Spotlight on Dan Lajeunesse, City of Edmonton

Dan Lajeunesse is a life-long learner, whether it involves fishing, single-malt whisky or public procurement!

Dan Lajeunesse, Manager, Materials Management Branch, with the City of Edmonton is one of the few public buyers that was intrigued by the profession very early on and has followed his dreams through public procurement over the past 25 years. Dan started his professional career at Alberta Blue Cross as an inventory controller and records centre analyst. In addition to tracking inventory, he was, even then, responsible for the purchasing and distribution of office supplies for a large group of corporate staff. Still at Alberta Blue Cross, Dan spent a few years in sales and learned the secrets of customer service, which he still uses today. Then, as Dan tells it, a mentor guided him back into purchasing and he has never looked back. Dan moved into a senior buyer position with Alberta Blue Cross – the perfect stepping stone to senior buyer, Information Technology with the City of Edmonton.

At the City of Edmonton since 2000, Dan managed the city’s procurement process for IT and telecommunications products and services, moved on in 2003 to create and manage a large and growing strategic sourcing program and since 2007 took on the role of Manager of the Materials Management Branch. In this role, working with a team of 150, the branch is responsible for the city’s centralized procurement, supply chain management, mail and corporate print services. With the City of Edmonton, Dan has been responsible and maintains strategies for procurement and supply chain transformation, recognizing that “doing more with less” by leveraging best practices, automation and engaged employees is helping the city to achieve its objectives and deliver valued services to its citizens.

Dan didn’t just have a day job during this time; he is true to his life-long learner title. Before he joined the City of Edmonton, he completed the PMAC Supply Chain Management Professional designation of the SCMP and a Management Development certificate at the University of Alberta in the evenings and on weekends. While working with the city, Dan has continued his education through many purchasing seminars and law courses, and he completed a Master of Business Administration from the University of Alberta in 2005. Since then he has continued to hone his skills and stay abreast of leading practices by attending seminars and conferences, reading and attending additional leadership training programs. To Dan, learning truly is a journey – and it never ends.

Dan is passionate about public procurement, specifically the client service aspects of the profession; it is the people that keep him engaged – the people on both sides of the table: his staff and clients. And the variety of their demands, experience and requirements keep the job interesting, according to Dan. Having held positions in sales, Dan has adopted a customer service approach that he has built into his branch at the city.

Dan Lajeunesse is lucky, he says, to work in an organization where the public procurement function has credibility and is a critical part of a large range of municipal projects. He has seen the contribution that strong procurement principles can make to major projects and enjoys, with his team, a pride in this work.

He has remarkable capabilities, and energy, and I am fortunate to work for him. He has a clear and dynamic vision of how procurement can create value for our organization. Dan also has a strong customer service focus and a drive for continuous improvement in all aspects of our operations which continues to earn respect from our clients and colleagues. And, he really cares about the people that work for him and for the people that we deliver services to – which I am sure fuels his success. Gwen Barr, Procurement Coordinator – Design and Construction, City of Edmonton

Public procurement is not without its challenges, agrees Dan. The profession is constantly changing, as are the requirements of his clients. The current budget climate places resource restrictions on new plans, resulting in a requirement to think quicker and more strategically on a daily basis. The piece that Dan regrets is that the volume of work with clients doesn’t leave as much time for improving and enhancing the procurement processes themselves to better fit tomorrow’s challenges.

Among Dan’s proudest accomplishments, outside of his family life with his two daughters, was his ability to complete Masters level education, while working and raising a young family. He is also pleased that he has been able to contribute to the development of a strategic orientation for the procurement function at the City of Edmonton. And he sees daily the benefits of the solid reputation his team has built, both with his clients within the city and with the supplier community. Dan mentions continually the calibre of his team and how this has enabled him to build leadership capacity. His challenge in the future, he says, will be to learn to “get out of the way.”

Dan has been recognized outside of the City of Edmonton for his accomplishments also. The CPPC and Summit magazine awarded his team the Leadership in Public Procurement Award in 2009 for the Light Duty Vehicle Strategic Sourcing Initiative. This new approach that he introduced to the City of Edmonton in 2008 supported all departments at the city to right-size their vehicle requirements and to improve their procurement process and vendor management. And currently, among his activities outside of the city, Dan is involved in a new initiative related to national municipal collaboration on sustainable purchasing.

I have had the privilege of working with Dan on the Steering Committee of the Municipal Collaboration on Sustainable Purchasing. Dan’s energy is contagious and he is an outside of the box thinker. His skills are ideally suited to our changing profession with the challenges we face both today and into the future. Jeff Byrne, Chief Procurement Officer Supply Branch, City of Ottawa

When asked what his hopes are for the public procurement community in the future, Dan is quite specific about his desire for collaboration – for people to work together more easily, more frankly and more openly to leverage the best practices. As Dan reflects, the people are there and the challenges present themselves in a municipality every day. It is time to cooperate, build networks and add value as a profession, create efficiencies and the “doing more with less” will be a whole lot easier to deal with.

When I first met Dan, I was immediately impressed with his knowledge, keen interest and insight into public procurement procedures, strategies and trends. Dan has excellent communication skills which is not only evident through his presentations but also in his interest in listening to other procurement professionals to gain their perspective on common problems and methodologies for solutions. Dan very quickly earns the respect of his peers, who recognize his intellect, enthusiasm, insight and interest into making public procurement a process that is successful for the municipality, suppliers and client divisions or customers. Further Dan is able to balance the focus, demands and energy required by the responsibilities of his position with being valued as an extremely charismatic and congenial person who makes friends easily while never losing sight of his top priority – his family. In my opinion Dan has the skills, education and abilities to be the CEO of a large organization that will prosper and benefit from his leadership and guidance. John McNamara, retired, formerly with the City of Toronto.