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Vanderbilt University Category Manager (IT) in Nashville, Tennessee

The Category Manager is responsible for the development of the category sourcing strategy to identify, select, and contract with suppliers that meet the university’s requirements for quality, cost, performance, and compliance. The Category Manager leads the data-driven category strategy development, identifying opportunities for cost savings, process efficiencies, enhanced customer service and risk mitigation tactics. The Category Manager leads the management of Requests For Proposals (RFP), key supplier negotiations, supplier performance and contract deployment for the University. Key RFP and contracting projects include those related to Information Technology (IT), IT hardware, IT software, IT professional services, IT maintenance, etc.

In executing the approved sourcing strategies, the Category Manager is the primary interface between University stakeholders and suppliers for procurement contract development, negotiation and support including but not limited to Chief Business Officers and other Senior Executives.

The Category Manager mentors assigned Buyers, and provides leadership, coaching, and project / process support to meet all performance, operational and personnel objectives. The Category Manager works collaboratively with the Buyers to proactively engage in sourcing projects, ensure contract utilization, and support ongoing supplier performance management. The Category Manager also works closely with the Strategic Sourcing Analyst to develop data-driven category strategies and identify departmental savings opportunities.

As a member of the Purchasing and Payment Services team, the Category Manager facilitates and maintains strong, collaborative relationships with Vanderbilt’s faculty, staff, and students and identifies additional ways to be of service. The Category Manager is also responsible for developing and maintaining supplier relationships. This position contributes to the success of a high-performing Purchasing and Payment Services organization by helping to champion and drive the full procure-to-pay process.

The Purchasing and Payment Services Team (P&PS) serves as the single point of contact for all centralized supplier information management, procurement, payment, travel and expense, and card activities at the university, setting the overall strategy for Vanderbilt University’s purchases and payments. As part of the Division of Finance, P&PS provides an integrated approach to purchasing goods and services by connecting the procurement function to payments issued to suppliers. P&PS includes resources that facilitate sourcing, contracting, ordering and purchase order processing, payment of invoices, employee expense reimbursement processing, payment card management and the university’s managed travel program.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Develops and documents IT data-driven category (and subcategory) strategies aligned with the University vision, strategic initiatives, and principles.

  • Partners with University faculty, staff, and students to develop, implement and manage category strategies, and define and communicate specifications and sourcing options.

  • Analyzes spend data to determine pricing inconsistencies, savings opportunities, and consolidation and demand management opportunities.

  • Tracks trends in the marketplace and actively monitors price indices applicable to IT category areas, identifies new sources of supply and engages with potential and existing suppliers.

  • Establishes master agreements, negotiates contracts, develops Requests for Proposals, develops minority and local business plans, coordinates and collaborates with suppliers to request price quotes and proposals for goods and services in line with category strategies.

  • Uses professional judgement to draft and negotiate purchasing terms and conditions taking into account Vanderbilt policies and customer requirements.

  • Executes purchasing contracts, master agreements, etc. within signature authority limits.

  • Develops an eProcurement strategy for respective category areas and works closely with supplier to enable contracted suppliers in the eProcurement system.

  • Measures and manages supplier performance relative to contracted service levels. Identifies and resolves supplier performance issues.

  • Collaborates in the development of effective and efficient purchasing policies and procedures.

  • Seeks opportunities for continuing process improvement in terms of processes and capabilities within this role and within the Finance group overall. Performs special projects and analyses as assigned.

  • Reviews and authorizes assigned purchase orders in accordance with departmental needs, best procurement practices and university policy.

  • Oversees day-to-day effectiveness processing purchase orders, resolving purchasing holds and warranty disputes with customers and suppliers.


  • A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education is necessary.

  • A Bachelor’s degree with emphasis in Business Administration, Finance or Supply Chain Management preferred.

  • Certified Purchasing Manager (CPM) or other purchasing professional certification is preferred.

  • 5+ years of related strategic sourcing and category management experience is necessary.

  • Minimum of 2 years of sourcing and software licensing experience is necessary.

  • Ability to draft and negotiate complex contracts with solid working knowledge of procurement contract law is necessary.

  • Experience in leading Request for Proposal (RFP) projects and conducting competitive bidding is necessary.

  • Ability to simplify complex problems, processes or projects into component parts and then explore and evaluate them systematically. Ability to understand commercial imperatives and trading relationships is necessary.

  • Ability to analyze large amounts of data and distill it into an Executive level presentation is necessary.

  • Proven skill in attention to detail and a highly organized work style in collaboration with effective written and verbal communication skills is necessary.

  • Ability to build and maintain effective working relationships with a range of people understanding their needs and goals is necessary.

  • Ability to work co-operatively with others as part of a team and work separately is necessary.

  • Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to develop and maintain relationships with key stakeholders is necessary.

  • Openness to change, adaptability, and the ability to work effectively in a variety of situations, individuals or groups is necessary.

  • Ability to understand and appreciate different and opposing perspectives on an issue is necessary.

  • Ability to challenge systems, processes and people that block collaboration; connects people, ideas, processes and issues, sets an example by sharing resources; knowledge, ideas and skills across the organization, builds helpful, productive relationships across the organization is necessary.

  • Utilizes creativity to foster imagination, creativity and experimentation, takes and promotes considered risks, celebrates creative successes and learns from failure, shows openness to alternative ways of doing things is necessary.

  • Substantial relevant experience in a complex organization, with a strong purchasing and payables background is preferred.

  • Experience working with electronic purchasing systems and eProcurement platforms is preferred.

Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

At Vanderbilt University, we are intentional about and assume accountability for fostering advancement and respect for equity, diversity, and inclusion for all students, faculty, and staff. Our commitment to diversity makes us who we are. We have created a community that celebrates differences and lets individuality thrive. As part of this commitment, we actively value diversity in our workplace and learning environments as we seek to take advantage of the rich backgrounds and abilities of everyone. The diverse voices of Vanderbilt represent an invaluable resource for the University in its efforts to fulfill its mission and strive to be an example of excellence in higher education.

Vanderbilt University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, people with disabilities and protected veterans are encouraged to apply.

Please note, all candidates selected for an offer of employment are subject to pre-employment background checks, which may include but are not limited to, based on the role for which they have been selected: criminal history, education verification, social media review, motor vehicle records, credit history, and professional license verification.