The power of relationships in IT procurement, with Brooke Beeson
Empathy and relationships are cornerstones of better IT and procurement outcomes. Brooke Beeson joins The Buy Side to discuss her philosophy on the human element in IT.
Brooke Beeson, IT Project & Vendor Manager for Gainsight, is a quintessential “people person.”
Her excitement about IT procurement comes second only to her passion for investing in relationships in the workplace and beyond.
With this joyful approach to procurement practices, Brooke has built Gainsight’s purchasing and review workflows into a people-centric, well-oiled machine.
Her approach balances the organizational need for high-level compliance with the simple personal and professional commitment to “be a good human.”
Brooke took the time to sit with us for a conversation about the benefits of bringing a human touch to the procurement process, the power of relationship building in successful IT procurement, and the positive impact women have in the male-dominated IT industry.
The importance of prioritizing people over software
At Gainsight, the organization champions the power of companies to “win in business while being human first.”
This aspect of the company culture perfectly echoes Brooke's approach to her professional relationships.
“I like to know people and understand their story,” explains Brooke. “At the end of the day, I want people to value me for who I am, not just what I can do for them. Having those relationships and having people care about me at a molecular level feeds my soul.”
It also feeds her drive to create better outcomes for her stakeholders, whether she’s supporting internal buyers by walking them through the procurement process or interacting with outside suppliers to collaborate on a deal that works for both sides.
On both sides of the equation, this human touch in procurement is about moving beyond the bottom-line metrics of a deal and seeing the larger picture.
“It’s not just about how much money we’re spending. It’s ensuring our internal apps are up to standards and our product works for people.”
This approach pays dividends for Brooke. It strengthens long-term strategy and leads to better procurement outcomes.
How modern procurement thrives on relationship-building
The building blocks of Brooke’s holistic buying approach are built on a foundation of strong relationships.
Her people-centric perspective may be considered novel within IT, an industry with a reputation for being (paradoxically) set in traditional methods.
Brooke puts it simply: “You have to have a relationship with reps. It can be fun or it can be a hassle.”
While the transactional approach may be more common in IT, the benefits of a more human touch are pivotal. “You can get to a partnership level where they help you succeed in your business.”
Both Brooke and Gainsight champion this “golden rule” thinking on procurement relationships. But while the traditional “do unto others” mandate is strong, Brooke takes the empathy one step further:
“Do unto others as they would have you do.”
This modern approach is one of the reasons Brooke focuses on communication in her daily habits. Acting according to others’ expectations requires listening and understanding.
One example of this is the approach Brooke uses for supplier offboarding.
When Gainsight considers ending a supplier agreement, Brooke takes the time to talk with those external stakeholders and communicate the challenge. If procurement is considering moving off a product, they’ll discuss where things are missing the mark and ask how they can help.
“We don’t blindside anyone. We want to make sure we’re clear and upfront with our requirements.”
This open and honest approach provides the opportunity for suppliers to course-correct the offering and further strengthen the relationship. This is especially important in Gainsight’s frequent position as a customer of the customer.
“If something’s not working, we want to give them another chance to see if they can help us. We don’t want to make rash decisions, especially when those people are also our customers.”
The power of women in IT and procurement
Along with the challenges of building and maintaining strong relationships, women face other specific challenges within the IT space.
In many cases, effecting change in the tradition-heavy IT industry comes with the added effort of confronting and mitigating gender stereotypes and unconscious biases.
These instances aren’t always overt or intentional.
In many cases, the deep-seated gender assumptions that pervade society result in added mental labor for female colleagues. Brooke says she is drawn into tasks perceived to be traditionally female, such as coordinating a meeting or scheduling a dinner.
It’s not a question of capability, says Brooke.
“It’s one hundred percent within my skill set. I’m actually really good at that.” However, she points out, “that stigma is still there. That mental load extends into the workplace, and especially in technology.”
Rather than find these experiences a source of frustration, however, Brooke reframes the situation in order to create more positive outcomes. She believes there is an opportunity to dial into those perceived female qualities of empathy and compassion while still showing off what women can do and being a strong contributor.
“I really do love surprising people,” she says.
Get the whole story of Brooke and Gainsight
Want to learn more about Brooke and Gainsight’s approach to business?
To hear all the insights — including the most interesting components of Gainsight’s core values and Brooke’s best advice for women making a career in the IT and procurement space — check out the full discussion.
Interested in sharing your story? We’re always looking for talented procurement and finance professionals to join the podcast. If that’s you, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.