Tell us about your career path. How did you get into this field? Was it purposeful or by accident?
I created my mission and vision early on and use it as a guidepost for my career choices. My career goal is to ensure that people understand the value of sustainability
when making financial decisions. Whether I’m dealing with one person, or hundreds of people, I strive to have a positive impact.
As a freshman at University of Richmond, I saw the opportunity to improve sustainability practices on campus. I sought an internship with the new Director of Sustainability and, four years later, I had created or worked on virtually every campus sustainability initiative or policy. In my coursework and internships, I focused my research on supply chain sustainability. Seeking a job after graduating tested my resolve. Did I want to work for a big company or a start-up? What was the right industry for me? I remained true to myself and chose real estate sustainability and technology for my first post-graduate job.
Sustainability is not a destination; it is the journey to a better future. My journey began in real estate. It was a wonderful landing spot given its intersection with every sector. I want to take on new industries and new challenges through reaching the world’s largest organizations. My quest is to enable global organizations to use purchasing power as a force for good. The opportunity to drive planetary and economic improvements through procurement is real, and it enables me to continue on my less traveled path.
Would you follow that same path again if you had the choice?
Yes. If I were to change one thing, it might be to spend more time on self-reflection. I get wrapped up in my work, so I have to force myself to stop and smell the proverbial roses. It’s important that I evaluate my thoughts, feelings and interactions with others through a work lens. Sample self-reflection questions: How could I have done that differently? How did my decision affect others? Was I a good listener? What did I learn from my mistake?
What has been the single most significant development to impact your profession or area of business during your career and why?
Becoming a salesperson. I never imagined myself in sales, but my CEO saw something in me and encouraged me. I’m so glad he did. It’s hard work, but rewarding. My job is both an incredible challenge and an absolute privilege. I’ve worked together with hundreds of leaders and teams to learn their world, share perspectives and design successful strategies for change. The skills I’ve learned as a salesperson are critical components in my career pursuits.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your industry today - and how to you plan to solve it?
Misalignment of expectation and reality. We have successfully increased the speed of practically everything, meaning we have created a system that puts more and more pressure on individuals in charge of delivery. It takes shape in a lot of ways, but from where I sit, the biggest impact is misalignment between what is expected and what is required to achieve that vision. We’ve amassed more data in the past few years than in the prior centuries; yet so many times it’s stuck in disparate places. For procurement, the way you use information determines the value it brings; information on its own rarely has a voice. With access to reliable data, teams will focus time answering the hard-to-reach, high-value questions, rather than grappling with low-value data collection exercises. Engaging with your stakeholders (suppliers, customers, other business units) early and often will increase effectiveness in the long term. I can’t solve this alone, but I hope to equip teams with the frameworks and tools to recognize a path forward to their desired speed.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement career-wise?
Improving lives and environments of people around the world. I have a few personal milestones that I’m proud of. In college, I received a leadership award, and, later, I was published in a scientific journal. But my fulfillment comes from my job. I’m grateful that I work in a field where I can help others.
What’s your biggest (as yet) unfulfilled ambition - and what are you going to do to achieve it?
My ambition is to leave the world a better place than I found it. I know that with a balance of unrelenting commitment, a healthy dose of realism and access to the right channels I can do it. I’ve already begun.
What three words do you think your colleagues and peers would use to describe you?
Curious, loyal and energetic.
Finally, what piece of advice would you give to young women starting their careers in the field of sourcing, outsourcing and procurement?
I would offer women the following advice:
- Invest in yourself. You’re worth it! Also, by dedicating resources to your own development and improvement, you’ll make it simple for others to invest in you too, thus multiplying your return.
- Seek out people that lift you up: leaders, mentors, friends, coaches.
- Authenticity and compassion are more important than ever in our rapidly-evolving internet-driven world and workplace.
- Play to your strengths. You will see proportionately better results from getting better at strength areas than trying exhaustively to make small strides in your weaker areas.
- Operate from a mindset of possibility. This has been instrumental for me both personally and professionally. Instead of operating within the framework of scarcity and limits, explore your opportunities.