November 2014 Alumni Spotlight
November’s Alumni Spotlight with Carla Hunter Ramsey, Executive MPA ’08
Diversity isn’t just a word; School of Public Affairs alumna and National Grid Director of Supplier Diversity, Carla Hunter Ramsey (Executive MPA ’08) discusses her education, finding minority suppliers, and the crucial reasons for her specialized role.
What skills or knowledge from your Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Queens College and your Executive MPA from Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs do you find yourself using at work each day?
There is significant cross over in the knowledge I received from attaining a degree in economics and the Executive MPA. For example, my ability to manipulate and interpret quantitative data in a format that is acceptable and understood by my direct colleagues as well as senior executives. Another skill learned is being able to utilize both analytical and qualitative skills to help with problem solving by breaking down information into small units. Lastly, the smaller classes in my Executive MPA experience further developed my interpersonal skills by working in small groups.
What are some disadvantages minorities are at that would necessitate a role such as Director of Supplier Diversity?
The role of a supplier diversity director is particularly helpful in opening the door for a strong, qualified minority supplier to the procurement team. Majority firms have the scale and capacity that is very attractive to firms when procurement decisions are being made. The supplier diversity director is responsible for locating qualified minority firms and presenting the credentials to the procurement team for consideration in an upcoming bid opportunity. Said directors advocate on behalf of minority suppliers – it is the voice inside the organization that speaks on behalf of the minority firms creating a bridge to a potential partnership that often times is absent without the director in the room.
Can you provide an example of a positive impact your efforts at National Grid have had on a particular minority-owned business?
Noise Consulting is a minority- and women-owned firm located in Syracuse, NY that was retained to work on integration services for the U.S. retail web project in 2010. This key project provided National Grid customers with enhanced functionality when receiving and paying bills electronically, thus ensuring operational cost savings through increased online bill processing. Noise has secured awards on both Tier 1 and Tier 2 levels in areas such as project management services, integration and implementation services and business operational support in the customer service, billing, outage management, and SAP back-office arena. Last year, National Grid spent roughly $1.95 million with Noise Consulting Group and has developed an enduring partnership which ultimately contributes to the economic development of upstate New York, and most importantly, to one of National Grid’s homes, Syracuse, NY.
What brought you to your current role?
A retired diversity professional approached me based on my over 15 years in procurement and more than 10 years working for a family-owned business. Understanding intimately the challenges on both sides of the table (entrepreneur and purchasing), I recognized the opportunity as a perfect match and a natural progression in my career.
What projects are you currently working on?
We have several ground breaking initiatives in process or underway. On November 18, 2014 we will graduate our first CEO Master Class series with Roger Williams University and CVS Caremark Supplier Diversity Programs. This series was developed to sponsor six strong potential diverse suppliers, and over time integrate them into our supply chain. In April 2015, we will host our Upstate Power of Connections Event; the focus will be on energy efficiency and sustainability. We will leverage our effectiveness by partnering with another corporate and academic entity.