Why CLTD? ‘Those who know how will always work for those who know why’

In 2016 APICS introduced the new Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) certification. The CLTD certification is earned by passing one comprehensive exam, focusing on eight modules covering critical areas in logistics, transportation, and distribution:

  • Logistics and Supply Chain Overview
  • Capacity Planning and Demand Management
  • Order Management
  • Inventory and Warehouse Management
  • Transportation Management
  • Global Logistics Considerations
  • Logistics Network Design
  • Reverse Logistics and Sustainability

Achieving CLTD certification will help you:

  • Master the essential knowledge needed for the logistics, transportation and distribution industry
  • Expand your outlook on the logistics field and enable you to bring new ideas to your organization
  • Remain current with global logistics trends and developments
  • Boost your confidence with recognition as a logistics expert
  • Provide you with the tools you need to help reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction

Chris Barnes, a supply chain professional and long-time friend of APICS achieved the CLTD certification late 2016. He recently sat down with Amanda Luton, owner of The Magnolia Marketing Group and social media marketing manager for APICS Atlanta, to discuss the CLTD certification and provide readers with tips on how to successfully study and pass.

Amanda: You achieved CLTD. What other certifications do you have?

Chris:  Yes, I achieved CLTD in December 2016. I also hold the original CPIM designation at the fellow level and added CSCP a few years ago.

Amanda: What are the other certifications and how do they work together?

Chris: CPIM or Certified in Production & Inventory Management has been around for over 60 years and is the industry standard for inventory management and sales and operations planning professionals. CSCP or Certified Supply Chain Professional is the middle child and has been around for several years. I was glad to see the new CLTD certification come along as a complement to the other two. CPIM focuses on the Plan, Source, Make processes of the supply chain with emphasis on materials planning, materials management, purchasing and forecasting. CSCP took a more holistic view of the supply chain with emphasis on all SCOR processes. CPIM was at the ground level view while CSCP was at the 10,000 feet view. CLTD is similar to CPIM being at a ground level view but is focused on the outbound side of the supply chain (Deliver and Return).

Amanda: How have these certifications helped you?

Chris: I will give you my personal examples but I encourage readers to understand each person and career is different. I am unique to APICS in my career. As a sales professional with classical training roots in industrial engineering my use of the APICS credentials is what I say, less than applicable. For example, I am not buying, planning, producing or moving things through the supply chain as a practitioner. However, the CPIM certification has helped establish me as a trusted advisor with prospects and customers, making my job easier. On many occasions, I’ve noticed something APICS related in a person’s office I was interviewing, and inserted my APICS involvement into the discussion. It was an instant credibility builder.

In recent years, my focus has been on helping companies improve their warehouse operations. As a result I was suspect getting the CLTD certification would benefit me much. But, I quickly learned there is more to outbound logistics than an efficient warehouse. CLTD opened my eyes to the complexities of a global supply chain and best practices around managing transportation and reverse logistics. It added to my arsenal as a trusted advisor. I am now better able to discuss transportation issues with my prospects and customers. Issues like understanding the impact of the Chinese New Year on supply lead times, what harmonized tariff codes are and why they matter and the perfect order is not perfect until the customer has it.

The CSCP certification helped me in a surprising way and opened my eyes to another passion I now have, training and coaching. When I achieved CSCP I was with a global ERP publisher (don’t know what ERP is? Get certified and find out). With the new certification in hand, management approached me and asked if I would put together a CSCP review series for employees and partners around the world. I accepted and helped many people with their career development by coaching them on CSCP certification. As a result of this experience I now coach individuals during their certification processes and advise another company, Talent Stream Leadership Academy, to help companies develop internal workshops and certification review sessions.

Amanda: As one of the first CLTD certificants, what advice do you have for anyone pursuing CLTD certification?

Chris: At a high level, I have three suggestions. One, set aside the time to study and make it a priority. This is especially true if you opt for self-study. The exam schedules are flexible and you sign up for an exam slot that fits your personal schedule, for example 3 or 6 months out. You then have a pace to maintain leading up to your exam date. As with any other learning exercise, cramming creates stress and tends to focus on the result (passing) over the means (learning).

Forget what you already know. I expect this sounds odd but I am a living example of why I bring this up. As mentioned, I have been a warehouse professional for several years and think I have a good grasp on warehouse concepts and practices. As I studied CLTD and completed the practice exams I saw my scores were lower in the warehousing section. This was the result of me skimming the warehousing sections, rather than reading, and missing subtle concepts discussed in the participant guide. I was guessing on answers, many of which were guessed wrong. Key take away’s; 1) understand the examples discussed in the participant guide and 2) know the APICS terms and definitions. There is a long-standing adage with APICS, ‘the correct answer is not always the right answer, it’s what APICS says is correct that is the right answer.’ Reminds me of the golden rule ‘whomever owns the gold, makes the rules.’

Know your learning style and study to that style. For example, APICS offers class-room sessions for people to take or you can pursue self-study. I did a combination class room/self-study driven by the amount of time I had and the experience I had with the subject. Early in my career, I worked in a manufacturing plant and could reasonably know I would be available every Wednesday evening. I also needed an active class discussion with other students to allow me to learn from their experiences and put more examples around the concepts. As my career evolved, and I gained more hands on experience I did not have the luxury of knowing I would be available to attend a class on any given day and my travel schedule was more conducive to self-study.

I’ve talked to many students who need the discipline and structure of attending a class-room session. It helps them with accountability. But, in recent years I’ve seen a trend toward self-study, especially for CSCP and CLTD. It’s why I started APICS CLTD Coach. We ‘tutor’ students going through self-study. We provide different levels of support based on individual needs. Ranging from pointing people in the right direction and pulling the string, to regular sessions reviewing key concepts and providing the real life experience perspective. I encourage you to connect with your local APICS chapter to leverage them as a resource and get involved with a class. For example, APICS Atlanta is working on a 5 Saturday review of CLTD in the coming months. And check out http://www.apicscltdcoach.org to get a glimpse into what myself and others think is relevant to better understanding CLTD. Not to be left out, CPIM students should check out http://www.apicsexamwarehouse.com.

Amanda: Professional Development and continuous learning is obviously a big part of your career plan. Why do you think it is important?

Chris: Early in my career, I found the APICS certifications helped me with career advancement. Over time, my interest has evolved into learning for the sake of better understanding. I like to understand topics that will potentially help my customers and I enjoy sharing my passion and experience with others who might be trying to improve themselves professionally, or with companies who see APICS certified employees as a foundation for continuous improvement of their supply chains. I heard a CEO once theorize there are three phases to a career, Learn, Earn and Return. For me, I am bridging the transition between Earn and Return.

Continuous learning supports something a mentor once told me, ‘Those who know how will always work for those who know why’.