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Area Center: Clemson Title: Government Procurement Specialist Start Date: 2010

Sherry Pittinger is the Government Procurement Specialist for the Clemson Region SBDC, where she works out of the Greenville area center. She helps her clients develop an acquisition strategy to market their products or services to government agencies at the city, county, state and federal levels.

QUESTION: What prior experience did you have prior to joining the SC SBDC? ANSWER: I am a retired veteran of the United States Air Force. During my Air Force career, I was a warranted contracting Officer and worked extensively with a variety of small businesses, government contracts and the Small Business Administration.

QUESTION: How has that experience prepared you for your role as a procurement specialist? ANSWER: Prior to my retirement at the United States Air Force Academy, I moved from being a Contracting Officer/Section Chief to become the Director of Small Business. In that capacity, I managed the SBA small business set-aside programs and conducted several technical capabilities briefings.

QUESTION: Do you have a particular area of expertise that you offer clients? ANSWER: Because of my background as a contracting officer, I work with clients that want to diversify into government contracting. I also help small businesses that want to obtain certification to get an edge over their competition.

QUESTION: What is your approach toward client counseling? ANSWER: I work with them at whatever level they are at the time.

QUESTION: Based on your experience, what is the best piece of advice you would like to offer aspiring business owners? ANSWER: I would encourage them to build a solid foundation for their company, for example: build a solid business plan, develop a competitive pricing model, understand where their market is, develop a marketing strategy and budget.

QUESTION: What do you enjoy most about being a procurement specialist for the SC SBDC? ANSWER: I enjoy helping companies get to the next level, whether that be winning their first contract or their tenth. It’s always a feel good moment when I do something that helps them grow.

QUESTION: If you could do anything about the current climate for small businesses in South Carolina, what would that be? ANSWER: I would want them to be more aware of the variety of industries that exist (automotive, aerospace, precious metals, etc.), and be more creative as they search for contract opportunities.

QUESTION: What quote/saying/maxim expresses your philosophy toward work and/or life?

ANSWER: It’s a quote from Zig Zigler: “Honesty and integrity are absolutely essential for success in all areas of life. The really good news is that anyone can develop both honesty and integrity.”

QUESTION: What inspires you? ANSWER: My Air Force career and the “can do” attitude it instilled in me.

QUESTION: What hobby or activities keep you busy when you’re not working with clients? ANSWER: I love to exercise and be involved in my community.

QUESTION: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers? ANSWER: I don’t think we challenge ourselves enough, and because of that we don’t really know what we’re capable of. The best things happen when we get out of our comfort zones.


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