Traveling around the country teaching colleagues about procurement and supply management has its advantages. These include seeing many beautiful new places, enjoying a bit of local culture and most importantly, the privilege of meeting some truly wonderful people.

I was recently in Columbia, S.C. teaching a class for NIGP on managing the construction contracting process. One of the professionals in our class was LaShonda Outing, who I was so impressed with that I wanted to share her story with our readers.

During class introductions, she proudly shared her background of nearly 30 years of service to her local school district. Outing’s first position was as a bus driver, making sure that her students arrived on time to school each morning and returned safely home in the afternoon.

As a working adult, she found the time to attend college and obtain her degree, often attending classes between her bus routes. She later worked as a transportation clerk before taking a job in the Purchasing Services Department. Outing started off as a secretary and then worked her way up into a buyer apprentice role, and finally, she became a procurement specialist.

In 2005, her district recognized her experience, knowledge and dedication and promoted her to the position of purchasing manager. She still holds that position today.

What does Outing like best about procurement? She enjoys the interaction with both suppliers and school administrators, and she appreciates the chance to learn about what is needed to successfully operate a school district. Providing the goods and services needed to support education gives her a sense of accomplishment.  

Outing stresses the importance of professional development and is thankful for the support and guidance she has received from her current and past directors. This support made it possible for her to attain her certified professional public buyer (CPPB) designation. In the future, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in a procurement-related field and also obtain her CPPO certification.

So who is her role model and source of inspiration? That would be her youngest son, Timothy. Even though he suffers from a rare medical condition that causes him extreme pain, he puts on his best front and endures with grace. Timothy’s fight has taught his mother a great deal about diligence and patience, which are things that help her each day at work. In fact, it was Timothy’s courage that gave her the confidence to pursue her current position. He was only two years old and fighting brain swelling in the ICU the day Outing interviewed to be purchasing manager. Her faith and belief in family let her know it was the right thing to do.

Timothy is now a teenager and continues to be the hero of a world-class procurement professional: his mother, LaShonda Outing.

Darin Matthews FNIGP, CPPO, C.P.M., teaches public procurement at Portland State University. He has extensive management experience, speaks throughout the wold on procurement and has published several books and articles on supply management. Contact Matthews at darin.matthews@pdx.edu.