For years, students in the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration have
come to know and love Mr. Bill Petty. His realistic view on teaching as well as his genuine concern for each
one of his students have made him a key figure in not only the Operations Management major, but in
Culverhouse as a whole. Unfortunately for future students, Mr. Petty will conclude his time at the University
of Alabama after this school year and start his welldeserved retirement. Along with his many contributions
to the University of Alabama, Mr. Petty has been a dedicated member of APICS since 1987 and of the
supply chain workforce for over 35 years. The APICS Chapter in Birmingham as well as the students at the
University of Alabama would like to honor Mr. Petty with this article for his overall commitment, time and
sacrifices that he has put into every aspect of his renowned career.
Patrick Mitchell and Savannah Wilson were able to sit down with Mr. Petty recently and get to talk
with him about both his ideals and crucial points in his career, whether it be with teaching or industry. When
asked the first question about his career and why he ultimately chose to work in supply chain, Mr. Petty
explained that it did not always start that way. After obtaining his Bachelors degree in Industrial Engineering
and an MBA in Operations Management from the University of Cincinnati, Mr. Petty worked under many
different job titles and many corporations, including the Keebler Company and the ZF Lemforder
Corporation. Working at ZF in Tuscaloosa is what finally led him to take the position as a Field Engineer for
the Alabama Productivity Center.
From there, Mr. Petty was invited to join the University as a parttime faculty member in 2006. In
August of 2007, he became a fulltime faculty member teaching introductory classes in Operations Management.
Notably, when asked, teaching has always been Mr. Petty’s favorite job. Before Alabama, he had taught as
an adjunct professor at four other colleges in the Cincinnati area. Today, he has instructed nearly 10,000
students over his teaching career and strives to keep up with as many as possible before and after their
graduation. At the end of one of Mr. Petty’s classes, a student can always expect to leave with a greater
understanding of the real world as well as Mr. Petty’s infamous Ten Commandments. When asked,
Mr. Petty wishes that each of his students realize that the workforce is not anything that can be learned
through a book. He hopes that his students can enter their careers and be ready to learn through handson
experiences and incorporate what they learned about his four favorite words: value, customer, simple and
process. Mr. Petty got these words from his experience in industry, which put together he says creates the
core of business: creating value for the end customer through a simple process . While Mr. Petty will be
ending his teaching career, his students will always remember the value that he created for them through
every one of his lectures at the University of Alabama.
Outside of the classroom, Mr. Petty has been involved with many supply chain and operations
management groups, including APICS. For over 20 years, Mr. Petty has been involved with APICS and
during his time at the University of Alabama, served as the advisor for both the Society of Operations
Management Students, or SOMS, and the student chapter of APICS in Birmingham. Mr. Petty’s adamant
support for APICS involved him acquiring student memberships for APICS for each of the 300+ students in
the Operations Management major in order to help connect students with industry. He also tirelessly worked
to help improve students’ knowledge that OM is a valid part of every function in an organization. On top of
APICS and SOMS, Mr. Petty also started the first student chapter of Alabama Automobile Manufacturing
Association at the University of Alabama. Mr. Petty culminated his credentials in 2008 by completing his
Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) certification through APICS. Though Mr. Petty may be retiring at
the end of this academic year, he sees supply chain becoming ever more influential in the business world
and a part of every function of the organization. He hopes that the future of the supply chain students and
industry will learn to incorporate that belief into their key business strategies and to continue with that same
line of growth.
Mr. Petty has helped shape the future of supply chain by the people he taught and has helped
further the knowledge of Operations Management with everyone he has met in his career. Ultimately, the
Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration would not have been the same without Mr.
Petty, and on behalf of the students at Alabama, we thank him for joining the faculty and for helping teach
Operations Management. On behalf of APICS, thank you to Mr. Petty for being passionate about supply
chain, showing the next generation of what Operations Management can do, and expanding the APICS
organization to all of the students at Alabama.
William Petty’s Ten Commandments
1. Get a job that makes you happy, not necessarily the one that pays the most.
2. Whatever job you get, be interested in what you are doing.
3. Get involved and stay healthy.
4. Speak up.
5. Challenge yourself and your supervisors.
6. Know your weaknesses and ask for help to improve.
7. READ. Keep up-to-date on current events.
8. Never stop learning.
9. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
10. If you can do something about a problem, do it; if you can’t, accept it and get on with your life.