2019 NESCON Supply Chain Hall of Fame Winner
Diane J. Cotter is the exemplar of value created by coupling continuity, dependability and informed intelligence. Decades with the same employer, in the same profession and with the same professional organization are the definition of continuity and dependability. Growing into leadership, mentoring associates and building organizations are the hallmark of informed intelligence. Each of these characteristics – continuity, dependability, informed intelligence – are primary ingredients to qualify for the NESCON Hall of Fame. To have uniquely excelled in each of these characteristics makes Diane J. Cotter the 2019 addition to the Hall of Fame.
But Diane has another quality that is indigenous to New Hampshire, the “Live Free or Die” state, and her home, and that is her self-independence and self confidence that is apparent to those who know and have worked with her.
She received her higher education at New Hampshire institutions – a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from Plymouth State University and has worked for the University System of New Hampshire her entire professional life.
However, her arrival in the education industry was serendipitous. Needing a job, post a history major B.A., and not wanting to teach, she waitressed at the New England Center for Continuing Education, a cooperative venture of the six New England land grant universities and located on the University of New Hampshire campus, because it had attractive benefits. Today, we would call that job a food delivery specialist which is closely aligned with supply management. That segue led to joining the university’s purchasing department as its first procurement trainee with the responsibility for coordinating the printing and word processing equipment purchases for UNH. This involved chairing the committee that would approve all the requests against budget availability. Justification and standardization were the committee’s primary objectives. This was new in higher-ed in the 70s and 80s.
Her progression throughout her career at USNH was often a case of her saying, “I think I can do that…”, and her supervisor giving her the opportunity to try. She often succeeded and eventually became the purchasing director which allowed her to actively mentor associates and provide access to their further professional education. As the Director of Purchasing, her primary responsibility was for the University of New Hampshire’s procurement program while also having oversight responsibility for the other institutions in the University System of New Hampshire. In the early 2000s, Diane accepted an opportunity to become USNH’s first senior contract officer, leaving the management of the purchasing department to one of her mentees. She continued in this position until her retirement. But, in higher education, sometimes ‘retirement’ doesn’t happen quickly, and Diane returned shortly thereafter to support her successor. Currently she is completing the transition of a series of construction services contracts to another format which is more standardized and owner friendly which should serve the University System well in the coming years.
Early in her career she joined the National Association of Educational Buyers (now the National Association of Educational Procurement) at the suggestion of her boss, and, also at her boss’s suggestion, attended NAEB sponsored workshops and seminars. At the same time, Diane joined the local affiliate of the National Association of Purchasing Management (NAPM, now the Institute for Supply Management, ISM) and earned its Certified Purchasing Manager qualification early in her career. She ascended the responsibility ladder of NAPM-NH, starting with editing and producing its monthly newsletter eventually becoming its President, and then its representative to the regional governing body. While serving at the regional level, Diane took on the role of secretary followed by a one-year appointment to NAPM’s national board of directors. She then took on the regional treasurer’s job and served until that organization was disbanded by ISM in 2018.
The forerunner of NESCON was the annual supply management conference sponsored by NAPM’s New England affiliates for which Diane served as registrar for several years. In the early 2000s that conference morphed into NESCON. While it was separate from her ISM duties, she became the treasurer of NESCON as well, again serving to this day. For the last two years she also has been the Chairwoman of NESCON, assuring its continuing existence while coordinating with its multi-functional partners – ISM, ASCM, CSCMP and CIPS. No one represents the history and educational aspirations of NESCON and its forerunners more than Diane.
Her dependability and continuity of service to her employer, her profession, and her associates earn Diane J. Cotter, Life C.P.M., the 10th chair in NESCON’s (New England Supply Chain) Hall of Fame.