Diane Hutchinson started off her career at Berkeley Lab 15 years ago as a procurement specialist on the services subcontracting team, and this month, she was named the Lab’s Chief Procurement Officer. The Southern California native studied biology and environmental sciences at UC Davis before becoming an environmental, health, and safety professional and eventually gravitating to a career in procurement. Hutchinson sat down for an interview with Elements and described the essential role the Procurement & Property Management Department plays in the Lab’s research and stewardship mission.

 

Tell us about the Procurement & Property Management Department and your new role at the Lab.

In the department, we are responsible for acquiring goods and services and negotiating contracts for new and existing projects. The functions include assurance, subcontracting, service center, and property management. 

I’m responsible for providing strategic leadership and managing the day-to-day operations of approximately 85 procurement, property management, and business assurance professionals who execute approximately $630 million of laboratory acquisitions annually. 

In Property Management, we’re responsible for inventories, asset management, barcode issuance and control, field tagging precious metal administration, and tracking property within our subcontracts and agreements. We also control access, inventory, and long-term storage.  We manage approximately 27,000 laboratory assets with an acquisition value of $1.37 billion.

It’s important that we work with researchers when they’re defining a project to identify potential issues and develop effective solutions proactively.

Together, we partner with researchers and staff to provide professional services and expertise essential to the Lab’s research and stewardship mission. We work very closely with all of the areas within operations and the scientific divisions. So, Procurement and Property Management touches all areas of the Lab.

Diane Hutchinson

What would you like people to know about the Procurement & Property Department that they may not know already?

We have an approved purchasing system that has more than 100 DOE-approved policies, procedures, and requirements that we have to follow. And because we have an approved purchasing system, we’re given the authority to make purchases up to a certain dollar threshold without the need to seek DOE approval. In Procurement, we work hard to protect and not lose our purchasing authority because, without it, it would significantly slow down the Lab’s ability to make the purchases we need to continue our operations and science mission.

That’s why it may seem odd sometimes when we ask the questions that we do, especially to the technical folks who know their disciplines so well, but we’re just trying to follow our requirements so we don’t lose that authority. 

We’re always working in the best interest of the Lab, and we continuously work to improve our processes. We strive to be a trusted partner providing solutions contributing to science. 

 

Where did you work before you came to Berkeley Lab, and what do you like to do outside the Lab setting?

I’ve been in procurement for over 24 years. Before joining the Lab 15 years ago, I worked at AT&T and Genentech. Prior to procurement, I worked as an environmental, health, and safety (EHS) professional. I majored in biology and environmental management in college and naturally, I worked in the EHS field after college. I was approached by a classmate while studying for my master’s degree in business who introduced me to environmental contracts, and I’ve been in procurement ever since.

Most of my time outside of the Lab is spent with my family. I have three kids between the ages of 14 and 18 years old. My oldest son now attends college in Southern California, and my middle son is in high school, where he plays competitive volleyball. My daughter is in middle school, and she is into all kinds of dance and dances competitively.

When we’re not with the kids, my husband and I enjoy going to concerts and trying out different restaurants. We also love to spend time with friends and family.

Diane Hutchinson (left) and her family

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