Celebrating 15 years of Service to the International Trade Industry
1995 to 2010
IIEI Certification exists today because of the encouragement from thousands of volunteers and supporters over the years who from day one in 1995 believed in us and our mission. Not only did they help, volunteering their time and expertise to ensure our certifications accurately reflect best practices and the standards needed in industry, but thousands followed and participated in our program. Equally important, without the early involvement of independent training organizations that trained their students to our unproven, fledgling standards, we would not exist. It seems appropriate at this time to look back over these past fifteen years and take note of the events and people who made us what we are today—the recognized global standards certification authority to the world of international trade.
Before IIEI Certification (IIEI) came into being, there were no global certification standards for international trade. Every individual and every company had to determine their own standards. What resulted was ever increasing chaos as trade increased. IIEI’s founding mission and purpose came from those it sought to serve. The need was determined to be extensive. To be useful, the program had to be based on clear, meaningful standards developed from “best practices” and up-to-date national and international trade regulations. Above all, it needed to accept input from all sectors, including governments, industry practitioners and academia alike. In addition, the exact knowledge requirements had to be made readily available to industry. The testing to earn a certification had to be impartial, unbiased and in a manner that blindly validated the knowledge and proficiency of those it certified. Over the years, the standards have become better defined and the processes have been refined, but the basic tenet of what we do has remained constant. There has been tremendous growth in ways not imagined and unexpected challenges as the industry has evolved and grown.
Along the way we have weathered many storms, encountered calm and rough seas during our journey and enjoyed busy times of growth. We endured the events surrounding September 11, 2001 that caused many companies to postpone anything dealing with international trade activities and not only survived but grew stronger. We celebrated joyously with earning the recognition of governments around the world; we extended ourselves into unexpected roles supporting certification (training and education). At the request of industry leaders, we greatly expanded the number of certifications. Our global network of organizations providing the knowledge used in the various certifications has grown vastly. We’ve had incredible support from volunteers throughout the U.S and the world improving the standards and we’ve had a few disgruntled detractors make waves (accusing us of not being a true certification organization) because they weren’t able to take control of the program they helped to build. Amid all this commotion the number of people globally earning their IIEI Certification has continued to grow exponentially as have the number of partner organizations worldwide that teach to our global standards.
We have experienced other growing pains at times, made our fair share of mistakes and had our successes, as we expanded to meet our global mandate. We learned many lessons along the way and we take a positive view of all these experiences as we move ahead. Our course is resolute—we strive to realize industry expectations and remember the tremendous responsibility we have to make global trade standards what they need to be. We never lose sight of the necessity to work closely with those we are honored and thankful to serve and to meet the evolving certification and standards needs of the international trade industry.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to a large number of people who helped along the way. Without their encouragement, support and persistence, it is doubtful that IIEI Certification would have ever existed in the first place or that it would have gained the acceptance it enjoys today. First and foremost is Frank Woods, MIM, a Thunderbird, who, starting in 1993, repeatedly suggested to the founder there was a vital need for international trade certification. His confident understanding of the future of global trade was the catalyst. At every opportunity, he nurtured the seed he planted until it took root. Without his persistent encouragement none of this would exist today. At that time he was a Director for the U.S. Foreign & Commercial Service in Arizona. He has since retired. Doctors Gerry Bedore Senior and Junior are owed much. Their support and wisdom on how to reach the masses using the Internet made it all possible. We are forever grateful for their assistance and support in helping the program to go online and grow in acceptance. From day one until today, Caulyne Barron, M.Ed., the founder’s daughter has worked tirelessly to make this certification program live up to expectations. Everyone needs to know of her valuable contributions. Diana Larowe, MIM, who for years volunteered full-time without pay as our Director of International Relations deserves a special vote of thanks as do Barbara Baderman, Ph.D. and Richard Oxford, MBA, who also believed enough to volunteer their time and energies early on to make this certification program a reality. Without believers like these IIEI Certification may have started but it would not have succeeded.
We cannot recount the history of IIEI Certification without expressing our gratitude to countless others who notably contributed along the way. Their leaving does not diminish their contributions. Here is a sampling. Some spent years strongly voicing their opinions to make the standards meaningful. Others helped quietly in ways they thought minor but in truth were of great importance in making the “One World, One Standard” program meaningful in the details. We’ve had avid supporters pass away before the program gained its current widespread acceptance and saw others pick up the torch and carry on. We’ve had major contributors tirelessly assist for years and then leave suddenly when the organization would not change to meet their aims. One group of regulatory compliance volunteers, whom have since moved on, helped immensely ensure that compliance certification training materials, knowledge requirements and testing materials not only met the letter of the law, but also the spirit and intent. We would not be who we are today had these various individuals worldwide not shared their ideas and energies. Our history review would be incomplete if we failed to offer our gratitude to the first people (such as Lisa Xinos) who believed enough in our program to sit for the various certifications. Perhaps they contributed the most of all. Thanks to all of these individuals and the others too numerous to mention here who have given so much to make IIEI Certification meaningful and relevant.
Those not fully familiar with the history of IIEI Certification might be surprised by how Dunlap-Stone University (DSU) and its international business school, International Import-Export Institute, came to be associated with IIEI Certification. Today, sometimes people confuse the certification standards setting and assessment processes of IIEI Certification with the separate education and training curriculum offered by DSU and its business school to training organizations throughout the world. Without familiarity they confusingly see them as one and the same and therefore attempt to label the certification program that IIEI Certification offers as a “self-certifying” process, meaning that it is the training provider and it tests its own students. IIEI Certification does not perform training.
Self-certifying would imply that there is no external validation of the process, no standards or recognition and no separation between those who perform the training and those who administer the testing as is required to be a true certification granting organization. Self-certification could reflect the biases of strong personalities, politics or self-serving agendas and questionable standards. The documented history of IIEI Certification debunks this claim, as do the many hundreds of volunteers, educational institutions and training partners that have taken part and still contribute in the process, and the thousands of individuals who have experienced the value of certification after receiving exam preparation training from autonomous training organizations worldwide.
Fifteen years ago, when IIEI incorporated, its stated purpose was to fill the need as the certification standard body to the international trade industry. Since its founding, it has offered independent training organizations its third-party certification examinations focusing on general and specific international trade topics. Expert volunteers worldwide gave their recommendations as to the knowledge requirements for each of the certifications and the certification examinations were then developed using standard assessment processes and best practices. As individuals first began to take IIEI Certification’s standardized exams testing their industry knowledge, it became obvious that few possessed the minimum trade expertise required to meet the experts’ stated standards. Rather than revising the standards downward or lessening the knowledge requirements identified by the industry expert volunteers, IIEI recognized another option—to develop meaningful, quality training tools to educate industry professionals to meet the standards and pass the certification examinations.
For that reason, a separate division was formed in 1996 to provide training materials to organizations (schools and training providers worldwide) that would prepare test-takers for the IIEI Certification examinations and would proctor the tests. (A government supported archive of the IIEI website from 1998 [the earliest record they possess] shows some of these organizations.
The training arm of IIEI that provided materials to test preparation organizations would later evolve into Dunlap-Stone University (DSU). DSU has a separate and distinct mission and business model as a postsecondary education provider, involving itself not with the standards creation, but in how to most effectively teach and educate students on a broad range of topics. In 2003 this division became an accredited, degree-granting online university.
While the roots of both the knowledge provider and certifying branches can be found in the founding mission of the organization, the original certifying authority organization, IIEI Certification, has always been separate. Its mandate has remained unchanged since 1995. (See 1998 government web archive.):
Each year increasing numbers of training organizations and governments worldwide accept IIEI Certification for its important role as the certifying authority for international trade. This acceptance is based on a proven, unbiased, and transparent approach to managing industry standards. Some certification organizations managed by membership in other industries stagnate due to in-fighting or loss of direction to become self-serving. IIEI Certification is carefully organized to avoid the perils of industry agendas, self-serving groups or strong personalities driving their own personal views about industry standards for personal gain or power.
To meet shifting needs over the last decade and a half, our certification’s name has changed several times from its original IIEI Certification to the Certification Board of Governors, to IIEI Certification Advisors and finally back to its original name—IIEI Certification, which it remains today. But its purpose and what it stands for has never changed.
In January 2008, the education and training organization broadened its mission and changed its name to Dunlap-Stone University to better serve students worldwide seeking courses and degree programs that may fall outside the scope of international trade. At that time, the International Import-Export Institute became the international trade business school beneath the umbrella of Dunlap-Stone University. IIEI Certification remained a separate division of the corporation and remains true to its original mission and purpose to this day. It is recognized in over 140 nations for its success in meeting the needs of industry. It does this by accurately assessing how well individuals meet published professional trade standards. Each year, colleges, universities and training organizations across America and throughout the world prepare many hundreds of students to sit for an IIEI Certification.
Dunlap-Stone University’s (DSU) International Import-Export Institute is just one of IIEI Certification’s many approved training providers around the globe. The number of individuals it trains for IIEI Certification annually is a tiny fraction of those trained elsewhere. In 2005. in negotiations between the government of the People’s Republic of China and IIEI Certification, China was authorized 1500 Approved Providers. As a division of the larger corporation, IIEI Certification gains stability and is able to work with subject matter experts within DSU and many other universities and sources worldwide to garner the up-to-date information it uses to develop industry standards. Yet, in other ways, IIEI Certification is completely independent of these schools as it performs its critical role of providing industry with impartial, third-party assessment standards and testing. Students receiving their IIEI Certification exam preparation training from schools and training centers worldwide tend to do equally well as compared to schools in the U.S. (if their English language skills are equal.)
Since its founding in 1995, IIEI Certification has required individuals to complete on-going approved training to support their certification, or retake and pass the examination. This training can be completed worldwide via online or on-ground courses from a global network of approved providers, by attending industry training seminars or completing in-house verifiable relevant training, in addition to other verifiable and relevant means. The Continuing Education Units earned in this manner are recognized in accordance with published standards as to their relevance and duration.
As is the case with all certifications across all industries, the real validity of any certification is determined only by those it serves. If the certification is valued and accepted by companies and individuals within the industry, it will prosper and grow. If not it will fade away. IIEI Certification without question continues to meet the needs of industry as it continues to see huge growth each year as more companies make its certifications a requirement of employment. Its continued acceptance is based on its sustained value to industry.
It is important that IIEI Certification remain independent and separate from those that work in the industry it serves or that train others for its exams. If IIEI Certification was comprised of and managed by individuals working within the industry served (or having close ties and reliance to those in industry), such as those in positions of regulatory compliance importance in corporations or in consultancy, its members could have a vested interest in the outcomes of the tests. This might cause one company’s employees to be favored in granting certification over another. With many companies now requiring their employees to be certified (as proof of their due-diligence) this possible abuse could negatively impact commerce and lives. Instead, at IIEI Certification, impartial educators outside the industry survey and consult with experts to develop IIEI Certifications, resulting in the unbiased and fair determination of standards and impartial awarding of certifications. Thus, the ‘fox’ is not guarding the hen house, as the saying goes. IIEI Certification’s impartial establishment and administration manages the standards without benefiting from or being affected by what the standards themselves may be. This is the way all certification bodies should be organized. Our independence is the cornerstone of our program’s success. Industry politics, cronyism, hidden agendas and personal prejudices do not enter into the IIEI Certification process.
The trade industry worldwide has made IIEI Certification the accepted independent certification authority because of its long history of providing fairly administered, impartial, unbiased certification examinations. Appropriate exams whose knowledge requirements are based on open discussion and consensus of experts from every relevant stakeholder group is what we do and how we serve our industry. Thousands of people attend training at autonomous training centers throughout the world each year in preparation for an IIEI Certification examination. The growing numbers of companies that require their employees to earn an IIEI Certification are a testament to industry’s appreciation for the service we perform.
In February 2012, IIEI Certification reorganized as a separate and independent body and became International Trade Certification, Inc.
In summation, from its very beginning IIEI Certification has always represented industry; it is and will always be the independent professional certification standards authority NGO (non-government organization) that seeks to fairly, accurately and impartially validate the proficiency of those serving in the international trade industry worldwide. Thank you for your belief and support in us.
Dr. Donald N. Burton