Category Archives: Generation Procurement

5 point checklist for a great procurement boss

What are the qualities that make a great procurement boss?

Gossip, scorekeeping and throwing you out of the office certainly don’t sound like the traits of a great leader… but read on and you may change your mind.

How to be a great boss

I’ve been told that in this day and age employees choose bosses, not companies, when choosing their next job.  In 2014, our Procurious community provided their thoughts on what makes a great procurement boss.  So, as we kick off the New Year, I thought I would share five things I think you should look for when selecting your next procurement boss.

Ask yourself, are they a CPO who:

  1. Kicks you out of the office.  As helpful as water cooler chit chat and Google can be for finding answers to your questions, there is nothing more valuable than getting out of the office and meeting with your customers and suppliers.  Your internal customers will be impressed that you have made the effort to come and visit them and understand how they use the product or service you are buying for them.  Similarly, actually visiting a suppliers’ office or plant will help you understand a lot more about that category you buy and identify new ways to add value.
  2. Fills you in on the goss’.  While it’s not appropriate for your boss to share all the intricacies of what’s happening within the upper echelons of your business.  It’s important that you know enough corporate gossip so that you can expertly manoeuvre yourself and your projects through the minefield of personalities and relationships that make up your business.  Stakeholder engagement is one of the most important skills required to be a successful procurement professional, so understanding “the lay of the land” is critical to your success.
  3. Helps you keep score.  Whoever you are in an organisation, you need to demonstrate the value you are delivering.  In procurement, this often means savings, but it should mean so much more than that.  Your boss should work with you to explain how your role links to the delivery of the overall business strategy and how all the different dimensions of your role deliver value – efficiency, productivity, innovation, customer service and other non-cost related value drivers are all important conversations to your CEO.
  4. Has a game plan.  Yes, your boss should have an overall plan for how their team is delivering against the overall business strategy, but they should also have a plan for you – both for what you need to deliver and how you need to develop in the coming year.  The best CPOs I know are obsessed with finding the best people and helping them develop.  They send their people out to be trained up in the skills they need and to build peer networks that will develop their leadership skills.  The worst CPOs keep their category managers locked away from the rest of the world in fear that their people will be poached.  A great CPO doesn’t need to worry about this, because they know that they have developed a great employee value proposition that keeps their team engaged… and retained.
  5. Is a bit of a procurement rock star.  If your CPO is well known and has a strong peer network, this provides you with a type of insurance policy that they know what they’re talking about and will hopefully be a great teacher.  However, you need to be careful that they’re not so committed to building their own profile out on the speaking circuit that they’re not providing enough support to their team.  A healthy balance between managing their internal and external relationships should provide you with a leader that connects you and your organisation with the outside contacts it needs to “stay in the loop”, while keeping everyone on track within your organisation.

How you are going to assess your potential new boss against this checklist when you are outside the organisation? This is where your network becomes invaluable.  You will know someone who knows someone (use LinkedIn or Procurious to see the connections) who has worked for your target boss.  Contact them, have a chat, see how the CPO measures up.  The most telling sign of success is how the CPO’s employees have been promoted both within and outside the organisation…

Good luck!

The building of Telstra man James Chalupa

Telstra man James Chalupa has taken deliberate steps to look more closely at his personal brand and what it means to him.

James Chalupa of Telstra

Taking his own brand more seriously has not only helped him network with a bunch of hugely influential industry colleagues, he’s also shared and picked up useful new snippets of information that has helped him tackle his role, too.

The Senior Vendor Management Specialist for the country’s major telco agrees that procurement professionals need to consciously consider how their own brand affects their ability to tackle their role.

“When I first started down this path, I started taking LinkedIn more seriously, extending my network as I met someone I wanted to stay connected with. I’m always trying to finesse information on LinkedIn and make sure it’s up to date and accurate. It’s just a really great tool for people to learn more about what I’ve done and what I’m working on now,” James says.

He’s also paid for higher LinkedIn subscriptions from time to time to further build his network.

James also makes sure he’s across relevant industry news and articles and is an active part of the broader procurement profession, fronting up to networking functions and industry events whenever possible, including The Faculty roundtable events.

“I’ll head along to breakfast events, where I’ll be rubbing shoulders with other procurement professionals from major brands. It’s extremely valuable to be at those events, because you’ll always meet someone interesting or learn something new.”

And while attending industry events isn’t specifically part of his job, he thoroughly enjoys the prospect of sharing thoughts and experiences with his industry colleagues.

“I’m a bit of an extrovert, so I really enjoy these sorts of opportunities. For me, personal branding is about being an active part of the broader profession. It’s about connecting with people and sharing your experiences of procurement. People I meet will share information about what they’re working on, and I’ll talk a little about what I’m working on too, within reason,” he says.

“When some of us get together and start to talk about what’s holding us back when it comes to technology, for example, and we’re all contributing to that conversation, you can get a very effective outcome pretty quickly. Someone will always know something that you didn’t know about a certain area.”

Taking a considered approach to personal branding has been hugely beneficial not only to his ability to connect with others, but his ability to do his job, James says. A recent conversation with a procurement professional working for a global FMCG brand about global sourcing initiatives revealed a new approach that fitted well with what Telstra was already working on, which prompted the company to look into more closely.

Procurement at forty thousand feet – Qantas in the spotlight

Qantas has a fleet of procurement professionals keeping the iconic Australian brand in the air, and Cassie Mackie is a key part of that team.

Cassie Mackie from Qantas Airlines

As Portfolio Category Manager – Aircraft Cabin, she’s responsible for the end-to-end procurement and lifecycle management of Aircraft Cabin product categories including seats, inflight entertainment, connectivity, cabin electronics and cabin interior.

It’s a mammoth role, which puts her in charge of procurement on behalf of the Qantas Group Aircraft, including Qantas Domestic, Qantas International, Jetstar Branded businesses and other Qantas Group airlines.

The Sydneysider is in charge of a team of category management professionals, who all work with her to develop and deliver on all aspects of the source-to-contract and contract-to-supplier relationship management processes.

Cassie has been with Qantas since 2008 in a range of procurement roles.

“I can see a tangible connection that my role has on the business and specifically on our customers. I love that no day ever feels like ‘groundhog day’ and that I’m constantly challenged. Most of all, I love that I work with a diverse group of people that are incredibly talented at what they do and are always in pursuit of excellence.”

Like many, Cassie fell into procurement when living in London. She had the experience to consider a job in the field, with a Bachelor of Arts in Asian and International Studies under her belt. She also speaks Mandarin Chinese.

“I distinctly remember seeing a job advertised on the Australian High Commission website for a Procurement Officer with Defence Material Organisation. At the ripe old age of 20, I phoned Dad back in Australia, and asked him what procurement was. He told me it was basically like shopping, and that was it. Now, 10 years later, I’ve never looked back.”

She credits her parents for mentoring her and always being there to remind her that the world is her oyster. “They’ve always told me that as long as I work for it, I can have whatever I’ve ever wanted. I’ve had formal and informal mentors and inspirational people who have helped me to progress through my career and contemplate the future. I’ve also had some not so inspirational leaders in past experiences that have helped me see exactly what I don’t want to be, which I’ve learned from.”

She advocates the importance of good relationships with business partners and suppliers, and says some of the most challenging and difficult negotiations have ended up being the most rewarding.

Faculty CPO of the Year mentors CIPS Young Procurement Professional of the Year

What do you get when you put two award-winning women of procurement together?

Billie Gormon, Bree Pitcher, Visna Lampasi

Inspired by the Women in Procurement panel at the 2013 CIPS Australasia Annual Conference – four women blazed a trail for a new breed of mentoring program. Just under a year later the Australasian pilot of the global Women in Procurement has become a reality – the program has been designed to connect future procurement leaders (both female & male) with female role models they don’t necessarily have access to in their sector or region. There is also hope that it will address some of the disparity found in the percentages of women in procurement roles, into the future.

Those  four motivated women were Linda Eames (Head of Group Procurement, NRMA), Sommer Baxter (Director Procurement, PwC), Carrie McCafferty (Category Manager, Westpac), and Sarah Collins (CPO, Roads and Maritime Services).

With this fresh in mind, enter Billie Gorman (Manager Procurement Excellence at Thiess), who connected the 2014 Young Procurement Professional of the Year with another award-winner – Visna Lampasi (The Faculty’s CPO of the Year).

Bree Pitcher won the CIPS Young Procurement & Supply Chain Professional Award at the recent 2014 CIPS Procurement Awards in Sydney – she will be mentored by Visna Lampasi over the next twelve months.

Procurious talked to both women following Billie’s introduction, quizzing them on their wins, the future, and importance of the mentorship program.

Procurious asks: Let’s talk the power of networks – why do you invest time in growing your network?

Visna answers: Skilful networking, which these days is far more than shaking hands and introducing yourself, is a powerful marketing approach which can accelerate the access to opportunities as well as sustain success.  From a business perspective, it provides me with the ability to identify and tap procurement talent for future hiring, as well as bringing ideas and people together that would have not otherwise crossed paths.

If fact, it was Billie Gorman (Procurement Excellence Manager at Thiess) from my network who had introduced me to Bree Pitcher at the recent CIPS Procurement Professional Awards dinner in Sydney, Australia and suggested the potential mentoring opportunity.

Procurious: What impresses you about young people starting out careers in Procurement?

Visna: These days, young people have far more resources available and they are utilising them. They are also establishing and leveraging their networks, actively seeking out Mentors (more than one in many cases) and often have a career path already mapped out for themselves which they regularly review and adjust.  When I first started in procurement, there were not many courses available in Australia.  Fortunately, the companies that I had worked for were multi-nationals which gave me access to programs offshore.

Procurious: Why mentor? What are the benefits to you? 

Visna: Mentoring gives me the ability to share my knowledge and experience, which hopefully are useful insights to assist someone with navigating the organisational landscape.   It also gives me the opportunity to give back to the procurement profession, as well as the satisfaction that I am helping someone to achieve their professional goals.

Procurious: Do you have any top tips for others wanting to position themselves as a great mentor?

Visna: Outside of being qualified on the relevant subject matter and interested in the development of others, a mentor needs to display the highest of ethical standards, be a good listener and be able to steer, guide and inspire the mentee rather than direct and control.

The American author William Arthur Ward said it best – “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires”.

Procurious: How has mentoring changed since you first started your career?  

Visna: Mentoring is utilised more nowadays than in the past.  Many organisations and professional bodies offer formal mentoring programs which are well structured.  For example, it would not be unusual for the two individual’s to enter into a Mentoring Agreement, along with having documented Mentoring Action Plans which are reviewed periodically throughout the relationship to ensure that they are on track.

Procurious: Did you have any mentors on your way up?  Do you still now? 

Visna: Fortunately for me, I did have a number of senior male mentors during my career who took me under their wing. This was particularly important to me, as the majority of my career had been spent in male dominated industries. Up until most recently, I also had a female Executive Coach assigned to me by my previous employer as part of their senior executive leadership program.  Whilst I am in between mentors at the moment, I still keep in contact with those that have helped me throughout the different stages of my career.

Bree Pitcher

Procurious asks: What does it mean to have CPO of the Year as your mentor?

Bree answers: I am very fortunate to have Visna as a mentor. It is clear that she has achieved so much in her career to date and I look forward to spending time with her and learning from her wealth of knowledge and experience. The opportunity will greatly assist me in developing further as a young professional which in turn will help me to progress my career and achieve my future goals.

Procurious: How did you get into Procurement?

Bree: I, like many others in the field, stumbled across the procurement profession. As a soon to be university graduate I by chance met a representative from the Queensland Government Procurement Office at a careers fair held on campus. As soon as I heard about what was involved I knew it was the career for me. I applied and was successful in obtaining a placement in the Queensland Government Procurement Professional Graduate Development program placed at Government Owned Corporation Tarong Energy now Stanwell Corporation.

7 Years on, I feel so very fortunate to be part of such an exciting profession. I enjoy the challenges of my role each and every day and thrive on the opportunity to make a measurable impact and difference in my organisation.

Procurious: As a millennial do you see a change in this new generation of procurement? 

Bree: It is truly exciting to see so many young, capable and passionate professionals involved in the procurement profession. From my own perspective, I am never afraid of a challenge, continuously question the norm and strive to think outside the box, all important and distinctive traits in which I see very often in many of my millennial peers. For this young and enthusiastic generation the profession really does present so many exciting challenges and opportunities to make a difference. The foundation and ever increasing profile for procurement which experienced CPO’s like Visna have worked so very hard to build and foster within business means the opportunities are plentiful and for me, procurement really is the “career of choice”.

Procurious: Networking and making contacts is a valuable career investment! To that end, how are you investing in your network?   

Bree: I cannot stress more the importance of building and fostering a professional network. I am very fortunate to be involved in professional associations such as the SCLAA and CIPS where I have had the opportunity to meet and liaise with likeminded and passionate individuals who are happy to share their knowledge, offer guidance and provide introductions to others in industry. In fact it is through my network that I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Visna.

For me the investment in my network is essential in my development as a professional, however it is equally as rewarding to give back and share my own knowledge and experience with my peers.

Procurious: How did the mentoring opportunity come about?

Bree: I was fortunate to be introduced to Visna at the 2014 CIPS Australasia Awards Dinner through the wonderful Billie Gorman, a procurement professional whom I connected with through my own professional network. Visna was delighted with the announcement that I was the winner of the CIPS Australasia Young Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year award for 2014. She kindly offered to mentor me and we have since begun to connect. 

Procurious: What do you hope to get out of the mentoring experience?

Bree: I look forward to working with Visna to help identify areas in which I need to build upon my current skillset and experience to enable me to further progress in my career. My ultimate goal is to one day become a successful CPO leading and inspiring others to make a difference and deliver valuable outcomes for business. I know Visna as the successful professional and CPO of the year that she is will be able to share her knowledge and guide me further with my own career path.

Procurious: And finally, can you provide any tips on finding a great mentor?

Bree: Finding a great mentor and someone who is the right fit for you is not always a short and simple task. There is great potential to meet your next mentor through your professional network connections. I would also encourage those interested in finding a mentor to become involved in professional associations. In particular a number of associations (including the SCLAA) now offer formal mentoring programs whereby mentors and mentees are paired and connected. The important thing to note with regards to mentoring is that you personally have to know what you want to achieve from the experience. Your mentor is there to guide you however you only get out what you put in to the opportunity.

Procurious thanks both Visna and Bree for their time.

If you are interested in registering for the Women in Procurement program you’ll need to complete the registration survey by clicking here.

Jason D’Assisi

He may be a procurement superstar now, but after high school, Jason D’Assisi wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do.

Jason D'Assisi

With a little push from his family, he ended up in real estate, but when an opportunity to do something different came along, he jumped at it and took a role with an import/export organisation. He recalls working his way through the organisation and experiencing the different aspects of procurement, including commercial negotiations and sourcing strategies.

He knew he’d found his niche and in 2008 he began studying supply chain management full-time while also continuing to work full-time in procurement.

He went on to work for KPMG Australia as a procurement specialist and Myer as a category manager, where he gained valuable leadership and management experience.

These days, you can find him at Newcrest Mining, where he’s a supply specialist and category lead for engineering services, CAPEX and site services.

“I didn’t get to where I am today without having experienced teams around me to learn from and develop. Add a supportive wife to the mix and I’ve been lucky enough to have the foundations needed to help me succeed in this industry,” Jason says.

“I’m also ambitious and naturally competitive and both these traits have helped me achieve success in the last five years.”

Jason has worked with some great leaders that have helped him develop invaluable strategic sourcing, negotiation and procurement skills during his career. He’s now on the lookout for a formal mentor to ensure he reaches his full potential.

He’s been told he’s an outcome driven person, which he agrees with.

“I really enjoy reading a supplier and deciphering their real intentions in a negotiation. It allows me to expose their real needs and wants, which I can use in the negotiation process to deliver greater commercial outcomes for an organisation.”

Jason also hopes to be part of a mentorship program so he can share the story with young procurement professionals looking for guidance and career direction.

“Most of us can and do procure in some way in our everyday activities, but procurement for me is more than just the transaction. It’s about developing the skill and ability to get the most out of the negotiation in order to benefit the organisation.”

Meet the woman who’s lighting-up procurement

The ability to transition from procuring cosmetics to lighting products for a hardware retailer makes Natasha Ryan a diverse type of woman.

Natasha Ryan - Bunnings

As the national buyer for the lighting category for Bunnings, her role allows her to source, create and deliver products that customers tell her they want.

“It’s a vibrant role that involves a deep understanding of the fashionable on-trend products within decorative interior lighting, as well as working with technical products.”

Natasha has been in her role since 2009. Previously, she was the national garden décor buyer for Bunnings.

“It’s a privilege to work for a great brand that’s deeply authentic and such a powerful category leader. Bunnings has an incredible strong relationship with Australian consumers that has been built upon trust. People understand and love our brand, and appreciate our low prices and wide product range.”

Natasha has also worked for John Danks, where she revitalised the outdoor furniture and lifestyle products. Prior to this she was hired by Cosmopak to revamp and relaunch redundant teen cosmetic brand KISS.

She has travelled extensively for Bunnings, either buying, sourcing or developing products with manufacturers anywhere from Europe to Asia.

The travel has been a real eye-opener. During her early trips to China, many of the factory owners she visited seem surprised to see a woman in her role.

“My early trips to China were mostly spent in a car travelling long hours to factories. The trips were always exhilarating, driving licenses for the masses were just becoming available as the Chinese became more affluent, traffic lights considered merely a suggestion and new roads being built so quickly that no-one really ever seemed to know which side of the road they should be driving on,” she says.

“I’m very lucky to have met and worked with incredibly talented manufacturers, who have taught me a lot about negotiations, relationships, buying and manufacturing.”

Natasha says that the best thing about working in procurement is bringing products to market and making a difference, adding that it’s all about market disruption.

“I’m passionate about creating products, delivering it to the shop floor and ultimately carving out great customer experiences.”

Rollin’ – this procurement professional keeps you on the road

Emily Hall hit a cross-road in her early 20s when a manager gave her something of an ultimatum.

Emily Hall

After participating in the National Championships for five years in the junior ranks, the keen softballer approached her manager about taking a couple of weeks off to partake in a major tournament. She also indicated that she might need to leave work on time to attend training twice a week.

“He told me that I would have to make a choice – sport or career. I chose career, and have no regrets.”

Emily’s decision has seen her rise through the ranks at Australian corporate giants like Coles Supermarkets, technology giant IBM and Ford Motor Company, among others.

These days she’s leading a team at international toll road owner and operator Transurban in three key areas – sourcing, procurement operations and corporate services (facilities and corporate travel management).

She’ll spend this year embedding the relatively new procurement team into the business, overseeing the deployment of new technology solutions that will increase automation and improve work flows. She prides herself on always delivering results and leaving a legacy.

“Like most, I fell into procurement. My first job was on a graduate program which involved rotations through the broader business. My second rotation was in purchasing, and I ended up in that role for two years. I did a small stint in sales and marketing before coming back to procurement, and have now been in the profession nearly two decades.”

Emily isn’t one to plan too far into the future, which has worked well for her to date.

“I want to continually position myself to learn, improve, deliver results for the organisation I work for, and grab the right opportunity when it comes my way.”

Emily’s sporting abilities haven’t faded completely. She still likes to have a hit of hockey or perhaps basketball on weekends, and doesn’t mind a bit of cycling. But she leaves the sporting tournaments to the next generation, reserving her leadership prowess for work hours.

Cheese-in-a-can inventor turns to procurement

According to legend, when captors of Saddam Hussein searched his bunker, they discovered a high calcium cheese-in-a-can developed by Australian man Peter Force.

Peter Force

While not entirely a procurement project, it’s a story Peter recounts with pride and a wry smile because it shows how far and wide his rather unusual invention was sold around the world.

The product came about while Peter was working in research and development for Kraft, before he got his break in procurement at Parmalat.

Peter actively sought a procurement role with the FMCG behemoth after realising that career progression opportunities were severely lacking in the research and development field.

His Parmalat boss told him he needed to study business to get a break in procurement, which he did. He already had a Bachelor of Food Science and Technology, where he gained honours for inventing a fat-free cheese.

Then there’s the Advanced Diploma in Business Management and a Diploma in Project Management, a Graduate Diploma in Purchasing and Supply and a Graduate Certificate of Writing, Editing and Publishing. Whew.

“I told the procurement manager at Parmalat I wanted to work for him. He took me seriously after he happened to catch me in a heated debate with someone in marketing, saying he could see I had the backbone for the job. When a job became available, I applied for it and was successful, so switched to the dark side.”

He recalls a trip to China for Parmalat to audit the quality of strawberries destined for the company’s Vaalia-branded yoghurt. “I told my mates I went to China to pick fruit, which was kind of true.”

The keen angler has also worked in rail, government, mining and energy industries. He now works for AGL in the merchant energy division, which is one of Australia’s leading renewable energy companies.

Procurement is a fine balance between getting what you want, and being nice, he explains.

“I like people, and sometimes they like me back. Either way, my aim is to get a better deal with a supplier, but I also know we’ll need to continue working together, so I don’t want to upset the relationship.

“Other times, I need to tell suppliers when their bid has been unsuccessful, but I always want to bid next time I go to market so I’m nice about it.”

On a mission to challenge procurement’s misconceptions

A few months into a year-long work placement role with Mercedes-Benz, Emily Gloyns admits she was ready for a new challenge.

Emily Gloyns

“The challenge was no longer there, so I began shadowing buyers to better understand their roles. I expanded my role by supporting them with drafting RFx documents and analysis tasks.”

Her initiative paid off. Emily was promoted to Graduate Buyer seven months into the work placement and before completing her Bachelor of Business. As Graduate Buyer, she was responsible for the entire marketing and travel categories for the luxury car marque.

She thrived in the role, which allowed her to work with lead buyers in Germany on major global contracts.

Emily was tapped on the shoulder by EnergyAustralia a couple of years later, where she’s currently the Category Lead for ICT, looking after telecommunications, software and hardware. In the next few years, she hopes to be in a managerial role.

While Emily is grateful she was curious enough to follow around those Mercedes-Benz buyers and ask questions, she admits to being frustrated by the misconception that the procurement industry is filled with either dull or grumpy people with the solitary goal of saving money for the business, regardless of whether it compromises on quality or end result.

“What I love about procurement is that it’s so easy to change these misconceptions. It’s all about the approach you take with your stakeholders and vendors. It’s fun to work with a diverse stakeholder group and vary your approach depending on their personality and their objectives in their role.

“I guess you could say I love the people side of procurement, as it can be the most challenging. And I love a good challenge.”

Her main focus this year is stakeholder management and category strategy planning. She also plans to invest more time in keeping up to date with the ICT industry.

Outside of work she loves cooking, and admits to being a serious chocoholic. “I love having a holiday planned too, whether it’s an overseas trip or a visit to somewhere local I haven’t been before.”

‘Don’t be intimidated by the people you respect’

Marissa Brown features in the next of our Generation Procurement series.

Marissa Brown

A bold approach and hard work has seen Marissa Brown go far in the nine years since she joined the procurement profession.

She showed strong initiative early, applying for a role as a senior contracts manager at BAE Systems after university, knowing it was out of league.

“I wrote a marketing piece on myself as the cover letter. It worked. Although they didn’t offer me the role, they wanted to meet me, and offered me a procurement role, as they were developing a graduate program. I was the first to start six months later. ”

Next, she moved into BAE’s communications division, managing the procurement requirements and relationships with major suppliers.

“There were lots of travel perks, including trips to the UK or US every three months visiting facilities that manufactured satellite communications infrastructure for high priority maritime platforms and ground based networks.”

She’s also worked for Leighton Contractors and Suzlon Energy Australia, and now holds a Market Senior Lead Role at BP, which puts her in charge of retail capital expenditure for BP service stations across Australia.

“It’s different from previous roles because I drive past BP sites every day, knowing I play a significant part in driving change that impacts the look and feel of a site and enhances the customer experience,” Marissa says.

“There’s never a dull moment, and you’re constantly interacting with people from varying industries and professions. I don’t think I could do a job where I just sit in an office every day working in isolation. Procurement gets you interacting with senior leaders, and enables you to drive changes that have fundamental impact on the business, not just to the bottom line, but operational efficiencies and improving the customer experience.”

With a commerce degree under her belt, she set a goal to complete her Masters of Supply Chain Management (gaining honours) before she was 30, which she finished in 2013.

She’s most certainly bold, explaining that when in the same room as speaker and well-respected procurement professional Stephen Rowe at a CIPSA event six years ago, she had to introduce herself. Stephen still mentors her today.

It’s important not to be intimidated by senior leaders that inspire you, she says, urging others never to underestimate the value of a mentor.

“Since meeting Stephen, I’ve made connections with other senior leaders, who have also been informal mentors to me. I can’t put into words how valuable this has been not only from a professional perspective, but more importantly, from a personal development perspective.”