Exciting! Maddening! Crazy! Insane! Appalling! Rewarding! Challenging!
No – not Monday Night Football or meal prep time at my house – the capture and proposals world!
In this wrap-up to my 3-part series on why anyone would get involved in this profession – much less stick around for decades and encourage others to join – my industry colleagues share their stories about how they fell into their capture/proposal careers and what keeps them coming back for more.
- I fell into proposals because I was a degreed engineer who could also write grammatically correct English – a rare commodity to this day. I keep coming back for more because I like to WIN, plus I enjoy working fast-paced projects; (I tell people that I have a short attention span); I like to see my product – the winning proposal – at the end of an assignment; I enjoy the wide variety of acquisitions, technologies, and services that I work on; and I like working with smart people who do good work and are willing to learn from me, an outside consultant. –Pat Cosimano, Owner of Pat Cosimano Wins LLC
- Proposal writing was not my first career choice, but, as it turns out, suits me well. Following graduate school, I was an analyst for an environmental consultancy. When my division folded as a result of a lost proposal effort, management created a dedicated proposal group and retained me as its manager/writer/coordinator. They supported my Shipley training and APMP membership (and I enthusiastically became an active member, serving as the Northeast Communications Director from 1994–1997 and then as President in 1997–1998), and gave me any and all tools I needed to build a strong center. I never returned to my former position. Over the years, I changed companies and continued to gain valuable proposal writing experience until I branched out on my own as a contractor 11 years ago. Proposal work plays to my strengths: I love writing, and the challenges inherent in writing persuasive, concise proposals that meet RFP requirements; I enjoy collaborating with team members in telling a well-organized, succinct story that convinces evaluators this client is clearly the only choice; and lastly, I’m fiercely competitive and find real satisfaction in helping my clients win. –Luanne Smulsky, Principal, ib4e Writing Solutions LLC
- I was a junior management consultant, and my boss asked me to help write a proposal. He liked what he saw and got me involved in a lot of bids. I enjoy the profession because every proposal is a puzzle that I enjoy working out. –Lisa Pafe, Principal Consultant, Lohfeld Consulting Group
- I fell into proposal management by being in the right place at the right time. The proposal manager made a fatal mistake by shipping a proposal to the U.S. Postal Service via FedEx, which the customer informed our team never to do again. The next day the proposal manager packed his bags and went elsewhere. The opening existed, and I was offered the job. –Betsy Blakney, Senior Proposal Development Manager, CACI, Inc.
- After 10 years of editing, I was burned out; however, I wanted to continue working in a proposal-related career because I enjoy the pace, the variety of projects, and the people – so I started formatting (desktop publishing) and I haven’t looked back. To me formatting is like working on a puzzle. The proposal comes to me in pieces (e.g., various sections) and, based on RFP requirements and client needs, I create a cohesive, compliant document that is esthetically pleasing. Seeing all of the pieces come together with a consistent look across all volumes is truly satisfying. –Mary Beth Frazza, Owner, Frazza Formatting
- I really like working with smart people and always found myself drawn to the more creative ends of the business. Capture and proposal work is the forum for applying technology and management creativity. In these roles, you are always challenging the status quo to find a better way to deliver more value in the solutions and services you propose. I liked conceptualizing and writing about better ways to do the work for our customers. I also liked the op temp of these activities – lots of hard work that resulted in a proposal that everyone could be proud of. –Bob Lohfeld, CEO, Lohfeld Consulting Group
How did you get started in capture/proposals? What keeps you in the game? Send an email to me at BWingate@LohfeldConsulting.com with your thoughts, and I’ll share your insights in upcoming posts!