Georgia Chattahoochee Chapter

of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals

Chapter Member

Bud Ellis

Dell SecureWorks

Questions Bud's Answers
How long have you been a proposal manager/specialist/ writer? Almost nine years. Began writing proposals upon leaving the newspaper business in June 2007.
How did you become involved with proposals? After a long career in newspapers, I wanted to transition into a field where I could maintain the competitiveness, the unpredictability and the deadline-driven work of reporting, while finding a more normal sense of life, better hours and more time with my family. Proposal writing was the perfect fit and the best career decision of my life, and my current job (which I have been at for 6 ½ years) has evolved into my dream job.
Do you work in a "corporate office" or "home office" environment? Both. My company emphasizes work/life balance, which is deeply appreciated given how important my family is to me. When your people encourage you to maintain that balance, it gives you the right foundation to do your best work, inside and outside of the office.
What do you like best about working in your current environment? I greatly enjoy going into our global headquarters several days a week, for the interaction and the face time with not just my teammates, but others within the organization. I love my work days at home, where I can get an early start with my dog sitting by my side, and I love being able to turn off my laptop and five minutes later sit down at the kitchen table with my wife.
What do you like least? I’m very fortunate in that I can adjust my work hours as needed, so traffic normally is not an issue, but there are days where the commute is a drain. When I work from home, I miss the interaction with my teammates in the office. We have an enjoyable office environment and I like being around my teammates and co-workers.
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of your job? My biggest challenge/frustration is ensuring our stakeholders understand the importance of hitting deadlines and fulfilling their obligations during the creation of responses. While understanding everybody who contributes to a proposal has plenty of other deliverables, I am a stickler for deadlines and for execution, and anything that jeopardizes our ability to create the highest-quality, most competitive response does not sit well with me. We absolutely are at our best when our subject matter experts deliver content on time, thereby allowing our team to do what we do best: create a cohesive response that is in compliance with the prospect’s asks, highlight our value and differentiators, and position us to win.
What shortcuts or helpful best practices about working with proposal teams could you share? I joined my company in 2009 and was given the awesome (and challenging) opportunity to build a team from the ground up. As in any worthwhile journey, there have been plenty of accomplishments and mistakes along the way, and there is value to take from both the good and bad. It has been a labor of love and a joy to go through, and I’ve learned a lot about not just proposal work, but about project management, execution, looking beyond the tactical duties of the day and taking a more strategic approach, investing in my teammates, etc.
Why/when did you join APMP? Often I think we get into a vacuum of focusing on the deadline of the day, the task immediately in front of us. I feel APMP is the perfect place for me to take a step back, see what my peers are seeing, learn from them, and perhaps share a bit about what’s worked (and what hasn’t worked) for me and my team, in an attempt to continue developing my career and the careers of those around me.
What is your method for successfully working with your proposal teams? Clear open communication and direct expectations are critical. Nobody who works with us on a response ever has to assume or guess what their responsibilities are, and when they need to deliver. Clear timelines on copy flow and editing cycles, follow through on doing what you’re supposed to do, at the highest level possible, and on time. Adherence to the policies and mechanisms we have constructed the past 6 ½ years. Asking for help when you need it, never assuming something is right but knowing it is right (and confirming if you don’t know). Understanding not just what’s on paper in the proposal ask, but the deep dive of understanding our relationship with a prospect, where our values match up with their pain, and developing a cohesive strategy. Also, knowing when the best response is not to respond.
Which type of proposals do you do most? Commercial, government or other? Commercial, with some government, across all major industries both domestically and internationally.

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