Georgetown University at forefront of inclusive purchasing initiative in DC

May 8, 2024

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From High Threat Logistics to Procurement Leadership

Before becoming Georgetown University’s Director of Procurement Services, Sheyna Arthur began her career in the most high stakes environment imaginable: managing the logistics behind the deployment of US forces in the Middle East. The transition from her previous role to procurement leadership at Georgetown may not be an obvious one, but for Sheyna, it all comes back to process design, innovation, and mission-driven leadership. Georgetown University was one of the first four anchor institutions to commit to DCAP, and as Sheyna says, “supplier diversity needs to be inoculated in our skin. It’s our ethos. It’s beyond just a program. It’s just what we do”.  Here are some lessons she learned along the way.

Embracing Supplier Diversity as a Core Ethos:

Sheyna emphasized that institutions should not view supplier diversity as a program, but as an integral part of the organization’s ethos. It’s about embedding diversity into the procurement process to ensure it becomes second nature. This means that diverse suppliers are considered as part of every procurement opportunity and that strides are made to actively mentor, support, and promote their growth. Georgetown recently launched their Small Business Corps through the McDonough School of Business, where teams of MBA students and faculty are embedded with local businesses to boost their sales, highlighting an additional strategy universities can leverage to support their local economies.

Strategic Planning and Goal Setting:

Given Sheyna’s background in logistics, it’s not surprising to hear that she is a big fan of strategic planning, key performance indicators (KPIs), and accountability. Sheyna sets both long-term and short-term targets for diverse supplier utilization with her team and outlines a clear path for achieving them. Georgetown onboarded a supplier diversity team in 2021 to help meet their new diverse contracting goals. As part of their effort, this team meets with DCAP biweekly to review procurement forecasts and to share feedback on how businesses are performing in their RFP responses and in their execution of contracts.

Building and Leveraging Relationships:

A critical component of procurement, and especially supplier diversity, is the development and management of long-term strategic relationships with MBEs. But it’s not just about making connections, says Sheyna; “It’s about making them count. It’s the high-growth MBEs who are going to be the big economic drivers in the DC area. For Georgetown, providing opportunities to those businesses is a no brainer and embedded in our values”. Last month, this looked like working with DCAP to help a local coffee and tea manufacturer position itself to win a significant subcontract with Aramark, Georgetown’s primary provider of food and catering services.

“Procurement is at the center of everything”

- Sheyna Arthur, Director of Procurement Services at Georgetown University

As we integrate Sheyna’s insights into our operations, DCAP wants to celebrate the work of its growing network of 50+ procurement officials and leaders across the DMV who are actively working to create opportunities for diverse businesses. According to the Brookings Institution, the DMV ranks 51st among 53 US metropolitan regions for racial inclusion and 43rd for economic prosperity. At CNHED, we believe our anchor strategy is an essential component of the region’s effort to promote and sustain equity. As Sheyna says “procurement is at the center of everything”.

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