Behind the scenes of every big project, like the Advanced Photon Source (APS) Upgrade, are the people who keep it moving. People like APS procurement manager Kelli Kizer.
Kizer joined the APS, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science user facility at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, in April 2021 after spending most of her career in procurement at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). She started there as an intern while she earned her bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Upon graduation, she began full time employment with ORNL where she worked for 31 years.
“Being a part of a team like procurement is a very important role. A lot of people don’t see what we do behind the scenes. But we are an important aspect to further research at Argonne.” — Kelli Kizer, APS procurement manager
Wanting to continue using the knowledge and skills she gained at ORNL, Kizer joined Argonne’s procurement team where she is tasked with supporting the Upgrade project. Kizer’s role is vital for meeting project objectives while ensuring Argonne requirements are met. She now applies her project environment experience — including purchasing large one-of-a-kind components — to the APS Upgrade.
“Being a part of a team like procurement is a very important role,” said Kizer. “A lot of people don’t see what we do behind the scenes. But we are an important aspect to further research at Argonne.”
In her role, Kizer started out focusing on process improvements for the project procurement team and focused on purchasing large equipment items such as mirrors and items for beamlines.
As the APS Upgrade inches closer to completion, a lot of the purchasing has started to wind down. Kizer and her team have transitioned to administering contracts, working closely with vendors and technical teams. The team is striving to close out as many contracts as possible prior to the completion of the APS Upgrade to avoid a backlog once the project is officially done.
The best part of her job, she says, is working and collaborating with colleagues, training early career procurement specialists and helping to overcome challenges. As a manager, Kizer especially loves seeing her team be successful and being able to transmit decades worth of knowledge down to her employees.
Her number one priority is the success of the project. “Once a project is complete, I love seeing the research that will come out and the benefits the world is able to gain from the efforts,” she said.
Kizer’s work has even influenced her children’s careers, and now procurement runs in the family. When she began to work remotely from home, her children got a taste of what her job entailed. Her daughter works in procurement at ORNL and her son will be graduating in December 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management.
“Being involved in procurement and on the research and development side of national laboratories has been super exciting,” said Kizer. “Understanding what can be learned from the APS has had a tremendous impact on me personally. APS research has led to medicines that have saved some of my friends’ lives. We are truly advancing science in so many areas, and I am thankful to be a part of such an important government project.”
In her spare time, Kizer loves to spend time at the family’s vacation spot in the Smoky Mountains, going hiking and boating and caring for their three dogs.