Profile: Courtney Becker, Senior Director of Strategic Procurement & Partnerships, Insignia Systems
Courtney Becker’s retail career started with a part-time job at Anthropologie (part of the Urban Outfitters family) that soon turned into a full-time management position. She chose to leave the challenging retail schedule behind after a few years, taking her knowledge of store operations to the support side at Rockler Cos., a national woodworking chain. She spent seven years there before joining Insignia Systems, lured there to a position in which she could utilize her knowledge of in-store operations. As Insignia has transformed, she has experienced different roles during a nearly five-year tenure. She now holds the title of senior director of strategic procurement & partnerships, a position she assumed in August 2019.
Becker is one of three Women of Excellence honorees in the “Collaboration” category.
What are your current responsibilities?
Becker: I develop and oversee relationships with external vendors that help us enhance our internal capabilities and expand our ability to provide custom solutions to our clients. I partner with our sales team daily to provide them the information they need to be successful, and to ensure the materials we produce are of the highest quality standards. I also explore emerging product opportunities to identify ways to expand our offerings.
How has collaboration with other teams within the company helped you push your work forward?
Becker: It’s a daunting task to step into something you don’t know anything about, and little did I know that signs and displays can be very complex. But what I did know right away was the importance of starting relationships with people in all areas of the company. You have to find a go-to resource person on the sales team, in production, the warehouse, finance – the entire company.
Collaboration starts small with a question here and there, but it grows over time until you find yourself fully immersed with people throughout the organization. It has also helped me develop by challenging me to think in new and different ways since there’s always some healthy tension as we work to find the right solutions. It’s amazing how ideas can grow out of disagreements into plans that work best for everyone.
What qualities do you believe constitute a true collaborator?
Becker: First, having the trust and respect of your fellow collaborators. You have to be transparent and accountable to the team by being honest if something isn’t working. Along with gaining that trust, you have to reciprocate to show respect and professionalism to others. Second, gaining individual support for difficult decisions ahead of time. It can be very powerful to have buy-in from critical team members to ensure things move in the right direction. Third is understanding the appropriate times for the appropriate actions. Sometimes you need to be a compassionate listener who sympathizes with challenging situations; other times you need to be critical and direct if there is a missed deadline or problem with accuracy.
What is your role when it comes to working with third-party retail solution vendors?
Becker: To ensure we have the right partners in place with the right capabilities to meet our clients’ needs. This involves maintaining numerous relationships with partners, negotiating pricing changes as needed, looking for efficiencies across projects we’ve previously executed, keeping up to speed on new trends, overseeing the accuracy of all ongoing estimates, and executing projects.
What are you most proud of in your work?
Becker: A peer committee I started in early 2019. I gathered all my director-level peers to discuss how we were leading our teams, what things were working well, what challenges we were facing, etc. It was a great opportunity to realize we were all dealing with similar challenges and discuss ways to work together to overcome them, and it provided an opportunity to take a much-needed pause from hectic day-to-day activities to collectively reflect on broader topics that can easily get overlooked. Each month, a different director identifies a topic to discuss and we make time to collaborate together.
What excites you most about the future of this space?
Becker: I can’t wait to see what ways technology and the in-store experience will continue to converge, and I’m most curious about how technology will merge into displays and merchandising. We’re currently exploring ways to incorporate technology into our displays from an execution standpoint to track and identify when and where displays are set up. It can be hard to keep up, but I’m glad to be a part of a team that’s not afraid to be bold, challenge the status quo and thrive in a changing environment.