How Forum Inspires Change In Procurement

I started my procurement career 24 years ago in Plantation, Florida, and I am proud to say that I have stayed there to this day. Like many procurement professionals, I fell into procurement by accident. I didn’t know anything about NIGP or the diversity within procurement. I just knew that I wanted to get more involved and become certified. I stumbled across NIGP in my search for certification, which is what led me to my first Forum, which was taking place in Orlando, Florida.

Inspired By Energy

If I could describe that first Forum experience in one word, it would be inspiring. The event opened my eyes to the collection and diversity of thought within the procurement atmosphere. It was amazing to be surrounded by procurement colleagues I didn’t even know existed, dealing with the same challenges I was facing and handling them in different ways.

You’ll likely hear others talk about the energy in the room at Forum. And indeed, there is a very palpable energy. But the energy I gathered from these individuals was overwhelming, to be honest. I actually started second-guessing myself, thinking I wasn’t worthy of being around these established, confident procurement leaders. Fortunately, I had a mentor who told me to take my time, introduce myself, and take in as much as possible.

And I did. I had more than my fill of great ideas from Forum. When I returned to the office, I was inspired to do so much more within my agency. I have had the same experience with every Forum I’ve attended since then. I come back feeling almost reborn into the profession. It’s a little overwhelming, but then I get into the mix and come back inspired to implement new ideas to serve my agency and the public better. I welcome new challenges and am reminded of all my colleagues across the continent who are available to help if I need some support in any manner.

Implementing Changes

The value of Forum goes beyond the sheer energy in the room, although that is, of course, part of the magic. But being able to come back to your agency and make changes that have a noticeable, positive impact is a key reason I keep coming back.

For example, I attended one Forum session about contractor and stakeholder engagement. It inspired the idea of holding internal stakeholder training classes, which I implemented. Now, we hold annual training classes for our internal stakeholders. We also do external training with future contractors on how they can best do business with the city of Plantation.

Another key topic that has come up at Forum is transparency. I actively work to promote the highest level of transparency here in Plantation. I publicly post everything we do in a monthly procurement gazette that identifies all the things that our team has done over the past month. This is particularly helpful for our city council members who want to keep up with what we’re doing but might not have the time to take a deep dive into our website or talk to me every month.

Forum isn’t one of those events that inspires you at the time but doesn’t motivate you to make any real change. Instead, it’s an event that challenges you to change the status quo. I always come back with great ideas. Some can be implemented immediately, while others need some time to go through the approval process.

Advice for First-Timers

I like to say that there are no titles at Forum – we’re all just trying to do what’s best for our agencies and the profession. So, forget about whether you’re brand new to procurement or leading a procurement team. Either way, you’re going to get out of Forum what you put into it. With that in mind, here’s my advice for first-time Forum attendees.

  1. Breathe: I know Forum can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re new to the procurement profession. But just take a breath and then take the leap. Introduce yourself – don’t be afraid to jump into a conversation! We’re all here to network and meet other procurement professionals who can help us do our best work for our agencies.
  2. Take advantage of networking: The sessions are outstanding, but don’t miss out on networking at Forum. Making connections will help you after Forum when you’re stuck on a problem or want to talk to someone about a specific topic. Plus, that’s the best way to make friends!
  3. Change where you sit: Even though I have friends I look forward to seeing at Forum, I make a point to sit at different tables and with different people throughout the event. That’s a great way to meet people and grow your network.

I’m looking forward to meeting new people and learning from the spectacular lineup of speakers at this year’s Forum. I can’t wait to see you there!

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