Remembering Bill Copacino: A Supply Chain Champion

By Francis J. Quinn · May 22, 2012

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Supply Chain Management Review, a sibling publication of LM.

When you reflect about the people whose ideas, work, and stature have advanced the art and science of supply chain management, certain names come readily to mind. On the academic front, giants like Bud LaLonde of Ohio State and Michigan State’s Don Bowersox helped define the principles and practices that now are widely accepted as the core of sound supply chain management.  In the practitioner space, Joe Andraski, while heading up logistics at Nabisco, advocated and insisted upon a new level of professionalism among his managers. Many of those individuals Joe mentored at Nabisco have since risen to positions of supply chain prominence in companies and in professionals associations.

From the management consulting community, one name for me stands out: Bill Copacino.  And with sadness we report that Bill passed away last week after a battle with cancer.

Bill’s mark on the evolution of supply chain management was profound.  From 1989 to 2004, he worked at Accenture (known as Andersen Consulting when he joined). His initial focus was on developing the firm’s logistics strategy practice. He enjoyed remarkable success with this endeavor, making the Accenture name synonymous with logistics excellence. Soon he would rise to the position of Global Managing Partner of Supply Chain Management for Accenture worldwide.

Bill was an early believer in—and expert articulator on—the power of the supply chain to advance a business. During his Accenture years, Bill became one of the most highly sought-after speakers at industry conferences and events.  He wrote books, authored numerous articles, and contributed in any way he could to the supply chain community.

In 1998, CSCMP honored Bill’s work by presenting him with the Distinguished Service Award, the groups’ highest honor.

Bill was a bona fide thought leader and strategic thinker. Yet he had a knack of making his subject matter accessible to each particular audience—whether in the board room of a Fortune 100 company or at a local CSCMP Roundtable. He had a powerful story to tell about supply chain management and he welcomed the opportunity to tell that story wherever he could.

One of the great traits he demonstrated throughout his career—at Accenture and later as Chief Administrative Officer of C&S Wholesale Grocers and CEO of software company Oco Inc.—was his ability to lead people and help them advance their own careers.  “He was a great manager of people,” recalls Larry Lapide, a longtime friend and an Accenture colleague. “He was a maestro at leveraging employees’ strengths, placing them in positions in which they had the greatest opportunity to succeed.” The list of Accenture alumni who worked under Bill effectively comprises a “Who’s Who” of supply chain luminaries. These individuals went on to prominence in academia, technology companies, academic institutions, and leading analyst firms.

I’m indebted to Bill both personally and professionally. Personally, because his upbeat attitude, engaging-yet-humble personality, and wise council all had a greatly beneficial impact on me. Professionally, because Bill was one of the strongest and most effective supporters of Supply Chain Management Review when we launched this publication 15 years ago—and remained a loyal supporter to the end. The contributions that Accenture in general, and Bill in particular, have made to SCMR over the years have been immense. 

All of us in the supply chain community are enormously grateful for Bill Copacino—the man and his accomplishments. In every sense of the word, he was a true supply chain champion.


About the Author

Francis J. Quinn
Francis J. Quinn currently serves in the dual capacity of editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review and Editor-at-Large of Logistics Management. Frank has been covering the transportation and logistics scene for close to two decades, having served for many years as editor of Traffic Management Magazine. He also has written a special supplement on logistics for Business Week and was a principal contributor to the book Supply Chain Directions for a New North America, prepared for the Council of Logistics Management by Andersen Consulting. Frank holds an undergraduate degree from Boston College and a masters degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. His service experience in the U.S. Army includes tours of duty as a magazine editor in Washington D.C. and a military intelligence officer in Saigon, Vietnam.

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