When Chandra Miller was thinking about what she wanted to be when she grew up, working in a purchasing and procurement office wasn’t on her list.
“No one grows up thinking ‘I want to work in procurement one day.’ You find it. Or it finds you,” said Miller, purchasing director at OSU Institute of Technology.
What she found during her 12 years in the purchasing department was a passion for her work. She is a certified procurement officer through the state of Oklahoma and a nationally certified fraud examiner. She’s now looking to become a nationally certified public procurement officer through the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council.
“Historically procurement, nationwide, is seen as a barrier but there is value in it. Procurement is more action than words; it’s getting the customer what they need at the best price possible price. The sometimes-limited resources we have been entrusted with have to reach as far as they can reach. We have to do our due diligence,” Miller said. “It’s important we maintain the integrity of the procurement process and recognize that what we do ultimately benefits the whole, especially students, because they will go out and become taxpayers who contribute back to this institution.”
She’s taking that enthusiasm and affection for procurement to the TOAL (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana) Region Board of the National Association of Educational Procurement where she will first serve as secretary.
TOAL hosts an annual conference in the fall for those working in higher education procurement and purchasing in those four states.
“It’s a professional development opportunity, it’s a chance to collaborate with each other, and it allows for the exchange of knowledge and information of what’s going on in the field of procurement,” Miller said. “The people you see at TOAL, you become like a family.”
Membership at TOAL also allows for the opportunity to learn what’s happening nationally by attending NAEP conferences held in the spring.
At one of the conferences, Miller said she listened to a keynote speaker talk about the importance of getting out of comfort zones and trying different things.
“He asked ‘When you leave here and go back home, what are you going to do different?’ That stuck with me,” she said, so when the opportunity to be nominated to the TOAL board was presented, she accepted.
“We all must stand up and take part. The more you’re involved, the more you benefit. In doing so, you can help others, especially new members.”
Miller said she was pleasantly surprised and humbled to learn her peers had elected her to serve on the board. Board members except for treasurer are elected to a five-year term serving in a new position each year starting with secretary, and then moving to second vice president, first vice president, president and finally immediate past president.
Miller knew that if she was elected, it would mean a time commitment that would occasionally take her away from the OSUIT campus so she spoke with Vice President of Fiscal Services Jim Smith before accepting the nomination.
“I talked to Jim about it and he gave an emphatic ‘yes,’” she said. “I couldn’t do what I do without the support I have from this institution.”
Smith said he wasn’t surprised when he learned Miller had been elected to the board.
“Chandra is very diligent in working with others and obtaining as much expertise as possible from other universities. It’s a natural fit for her to be elected secretary of the board,” he said. “Chandra will do an outstanding job on the board and she will be an incredible representative of OSUIT and our employees.”
Miller will begin to serve her term on the board after she attends the next conference in late September in Rogers, Ark., along with Financial Analyst Jalynda Bailey, who is attending for the first time.
“What I’m looking forward to the most is learning the ins and outs of the board,” Miller said. “It’s one thing to be on one side when you’re attending conferences. It’s another to be on the other side putting it together.”
She also hopes to gain from the knowledge and experience of past TOAL presidents so she can better serve the TOAL region and represent OSUIT.
“I believe you can never stop learning. I’m an advocate for education,” Miller said. “I see students here and any opportunity I have to speak with them and encourage them I take it because that’s what we’re here for. I do the same with my peers.”