Graduate Profiles

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NECI Public Sector Procurement Program Graduates

Since 1990, National Education Consulting Inc. (NECI) has helped procurement professionals across the country advance their careers and stay up-to-date with training focused on Canadian content and current, relevant topics.

Our outstanding team of facilitators use a wide range of delivery techniques to ensure students from all backgrounds have a strong understanding of concepts. Additionally, our courses are offered in varied formats — including online and classroom — to suit individual learning needs.

Below are a few profiles of our PSPP (Pubic Sector Procurement Program) graduates, and their thoughts on the value NECI training has provided.

“Techniques I learned in the PSPP program taught me valuable ways to ensure successful contracts, make my day-to-day life easier, and develop solutions for (once) difficult situations”

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Shanna Epp is a Procurement Advisor for the Yukon Government. Day-to-day, Shanna gives procurement advice, makes recommendations, supports development of policy, and engages in vendor outreach.

She wanted to invest in her career, but wasn’t sure how…

She chose the PSPP program by NECI because of its focus on Canadian Public Procurement and commitment to providing students with the most up-to-date critical information in procurement law.

Shanna attended the PSPP entirely online with a cohort of other public procurement professionals from across the country. Although she found the online format to be a different learning experience than what she was used to, she appreciated the flexibility it offered her and ultimately concluded that both the format and course delivery were ‘fantastic’. The weekly online sessions with her instructor kept her on track, reaffirmed that she understood concepts and gave her the confidence she needed to take on more responsibilities.

During the PSPP Program, Shanna discovered there are common difficulties and challenges for all public procurement professionals (regardless of the organization they work for). In addition to expanding her network, Shanna discovered how to navigate these issues, deal with tough situations, and follow proven methods to ensure successful contracts.

Shanna rates the program 10/10, and would highly recommend it for others in public procurement.

What were Shanna’s best ‘take-aways’?

I learned that planning is incredibly important. If done properly, it can set a path for the future that not only reduces issues, but guarantees better performance!”

 

It’s so easy to get lost in paperwork that sometimes you don’t pay close attention to contracts through the entire performance period. Performing regular, on-site inspections not only improved my contractor performance, but also made the final evaluation process much easier!

 

I often blamed the procurement process for issues when in reality the process is there to set me up for success. I just needed to plug in and think about what I wanted to achieve.

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Shanna Epp

Procurement Advisor, Yukon Government

“We have such an important responsibility to maximize the value of each dollar spent, so it’s important that we are well educated and on a continuous learning path.  The PSPP program is a perfect opportunity to do that.  It’s very well organized and focused.  It delivered exactly what it promises to…and that’s refreshing!”

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Merged Services Nova Scotia, completed the Public Sector Procurement Program (PSPP) in May of 2014, and we spoke with her upon her successful completion of the program.  She is a Strategic Advisor (Supply Chain) with Merged Services Nova Scotia.

The intention of the Supply Chain stream of Merged Services Nova Scotia is to leverage the collective buying power of Nova Scotia’s health system in an effort to achieve best value through more joint contracts and less variation in goods and services procured.  Cindy’s role focuses on maximizing the value available through partnering with specialized Group Purchasing Organizations.

With a background primarily in the private sector, Cindy sought out the PSPP program to provide the specific training that focused on public sector procurement and that clearly distilled the important and fundamental differences between the two.

As a result of the PSPP program, and its in-depth examination of past court cases and their outcomes, Cindy feels much more mindful of the legalities of the RFX process as it relates to public procurement.

Cindy found the program format exceptional, with clear and easy to follow directions and presentations.  She enjoyed the fact that she can work remotely at her own pace and enjoy online interactions with her cohorts.  She realized that everyone experiences many of the same challenges and adds “so why not learn from each other and share our collective knowledge to help support one another.”

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Cindy Brown

Strategic Advisor, Supply Chain – Merged Services Nova Scotia

“Completing the program gave me a higher level of confidence in my position, and especially for developing high quality RFPs and strong supplier relationships. I am eager to explore my next training option to further my career in procurement and contract management”

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As the Contracts Manager, Li has spent the majority of her time developing RFPs, evaluating bids, and selecting suppliers for a diverse range of goods and services for post-secondary institutions through out Atlantic Canada. However, with the increased awareness of the importance of managing contracts, she finds herself spending more time monitoring supplier performance (such as defining KPIs and reviewing these KPI reports with suppliers on regular basis) and  developing  stronger supplier relationships.

Li began her journey through the PSPP certificate program on the recommendation of her Manager when she joined the organization.  Li initially found the legal language and case studies somewhat of a challenge to wade through when she began the program.  However, as she progressed through her training and gained more experience on-the-job, she understood the importance, relevancy, and became very engaged in her learning process.

Li was able to fit the program in along side of her demanding work load and completed the program within two years.   She considers achieving the Certificate a very important milestone in her career and is very proud of her accomplishment.  She shared that it not only demonstrates the increase of her public procurement knowledge but it is also highly recognized by her Manager.

 

What were Li’s best ‘take-aways’?

Learning about debriefing techniques and best practices!  I received so many tips, tools and templates throughout the course and have customized the ones that are most relevant and often used.  Most importantly, they don’t sit on a shelf collecting dust as I reference them daily!

 

I also enjoyed learning from other procurement professionals in my cohort.  One colleague shared a valuable template for scoring contractor performance that I plan to adopt for use in the future.  At the end of the day, I learned that, as a procurement professional, our struggles in the field are common to all and that I wasn’t alone. The strategies taught in the program help us cope with these challenges in a proactive and effective way.

 

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Li Lei

Contracts Manager, Interuniversity Services Inc.

“The PSPP program provided me with the foundation to run a successful competitive bid project from cradle to grave all while improving critical thinking skills, and enabling me to become the preferred source of Procurement and Contracting expertise within my organization.”

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As a Procurement Specialist for the Saskatchewan Research Council, Greg has spent the last 10 years addressing socio economic objectives, maximizing competition, maintaining integrity, and ensuring customer requirements are met while following the organization’s procurement and contracting model.

With a total of 28 years in procurement, Greg  recognizes that the world of procurement is constantly evolving. Greg took the PSPP Certificate Program because he wanted to learn how to reduce potential issues arising from contracting and to keep up to date on procurement law and best practices.

Greg found the PSPP particularly interesting because of its focus on the public sector. Greg learned unique approaches to ensure success in the public procurement operating environment, and learned about common challenges from other public sector professionals in his online cross-country cohort.

Throughout the Program, Greg found his instructor  to be very knowledgeable. In particular, he appreciated that she brought unique, real life examples from other Canadian public sector organizations to the classroom which helped tie in learned concepts to actual practice.

Greg rates the PSPP program a full 10 out of 10, describing it as ‘an invaluable educational experience’!

 

What were Greg’s best ‘take-aways’?

With regards to the public sector, I now have the skills to navigate the complexities of public sector procurement, resulting in a unified voice which helps to streamline the procurement process and reduce risk for my organization. 

 

After taking the PSPP course my input is sought by my colleagues whenever a complex problem requires analysis pertaining to the Procurement and Contracting cycle

 

During the Program Greg had several ‘ah ha’ moments around the legal aspects, and particularly liked the Risk Management tool and process he worked with in PSPP 201.

 

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Greg McLean

Procurement Specialist, Saskatchewan Research Council

“My biggest ‘ah ha’ moment was learning the value and critical importance of the planning process.  It also reinforced the realization that there is always more than one way to approach a project and that I need to keep my mind open to these approaches.”

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Alanna has been with BC Assessment for 15 years and finds that the majority of her work involves the procurement of services or capital goods.  Prior to BC Assessment, Alanna worked as a Senior Buyer for Chemque Inc. in Ontario.

After moving from private to public sector, Alanna realized that procurement in the private sector is far less complex than the highly regulated public sector.  She found that the majority of procurement educational opportunities focus on the private sector, so she was drawn to the PSPP because of its unique focus on the complexities and nuances of public sector procurement.
Alanna participated in a blended delivery format of the PSPP, completing some courses online and others in the live classroom setting.  She enjoyed the experience, finding merit in both delivery formats.  While online delivery offers the convenience and ease of access, the classroom training provided a greater opportunity to network with colleagues, to share knowledge and learn how peers handle similar procurement situations.

The PSPP program prompted Alanna to be more aware of the unique aspects of each individual procurement, the boundaries within which public sector must operate, and the benefits that can be realized with adequate due diligence and appropriate time spent in the planning stage.

She reflects upon a quote she recently read in a NECI newsletter, “We never have time to do it right at the beginning, but we always find time to do it over when things go badly”.  For Alanna, this quote sums up the most valuable take-away from the PSPP training.  Not only does she now dedicate more time to planning, she also impresses upon all internal managers the importance of doing the same.

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Alanna Lester

Procurement Officer, BC Assessment

“There are tangible pieces you can take back and use immediately which will not only improve your procurement and contract outcomes, but will enhance your relationships and ultimately your career.”

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As a senior buyer with Dalhousie University Patrick consults, as well as issues and manages public bidding opportunities that include:  University operations, teaching and research, and multi-institution collaborations.  Here is why the PSPP appealed to Patrick for his procurement and contract training needs:

“It is one of the very few, if not the only, educational program in Canada which deals specifically with public sector procurement in a comprehensive manner.  It covers the basics of general buying to the intricate and complex nature of high risk, multi-stakeholder public bidding processes.

When you’re the lead person in the middle of a complex procurement trying to balance all needs and perspectives, the third party insights and real world experience learned from the PSPP gives you the confidence to make effective and efficient decisions.”

Here is how the PSPP has improved his on-the-job performance:

“Sometimes you feel as if the situation you’re in is inherently unique and in many ways it is, however, with the education of the PSPP being founded in Canadian legal precedents, you now have practical reference to the same or similar situations, or at the very least, guiding insight.  This gives you the confidence to know when you might need to put the brakes on or take an alternate route.  It not only shows you how to do it but most importantly teaches you why.”

Patrick appreciated that the instructors had direct and specific experience in public procurement, including insight into the legal aspects – one of the PSPPs most beneficial features. This helped guide and inspire great discussion between classmates when talking about specific scenarios, providing a good mix of peer perspective and expert opinion. Patrick also appreciated how the courses provided him with specific tools, templates, and ideas for on-the-job success.  It opened him to processes he might have known about but hadn’t used, like Draft RFP’s, Expressions of Interest, Requests for Information and Qualifications.

There were plenty of ‘ah ha’ moments for Patrick and he refers back to his course material and case studies often.  Rating the program 10 out of 10, Patrick found that the PSPP offered a perfect balance of theory and practice.

“The PSPP specifically deals with what we do in public procurement every single day but most importantly, how we can do it better.  I constantly recommend it and a number of my colleagues are currently enrolled as a result.”

 

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Patrick Greene

Senior Buyer, Dalhousie University

“I give the PSPP 10 out of 10! I can’t recommend this program enough for anyone involved in public sector procurement in Canada.”

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Melanie MacDonald completed the Public Sector Procurement Program (PSPP) in February 2012.  We spoke with Melanie about her participation in December 2013.

Before recently taking on the role of Procurement Compliance Officer, Melanie worked as a Procurement Clerk in the same division. Prior to that, she worked in the private sector as a vendor, responding to RFXs for the JanSan industry.

In her current role with Procurement Services, Melanie monitors procurement transactions by government employees to ensure compliance with approved policies and procedures, reports to Trade Agreement bodies as required, provides continuous education of new and existing users in all aspects of procurement operations, and participates in specific outreach and education programs throughout government. Above all, she ensures clients are assisted in all aspects of the procurement process.

Melanie was attracted to the PSPP program as she was particularly interested in learning about public sector procurement in Canada, and knew the program was designed with input from the Province of Nova Scotia. She found the program provided in-depth, detailed training in public procurement. Not only was the program specific to Canadian law, the examples were based on a variety of local cases, ranging from all levels of government and other public sector entities.

Since completing the program, Melanie found that her confidence in handling procurement issues has increased ten-fold. Her knowledge and understanding of the many intricacies of the public procurement process are much greater as a result of PSPP certification. The program and certification were also instrumental in obtaining her current position of Procurement Compliance Officer with Procurement Services.

Melanie also believes the PSPP program is having an effect on the Public Procurement profession. As more and more public sector procurement professionals graduate from the program, she thinks we will see a growing network where professionals will share best practices and enjoy access to the experience of peers. In addition, Melanie expects to see a more consistent approach to public procurement across the country.

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Melanie MacDonald

Procurement Compliance Officer, Procurement Services, Government of Nova Scotia

As a member of a small procurement team (1.5 positions) in a rural educational institution, Jocelyn found the most useful part of the PSPP program was the benefit of the online delivery.  She shared that she would never have been able to obtain funding for travel, and time away from the office would have impacted their always stretched department.

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She found it easy to blend her study time during work hours, along with occasional evenings and weekends, greatly benefiting both herself and her organization without any negative impact.

Jocelyn found the 301 online modules provided valuable tips and tools for contract management moving forward, while the Discussion Forum provided an opportunity to network with and learn from the experiences of other public sector procurement specialists in her cohort.

The most useful tip I picked up?

“Maximum leverage is achieved before the contract is signed, therefore careful crafting of solicitation documents is essential to gain maximum benefit once Contract B is entered into.  Whatever you miss out of your RFx document will return to haunt you when managing Contract B with your successful proponent.”   –   Jocelyn Templeman, Buyer | Selkirk College

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Jocelyn Templeman

Buyer, Selkirk College

“The deep discussions and case studies encouraged me to think of creative ways to solve issues, and enhanced my critical thinking skills.  I would strongly recommend this program to all public procurement employees.”

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After eleven years in the private sector, Ryan joined the City of Kelowna in 2012 and currently holds the position of Senior Buyer.  Ryan graduated from the PSPP in 2015 and found the Program to be an excellent way to learn and quickly expand his expertise with public procurement.  Overall he rated the program 9 out of 10.

Ryan appreciated the variety of delivery options for the components of the PSPP program. He opted for a blended learning format, taking PSPP 101 and 301 online and the 200 level courses in the classroom.  He thoroughly enjoyed each component and was particularly impressed by the way the classroom courses fully engaged him by weaving in excellent lectures pieces, group projects and debriefing of exercises and case studies.  As with all PSPP grads, Ryan found that networking with other procurement professionals throughout the Program was invaluable, and states that working with them on case studies and discussions enhanced his capacity for critical thinking.  For Ryan, the online format of the final course in the series, PSPP 301, was an excellent way to pull it all together, using threaded discussions, case examples, readings and individual assignments.  “Overall, I feel the way this program is set up really works!”

A piece that really stood out for Ryan was the risk assessment and risk management section.  Ryan continues to refer to the PSPP 201 exercise called ‘Risk Assessment – Bridging the Gap’.  Along with the other course materials, it has been a great resource for helping him create better RFPs and Tenders, and he often relies on his notes and relevant case studies to help guide his process.

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Ryan Chernoff

Senior Buyer, City of Kelowna

“During the courses, I found that the main theory behind everything is the planning stage. I found this to be the most vital stage of any procurement. I really feel that the PSPP will strengthen the public sector procurement profession.”

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Jocelan Torrelli completed the Public Sector Procurement Program (PSPP) in May 2014, and we spoke with her shortly after the successful completion of her program.

Jocelan is responsible for facilitating projects with both internal and external clients, from hiring consultants, to writing a scope of work and non-binding RFPs for Contractors to perform the renovation projects.  These are large-scale projects that entail internal and external renovations to multi-family dwellings.

Jocelan valued the fact that the PSPP was designed specifically for the public sector.   This fact was both appealing and refreshing.  As all previous training she had experienced focused on the private sector, Jocelan was alerted to the significant differences in the way procurement is handled in the public sector.

She found the format of the curriculum and courses was very simple to follow.   She came to understand that everyone faces similar problems in their procurement-related duties and it was empowering to be able to share information with people from diverse public sector organizations.

Jocelan reported that completing the exercises writing the evaluation criteria and the mandatory requirements for RFPs greatly improved her job performance.  Her refined process has significantly reduced the time required to weed out proponents, to ensure that all are capable of performing the duties as stated in the RFP.

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Jocelan Torrelli

Procurement Specialist, BC Housing Management Commission

“This program, whether you are experienced or new, and having the range of professionals we had in our class, gives someone new a lot of knowledge and someone with experience, a different perspective. The knowledge passed on through the instructors and classmates is something totally intangible; I don’t think you could put a dollar value on it.”

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Craig Butt completed the Public Sector Procurement Program (PSPP) in June 2011.  We spoke with Craig about his participation in the Program in September 2011.

Craig’s agency is responsible for goods and services purchases for all 18 government departments for $2500 and up.  He has been with government purchasing for 4 years, and before that worked for a number of private sector companies in procurement positions. He sees a big difference in the focus of public-sector versus private-sector purchasing, mainly around the principles of best-value procurement rather than price-based purchasing, and legislation supporting the fairness and transparency required in public-sector.

The PSPP program appealed to Craig as it is the only program he has come across specifically designed for the public sector in Canada, and as such, it has direct relevance to the work he currently does. Craig feels that a lot of procurement and contract management training courses don’t carry relevance to what is being done on-the-job and are written from an outside perspective rather than a practitioner’s view. The PSPP program focuses on acquiring real-life skills that can be applied in his day-to-day work. One skill that Craig has been able to use in his workplace immediately upon completion of the Program is conducting market sounding and prequalification processes. Until taking the PSPP program, his department had done very little prequalification.  Recently, upon Craig’s initiative, the department conducted a very successful prequalification process leading to a successful tender call that resulted in substantial savings for the Province. The class discussions and case studies Craig participated in during the Program helped him to develop the skills and confidence necessary to implement this process.

Craig also feels this program will strengthen the public-sector profession by providing a uniform education base across the Atlantic Provinces and the rest of Canada. Not all aspects of each course will apply to all organizations, but the Program gives participants a broad understanding of best practices used in other jurisdictions.  It also allows classmates to brainstorm with colleagues, come up with new ideas and perhaps adapt emerging practices to improve their own processes. This program enables participants to build a network of peers – it is invaluable to be able to pick up the phone and call someone in another city or province to ask advice and to get a third party, impartial opinion on how to approach a challenging situation.

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Craig Butt, PSPP

Procurement Officer III, Government Purchasing Agency. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

“10 and I tell you I don’t give out 10 very often. It’s an awesome program!”

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Gerry Wilson completed the Public Sector Procurement Program (PSPP) in June 2011.  We spoke with Gerry about his participation in February 2012.

Gerry’s department is responsible for all procurement of goods and services for the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board. This includes everything from stationary to large-dollar renovation projects. He has been with the school board for 8 years and before that worked for the Department of National Defence in purchasing.

The PSPP program appealed to Gerry as it allows staff in his organization to get training that is particularly relevant to those working in Atlantic Canada. The program includes localized content which was previously lacking in other available offerings. Gerry feels that provincially and across the Atlantic Provinces, this program allows standardization and brings consistency. He was also attracted by the Canadian content and the focus on public sector policies and procedures as they differ from the private sector.

Gerry finds the material and course delivery format spot on – the program touches everything and does it right. It includes online, in-class, and resource material that culminate in a very effective program. The instructors are informed and have the added expertise of legal backgrounds and procurement experience – a huge asset. He really enjoyed the introductory online modules in PSPP 101: Introduction to Public Sector Procurement and once used to the technology, found PSPP 301: Procurement Practice – Putting it all Together fun and engaging. Gerry thought the program was well designed and was impressed that even on the first run; there were no bugs to work out.

Throughout the program, Gerry found opportunities to re-emphasize what his organization is doing is right, look at different techniques and try out new methods and models. Every session he was able to pick up something new from networking with instructors and classmates. Even after the courses, many classmates have stayed in touch, transferring reference material and asking/answering questions. Personally, Gerry has gone back and referred to the reference manual many times.

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Gerry Wilson

Coordinator of Procurement, Annapolis Valley Regional School Board

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