Established in 1977, the Massachusetts Higher Education Consortium (MHEC) is a nonprofit purchasing consortium that currently serves over 1,250 members encompassing public and private colleges and universities; technical, vocational, and charter schools; municipalities; libraries; and other nonprofit organizations within the six New England states. On behalf of its members, MHEC develops, bids, and manages highly competitive contracts by aggregating spend volume to achieve remarkable cost savings and administrative efficiencies. MHEC offices are located adjacent to the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, a vibrant community in the heart of the Five College region (UMass Amherst, Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College).
Responsibilities of the Position
The director of procurement—contracts and strategic sourcing is a key member of the MHEC leadership team, reporting to the executive director. The director will lead a team of seven full-time professionals dedicated to delivering the highest quality contract services on behalf of the MHEC membership while providing strategic oversight of master contracts generating in excess of $208 million annually. The director will also be responsible for ensuring that all contracts are systematically managed throughout the contract life cycle, from initial vendor/supplier outreach to development and analysis of the public bid process and awarding. Monitoring and managing follow-up communications are also key responsibilities of the director.
The director will work closely with MHEC senior leadership and the board of directors to advance organizational strategic objectives; identify and develop opportunities for contract expansion in response to evolving membership needs; support staff professional development and continual improvement designed to enhance customer service, maximize use of technology and strengthen work flow efficiencies; calibrate and delegate contract assignments; provide direct management of a small portfolio of vendor/supplier contract relationships; and share routine reports and analysis of contract activity/spend volume with MHEC senior leadership and board of directors. The director is responsible for departmental compliance with state procurement regulations, including integration of best practices. As a member of the leadership team, the director will work collaboratively with other staff, serve on internal committees as required, and travel as needed (approximately 5–10 percent of time), as well as assume other duties as assigned. Compensation is competitive, ranging from $95,000 – $110,000, depending on experience.
Characteristics of the Successful Candidate
At minimum, the successful candidate will possess a bachelor’s degree and progressive professional experience in procurement, contract management, and/or strategic sourcing. Demonstrated staff management, strategic planning, and leadership experience; documented success in bid development, contract agreement negotiations, and active management of complex purchasing contracts; proficiency using electronic procurement technology, including the e-signature process, Excel, and other database software applications; and evidence of strong written and public speaking skills are required. The following experiences will also be considered in the selection of the director of procurement: advanced degree preferred (MBA or master’s degree in related field); completion of procurement certification(s); and Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official (MCPPO) designation or ability to obtain within 18 months of hire.
In addition to the qualifications stated above, the following characteristics and attributes have been identified by MHEC stakeholders as being highly attractive:
- understand and value the procurement field and the competitive public bid process, as well as state regulations and compliance issues (familiarity with Commonwealth of Massachusetts procurement laws, such as Chapter 30B, or other similar state statutes would be helpful);
- lead by example and be committed to building a resilient, resourceful, and technologically savvy, high-functioning contracts and procurement team;
- be a process thinker;
- possess appropriate professional certification(s)—such as Certified Purchasing Manager (CPM), or Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official;
- be comfortable giving and receiving constructive feedback;
- demonstrate a broad understanding of, and facility with, current technology and strategies for improving work flow efficiencies, including ability to benchmark standards and operations against other “best practice” models;
- bring a track record of successful management, including demonstrated ability to cultivate a positive and collaborative work environment where all contributors are valued and supported to do their best work; be a good coach and supervisor;
- communicate clearly and be an effective, responsive listener;
- have some experience in, or knowledge of, nonprofit educational and/or municipal organizations;
- demonstrate a record of accountability and integrity.
Likely Priorities and Challenges of the Position
The director of procurement will be expected to lead during a dynamic time in the evolution of the consortium. There are numerous opportunities for the next director to lead with vision and impact.
Specific challenges and opportunities for the next director of procurement as articulated by stakeholders are listed below.
- Use extensive experience in both procurement and management to inform a vision for the future direction of the contract team.
- Stabilize and build a high-functioning contract team—ensure that each member has a professional development plan to support continued growth and sustained contributions at the highest level; foster collaboration; and cultivate an esprit de corps across the team.
- Do a deep dive designed to build familiarity with each of the existing 56 master contracts and more than 600 suppliers associated with these contracts; develop a timeline for renewal as appropriate.
- Assist in the development of a strategic plan and process for ensuring that all negotiated contracts are meeting the needs and expectations of MHEC members (charter and associate members); identify both short- and long-term priorities for diversifying and expanding master contract agreements.
- Assess opportunities to increase strategic partnerships with other entities, such as what currently exists with the Massachusetts Library System.
- Evaluate the existing staffing model, reporting lines, and workloads against demands; recalibrate assignments where needed and make recommendations to the leadership team regarding organizational adjustments, including recommendations for additional personnel to the contract team if deemed essential.
- Working with the leadership team, communicate to members the advantages of pooling resources and working collaboratively, which is essential to developing favorable contracts that will increase discounts to members.
- Conduct a work flow analysis for the entire contract process (development, bid process, awarding, monitoring, membership communication, etc.) and evaluate innovations and automation that would better utilize existing technology, personnel, and other resources—including the MHEC website and Bid Express system—to improve efficiencies, processes/systems, and customer service—and/or identify new solutions/technology and training to advance the work of the contract team.
- As a member of the MHEC leadership team, build strong partnerships with internal colleagues and work collaboratively to strengthen and enhance measurable outcomes for the organization and its members in line with strategic priorities.
- Be a visible advocate and supporter of the entire contract team; provide them with a voice and integrate their feedback where appropriate in strategic decision making; herald their contributions when working across the organization as well as when communicating with external vendors/suppliers and MHEC members.
- Directly manage a small portfolio of contracts, as well as provide assistance to other contract team members supporting their work during periods of peak demand and/or at times of staffing transitions.
History of the Position
The director of procurement has long been a key leadership position at MHEC. The former director held the role for eight years. When the position was vacated in late spring 2017, the board of directors and the executive director of MHEC, along with support from outside consultants, assessed the position. In light of the contract team’s important work in supporting MHEC’s mission, expansion of membership and their needs, and evolving technology impacting contract management, the scope of the position expanded, resulting in a title change initially to director of contracts and strategic sourcing and more recently to director of procurement—contracts and strategic sourcing. Key stakeholders are focused on attracting a strategic, forward-looking procurement professional.
Organizational Structure of the Procurement—Contracts and Strategic Sourcing Team
The director of procurement will lead a team of seven:
- 2 senior contract managers
- 3 contract managers, including one specializing in library contracts
- 2 sourcing specialists
As there has been some recent turnover and expansion of staffing in the procurement/contract team, there are now two experienced members with seven or more years of experience in their respective roles with MHEC and five other staff members whose experience levels range from newly hired to up to three years of service to the organization. The new director of procurement will help shape and develop the entire team into a high functioning unit. During the recruitment of a new director of procurement, the newly appointed MHEC executive director and a former executive director are providing oversight, direction, and support to advance the work of the procurement/contracts and strategic sourcing team.
The director of procurement will be a key member of the MHEC leadership team, reporting to the executive director. In this capacity, the director of procurement will not only provide supervision and development of staff on the procurement/contracts team, but also support strategic priorities of the organization and be actively engaged in planning and problem solving designed to strengthen the policies, processes, and practice of MHEC in service to its members.
History of the Consortium
The Massachusetts Higher Education Consortium (MHEC) is a nonprofit purchasing consortium that was established in 1977 under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 15A, Section 24A. Based on a recommendation submitted in 1975 to Gov. Michael Dukakis, the purpose of the MHEC was to create a buyers’ consortium serving all Massachusetts public institutions of higher education. The initial membership of the MHEC included Massachusetts public institutions of higher education and a small number of private colleges known as the Five Colleges, Inc.
Recognizing the benefits of expanding membership to private institutions of higher education, MHEC amended its statute in 1998, authorizing public and private educational institutions to “join together” for the purpose of forming the MHEC. On November 4, 2011, the organization’s board of directors and members formally voted to change the organization’s by-laws to expand membership. Currently, there are over 1,250 MHEC New England members encompassing public and private colleges and universities, municipalities and K-12 schools, nonprofit private secondary schools, charter, technical, and vocational schools, libraries, and other educational nonprofit organizations.
The Massachusetts Higher Education Consortium is the premier source for regionalized New England group purchasing in the United States. MHEC strives to be the consortium of choice for its members by providing multivendor contracts that are the best in the industry in terms of cost avoidance, product and service depth, and vendor quality, choice, and terms; and by being an active catalyst for local and regional small-business participation, including women and minority-owned companies. MHEC supports the success of its members and vendors by engaging their input and providing consulting support, customized reporting, special events, education programs, and communications forums that encourage a vibrant, interactive, regional marketplace and learning community. MHEC is committed to incorporating cutting-edge technology as an integral part of its delivery model. MHEC’s service to its members will be the best in the industry, and its business model will provide a “best practices” template for other consortia, in the United States and around the world.
MHEC is governed by three executive officers and complemented by six additional board members, all of whom are aligned with higher education institutions. The executive director of MHEC serves as an ex officio (non-voting) member of the board.
MHEC Board of Directors
- Chair: Gary Duggan, Associate Director, Procurement Business Services, University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Vice Chair: Marge Dunehew, Auxiliary Services Director, Hampshire College
- Board Treasurer: Patricia Callahan, Comptroller, North Shore Community College
- Lita Adams, Director of Purchasing, Springfield College
- Michael LaGrassa, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services, University of Massachusetts—Dartmouth
- Christopher Raymond, Director of Procurement and Administrative Services, Westfield State University
- Ted Leth-Steensen, Executive Director for Administrative Services, Bay Path University
Michael Di Yeso, Executive Director
Michael Di Yeso serves as the MHEC executive director. Di Yeso reports to the MHEC Board of Directors and is responsible for providing vision, strategic leadership, and management for the entire organization. He joined MHEC in July 2018, following a national search, and is the fifth full-time leader of MHEC since its inception in 1977.
Di Yeso brings extensive leadership experience to his role at MHEC. Prior to joining the consortium, he served for ten years as the president and CEO of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, and as president and COO of GS1 US, a global supply chain company, for six years. Earlier in his career, Di Yeso worked for Black & Decker and American Can Company in positions of increasing responsibility.
The executive director of MHEC holds an MBA degree from the University of New Haven and earned a BBA degree from Pace University.
MHEC membership is available to all not-for-profit public and private institutions of higher education, municipalities including elementary, secondary schools, technical, vocational, and charter schools, and other educational organizations throughout Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Current membership consists of 84 charter (voting) members and over 1,100 associate members.
Special Programs and Events
Four times a year, members are convened to discuss activities of MHEC and their respective business, compare experiences, raise questions, learn about new initiatives of the consortium, and provide feedback.
Annual Supply Partners Meeting
The annual supply partners meeting is typically held in November each year. At this meeting, MHEC hosts a panel of experienced and knowledgeable procurement experts who provide supply partners with relevant information on each school’s business operation, including suggestions on how suppliers can more effectively leverage their MHEC contract. Additionally, MHEC staff use these meetings to share information regarding initiatives and upcoming projects of interest to supply partners and directly solicit suggestions from attendees on ways that the MHEC can improve on contract and pricing visibility, simplify its bidding process, and improve its price competitiveness.
Annual Supplier Expo
The annual supplier expo is typically held during late September. The event is free to all members and guests including potential members, other consortia, and public and state agencies. Typically, over 200 supply partners and 350-plus members from schools, municipalities, and libraries attend. Suppliers offer product demonstrations and informational sessions and outline cost savings opportunities for MHEC members. Members strengthen their relationships with suppliers and fellow members, and also have an opportunity to interface with colleagues associated with organizations such as the Massachusetts Association of Public Purchasing Officials (MAPPO), Massachusetts Facilities Administrators Association (MFAA), Massachusetts Library System (MLS), and Operational Services Division (OSD).
Each year in May, MHEC hosts its annual golf tournament. This is a popular event providing over 200 members and suppliers an opportunity to relax and network.
In fiscal year 2018, MHEC grew to having over 650 suppliers on contract and over 1,250 members. The total spend by members through MHEC contracts was approximately $208 million.
Cost avoidance to MHEC members was over $176 million in FY 2018. The cost avoidance figure is derived from calculating what members would have paid without the discount provided by MHEC contracts.
MHEC reporting comes from its suppliers. Suppliers are required to report their spend quarterly for each MHEC member organization. The four quarters are combined to create the total annual spend within a fiscal year.
Overall in fiscal year 2018, 49 suppliers reported annual sales through MHEC contracts greater than $1 million, 37 suppliers reported annual sales though MHEC contracts of between $500,000 and $1 million, and a total of 125 suppliers had sales through MHEC contracts of between $100,000 and $500,000.
MHEC is free to all who join as members; there are no additional membership fees.
There is a saying you will see on t-shirts and bumper stickers in Amherst that offers both a pronunciation lesson and an insight: “Amherst—where only the ‘h’ is silent.”
That captures Amherst—vibrant, opinionated, and proud of it.
Life in Amherst and the surrounding area is also smart, fun, dynamic, and somehow laid back all at the same time. Here are two facts backing that up:
- More than 40 percent of the local population has a graduate degree.
- Surveyed visitors say Amherst makes them feel more like themselves than anywhere else.
More than 30,000 college students call Amherst home during the academic year. Hampshire College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Amherst College are immediate MHEC neighbors, with Smith College and Mount Holyoke College—rounding out the Five College Consortium—a short distance away.
Throughout Amherst and the Pioneer Valley, there are a multitude of concerts, festivals, lectures, conferences, exhibitions, and museums (including the Emily Dickinson Museum, Beneski Museum of Natural History, and Mead Art Museum). Galleries can be found in both Amherst and Northampton and families will love the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.
The region is alive with culture. There is music for every taste, from classical to funk, from orchestras to chamber music. The Pioneer Valley is a major stop on the concert trail, with major concert halls in both Amherst and nearby Northampton.
Amherst is a community that attracts friendly, warm, and intellectually engaged people. There is also plenty in store for outdoor enthusiasts, including hiking trails, fishing streams, the Connecticut River (a favorite for boating), and a rail-to-trail that connects Amherst and Northampton. Plus, local wildlife sanctuaries are abundant. The Norwottuck Rail Trail—a paved 11-mile trail that cuts through the Amherst College wildlife sanctuary—connects cyclists from to Hadley and Northampton.
Amherst and the surrounding region are serviced by Bradley International Airport, which is close to Hartford, Connecticut, about an hour from MHEC. Boston’s Logan Airport is about two and a half hours away.
For more information about Amherst, visit the Chamber of Commerce at http://www.amherstarea.com/.
Current benefits at MHEC include the following:
- Medical insurance — coverage provided by Health New England (HNE); 80 percent of the health plan cost is met by MHEC; employee contributes 20 percent; spouse/partner and dependents are eligible for health insurance coverage
- Dental insurance — coverage provided by Guardian; MHEC pays 100 percent of the cost for employee; spouse/partner and dependents are eligible for dental insurance coverage
- Life insurance, long-term disability, and short-term disability — coverage provided by Guardian; MHEC pays 100 percent of cost for employee
- Guardian Vision insurance — MHEC covers 100 percent of cost for employee
- Retirement plan — MHEC provides a 5 percent match with 100 percent immediate vesting
- Paid time off: three weeks of vacation; three personal days; ten sick days; 12 paid holidays
Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Applications received by December 7, 2018 will be assured full consideration. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Valerie B. Szymkowicz at email@example.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.
Visit the MHEC website at www.mhec.net
MHEC is an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.