Ms. Bossi goes to Washington: An interview with Jill Bossi, Ex-CPO and Candidate for US Senate 2014 (Part 3)

This is Part Three of Pierre's three-part interview with Jill Bossi. Click here for Part One and here for Part Two.

Pierre Mitchell: We’re getting near the end of this, so maybe a couple of wrap-up questions. We’ve been talking a lot about the government and you’re moving to the Senate. But I’m sure you’ll probably be in and around supply management for a long time to come, I hope, but what’s your perspective around the future of term limits and supply chain, and what really excites you about the future of the profession moving forward and why do you think it’s a good place to be in? I’ve got some kids that are approaching high school age and I’m not going to necessarily push them in this direction, but it certainly seems like a good place to start a career.  What are your thoughts on the profession moving forward?

Jill Bossi: That is what really excites me about our profession. I’ve had the opportunity to work with and mentor a number of scholars. Specifically I’ve been working with the Richter Scholarship Program through ISM and I’ve had the opportunity to personally mentor a number of students as they are preparing to enter their professional life. These kids are phenomenal.

PM: They’re getting some nice job offers I hear – over six figures sometimes.  So it sounds like at least markets are efficient in terms of getting these types of folks – so that’s a good thing – even if you have to pay a premium.

JB: These kids are worth it. They are smart beyond smart and they are sharp and they recognize it – but what’s more important is that the colleges or the universities are beginning to recognize the value the profession and they are creating many pathways. ASU recently combined with their finance and accounting brethren to create a new master’s degree focused on business data analytics. MIT has got one. Harvard’s got one. Every university is starting to realize the value of this profession.

So I do believe we’re going to see an expansion of those skill sets and we’re going to see more people getting involved, more people coming to the forefront with that kind of talent coming in.  It means that 10 years or 20 years from now those individuals will have gotten the opportunities to cross train in the companies that they work for and go out from supply chain and into marketing or finance or sales, etc. And then hopefully, in the future, come back to lead the supply chain and really bring it right to the C-suite table. As a profession, we have that true seat at the table, which means that the CEO and the CFOs recognize that our supply people are critical to our success as a company. I want him or her siting here with me helping us to make the decision on what we’re going to sell and how we’re going to do it. That’s the kinds of future success that we can expect to see. It’s happening now, but it’s not happening enough. But I believe it will continue to happen more and more, and eventually as a profession, we advance a little bit more and get away from a lot of our structure and our need to have policies and processes and procedures – not that there’s anything wrong with them, but we have to find flexibility in that and come to the table that has our sales brethren, and our finance brethren and our marketing folks and come together as a cross functional team – that’s what excites me about the future because that’s where we’re headed. And we’ve got to get there and really move up to the table and be ready to help our companies become profitable, become competitive, and really contribute to shareholder value, not just simply state it.

PM: Absolutely and I think eventually as they move on maybe they can go into public service like you and be able to get more scale from some of the improvements that they’re making. It reminds me a bit of a parallel of “Hi, I’m from procurement and I’m here to help,” and “Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” and you kind of roll your eyes.  But, if you look at what’s happening in transformation of procurement and how it is becoming strategic and it is supporting the strategic objectives of the stakeholders, you can’t help but hope the same transformation is going to bleed over into the public sector so that when people say the government can actually really help bring the right ideas and the right people and the right tools. That’s something that kind of gives me hope. I know it’s going to be a long road, but at least I’m certainly encouraged that folks like yourself are trying to really make an impact and come into government at all levels to make a difference. As a citizen I would like to applaud your efforts and anything that we can do to really help you in that regard.  Certainly we’re happy to help you tell your story here on Spend Matters and also on our sister site Public Spend Forum, which is basically oriented towards improving acquisitions at the federal government level in kind of a way that’s transparent and unique and easy to communicate. So, hopefully you don’t mind us telling your story there, too?

JB: Absolutely, please do. I’ll be happy to do so because my candidacy is, I hope about more than simply Jill Bossi running for the United States Senate. It’s about speaking up for what is good about America and what is right and where we need to go and finding that path forward. I have children and I have grandchildren and I want them to be able to feel pride in America and to be an involved citizen and to want to help and to want to be involved because they know that their contributions matter. I think we’ve lost that somewhere along the way and I want us to regain it as a people, as a nation because I think together we have so much more that can be done, that should be done, and will be done. And I see that in the American public.

When I worked for the American Red Cross, I had the opportunity to watch Americans from all walks of life come together to help one another and it’s an amazing experience. I can’t begin to describe how fulfilling it is to see that kind of willingness on the part of neighbors helping neighbors and people from other states coming in to help individuals, whether it’s in New Jersey, or Texas, or Mississippi, or others.

The American public is tremendously generous and we’ve got so much more going for us than what we give ourselves credit for today and quite honestly what the endless negative media coverage doesn’t give us credit for today and we’ve got to find our way back to that generosity and that ability to work together. And that’s what I’m hoping my candidacy will do is shine a light, even if it’s a small light on that again for people to start to realize that “Hey I could do this.” Yes you can do it. You’ve just got to be willing to step out of the boat and on to the crashing waves and get out there and take a chance. And see what happens. And you know what? If you do that, at least when you’re in your elder years, you’ll be able to look back and not say “What if?” but rather “Hey I did give it my best.” And that’s what I want to be able to say, “I did give it my best.”

PM: That’s great Jill. I think that American Red Cross experience is going to be a terrific set of experiences to bring forward just because, as you said, creating the win-win and showing that success breeds success and kind of just changing from this lose-lose atmosphere that we’re in right now. Let’s really bring the win-win mindset and experiences forward and really that sounds like leadership to me. So we’re very happy to support you and please let us know what we can do to that end in the future. So thank you very much for taking the time to spend with me.

JB: Thanks Pierre, take care.

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