My Forum Story - Valerie Scott

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NIGP Forum is never a waste of time. Every year, I walk away learning something new that I can implement in my organization

I went to my first Forum in 2014, just after receiving my CPPB certification. The first thing I noticed was that the energy was electric. There were so many people doing so many things. I am a classic introvert, so I was a little overwhelmed at first. 

Fortunately, my manager had sent me and a colleague together, so I wasn’t alone. It was great having someone I knew with me who was familiar with the event and many of the people. She introduced me to a lot of the NIGP community, who immediately welcomed me with open arms. After 10 years of attending Forum, I feel comfortable walking into the room because I recognize so many faces, many from that very first event!

Making Long-Term Connections

NIGP offers several ways to stay connected with other procurement professionals from across the continent. I keep in touch with my friends from Forum in several ways. I enjoy participating in Radio NIGP and Here Comes the Judge with people I have met at Forum and through other NIGP leadership and chapter programs. 

Becoming friends with other procurement professionals helped me come out of my shell and put myself out there as a speaker. I have been inspired by so many speakers who are able to captivate an entire room full of people. Studying what they do to create a spark gave me confidence to become a speaker. Since attending my first Forum, I have presented a few times with groups, which is a great way to dip your toes in the waters of presenting. 

When I’m with a group of people who I trust and know will support me, it’s a lot easier to stand in front of a big audience. Last year, I was with a group that performed one of our Here Comes the Judge sessions as a plenary presentation, which was incredible. Being part of a group helped me face my fears about public speaking, which is an important skill. At some point, we all need to speak in front of a council or political body, so it’s always a good idea to practice. NIGP welcomes voices from all backgrounds and experience levels. Think about struggles you have faced and how you overcame them and pay attention to the speakers who get a lot of engagement. That could be you on stage next year!

Paving Pathways for Emerging Procurement Leaders

During my career, I’ve held several leadership positions for NIGP, including chapter president and treasurer. I am entering a season in life where I need to focus on other priorities, and it’s so exciting to me to see emerging leaders coming out of Forum and other NIGP programs who are ready to step up. In fact, this year, instead of attending Forum in person, I am sending a few of my staff members, who I believe will greatly benefit from the networking opportunities and panels. I want them to build connections and relationships with people across the US and Canada like I have. I also want them to have their own network that they can tap into when they have things they need help figuring out or are looking to progress in their careers, they have good bonds with other people in procurement that will help them continue to grow in their own journeys. 

Because I am sending other team members, I will likely attend the virtual event this year, which I have attended in the past as well. With so many different panels, it’s impossible not to find something of interest and relevance to my organization and position. I know there are a lot of people who have a hard time committing to traveling for various personal reasons, so being able to participate in Forum from your home base is an excellent addition. I’ll admit that I was surprised by how good it was the first time I attended! I think we’ve all experienced or heard of virtual events that have fallen flat. The virtual option at Forum is not one of those. You’ll have chances to engage with other attendees and, of course, listen to outstanding speakers.

Advice for First-Timers

Whether you are going to Forum with colleagues or by yourself, here are a few ways to make the most of it. 

  1. Wear comfortable shoes: Forget about fashion and focus on being comfortable. You’re going to be moving around a lot, and you don’t want to have to sit out on any of the amazing events taking place because your feet hurt.
  2. Know you can’t possibly do it all: You’re going to come away with a thousand great ideas. Recognize that you won’t be able to implement all of them. Focus on 2–3 things you can take back with you to your organization.
  3. Make time for the suppliers: Having planned conferences at the chapter level, I know what a monumental lift it is to coordinate an event like Forum. It wouldn’t be possible without the participation of suppliers. So, even if I don’t need anything, I always make a point to stop into the supplier showcase and say “thanks” to the suppliers who are there. And if I do need something, I plan ahead so I can meet with the suppliers who can help me during the event.

NIGP Forum has been instrumental to my career in procurement. I am thrilled to have the ability to introduce up-and-coming leaders in the profession to NIGP Forum so they can form meaningful friendships and help shape the future of procurement.NIGP Forum is never a waste of time. Every year, I walk away learning something new that I can implement in my organization

NIGP Forum is never a waste of time. Every year, I walk away learning something new that I can implement in my organization. 

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NIGP Forum is never a waste of time. Every year, I walk away learning something new that I can implement in my organization.