Women in Procurement Wednesday: Sarah Toomey on ‘taking the microphone’ as a procurement team leader

Sarah Toomey is the Head of Strategic Sourcing and Procurement at Anaplan. (LinkedIn photo)

While life in a pandemic may feel monotonous after over a year, those who follow what excites them will find success. At least, that’s the lens that Sarah Toomey takes on her career.

Toomey is the Head of Strategic Sourcing and Procurement at Anaplan, a SaaS company that provides an analytics and planning platform for businesses. She started her role at Anaplan after realizing technology energized her. She continually finds joy in the little moments and now, as a team leader, she also searches for what excites others.

“How can I figure out what they are passionate about? What do they need to learn? What gets them excited,” Toomey said. “That's one of my interview questions for people when I'm interviewing new candidates, ‘What excites you?’ and then let's figure out how this role can have those things to motivate and excite you. And yes, there'll be some day-to-day tactical work. Every job has that, but as long as there are some nuggets of excitement that you can grow from and enhance your skill set, then I think that's what can really help you engaged in your career.”

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Toomey began her career as a consultant at Huron Consulting Group, a role which she encourages many entry level professionals to take since it exposes them to a lot of executives and leaders in business. She then ushered in a new phase of her career when she entered strategic sourcing for the Gap and eventually Levi’s.

Her interest in Anaplan spiked when she recognized the company as a leader in the technology space looking at spend transparency and data. Now, she leads the teams for strategic sourcing, procurement operations, and travel and expenses at Anaplan.

Being a leader comes naturally to Toomey, but it wasn’t always easy. Toomey shares the story of a time when she realized how important it was to consider the different personalities of team members. Skills and experiences can only take you so far. It’s nurturing relationships and honoring individual personalities that make stronger teams.

Of the many elements that make up Toomey as a leader, one of them does include identifying as a female in the procurement industry. Coming from a consulting background, Toomey was used to being one of the only women in the room. Instead of letting that hinder her or hide her away, she decided to use it as her superpower.

“I think there's a lot of narrative around getting a seat at the table,” Toomey said. “I like to add to that though. I want people to have a microphone at that table. Like I want you to have a voice, have something to say, go with purpose. If I know that I’m going to be in a room with a whole bunch of men, I have confidence in my voice and I present meaningful statements in the meeting.”

Toomey advocates for everyone to use their diverse perspective as a form of power. “New or different perspectives are something that we're often missing when we don't have enough conversations with diverse folks in the room, whomever they may be,” she says.

For Toomey, being a leader means giving herself and others grace. That was one benefit of the Covid pandemic, she said. People, and leaders in particular, have allowed themselves to slow down and see their employees through a more empathetic lens.

“There was suddenly this moment where my life as a mom and my life as a leader were really interwoven,” Toomey said. “Thankfully, Anaplan has been really thoughtful about us as people with lives outside of work. We have lots of folks navigating unique situations. … I've tried to focus on really bringing that same level of empathy and understanding to my team and colleagues that I work with.”

Read about other professionals featured in our "Women in Procurement Wednesdays" series. Are you a woman in the procurement space who has a compelling story to tell? We’re all ears. Send us an email at: sehrmann@spendmatters.com

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