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Shari Purnell, CPCP, P-Card Administrator, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

Featured Member for August 2020

Shari Purnell has worked with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority since December 1990 when she started as a student intern. She helped roll out the pilot P-Card program in 1995 while working as a buyer in the procurement department. In 2001, Shari became the Airports Authority’s first P-Card Administrator. In her time as the program administrator, Shari has made process improvements that have increased the efficiency of the program and has also implemented best practices to improve auditing and compliance.

What are you passionate about with your job?

I am most passionate about the level of customer service I provide to my cardholders. They may call with the same questions and they feel bad because they know they’ve asked before; I don’t want them to ever feel bad about calling, even if I answered the same question last month. They all have jobs that entail more than P-Card purchases and verifications and I understand that. They are so gracious and I just love helping them.

What are you most proud of about your job?

There have been so many proud moments over the past 25+ years, I don’t know that I could narrow it down to one. If I were to summarize what I am most proud of, I would probably say my innovation. I’m not afraid to say, “Could we do this differently?” I love to go to conferences and see what kind of innovations, process changes, policy updates, auditing initiatives, etc., that I can take back and implement into my own program.

Shari's current challenge:

We are researching the ability to purchase inventory items on the P-Card. Our accounting structure and/or our ERP system have limitations that cause accounting issues for this type of purchasing. Things seem to work great on the front end, but the back end has reconciliation issues we are trying to find a resolution for.

Shari currently holds the CPCP designation. What value have you achieved from the professional credential? 

Having the CPCP certification provides validation of the skills I have as a program administrator. There is a level of respect and credibility from management, co-workers and peers.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

My family. My youngest just graduated from high school and my oldest will be graduating from college in December. Time just flies by so fast that I want to spend as much time with them as I can before my house becomes an empty nest. It is important to find the positives in every situation, even the bad ones. Due to COVID-19, my family has had more time to spend together than we normally would have and I feel this extra time has strengthened our family bond even more.

Fun fact: 

I love to plan parties and family gatherings. I’m really in my element with the planning, decorating, food preparation, invitation design, all of it! Some people get stressed out by these things, but I just love it!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I never really thought about wanting a superpower. I’m not sure I would want one. You know what they say, with great power comes great responsibility! LOL.

Program details: 

We currently have 192 P-Cards and 261 Virtual Travel Cards which are only used with the travel agency for airfare. In 2019 we had 18,065 P-Card transactions totaling $7.6M.

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