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Episode 14: Merging the Paths of your Purpose and your Profession with Cheryl Harris


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When someone is referred to as “The Steve Jobs of Procurement,” it cannot help but provoke some level of curiosity.

On this episode, I am pleased to welcome Cheryl Harris, senior vice president and Chief Procurement Officer of Sourcing & Procurement Solutions at the Allstate Insurance Company. Cheryl is responsible for optimizing value and mitigating risks associated with Allstate’s $4B spend portfolio spanning Technology, Travel, Marketing, Claims, Professional Services, and Facilities categories.

Aligned with Allstate’s Corporate Social Responsibility commitment, Cheryl oversees Allstate’s Supplier Diversity program, which is focused on increasing the participation of minority, LGBT, veteran and women-owned businesses in Allstate’s supply chain. This work aligns with Cheryl’s personal purpose, centering on the growth of diverse businesses and engaging their support in driving positive economic impacts in the communities where we work and live. Cheryl serves on the boards of directors for The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the Chicago Humanities Festival Board and the Florida A&M Industry Cluster.

Cheryl is a Florida A&M University graduate and serves as senior executive sponsor for Allstate’s relationship, having helped many students find employment in corporate America. Additionally, she is a member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and Chicago United Business Leaders of Color.

Cheryl and I discuss some of the transformational efforts she has led, particularly in the area of supplier diversity; leadership skills she looks for in others and she shares advice for those seeking to become suppliers to large corporations.

Key Highlights

  • Cheryl shares her journey [3:30]
  • Cheryl describes her purpose [9:30]
  • The Road trip [11:45]
  • Leadership skills she looks for in others [14:00]
  • Why Cheryl prefers open office space [17:30]
  • What does success look like in the future [19:00]
  • Advice for those who would like to become a supplier to large companies such as Allstate [22:00]
  • The advice she would provide give to the young Cheryl Harris [26:30]
  • Cheryl’s thoughts on women in the workplace [29:30]
  • How she stays motivated [31:30]
  • How she thinks about her leadership legacy [34:30]

Please share your questions and comments!

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