From the Archives: A Conversation with Dr. Tom Speh

I’m not sure how I missed the news earlier this year, but I was shocked and saddened to learn last week at the CSCMP Annual Conference that Dr. Tom Speh, Miami University professor emeritus of marketing and the CSCMP Distinguished Service Award recipient in 2007, had died this past April. As his colleagues at the university commented:

“In his more than four decades at Miami, Tom brought honor to his alma mater as a globally distinguished educator and visionary in the field of logistics and supply chain management. His textbooks are used in universities around the world as he has similarly lectured, consulted and worked with industry executives internationally. His love of learning was infectious and its impact on all who had the pleasure and privilege to know him is unending.”

I was among the privileged who knew Tom. I traveled with him to China in 2005 as part of a delegation he organized to better understand the state of logistics there. The trip was a fantastic learning experience for all of us, but what I remember most was Tom’s kindness and humor. Unlike most of the other delegates, I did not bring my wife or a loved one on the trip, but Tom made sure I did not feel alone. He included me in his circle and made the effort to get to know me better, asking me about my family and career interests, and through the course of our conversations, I got to know him better too.

We kept in touch over the years, often bumping into each other at conferences, where we would talk mostly about family with a little supply chain and logistics mixed in. Soon after I launched Talking Logistics, I invited him on the program and he graciously accepted. He was one of my first guests, appearing in a May 2013 episode titled, “The Educator’s Perspective: A Conversation with Dr. Tom Speh, Miami University,” where he discussed the following topics:

  • The biggest and most important developments in the supply chain and logistics industry
  • His thoughts on the talent gap in the industry
  • What recruiters are looking for in terms of skills, knowledge, and qualities from undergraduates
  • The role e-learning and massive online open courses are currently playing, and their pros and cons
  • Whether getting an MBA makes sense or if other options, such as certifications and certificate programs, are better
  • The skills and knowledge supply chain professionals must have to be successful future leaders

Rather than me summarizing what he said, I encourage you to watch the video so that you can see Tom in action and listen to his wonderful voice and learn from him directly.

I hadn’t thought about this before, but I now realize that these video conversations I have with thought leaders and newsmakers in the supply chain and logistics industry enable them to keep teaching and inspiring us even when they are no longer with us.

Thank you Tom for including me in your circle, for teaching and inspiring me, for being a friend.

May his memory be a blessing.