Companies rely on contracts to outline specific parameters for many areas of a business. Both giant corporations and small businesses use contracts to help establish guidelines in a legally-binding format. Since contracts are prevalent in so many industries, contract management can be a beneficial career choice.
Brian Huther is a Contract Manager for Celestar Corporation. As a member of the National Contract Management Association, he exemplifies why contract management can be 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.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I am 26 years old and grew up living all over the United States and overseas. My parents 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).
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. Growing up in a military family, I noticed a huge - and growing - demand in the contract management workforce.
After receiving my B.A. 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 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 contract 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 one piece of advice to others considering a career in contract management, what would it be?
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.
If more companies bid on work and submit quality proposals, then competition is increased, which is 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 important to a contract manager and why?
Creativity, attention to detail, and the desire to learn are skills that come directly to mind. It is the job of the contract manager to determine what is needed to submit a compliant proposal, and this often times requires creativity.
Some of the factors that may help contract managers are attention to detail and wirtten and oral communication skills. The desire to learn might be the most important skill, as contract management is an ever-changing field, and it is vital to stay updated with what's going on in this field.