Women in Procurement Wednesday: Shannon Kreps on pushing yourself to find a voice in the procurement world

Shannon Kreps is the vice president of product marketing at Medius. (LinkedIn)

Procurement bridges business operations, so it’s imperative that the professionals running the department become a jack of all trades. It involves a mixture of data analytics and project creativity, or the combo of teamwork and being self-sufficient.

That’s exactly what Shannon Kreps strives for as the vice president of product marketing at Medius, a provider of spend management solutions. With her nearly 25 years of industry experience, she’s established herself as an expert in the field.

Kreps began her career in the mid-1990s after moving to Silicon Valley. Her journey through the procurement world started as a buyer, through sales consulting and finally now, into product marketing and management. With her creative and data-driven approach to procurement, Kreps has carved her own unique path through the industry while staying true to herself.

An important part of her role at Medius is presenting products and marketing them to a wide variety of audiences. For some, this isn’t the most natural process. Not everyone can walk into a room — physical or virtual, these days — and give presentations. Kreps admitted that public speaking is an anxiety for many people, but with a bit of practice, everyone can become a strong communicator.

Procurement is all about getting your organization to buy into your ideas or plans. Kreps said that sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll fail. But the most successful procurement professionals shake it off and keep moving forward.

“Sometimes you need to draw a line under it and just move beyond it because there are times when, and I think especially as women, we sometimes feel this way that we're not good enough,” Kreps said. “I think they say that for a woman to apply for a job, you feel like you need a hundred percent of the qualifications, and for a man, it's 65% and they'll go ahead and do it. And I think sometimes as women, we need to just draw a line over those doubts that we have and just get out there and do it.

“So apply for that job that you think you might only be partially qualified for, or go ahead and say you're going to speak at an event because you actually are an expert and you do know it. And then sometimes when you fail — as you will because we all do — draw a line under that as well and then just move on. We can't let things burden us. And we can't let things hold us back.”

This ability to not be held back stems from confidence in yourself. Being uncomfortable in different circumstances helps push professional boundaries. It grows your confidence and skills each time you try.

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It can be uncomfortable being the only woman in a room, something that Kreps has experienced throughout her career. Sometimes, she is the only woman in a room for leadership meetings, but finding her voice was the key to Kreps owning her successes as a woman in procurement.

“I found that I listen more sometimes than speak, and it has been something that I've kind of had to push myself,” Kreps said. “I will usually spend a lot of time listening to begin with before I really feel comfortable enough to kind of throw my voice out there. Although I do have some colleagues that said, ‘You told me that once Shannon, but that lasted about a month, and now we always hear you in meetings.’

“So I think that I've grown more confident through the years of being a woman in this industry. And just knowing that I can speak up, that I have good ideas. That people do listen to what I have to say. But I would say at the beginning it was intimidating to not see anyone like yourself in a room.”

Kreps shared more insights into the procurement world in our first podcast episode of the Women in Procurement series. We discuss more about being a woman in procurement, the journey that she took to where she is today and all about the role of data in procurement. Listen below!

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