Volunteer Spotlight: Alice Gordon
Key Volunteer Role: Conference Chair, 2012 Business Connections
Background: Mobile, Alabama native, Alice Gordon, is an award-winning communications expert with extensive experience in corporate and crises communications with news outlets and at Alabama Power Company. For more than two years, Alice has served as a key leader on the company’s supply chain management team.
Don’t take her role lightly. Southern Company is an $17 billion company and spent more than 15% of its procurement dollars with minority and women-owned businesses in 2011. So far, a significant chunk of those dollars are spent between Alabama, Florida Pan Handle, Georgia and Mississippi – Alice Gordon is squarely in the middle of it.
As a volunteer leader, Alice is involved with multiple civic and nonprofit organizations, including the SRMSDC (South Region Minority Supplier Development Council.) She has agreed to share her perspective on service and leadership with us for The Relax Report. We encourage you to get to know Alice and her work at Alabama Power Company.
Projects Unlimited, Inc (PUI): How has volunteer service made you a better leader?
Alice Gordon (AG): Serving as a volunteer leader in other organizations has allowed me to exercise my skills that I have learned in our corporate structure here within Alabama Power. It is great. I feel blessed to have the opportunity. I must admit that we have access to some of the best leadership training available at Alabama Power. Most of all of the nonprofit organizations I serve on are run efficiently but have small staff and require more creativity with limited resources. I use my skills to help them work through complex issues, address funding gaps and manage resources where needed. I find this role exciting as it is challenging.
PUI: How is your engagement with other volunteer leaders and the staff of the organizations you serve?
AG: As I mentioned, this type of service can be challenging. Each day I strive to do my best to stay focused on organizational outcomes, improving processes and governance structures. These are fancy words, but what I am really saying is that we must run associations and nonprofits with more business savvy and accountability. My hope is that my interactions with other volunteers and our staff would lead to more productivity, fulfillment with a splash of fun mixed in. Fun aside, we also need to stay focused on making a measurable impact that can be counted in dollars, people served and missions accomplished. People that I serve with understand that I will be involved, engaged and vocal if needed to improve our overall impact and achieve goals.
PUI: Many of us hear the term “supplier diversity” and think of quota programs for minorities. How would you define supplier diversity and its importance to Alabama Power Company and the broader community?
AG: Supplier diversity can be defined as the intentional inclusion and development of small and diverse businesses in the procurement process thereby finding the best product and services that are competitively priced with the best overall value. We feel that Supplier Diversity improves economic development opportunities for women, minorities and small businesses. I wake up each day with a relentless pursuit and question of how are we going to make a difference today for our company and improve the economic vitality of our suppliers and potential suppliers. I use our Southern Company’s Southern Style approach of Total Commitment, Unquestionable Trust and Superior Performance as foundations in that pursuit.
At the same time, our company’s suppliers should represent the diversity of our customer base as much as possible. That means that my goal is not only to find the best products and services at the most competitive prices and best overall value, but I also want Alabama-based businesses, many of whom are minority, woman and/or veteran-owned, to do business with Alabama Power Company. After all, Alabama Power Company cannot deliver low cost reliable electricity and comfort without an exceptional base of suppliers – I’m proud to be a part of the team that helps deliver that value to the company and enhance business opportunities for the broader community since 1989.
PUI: What keys to success would you offer to new volunteer leaders seeking to make an impact in their communities?
My keys to success in volunteer leadership are:
1. Stay Relentlessly Focused: Keep your eyes on the goal – no matter what that goal is.
2. Stay Connected: Early in your service role, identify people and organization that you want to get to know and set up casual “get to know you” meetings. Most people are very responsive to this sort of approach, especially if you can be clear about why you might find value in connecting with them.
3. Have Faith and Volunteer: Volunteer service can be taxing because you likely have a full-time and are juggling family commitments. Know that you have been delivered to the place you are for a reason and be bold in your resolve to succeed despite the odds. It really pays off down the road.
PUI: What will you do differently in your next volunteer leadership role?
AG: In 2012, I have resolved to be even more intentional about where I put my time and energy. Specifically, my next role will be one that will allow me to deepen relationships with people that I can learn from and hopefully encourage along the way. I want to be fully immersed in the three dimensions of relationship building with people in front of me, with me and behind me.
Are you a minority, woman or veteran with a business with the capacity to do work for Alabama Power Company? Click here to visit their supplier diversity program page.