Change Management

Image of Change Management

SIG University Certified Supplier Management Professional (CSMP) program graduate Erika Marzilli shares her personal experience in project management and how accepting sudden change can be hard, but it is always worth it in the end.

I was going to write this about another example where I had to deal with Change Management- but then I thought of this project. Back in March, I received a project to help support a very complex, first-of-its-kind Services Platform for our members. Most of my deals are relatively complex, so at the time, I didn’t think much of it, but I began to peel back the layers and realized this project would be the first of its kind in my 20-year career. One that would bring me to tears, and I chose to write my essay on this because perhaps this is the best way to reflect on this deal and how it impacted me.
To start- the business already worked out many of the terms ahead of time, which was something to this day that frustrates me because in a normal procurement world- you don’t agree to anything until you are darn near at signature with an Agreement. They were calling this a “Joint Venture,” which was making my procurement colleagues cringe. A joint venture? We couldn’t even agree on what to call this thing because it was the first of its kind. Initially, I was resistant to seeing it as a JV, and it took me months to see it from the business’s point of view (among other things).
Along with the business seeing this as a Joint Venture, we also had to work with outside counsel on this, who had no idea about our processes and kept telling me that we needed to have a “soft hand.” On top of this, they threw supplier paper at me that had terms we would never ever agree to already negotiated. It honestly felt like on a project team of 10- I was standing alone, resisting all of the change by myself because, to me- it wasn’t what I was used to doing for the past 20 years of my career. 
I was in a total frenzy. There I was totally resistant to change and almost frozen in my “well if you want me to be involved- it has to go through my process and my process only” mindset. It took me months (and probably way longer than it should have) to realize I needed to change to provide the business with the kind of support they needed from me. This deal, once executed, would be a HUGE deal for my company, bring in millions and millions of dollars of revenue, and provide people with new ways and new technology to provide people with Behavioral Health Support- something near and dear to my heart.
Some days brought me to tears because it didn’t seem like anyone was listening to me, and they were just including me to “check a box.” It honestly made me question my own skill sets and if I was good enough. My manager asked me if I wanted off the project, but I am a woman with much grit- I am not a quitter- as hard as it got at times- completing this project would be wonderful for my career development.
Long story short- I came around to the business needs and didn’t quit on them. I learned and accepted exactly what they needed from me- to project manage and take a back seat in negotiations. Even though it was an extremely rough start because of all of the changes from my normal processes- this project will forever stay in my heart because it taught me so much about myself, how I deal with change, and that for me to grow as a Professional- I need to be more open to other ways of doing things- even if it comes from the business!
This project is one of those projects that changed me as a Professional. It broke me, but it broke me in a good way. Was there more than one way to do things other than the processes I had been taught my entire career? Did true Company/Supplier partnerships exist? I would learn through this project- the answer I learned was “yes.”   

The Certified Supplier Management Professional program is a five-week course delivered through SIG University’s unique education platform. Visit our website to learn more about the discipline of governance and enroll for the upcoming semester.

Erika Marzilli, Senior Advisor Category Management, Cigna

Erika Marzilli was born and raised in a small-town in Massachusetts and is currently a South Florida resident. Worked in mostly every industry from Aerospace & Defense, to Media and Publications, Consumer Goods and currently Healthcare at Cigna Healthcare. Also worked on mostly every category from buying chemicals to negotiating software contracts but primarily IT, Travel, Professional Services and HR. In my spare time I like going to beach with my dog Yoko!