Speaker Spotlight Q&A:

Gregory Spearman, Purchasing Director

City of Tampa

Gregory K. Spearman is a native of Glenwood, GA and received his B. S. Degree from Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, Georgia, a Master’s Degree from Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia and his M.P.H. Degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, TX.

He is currently Director of Purchasing for the City of Tampa where he manages a staff of 29 and is responsible for the day-to-day operation for the acquisition of $420M of various goods and services, disposal of surplus property and Inventory Management for the City. He is an active member of the Tampa Bay Chapter of NIGP and served as Chair of the Planning and Development Committee on the Community Action Board of Hillsborough County for thirteen (13) years, a Community Action Agency whose mission is to help low-income citizens to become self-sufficient. He also is a member of the City’s Emergency Management Steering Committee. He is an active member of the Carmel Friendship Church where he serves in the Prayer Ministry, Pandemic Response Task Force, Men’s Ministry and Growth Track Facilitator. He is married and has three adult children and one granddaughter.

Ahead of Gregory’s panel discussion session on Inclusion and Innovation: Why do You Need a Supplier Diversity Program, at PSN’s Government Procurement Transformation Insights Event, on September 7th, 2022. We got to sit down with him for an exclusive interview to find out more about his career, his initiatives, advice for those following in his footsteps, and much more!


Q1:

What is your favorite part about your Procurement and purchasing role? 

Answer: It’s getting the satisfaction out of meeting or exceeding customer expectations. It’s important getting to understand what your customer’s business objectives are and how procurement plays a role into that process. It’s also important for the customer to understand the procurement process and to keep them informed and engaged every step of the way. Having the ability of offering different customer-based solutions is critical. Oftentimes customers have a limited “knowledge base” when it comes to procurement but once you build up their confidence that you’re there to help them, the walls come down and true strategic partnerships happen, and the lines of communications become very fluid.

Q2:

What is your favorite screen-time break activity at work? 

Answer: Just getting time to really think about how to solve complex issues and the required resources required to develop alternatives and the pros and cons of each. There is absolutely nothing like the collective efforts from a variety of different perspectives. You learn so much more than what you were initially aware of, and this process generally results in a better overall outcome.

Q3:

Detail how government can build a Supplier Diversity program into their purchasing efforts in an equitable and effective way. Is there one aspect that is essential to your department? Can you explain why?

Having a supplier diversity program is extremely important because of the need to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion (a/k/a DEI) in the bidding and contracting process. Small and minority owned businesses can and do perform well if there is a serious effort to de-mystify the bidding process, remove barriers that prevent them from bidding and unbundling large projects that are more attractive to small and minority businesses.

Also, reaching out to them to provide an orientation on “How To Do Business” with your entity is a necessary Outreach Initiative. DEI has to be intentional and a priority for any entity serious about increasing its spend with small and minority businesses. Having a dedicated Chief Diversity Officer and / or an Equal Business Opportunity Office (including staff to support the operation) specifically designed to design and implement programs and policies aligned with top management to include goals for inclusion and reporting of outcomes is an absolute necessity. If there is no formal structure in place, change will not happen.

Q4:

What’s the best advice you’ve received regarding your career or working in the public sector?

Answer: Stay up to date on industry best practices, especially as it relates to public procurement. Show your employer the value you bring to the organization. Always be professional, ethical and have integrity. Follow your policies, procedures, City and or County Code of Ordinances meticulously. Public procurement demands a high degree of transparency because of the expenditure of taxpayer dollars. So, accountability is extremely important. You must operate in a manner where you not only have the public trust, but also that of your employer and governing board and the Team that you manage. Get actively engaged with Local, State and National procurement organizations. Become a panelist at conferences, volunteer and serve on boards and committees. Obtain national certification.

Q5:

What advice would you give to the next generation who are currently considering a career in the public sector?

Answer: It’s a very rewarding career but be prepared that some things take time to change because there may be several stakeholders involved in a project or a process. Be the subject matter expert in your field of expertise. Get the training, education, and certification that’s necessary that makes you (stand out as) an extremely valuable employee. Connect with a well-respected mentor. Learn the culture of your employer, how things work, then work within that system or environment. Be open to change, be innovative, be creative always looking at the potential to do things better, more efficiently and more effectively.

Want to hear more from Gregory & other government leaders? Join us online at the upcoming event:

Where: Virtual Event
Where: Wednesday, September 7th, 2022 | 12pm-2:40pm ET

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