Recently I was talking with a World Commerce and Contracting (WorldCC) Board Member and original founding member of the Association. We discussed the fact that we had been around a long time. He, from the beginning of the Association and I, starting in 2004. He said very few people can say they have been a part of a company that grew tenfold over the course of their tenure. I was taken aback, but when I looked at our history, I realized he was right. The Association has grown dramatically over the years. In 2004 a few of us began a long journey and only hoped it would grow to reach many people across the globe.1
Having been with the Association for the past 18 years, I see it now as an interesting journey. Tim Cummins, the founder of IACCM, now World Commerce and Contracting, has always been the front man for the band. I was happy to remain behind the curtain making things happen. Back in the old days, people I met at our conferences made interesting assumptions about me and my role, like, hey, you are a real person after all! I had been sending out so many emails to them that they assumed I was not a person but a pseudonym or robot.
People couldn’t believe that a team of three or four full-time employees could generate so much stuff. One executive from another association told me how his full-time staff of 40 didn’t produce as much activity and programming as our little team produced.
In 2004, my first year with the Association, Contract and Commercial Management (CCM) really did not exist as a contracting profession. In fact, people couldn’t agree on what the profession should be called, and frankly most still cannot. Some wanted Commercial but others wanted Contracting. And it’s still that way today, depending on where you are and whom you work for; therefore, the terms Commercial and Contracting are still being perceived differently. But at least now, people realize that as CCM professionals they’re probably talking about the same issues; the same processes, challenges, and opportunities. And plenty of opportunities exist for the profession to continue progressing, growing, and making new discoveries.
In 2004 we had no consistent training programs aimed at contracts. That’s why we produced the first contracting training program for General Motors (GM). Then we genericized it for the rest of the world.
I remember we convinced one member to review the learning program when it was still being developed and refined. He said, “I have been doing this for years, what is there to learn?” But, because I was a non-practitioner tasked at that time with getting the programs up and running, my answer was, “I have no idea it’s all new to me too, but just do me a favor and take the learning program for a spin.”
I didn’t hear back from him for a while and figured he had given up. But he surprised me! Not only had he finished the program, but he also said he actually learned a few new things; thought about other stuff in a different light, and he was a better contracts person because of it. It was then that we knew we actually had something of value for the market.
Once we put the first learning program in place, we turned towards the recognition of student’s achievements and developed the first global online certification program to enable accredited members to be recognized for their skills and knowledge.
During that time, we got into many discussions and disagreements surrounding the naming convention for the certification levels. Because we were trying to create this convention from scratch without a clear recipe, we made it up as we moved forward, and we improved and changed our approaches and actions as the path became clearer.
In the Mid 2000s the gender mix was not really balanced, and the men significantly outnumbered the women. More women are in the profession now, and at a more senior level of responsibility than the old days. Our membership tended to be older than it is now. This trend began to change as the original members started to retire. In fact, today we have young members fresh out of school.
Automation was pretty much non-existent in the early days, and the software development for commercial contract management was like the wild west. Companies focused on one silo of functionality or industry or contract type, etc.
We recognized early on that we needed to be vendor agnostic, happy to help promote those software vendors who could, in some way, help our members, if these vendors recognized our principles and lived by them.
Software vendors came and went. Some gobbled up competitors to gain symbiosis, while others were bought by large software companies -- thinking they were going to be hugely profitable, only to find out they didn’t fit into their portfolios in any clear way. Other vendors just imploded, because they couldn’t be agile enough to change with the changing markets and demands. And as technological advances continue, so does evolution.
And this evolution doesn’t stop. We have never been bored, and the need to adapt to a changing world hasn’t gone away. That’s why we’re still here!
World Commerce and Contracting, with over 70,000 members across 180 countries and 20,000 organizations, is leading the way in helping our members respond to the demands of global networked markets. is dedicated to helping our members from all around the world, achieve high performing and trusted trading relationships. We are committed to researching, advocating, improving capabilities, and helping our members to connect to share knowledge and leading practice.