The Acuity Spotlight is our way of highlighting some of the incredibly talented individuals that we’re lucky enough to have on our team. At Acuity, we value diversity and inclusion and focus our attention on bringing candidates who have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences onboard. Our mission is to build enduring relationships that provide secure, stable, and long-term predictable outcomes and we are grateful for the men and women of Acuity who embody our corporate values in everything they do.
Tell us a little about your professional background.
I am Acuity International’s Small Business Liaison Officer (SBLO) and have over 30 years of experience working in the Defense and Space industry. Prior to Acuity, I served as a Vice President at a successful small business and was the Sr. Director of Operations for a large federal contractor. Throughout my career, I have explored a wide range of jobs in both the operations and the acquisition career fields including a portfolio of The Continental U.S. (CONUS) and outside The Continental U.S. (OCONUS BOS) contracts, contracts management, pricing, proposals, subcontracting, and supply chain.
I have always been passionate about the role small businesses play in government contracting, supporting prime contractors, and our economy, and because of that passion, I was awarded the South Florida District and the State of Florida Minority Small Business Champion of the Year Award from the Small Business Administration (SBA).
I earned my MBA from Webster University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama. I’m a Sigma Blackbelt, a Certified Federal Contracts Manager, and was named as a Fellow in the National Contract Management Association in 2021.
What does your job at Acuity International entail?
As an SBLO, I am responsible for Acuity’s small business program office. This includes promoting supplier diversity, developing and administering small business plans, and working with our Business Development team to maximize opportunities for small businesses on new programs. I also assist with identifying small businesses to help achieve small business goals, handling the required contract for small business compliance reporting, and interacting with federal agencies to promote Acuity’s efforts in support of small businesses across the enterprise. I frequently attend small business outreach events in various roles from matchmaking to workshop instructor and speaker.
What are you seeing that’s different in the workplace now vs. when you first started out?
When I started out in federal contracting and programs over 30 years ago, I was often the only woman in the room. Contracting and procurement weren’t considered professions with career paths in quite the same way that finance, accounting, and human resources were and many of us had to find our way on our own. Small business requirements were often ignored and there was little information on how to run a small business program. Now when I go to meetings there are an equal number of women in the room. Acquisition is a respected and valued career field, and it’s not uncommon for colleges and universities to offer acquisition programs.
Who are some of the most influential people in your personal and/or professional life?
I’ve always looked at my Nana as my role model. She raised a family during the depression and WWII. She was in management for a large corporation long before it was common for women to be in company leadership roles. From her days working at the Mack Truck plant during WWII to her retirement as a manager in Sears catalog operations, she had an amazing life balancing family, work, and her various interests.
My other grandmother was a bank Vice President during a time when it was very unusual for women to hold those roles, which always inspired me not to be afraid to stand out. Professionally I’ve been blessed with wonderful mentors, most of them being retired military officers providing me guidance in my career and coaching my leadership skills.
What are you passionate about?
Professionally I enjoy teaching and mentoring others new into Federal Contracting whether it’s a small business or a person new in their career path. I love to help small businesses and watch them grow. Small business owners are so committed to their dreams and work hard to make their vision become a reality, it’s a blessing to watch them succeed.
In my spare time, I show dogs and enjoy photography.
How can we help shed light on the importance and meaning of Women’s History Month?
It’s important to celebrate the contributions of women and to study the history of women’s roles and the changes which brought equality. When my grandmothers were born, women couldn’t vote. For me personally, that puts the significance of this month and the progress into context and highlights the importance of Women’s History Month.
Susan Thibodeaux is Acuity International’s Small Business Liaison Officer. Connect with Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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