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Women in Procurement Wednesday: Angie Claeys on gaining confidence through learning your craft

08/25/2021 By

It can be easy to learn a job. But to teach that job to others is the sign of a true professional. That is the advice Angie Claeys learned at her first job when she was a teenager.

Claeys wanted a waitressing job but instead was dubbed the “weenie queenie” when they had her making hot dogs before she was able to become a waitress. The “humbling” job was a great learning experience, where Claeys understood the value of working across an organization to better understand how it all works together. Then, she was able to work with real clients as a waitress.

“When I was out on the floor as a waitress, I had the ability then to answer any questions that customers had, which seems so simple because they’re just ordering food, but they can order it really any way they want,” Claeys said. “Being able to answer questions helped me be a good waitress, helped me be in front of a client and get comfortable with that too.”

That comfort with clients proved to be invaluable experience, as Claeys is now the Vice President of Uniform Services at Fine Tune, an expense management firm specializing in multiple business expense categories. Her main role is working with clients and helping them implement solutions to their uniform and facility service expenses.

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Claeys particularly works in the beginning stages, what she calls client implementation. She understands their spend as well as any problem areas in this often burdensome expense category and finds recommendations for an optimal ongoing program. She said no typical day exists. Some days she’s auditing and others she’s reading and analyzing contracts. The one constant is working with clients, a role Claeys wanted since the start of her career.

“A lot of businesses require some type of uniform, right. Or facility service products in order to operate their business,” Claeys said. “Especially when you talk about the food service or pharmaceutical industries, there’s multiple requirements and safety regulations where you can’t have someone wearing their clothing off the streets and into a facility that’s making food or drugs. There are national vendors, mom-and-pop vendors servicing these clients with garments, whether it’s shirts, pants, lab coats, and facility service items, mats, mops, towels so that our clients can operate their business. We’re here to assist in that relationship and an optimal program.”

After her high school years as a waitress, Claeys went on to Purdue University to study business management and marketing. A summer internship at Aramark was her first taste in uniform services. She was looking for a well-rounded business experience that worked with clients first and foremost.

“I worked in production. I worked in the stockroom and supply chain. I got to work as a route representative servicing clients out on a route truck,” Claeys said. “I worked as a sales representative really all the way through the process. I understood from the frontline, who the employees were, and what their challenges were. What their accomplishments were. How all this related back to the client. It was just really exciting.”

That frontline experience was invaluable as Claeys continued her career into a full-time position with Aramark. Claeys set her sights high early in her career — she told Aramark that she wanted to be a general manager, not a sales representative like many young women were. Her career at Aramark led her to many types of positions. She dabbled in service, in sales, and in operations as a general manager and vice president.

She accepted her current position at Fine Tune so that she could work directly with clients again, as it was the thing that inspired her about working in the industry. “It’s really about client advocacy, and I think it is too for my fellow Tuners.”

Claeys said one of the biggest challenges in the industry is finding the balance between human relationships and data. Procurement is so often driven by data and technology, but the human element is just as important. As she works with clients on a daily basis, she’s seen how important it is to have both and has struck a balance for her team.

Because relationship management is a huge part of her role, Claeys knows that part of that is bringing yourself to the table. As a woman, and often a young woman in her roles, Claeys quickly learned the importance of confidence. It’s something she learned over the years, but it has inspired her to advocate for herself in her career.

Being confident may not come as naturally to young women in business settings, but that is slowly improving. Claeys said the key to her feeling confident in her career was taking the time to slow down and really learn her craft.

In that first job that Claeys had flipping hot dogs, her manager imparted wisdom that has carried her throughout her career. He advised her to really hone in and learn everything possible. Then, she could teach it to others. Taking time to really understand and teach her roles allowed her to gain new clarity and be intentional about her career.

“Truly take the time to understand, because if you do, then you have so much more ability to manage, lead and teach,” Claeys said. “And I’ve really thrived in all of my prior roles more so because I was spending the time to learn and then to teach. Why would a route representative follow my lead if I didn’t know what I was talking about, right? And I think also then what that led to is being able to serve clients in really all of my roles as I was able to answer their questions because I understood the root cause of the issue, whether it was the initial keying of the data, the production fulfillment, the service provided by the route rep… Take the time, study, be patient, learn and then you can teach and ultimately answer questions with confidence that arise.”

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:

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