How did you get into this field – was it purposeful or by accident?
Early in my career at First Data, while in a business/product management role, I was asked to assist legal with negotiating vendor contracts. I quickly realized that I loved it, and I was very good at it! A year later, the company set up a new global procurement function, “to leverage the purchasing power” of multiple legal entities, and I was tapped as one of the two employees to start the function from green field (the other person was an attorney). My career in procurement progressed quickly after that and I’ve never looked back!
In what ways do you feel your professional contributions have influenced or transformed the industry? (This could be a new approach or methodology, the application of an existing technology in a completely new way, significant thought leadership or even a career of inspiring others.)
I believe that I have made significant and lasting contributions to the industry through my leadership and mentoring, and as one of the early women in a CPO role. At a time when the typical procurement approach with vendors was often “zero sum” (we win, you lose), I required a win/win approach, which lead to sustainable and holistic partnerships with suppliers. I instilled this in my teams, and today many of my former employees are in procurement leadership positions, using this philosophy as their foundation. This leads to procurement being accepted as a true strategic partner to the business.
When I first became a CPO and senior executive, I was often the only woman “at the table,” and likewise one of few women at industry events and conferences. Throughout my career I have sought (and sometimes fought) to ensure that my teams embrace and value diversity.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing the industry today and what should be done to solve them?
I think one of the biggest problems facing procurement leaders today is continuing to enhance and increase the value of procurement to the business, and at the same time supporting the ever-present business mandate to “do more with less,” especially with shared services functions. Procurement must be on the leading edge of embracing efficiencies for tactical and operational functions (levering systems, AI, RPA, outsourcing, etc.), and at the same time, maximize the value creation from strategic sourcing, category management and business partnering.
Looking at the whole of your career, what do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
I believe my greatest achievement was the establishment and long-term success of the Global Procurement function at First Data. I grew Procurement from a green field organization to a global function that was not only accepted, but was well respected by the business, had a seat at the executive table, and was seen as a valued strategic partner for traditional sourcing and procurement functions, as well as M&A activities and other adjunct business initiatives.
What three words do you feel your colleagues and peers would use to describe you?
Passionate, Partner, Productive
What advice do you have for those who are new to the profession or considering entering the industry?
My advice to any young person starting their career is:
- be passionate in your career, but keep balance in your life;
- learn your strengths and how to leverage them;
- know your weaknesses and strive to improve them, or at least don’t let them impact your success; and
- always act with utmost ethics—your reputation will both precede and follow you.