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March 22, 2017 | by Bob Weidner

Excitement, Transformation and Opportunity

MSCI members vote “yes” as we make historic changes and enhancements to our mission and services

If I am through learning, I am through.John Wooden

It was impossible to resist an opening quote from the legendary UCLA basketball coach. After all, we are once again immersed in March Madness, the annual, exhilarating run for the NCAA basketball championship. You might say I am just a bit excited this year since my alma mater Northwestern University for the first time ever battled its way into this always-wild tournament. With first the Cubs and now the Wildcats win or lose, it is a historic time for Chicago sports fans.

It is an equally exciting time, I must say, to be leading MSCI, as we recast our 109-year-old association in ways that have never been done before. It has been obvious for some time because the business environment is shifting steadily for members all along the industrial metals supply chain, that we too must adapt and change to stay valuable and relevant. Associations traditionally focus primarily either on issues and advocacy, or services offering industry data and education to members. Our goal now is to fully and effectively embrace both those missions. Most gratifying therefore, is that you, the membership has stated clearly that you support us in this transformation.

As you may recall, we reached out over the last year in a first-ever member survey to get your views on where your business and the industry are headed, and how MSCI can serve you best in this time of disruptive change. We first talked with 18 of our most senior leaders at length and in person. Then we sent electronic surveys to some 10,000 individuals at member companies and across the metals supply chain. The response was impressive, and extremely valuable.

You were quite clear. You named government policy and regulation; accurate, timely, predictive industry data; and metals-focused education as the top concerns for your business, and most valuable areas where we can offer enhanced services to you. By wide margins, survey respondents said they would like us to optimize our advocacy programs in Washington and Ottawa to better represent industry interests on public policy and regulation. Consequently, we have already begun strengthening our presence in Washington, with testimony in front of key international trade agencies, and op-ed pieces in major publications outlining our positions on trade law enforcement, more reasonable regulation, tax reform and infrastructure spending. Ottawa is up next.

The survey also showed that better industry data and forecasting, focusing especially on end use markets, the demand end of the supply chain, would be critical to helping you meet the challenges of our rapidly changing industries. In response, we fully intend to become your most authoritative resource for predictive data and end use market information throughout the industrial metals supply chain.

At the same time, we will be offering a fresh agenda of executive and staff leadership and education programs. Most notably, we will be urging as many of you as possible to take advantage of our continuously improving Strategic Metals Management curriculum and the complementary new programs we are developing, building on SMM, that will be held at the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point, NY.

This developing, innovative MSCI agenda will be geared toward helping you better manage the increasingly sophisticated and evolving demands of the industrial metals supply chain, and sharpening our attention on the demand end of that chain. This is right in step with how you described the changes you expect in your businesses over the next five years. The old, commodity-based service center business model is giving way to a value added, technology-rich supply chain service and production model that includes more customization, enhanced processing and even fabricated kits and parts.

This transformation for all of us is certainly necessary, but that does not make it easy. We expect a lot of discussion, even some apprehension, around it in the coming months. And we welcome that too. As Coach Wooden said, “Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.”

We look forward to working with all of you as the business and political worlds change around and under us.