Gender in the Proposal Industry — It’s Changing

June 26, 2015 – As APMP continues to look deeper into its membership data, one thing we know for sure is that the proposal industry is Genderchanging.  According to the grey-haired people I have talked to and learned from, this industry was once dominated by men who were considered business development acrobats who could drive millions of dollars into their respective companies.

Like most evolving industries, times change.  Men are still here, but they
have been joined by a lot of women who have proven themselves every bit of the “business winners” of their male counterparts.  The other big change is that millions of dollars have yielded to billions of dollars.

As unscientific as this statement is, (noted by me during several planned, but randomly timed spot checks) at this year’s Bid & Proposal Con 2015 in Seattle, WA, women visited exhibitor booths much more frequently than their male counterparts.  Fellas, during this unscientific analysis, it wasn’t even close.

Why is this so?  Because women have earned more “recommendation and general buying power” in their companies.  Period.  The fact that there were (a lot) more women visiting exhibitors than men is supported by numbers from APMP member data.

The gender difference in the world’s largest association dedicated to the entire proposal development lifecycle is widening.  Currently 66 percent of all APMP members are women as compared to 34 percent men.  And because APMP’s membership is broad enough to reflect the proposal development industry in general, this means that 66 percent of proposal development professionals are women and 34 percent are men. That’s a big difference.

The 66 percent vs. 34 percent differential includes all titles in APMP’s membership, by the way.  For now, this simply means that more women are pursuing careers in the proposal industry than men.  But what I saw on the show floor in Seattle has additional implications. Having the power to recommend company purchases or having direct buying power carries a currency all its own. Any HR professional will tell you that having purchasing power is a fast track to senior management. Whether you are a male or female, if you have purchasing/buying power, you are more likely to lead.  If you don’t have it, and you have the ambition to grow in the industry and your company, then work toward it.

You could debate, (but why would you?), that men hold more senior positions in the industry and there are more men in business development and sales positions.  For now, that is true.  One could also argue that men still dominate the industry in countries where women have yet to enter the workforce as enthusiastically as in the United States or countries throughout Europe.  That’s also true.

However, it is an undeniable fact, that if current APMP member trends continue, women will continue to step forward in their respective companies.  We can also hypothesize that women will be promoted to be on the leadership teams in their companies, because like men before them, they now have the numbers, they have or are gaining the experience and most important, they will have earned it.

Here’s What’s Cooking in APMP’s Kitchen

June 25, 2015 — Everyone once in a while on APMP’s EXEC DIRECT blog, we’ll fill you in on the “What’s Cooking in APMP’s Kitchen.”   Grab a cup of coffee, relax and join our staff  to see what’s currently on our stove!shutterstock_113264986

Bid & Proposal Con 2015 – We do realize that it’s over, but there are still a couple of things that we’re working on.  All speakers should be on the lookout for their session evaluations by July 3, 2015.   We’ve got great evaluations and comments and we can’t wait to share…..We’ve also got pictures.  We’re pouring through more than 2,000 high-res photos of all 2015 conference pictures at the conference.  If you attended, get ready for a landslide of Bid & Proposal Con Seattle photos to sort through and copy as you see fit.

Database Cleanup – In four years we’ve grown from 3,300 to 6,200+ members and we are scrubbing our database.  The goal is to make certain all membership fields are correct, consistent and populated.   When we complete the clean-up we will know more about our APMP members than ever before — which is going to be a great thing for everyone.  that means more stats, more facts and accurate data to help us plan for the future of APMP.

Web Page Cleanup – We’re performing an annual web content audit to make sure our web site communicates to our members quickly and easily.  We’re busy removing out-of-date content and replacing broken links. The goal is to have a website that’s easy to learn from and to search the information you need.

Processes – As the association grows, so does our need for sound association processes.  We are taking stock of everything we do now to make sure that APMP staff have processes to take us to the next level of growth.  By processes, we specifically mean the way we interact with our Board, committees, communities, individual members and how the staff interacts with each other.   Every APMP staff member is taking stock of ways to do things more efficiently that will promote growth while serving our existing members at the highest levels.

Operation New Members – This summer all staff will look at opportunities to find new members in new ways.  We’ll be looking for members who have left us over time, potential members who don’t yet know about us and for new members deep in each of our vertical markets.  The goal is to shake the membership tree and find new members so we can continue to grow our community and remain the most content-rich association for proposal professionals anywhere.  We’re emphasizing new membership approaches and you’ll start seeing things non-traditional APMP membership recruitment very soon. If you have any ideas, we would love to hear.  Just e-mail me at rick.harris@apmp.org.

Bid & Proposals Book for Dummies – Writing is underway and we’re turning the pages over to our editor, Wiley Publications at the end of the year.   Look for us on the bookshelves by April 2016.

We thought you might want to know what’s currently cooking in the APMP kitchen.  Let us know if you have questions, comments or ideas by posting here.

APMP’s Journal Wins Another Award — This Time for Cover Design

June 17, 2015 — For the second consecutive year, APMP’s signature publication, the APMP Journal, has been honored with an EXCEL design award from the Association of Media & Publishing (AM&P).   APMP’s Journal won a Silver Award for Best Cover Design for the APMP Journal, Volume II, Number I, 2014, featuring the “Left Brain, Right Brain” article.  Journal Brain

Despite being out-spent and out-resourced by much larger associations, the APMP Journal received its second consecutive EXCEL award for outstanding design in a non-profit/trade/professional organization.  Last year APMP won for Best Redesign.

What does this mean for APMP and its members?  In addition to bragging rights and generally feeling good about the APMP Journal, it demonstrates that APMP members are getting the best in the industry.  It means that the standard of our publications are performing at higher level.   It also means that the exceptional quality of design associated with the APMP Journal matches the outstanding editorial content provided by our member writers.

The AM&P (confusing, we know!) EXCEL Awards are 35 years old and are given to the best in association media and publishing.   This year alone, AM&P received more than 800 awards entries. The judging panel used a more detailed numerical judging system than it ever has before.  As a result, APMP’s Journal Best Cover Design finished in the top 25 percent of the 800 entries according to A&MP.

APMP recognizes the APMP membership, who contribute meaningful content, and our editorial partners at The YGS Group, who work to co-produce the APMP Journal with APMP’s Editor in Chief, Patrice Scheyer.  Thanks to everyone, APMP wins its second EXCEL award for the second year in a row.

Proposal Professionals Tell Us How Happy They Are On The Job

June 9, 2015 – APMP recently released its 2015 APMP U.S. Compensation Report at last week’s APMP Bid & Proposal Con 2015 in Seattle, WA.  One of the questions in the survey asked APMP members how happy they were in their jobs as proposal professionals.How Happy 2

The good news is that proposal professionals are generally a happy lot.  Despite tight deadlines, crushing hours logged in a work week and the sometimes need to win-or-go-home, proposal pros overwhelmingly reported that they love their jobs and their industry.

Of the 991 APMP member respondents who took the survey, the reports of proposal bliss are glowing.  Here are the results on the first-ever APMP Happy-meter:

  • 38.6 percent say they are “Very Happy”
  • 40.5 percent say they are “Happy”
  • 10.2 percent are neutral
  • 10.8 percent are either “Not Very or Not At All Happy”

When you start combining stats, the Happy picture gets even, well, happier!  A whopping 79.1 percent of APMP members are with “Very Happy” or “Happy.”  We suspect that these are people who have been in the industry a while and have settled in to the thrill of victory and know how to stomach the other one (that shall not be named).

We also suspect that the 10.8 percent of “Not Very or Not At All Happy” people could be existing the industry in the next year or so, if not sooner.  That’s okay because being a proposal professional is not for everyone.

How does the “79 percent happy statistic” stack up against other industries?  We don’t know and we don’t care.  We’re just glad the vast majority of our folks are with us and are happy!

Help APMP help you to become happier.  Tell us what makes you happy about being a proposal professional in the comment box below.  We’ll share the answers in a follow-up article on APMP’s Exec Direct blog.

Christina Lewellen Joins APMP® As Its New VP of Business Development and Operations

June 8, 2015 – APMP’s Board of Directors announce today that Christina Lewellen, MBA, will join APMP to serve as the association’s newly created role of Vice President of Business Development and Operations, effective June 16, 2015.  Lewellen, a 10-year senior association executive, joins APMP after having served in a similar position most recently with the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) in Vienna, Va.

In addition to developing new programs to increase APMP’s
corporateChristina Lewllen memberships, she will utilize her extensive media background to help APMP with story placement in national, international and business trade press. She joins APMP with a diverse career in both the association and corporate sectors.

“As we continue to attract new members globally and advocate for everyone in the proposal industry, Christina is the right person at the right time to help APMP go to a new level.  Her business acumen, promotional expertise and revenue generation experience are vital to APMP’s growth plans,” said Rick Harris, APMP’s Executive Director.

In her tenure at NCRA, Lewellen reversed a two-decade long decline in membership, spearheaded the creation of an industry outlook report for the profession, and executed a nationwide public relations and marketing campaign designed to attract new professionals to the field. This campaign was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal as well as on CNBC and Fox & Friends.

Lewellen started her career in journalism, working as both a newspaper reporter and television producer. She moved to the association realm as the editor of a national trade publication, Window & Door magazine, and during her time there focused on business development opportunities for its owner, the National Glass Association. After obtaining her Master’s in Business Administration from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y., she served as the director of communications for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and later as the director of public relations and communications for The Long & Foster Cos., the largest real estate company in the Mid-Atlantic region.

“The energy and momentum at APMP was apparent to me, even as an outsider, and I knew I wouldn’t regret throwing my hat into the ring to be a part of this dynamic, successful team,” Lewellen notes. “I’m thrilled about this opportunity and I’m ready to walk alongside APMP’s volunteer leadership, staff, and membership to meet the current and future needs of everyone in the proposal development lifecycle.”

Lewellen resides in Stephens City, Va., with her husband and their two daughters. In her personal time, she serves on the executive committee of the International Board of Directors for Harmony, Inc., and is a national director on Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders College of Business Alumni Advisory Board.

Feel free to welcome Christina to the APMP family by dropping her an e-mail at christina.lewellen@apmp.org.

APMP Members Win! U.S. Census Bureau Yields to Allow Consultant Participation

June 3, 2015 – Last month APMP’s Procurement Improvement Committee (PIC) called on all APMP members to urge the U.S. Census Bureau to remove language prohibiting consultants from participating on its RFP YA 1323-15-MS-0003 for Multi-Tiered Acquisition Framework for Systems Engineering and Integration.  The draft of this RFP restricted/prohibited technical consultants from participating on the RFP unless they are part of the offeror’s team.shutterstock_175538990

APMP strongly believed that this was an arbitrary requirement that was discriminatory toward small business and a poor attempt to perfect the procurement process.  APMP and many of its members provided draft comments to the U.S Census Bureau about the offending language and how it arbitrarily could damage our industry.

The great news is that we won!  Yesterday the U.S. Census Bureau added a sentence in the final RFP that reads, “This does not preclude the use of contracted technical writing, marketing, and communications support in the preparation of the proposal.”

Proposal consultants throughout the United States can celebrate.  This is a huge victory for APMP and its PIC Committee.  We righted a wrong before it was released in the final RFP and consultants are now able to participate.   We also want to thank Molly Shea, the U.S. Census Bureau contracting officer on the RFP for listening to industry concerns and clarifying the language.

Please know that the APMP staff and its PIC are ready to mobilize at the first sign of a draft RFP that appears to be unfair or exclusionary to members in our industry.  If you see something that looks troublesome, please send the offending language and a copy of the draft RFP to rick.harris@apmp.org.

We will educate and advocate on your behalf and let federal agencies know for you and with you where we believe the proposal industry has been compromised in future RFPs or rulings.  We know through the U.S Census Bureau exercise that it works!