Aubrey Edwards

The Human Touch

Gaining consensus

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."

Early wins

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.

Bringing everyone together

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."

Outside the office

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."

Stats

AGE: 26

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

In Her Own Words

Most significant project to date?

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.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years?

I’d like to make a positive impact on procurement and supply chain by bringing new ideas and innovations to the table.

30 Under 30 Program Partners

Institute for Supply Management® (ISM) is the first supply management institute in the world. Founded in 1915, ISM's mission is to enhance the value and performance of procurement and supply chain management practitioners and their organizations worldwide. By executing and extending its mission through education, research, standards of excellence and information dissemination—including the renowned monthly ISM Report On Business®—ISM maintains a strong global influence among individuals and organizations.

ThomasNet provides solutions that make it easier for buyers and engineers to partner with the right industrial suppliers. For nearly a century the Company’s “big green books”—the Thomas Register—were considered indispensable to B2B buyers and manufacturers alike. Today, ThomasNet offers tools to facilitate every step of the buying process. These include industry’s leading supplier discovery platform, free online at ThomasNet.com.

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