Aubrey Edwards has a special flair for building relationships. That's a crucial skill in her job as category specialist at Alliance Data, a global provider of data-driven marketing and loyalty programs for companies that serve consumers.
Edwards' prime mission is to hunt for ways to gain more value for Alliance while also cutting travel, financial services, and marketing costs. These projects usually serve the whole enterprise, and it can be hard to get people with different perspectives and needs to agree on one solution. "You have to take the time to develop relationships with individuals, so they'll trust your opinion," Edwards says. "And the more you learn about a category, the greater the chance that you'll come up with insights that others couldn't have reached themselves."
During 2013, just seven months after she joined Alliance Data, Edwards achieved more than $261,000 in savings. In those early days, she also played a key role in procuring the technology behind a new employee recognition program. "The system operates like a Facebook news feed," she says. It provides a forum where managers can praise employees for good work, and colleagues can "like" the news.
"The system has been hugely successful—and I know it will keep employees at Alliance satisfied for years to come," Edwards says.
More recently, Edwards worked her consensus-building magic in a project to choose a tool for managing the company's many software licenses. "I knew in my heart which solution would best get the job done for everyone," she says.
But individuals from different lines of business had their own ideas about what they needed, depending on their specific technical requirements. Gaining buy-in from everyone took a lot of legwork. "I flew to different locations, held meetings, and conducted demonstrations," Edwards recalls. Eventually, her work paid off. "We landed on the supplier that my team had been hoping for from the beginning," she says. "Then, in negotiating the contract, we got the pricing down substantially, saving more than $500,000. It was a big win."
Edwards participates in her local ISM affiliate, but says she's basically a homebody. "I was married in April 2014, and I spend a lot of time with my husband and our golden retriever," she says. Edwards makes frequent trips from her home in Plano, Texas, to visit family in Houston. She also enjoys hanging out with friends, trying new restaurants, going for walks, and watching college football. "My newest guilty pleasure," she adds, "is watching Shark Tank on Friday night with a glass of wine."
HOMETOWN: Houston, Texas
ALMA MATER: Texas A&M University
CURRENT POSITION: Category Specialist, Alliance Data, Plano, Texas
NOMINATED BY: Tyler Werneke, Senior Manager, Strategic Procurement, Alliance Data
I led the project team for a software license management solution. Through the RFP process and successful negotiations, we achieved more than $500,000 in savings.
I’d like to make a positive impact on procurement and supply chain by bringing new ideas and innovations to the table.