Procurement Team Initiates WAPA-Wide Collaborative Meeting

In a groundbreaking initiative, procurement teams from different regions of the Western Area Power Administration recently came together for a three-day event aimed at fostering collaboration, breaking down regional silos of the past, and enhancing organizational effectiveness.  

The event, held from Dec. 5-7, 2023, marked the first time that representatives from all regions and Headquarters gathered in one place, which coincided with the Chief Administrative Office Town Hall.

The first day of the event, they kicked off with Teams and Leaders Managing Partner Kevin Bush, who led the group through various team-building exercises and icebreaker events to forge personal connections between staff from each region, the management teams, and headquarters personnel.   

A highlight of the event was a social gathering and dinner that evening, offering a relaxed atmosphere for the procurement team to get to know each other more personally. While many of them had been working together for years, this was the first time they had met face to face.  

“Now that we’ve realigned Procurement under the Office of Chief Administrative Officer, I felt that we could get to know each other better as a team,” said Director of Procurement Steve Etzel. “The timing was serendipitous since they could also get to know other members of the CAO, establishing more personal relationships, ultimately leading to better working relationships.”  

The following day, WAPA’s Office of General Counsel, represented by attorneys John Kral and Thomas Cordova, provided valuable insights into the submission process, the importance of quality written documents, and needed Procurement manager reviews. Human Resources specialists Carolyn Gates and Timothy Lammon delivered briefings on employment benefits and retirements, catering to the diverse needs of procurement personnel, some of whom are eligible for retirement.  

Afterward, Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Rodgers conducted a Town Hall for the entire CAO, allowing new procurement staff to familiarize themselves with other functions under the CAO umbrella. This Administrator’s Open House followed with an opportunity for folks to get to know one another better.  

Thursday’s agenda included a briefing by Leadership Development Program specialists Troy Steadman and Brittanie Paquette on career progression and leadership development. Procurement Policy Manager Todd Tetrault provided updates on policy changes, and Vice President of Budget & Analysis Colin Marquez briefed on financial assistance procurement changes. They ended with a question-and-answer session with Etzel before everyone returned to their respective regions.  

photo: procurement team
Procurement team group photo.

A notable outcome of the event was initiating a construction working group, promoting regular collaboration among those handling construction contracts. This platform allows for exchanging ideas and best practices, enhancing efficiency and support within the procurement community.  

One key benefit reported informally was the positive shift in reporting structures. Procurement managers expressed satisfaction in working under a Procurement Director with a contracting background, which provided a more direct channel to ask challenging questions and collaborate on customer issues.  

Etzel noted, “I couldn’t be prouder of my team! We are making important new strides in our business practices, and I’m excited to maximize the value we bring to our customers by streamlining procedures in the procurement process.”  

A survey conducted post-event revealed overwhelmingly positive responses. Participants appreciated the opportunity to meet colleagues from other regions, breaking down regional silos as intended. The event’s success is evident in the newfound ability to reach out to colleagues for assistance and support, fostering better relationships within the organization.  

For many attendees, this event marked the first occasion in years of working at WAPA that they had the chance to meet colleagues directly. The three-day gathering promoted a tightly knit group of procurement specialists, laid the groundwork for enhanced collaboration, and equipped the team to work seamlessly toward their mission as if their lights depended on it. 

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