a progressive employer. I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering with PMAC at the institute and national level, and serve as chair of the national board of directors. My proudest professional moment is earning my CPP/SCMP designation, demonstrating the culmination of learning and experience needed to be considered a supply chain management professional.

What are your future plans?
I have a little over a year left with the PMAC board of directors. We’re working on our strategic plan for the next three years which, based on plenty of stakeholder feedback, will give us direction as we grow the association to better serve our profession, including employers, members and other stake holders. Nalcor is a growing entity and opportunities are all around for improvement. I look forward to continuing to meet new challenges and contributing to this great effort.

What’s the value of PMAC membership and the SCMP?
Belonging to a community of like-minded professionals who share ideas and explore new concepts through networking and life-long learning is one of the most important aspects of PMAC membership—along with the salary premiums and increased advancement opportunities the SCMP designation brings. My experience validates that; I feel much of my professional success has come from my association with PMAC.

What can PMAC members expect going forward?
PMAC is developing its strategic plan for 2013-2016. The most important change will be our focus on educating employers that qualified supply chain management professionals provide strategic contributions to their organizations. We started this outreach in 2012, with our president Cheryl Paradowski visiting over 100 employers to educate them on the value PMAC members bring to their organizations and learning what they want to see from PMAC. We’ll build on that by revamping our marketing program and continuing to align our education programs with industry expectations. The benefits of this increased focus on employers will be enormous for our members—we’re looking forward to several positive changes.

What skills will supply chain management require in the future?
We consistently hear that the biggest skill gaps are between tactical vs. strategic thinking and in soft skills development, like leadership and communications. Our SCMP designation program includes an emphasis on both areas, which should help address these skills shortages as more and more graduates make their way into supply chain management positions. We must also continue to maintain our focus on the entire supply chain to understand how the cross functional interaction contributes to success.

What advice would you give those looking to advance professionally?
If you’re looking to progress in supply chain management, professional development is key. It will make a world of difference in advancing your career. Employers are looking for supply chain professionals who demonstrate leadership, can see the bigger picture and understand how their strategic contribution helps an organization achieve its goals. Continuous professional development, a firm foundation of work experience in the supply chain and a strong work ethic have been major contributors for many of the people I meet in leadership roles.

Tell us something about yourself that’s unrelated to supply chain management.
I’m fortunate to have a family that tolerates my time away from home, and at times 
encourages it! My wife Anne Marie and I 
celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this year, and have two children, Benjamin and Laura, who are both accomplished young adults. My father worked in supply chain management most of his career, 
and credits my mother with having so effectively managed the supply chain at home with eight children. Guess it was in my blood all the time!