Leaders in the Industry – Penny Schneider

It’s About Relationships

As the Director of Contract Services at healthcare performance improvement powerhouse Vizient, Penny Schneider is busy overseeing a complex supply chain of vendors, distributors, and customers – especially during the past year. So, when my chosen communications platform twice ended the call abruptly during the 20 minutes we had carved out to talk, I apologized profusely – only to hear her laughingly exclaim, “no worries! That’s why these things are best in person!”

From the early days of her career working for a local food broker in Denver, Penny’s affable demeanor (and underlying tenacity) were just a taste of the qualities that have served her well in the food business. “I’ve always been hungry to learn, to try new things – to connect with new people,” Penny shared during our call from her Texas home.

It’s that hunger, initiative, and people skills appreciated by the vendors she works with during the last few years at Vizient. “Penny’s leadership and creativity working with a large supply chain to serve her customers are exemplary,” explained PRO*ACT Senior VP of Sales David Peterson. “She takes pride in the relationships she develops and isn’t afraid to leverage those relationships to get things done.”

Getting things done, even under pressure, seems to be a Penny trademark – during the early days of the pandemic, her team worked with PRO*ACT to supply thousands of boxes of donated produce to dozens of Vizient Member Hospitals through the Feeding Our Frontlines program.

Her early roles in sales with RJR Nabisco, calling on customers and prospects with the Planters / Lifesaver team, brought the experience of working with the unwieldy world of national accounts and life on the road that was “great at that point in my career, but not a long-term option for someone that wanted to have a family.”

Penny recalled being nervous approaching her boss about being five and a half months pregnant. “I come from a generation that not all women pursued a career and wanted a family – and taking the time needed for that process was not a guarantee. When I stepped back into a career, it was a difficult path back.” That’s when she was able to find work with a food-service broker in Dallas in contract compliance and then as a sales manager.

“Thankfully, I have seen a shift in how people see and accept women who want to pursue a career while also establishing a family.”

That shift comes from companies like Vizient, who have seen the importance of establishing programs to bring more equality to the workforce and the supply chain. Vizient’s Supplier Diversity Program supports the development of minority, women, disability, veteran, and LGBT-owned businesses by enabling Vizient member hospitals to track spending with diverse suppliers to meet their diversity and inclusion goals.

“Vizient has been tremendously supportive for all employees; we have a generation of young women leaders that are joining our team, which gives us new perspectives and experiences, and fresh ideas – They want to start a career at a place where they feel like they belong.”

For Penny, the opportunity to develop her team feels like the culmination of more than two decades of learning in this business. “Relationships are the most important part of my job. We are dependent on each other as individuals – and I know that together we can do great things.”

Thanks, Penny, for your active leadership in our industry!

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