Companies rely on contracts to outline specific parameters for all areas of a business. Any sized industry, from huge corporations to small businesses, need contracts in place to establish guidelines in a legally-binding format. Since contracts are prevalent in so many industries, contract management is a gainful career choice. Contract managers can work for the Government or in commercial settings, so there are many lucrative career options available in the field.
Brian Huther is a Contracts Manager for Celestar Corporation. As a member of the National Contract Management Association, he exemplifies why contract management is such an advantageous career choice. Brian answered the following questions to help offer guidance to potential contract managers and those just getting started on their contract management career path.
Tell us a little about your background.
I am 26 years old and grew up a "Military brat," living all over the US and overseas. My parents both live in Huntsville, Alabama, and both hold civil service positions with the Government. I received my B.S. from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in Accounting and my M.S. in Acquisition and Contract Management from Florida Institute of Technology. I currently hold a Certified Federal Contract Management certification(CFCM) and am a participant in the Contract Management Leadership Development Program (CMLDP). In my free time, I (surprisingly) am a competitive bowler, and I enjoy going to the beach and being outdoors as much as possible, one of the obvious advantages to living in Florida!
How did you get started in contact management?
My father was in the military for 26 years and then began working in the Civil Service field as a Foreign Military Sales Program Manager. Being around the Military/Government for so long, I was told, and personally noticed, a huge (and growing) demand in the Contract Management workforce.
After receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, I decided to pursue a M.S. in Acquisition and Contract Management, as I wanted a degree that was specialized, rather than a more generalized degree. Shortly thereafter, I took an Accounting/Pricing position with a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) in Tampa, Florida, named Celestar Corporation.
This has been the best career move I made. Celestar Corporation has supported me 100% in other career advancements, including becoming a Certified Federal Contracts Manager, being inducted into the highly competitive Contract Management Leadership Development Program, and being promoted to Contracts Manager!"
Having the support of my company has allowed me to reach my full potential and to grow at an exponential rate in this field. I truly am looking forward to the years to come and I am fully satisfied that I made the right decision going into the Contract Management field.
If you could give only one piece of advice to others considering a career in contract management
I would tell them to always continue to better themselves and to stay active in professional groups such as the National Contract Management Association (NCMA). NCMA boasts a huge network of contracting professionals, and also affords contracting professionals some of the best training in the world. Using this organization to its full extent is a good way to assure your continued success in this field.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a contract manager?
The most rewarding part of being a contract manager is the ability to help serve and better your country on a daily basis. Although it is normally acknowledged that the Government-side Contracting Officers are the people who are supporting the Military. I firmly believe that the Contractor-side is equally important, as well.
"A contract manager's work is rewarding on numerous levels - from contributing to the pool of options the Government has when contracting work, to helping ensure our citizen's money is well spent."
If more companies bid on work and submit quality proposals, then competition is increased, which is always good for the taxpayer and the Government. Thus, the contract manager who ensures his or her company is submitting quality proposals to the Government is in turn helping taxpayer dollars be utilized correctly, and helping the Government receive the best value proposal. Therefore, I feel that a contract manager's work is rewarding on numerous levels - from contributing to the pool of options the Government has when contracting work, to helping ensure our citizen's money is well spent.
What are some of your most interesting projects?
Honestly, I get great joy out of the proposals I work on. There is nothing more exciting to me than being a part of a team, putting together a proposal, and awaiting an award. Being a competitive person, I feel like I am back in my competitive athlete days in my teens and that is really cool to me.
What skills are most important to a contract manager and why?
Creativity, attention to detail, and the desire to learn are all skills that comes directly to mind. As every RFP is different, it is the job of the contract manager to determine what is needed to submit a compliant proposal, and this often times requires creativity.
On current work, it is imperative that attention to detail and organizational skills be utilized in order to make sure that everything is compliant. The desire to learn might be the most important skill, as Contract Management is an ever-changing field, and it is vital to stay up to date with everything going on in this field.
Brian's advice was particularly helpful since contract management continues to evolve, it is important for future contract managers to get a good education. Learning the most up-to-date details of the contract management industry will help professionals build a strong foundation for their careers. Contract managers are in-demand for a lot of industries, so contract management is a smart career choice with a variety of job options.