Tracie Bretecher, Manager of Sales Operations, on Following Your Passion
August 8, 2018
Tracie Bretecher’s approach to her work and life can be summed up in one phrase: “There is no can’t.”
Her accomplishments prove the maxim: Tracie is the first person in Canada to hold a third-level designation from the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, one of only about 160 people worldwide. Over the course of her 10 years at Long View, she has created the Response Management Services Department, which writes proposals, and determines and oversees proposal management best practices, maintaining a win rate of over 50 percent. And now, as Manager of Sales Operations, she is reinventing the department to provide more support to sales teams across the company, including a robust sales enablement program and the development of a reporting system that allows single-click access to vital sales data. Clearly, this is a woman who can.
On Passion and Learning from Failure
“If you have a passion,” Tracie admonishes, “don’t stop.” For Tracie, that passion was to work in business. “When I was little, in my bedroom I had 2 small closets,” she recalls, “and I’d move all my stuff into one closet and I’d put a TV tray in the other closet. Then I’d go into my closet and pretend I was a businesswoman,” she says. “It was my favorite thing to play. My stuffed animals were my staff.”
Now, as a highly accomplished businesswoman, Tracie is living her childhood dream. But it hasn’t always been easy.
“I started working at General Electric when I was 20,” she recalls. “I was on an assembly line stuffing circuit boards.” But she hadn’t lost sight of her passion for business. “I put myself through a little bit of school and was promoted. They took a chance on me.”
Tracie credits a mentor she had at GE with giving her the confidence to keep going: “She saw something in me, and I never forgot that. I believe that climbing the ladder is not really climbing the ladder -it is people’s hands lifting you.”
But not everyone Tracie has encountered on her career path has been so uplifting. “I had one manager who told me I was awful at written communication,” she recalls with a laugh; ironic for a woman who has made her career in proposal writing. But negative feedback doesn’t hold Tracie back. “I think you have good and bad, and you take it all,” she says. “And you just say, ‘I can do this.’ And you continue to do this.”
The same holds true for failure. “If I fail, I’m going to learn from that and then I’m going to do better,” she says. “I know when we were building proposal management best practices at Long View, we’d try something and people wouldn’t like it, or it wouldn’t work. I’ve had a lot of little failures. But then you have this amazing product at the end.”
Failure or success, Tracie doesn’t give up on her passions. “Do you really want to give up or did it just get kind of hard?” She queries. “I think we mistake losing our passion for stuff just getting too hard. We need to persevere when it gets difficult.”
On Being a Woman in Tech
For Tracie, being a woman in tech means being a part of an exciting phase of growth. “When I started in tech 10 years ago, I felt like there were very few women who were in senior leadership roles. And I felt that it was very male dominant,” she recalls.
According to Tracie, that has changed. “Now, there are women everywhere, and I love being a part of that,” she enthuses. “I think these past 10 years, technology has come a really really long way. To be part of that as a woman in a leadership role now, where I feel empowered and can contribute to the business is amazing.”
“To me, it’s not really about the technology, although that’s cool. It’s about being a woman in business where you can hold a senior leadership role and nobody questions how you got there.”
On Holding the Highest Proposal Management Designation in Canada
When Tracie came to Long View as a proposal specialist, it was a career shift. Her career was in marketing, but proposal writing had caught her eye.
“I fell in love with strategic writing,” she recalls. “It’s still creative, still a little marketing-focused, but more strategic, more on the sales side, and I thought that was fascinating.”
It was an unusual choice at the time: “I think I’m one of the very few people who decided to switch careers and go into proposal management,” Tracie says. “Most people fall into it; they don’t choose to write bids for a living.”
But Tracie didn’t stop at proposal writing. Within her fourth year in the role, she had worked to get the approval to become an official department.
The team that Tracie built — the Response Management Services department — does more than simply handle proposals. “We’ve helped set the standard for the quality and the voice of Long View,” Tracie says of the best practices the team has developed. “They are the go-to team — it’s really quite powerful.”
The hard work has paid off, both for Long View and for Tracie’s career, as the team has one of the highest win rates in both the tech and proposal management industries. “That is 100 percent because of the rigor we put into our best practices and the amazing people on the team,” she explains.
It was also thanks to her work with the RMS team that Tracie became the first Canadian to receive a professional designation from the Association of Proposal Management Professionals — the highest possible designation in the field. “The professional level is difficult to get,” explains Tracie, “because you have to have been fundamental in your organization or in the proposal management industry. You can’t just have work experience and write a test. I was lucky to have been able to make a difference in my organization.”
Her accomplishment may be precedent-setting, but Tracie insists on sharing the limelight: “It wasn’t just me,” she says. “Far from it. It’s taken a team of brilliant people to accomplish everything.” And while she’s excited to be the first Canadian to receive the designation, Tracie is determined not to be the only one. “I’m really honoured,” she says, “but I want more to join the team. I want to build that up. Because that means that people are making change.”
On Growth and the Future of Sales Operations at Long View
Creating and building the RMS team might be one of Tracie’s proudest achievements, but she’s not stopping there. “I believe I’m pretty good at creating and developing these departments and programs,” she explains. “So now I’m trying to do that with sales operations.”
And with just over two years in the Sales Operations Management role, Tracie has already implemented impressive changes, starting with reporting. “We have never been able to look at sales from a data driven perspective to this degree,” she says.
Not only did Tracie create an effective reporting system, she did it without spending a dime on new programs: “We were able to fix it within the first year, and then we were able to grow it,” she explains. “And we did it with the programs we already had.”
With reporting now running smoothly, Tracie has her sights set on finding ways to empower her team and to grow their careers.
“I learned, through leadership, that I get more excited and empowered from watching the people on my team grow than I do from my own growth,” Tracie explains. “I do my best to empower my team. I want them to be the best they possibly can be and I want to learn from them. Things have to evolve and grow.”
So what’s next in Tracie’s career evolution? “I’m in the 2nd half of my career now and I like where it’s going,” she affirms. “I don’t anticipate any career shifts. I want to see sales operations here at Long View get even bigger. I want to ask, ‘What else can we do?’”