Advice to my young self

“Don’t wait around for some day.”

Francisco is a good friend of mine. Although just in his twenties, he is a successful business person, responsible pet owner, and one heck of a bartender. He is a member of the Aranda family that owns several restaurants and bars in Central California. A very impressive young man.

Recently I found myself giving him advice and had to pause for a second. What advice would I give to myself when I was at his age?

I started in public procurement when I was in my twenties, and have always felt blessed to have worked in such a rewarding field. But after 30 years, surely there is something I have learned that I could pass on to my feathered-hair, 170-pound self. Here is what I came up with:

Complete your education while you can. Don’t have too much fun in college and neglect your studies. Find a good program that you like, listen to your counselor, and pay attention to your professors. If you wait until you have children, a mortgage, and a car payment, it only gets harder to get that degree.

Take advantage of your professional network. Don’t be afraid to approach those experienced professionals and learn all you can from them. They are actually eager to share their knowledge and be part of your success. They were a junior buyer once too.

Find the time to volunteer and give back to your community. Taking on a role with your local NIGP (The Institute for Public Procurement) chapter can be very rewarding but so can volunteering for those causes you believe in. Public procurement, homeless youth, environmental protection, affordable housing? Spend your time and energy where your heart takes you and you will receive so much more in return.

Now is the time to pursue your dreams, both personally and professionally. Whether it is obtaining professional certification, traveling to the country your ancestors came from, or applying for that dream job, don’t wait around for “some day.” Although it is an overused expression, time will go by faster than you can imagine. Before you know it, you will be recertifying your CPPO (Certified Public Procurement Officer) for the fifth time and wondering where the time has gone.

While I’m not ready to be put out to pasture just quite yet, I am making retirement plans. This profession has been very good to me, but before too long it will be time to hand the reigns over to the next generation of procurement professionals. When I see the caliber of people entering the profession today, I am quite sure we are in good hands.

Francisco and I then contemplated going to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I hesitated about going out, told him I needed to get to bed early, and then reminded him I was nearly 55. Then he said something that made my day.

“Really? You don’t seem that old.”

We then went to the Boardwalk where I gave him some more advice.

This article by Darin Matthews, instructor and founding chair of the Procurement and Supply Chain Management certificate program, was reprinted with permission by Government Procurement. (Issue October/November 2018)

Darin Matthews, MAM, CPPO, CPSM, is director of Procurement & Supply Chain Services for University of California, Santa Cruz and the founding chair of the new Procurement and Supply Chain Management certificate program. He is the author of numerous articles, the book, Public Procurement: A Guide to the Body of Knowledge through Exercises and Case Studies, and an international speaker on contracting and procurement issues. He has a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in acquisition management. He has taught at Portland State University and Florida Atlantic University, and the Institute for Public Procurement.

Supply chain management courses start soon. Matthews teaches:

For more information, visit the UCSC Extension home page or contact our Outreach Team at (408) 861-3860,

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