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As an executive procurement leader who happens to be a woman, I know I must challenge myself every day. The alternative is to be complacent, simply going through the motions and checking off tasks my client or employer asks me to do. That’s not at all rewarding, and it certainly doesn’t help my company or clients succeed. That’s why I was so connected to the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day -- #ChooseToChallenge. The theme reminds me to constantly challenge myself, and my team, to be more and do more. When I challenge myself and my teams in this way, we are able to accomplish far above what others might deliver.
In our business, our focus is on world-class service excellence, delivered by people. We are a people business. To that end, we can’t fulfill that customer promise unless we choose to challenge ourselves to become better at everything we do. As someone in a client-facing role, I come across many moments where I must “choose to challenge.”
For example, part of my role is encouraging clients to think outside of the box and, in doing so, my team sometimes presents ideas that may seem high-risk. In some instances, these recommendations also have the potential to reduce our scope of work with the client. The challenge occurs when I must assess whether we take that risk that may negatively impact my business, but positively impact the client. What do we choose? Our revenue or the right thing for the client? That’s easy. My choice is always what is in the best interest of the client, because I firmly believe (and experience teaches me), that more business comes our way when we follow our core value of placing customers first. That is always the right thing to do.
I constantly tell my team to choose to challenge the status quo. We aim to provide delivery and client solutions that far exceed what our client asks us to accomplish. One of my mantras is that a client can hire any of our competitors to do the services that they ask of us. However, what else can we choose to challenge ourselves to provide? How can we become that unicorn who drives bigger and better things on their procurement journey? It’s by providing lagniappe – a Cajun word for "doing a little something extra". Choose to bring more to the clients. Choose to challenge the everyday operating processes. Choose to make it better for the clients. That’s lagniappe.
I am also passionate about helping my fellow women procurement leaders use their voice and challenge more in their careers. I’ve found these five tips helpful throughout my career:
Define and amplify your voice.
Your ideas matter. Speaking up in meetings and sharing your ideas will help you grow as a leader in your organization. If you are still finding your voice, ALWAYS practice using it until it’s found.
Always be diplomatic when you speak.
Diplomacy is the single best trait for any professional. Be mindful of who you are speaking to and when you choose to make your case (in front of a large team meeting or one-on-one). Be respectful, even when you need to be forceful or push for your solution. Don’t confuse emotion for passion.
Be aware of stereotypes, but don’t let them hold you back.
Every individual walking this planet can achieve great things. What you accomplish is up to you. If you get knocked down, get back up and keep trying. Maybe consider a different door to walk through or a new window to open if the past ones shut you out. If you see other people on your team running into obstacles or struggling to overcome a hurdle, speak up and help them.
Be GREAT to your team – and your colleagues.
Be human, always. Promote and live work/life balance. Care about your people as if they are family. Your professional and personal life will be much better because of your empathy and gratitude.
Hit your numbers.
Every role has important metrics and measures of success. Achieving those numbers matters. You increase your credibility and access to more opportunities when you are performing well and reporting on your impact.
Overall, procurement is SUCH a fun and engaging space with plenty of opportunity to flex different skills and grow in new ones. I always tell newcomers to enjoy this work. Revel in your impact on your clients and your organization. If you choose to approach all of your career opportunities as the next best challenge, you will continue to succeed. If you are looking for a new challenge, explore open positions at WNS Denali!We are always looking for ambitious and excited #ProcurementPeople.
Corporate Senior Vice President, Client Services
Julie Brignac is Senior Vice President and Head of Client Services at WNS-Denali. She comes with 20+ years of multi-dimensional procurement experience gained through her varied roles including, CPO, Portfolio Executive, Management Consultant, and Entrepreneur. Prior to Denali, Julie held management positions at Accenture, CHEP, Vantage Partners, Newell Brands and Honeywell. She holds an MBA degree from the University of Maryland.