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Pricing Coordinator

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Pricing CoordinatorExplore being a Pricing Coordinator for Circuit Board Manufacturer with Jackie Asfoor

Briefly describe your job:
I am the Pricing and Offer Management Coordinator at a USA electronics contract manufacturer. We populate circuit boards for anyone who wants to have “Made in USA” stamped on their circuit boards, and the high quality and service that comes with it.

Circuit board manufacturing is disappearing in the U. S. because of how much cheaper it is to build overseas. Thus, we do a lot of prototyping and military work. However, with our USA built boards, you get much more of a customer experience. So, if there is a problem with your board, it is fixable, rather than not knowing until the 200,000 boards arrive on your doorstep from Asia. Also, in a time crunch, we are able to manufacture and deliver much faster than Asia.

The Pricing and Offer Management (POM) position was created to coordinate all quote activity for the business. When a request comes in for a quote, I document the request, and then— since we’re a smaller company— quote the bare boards (the circuit board itself) and each of the components (such as capacitors and resistors). I communicate with vendors to get best pricing, but many times with inexpensive parts (inexpensive as in $0.0015 each), I am able to get a price estimate online. For the more expensive parts, I have to get bids from several distributors.

I’m new in this business, but I’m guessing a larger contract manufacturer would have some sort of database with all parts listed to utilize for quoting, but we are not always able to get up-to-date pricing with ours.

Additionally, we use an online program that allows me to input all part numbers, which is then emailed to approximately 15 distributors. This helps when I am crunched with time, have high buy quantities to quote, or just need the best possible price.

Once I have priced all the materials, and an engineer has quoted the labor portion of the quote, I am able to provide a price and lead time to the account managers who then submit the quote to the customer.

Most parts are easy to find, but when customers want a custom-built part, it gets trickier to figure out where to fabricate it.

Does your business actually provide the customer service for boards that are damaged? Or do you just stamp them with the "made in the USA"? 

We mostly populate circuit boards with parts, using machines and by hand-soldering. We also add the actual “Made in the USA” labels to the boards. Sometimes, customers provide us with the parts (kit build) and we solder them to the boards. Other times, we do turn-key builds-- this is where I come in, because I have to find prices of parts in order to provide a quote.

How long have you been working in this field?

Only eight months—this is very short, compared to my many co-workers who have been working in circuit board contract manufacturing for 30+ years.

How did you get this job and when did you start?

After graduating from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in business management, I spoke with a family friend who needed someone to help his business with quotes. He knew I recently received a management degree, so he thought I should interview. I started June, 2013.

What did you study in college and why did you choose this course of study?

I studied business management in college. I minored in music literature and theory. I chose this path because I wanted to work in the music management industry. I am still interested in music management, but more so with the events production side, rather than the artist management side. Through college, I became more interested in marketing and event management rather than with office management.

What are you applying from your college courses to your current job?

This job is Excel-intense, so I have been using several formulas I learned in the required Microsoft Office class I took. But more than skills from courses, I have used skills from internships—office etiquette, organization and priority-making skills, and tips, such as always documenting things in writing, or they “didn’t happen.”

I’m sure I use management techniques, though I feel that these kinds of things are more intrinsic than learned. (Don’t quote me on that—that’s not what we were taught in class!)

Did you have to obtain additional training for your current job?

I came into this job with little experience with contract manufacturing or electronics, so I did receive mostly on-the-job training. When I first saw a Bill of Materials (BOM) with 100 part numbers, it hurt my head. They all looked the same. But, with a little time, I have learned distributors, manufacturers, how to read part numbers, and identify which part number is from each manufacturer. I am also learning to identify the price of parts by the part number, and how to fix the part number if it is old or obsolete.

Here is an example of a part number: C0603C105K8PACTU—now imagine 200 of them!

What education/training did you obtain to qualify you for your current job?

I received a business management degree, and the owners wanted someone new in the field, so they could train them. Additionally, rather than hiring an engineering major, who – although would understand parts better to start off— would probably be more interested in building the boards or finding production or design errors, rather than in quoting. Additionally, I am a quick learner, focused, and very organized, which is what they needed for the new position.

Describe a typical day on the job:

I get in at 8 am, check emails, and update quotes with the responses I received overnight. We work with people in different time zones. Then, I work on quotes—checking pricing online, sending out for quotes, receiving answers back, emailing and calling for updates, and building relationships with vendors. I take an hour-long lunch around 12, and then get back to answering emails, and quoting. Before I leave around 5, (I typically stay a little later), I update the quote log accordingly to reflect the day’s activity.

What do you like most about what you do?

I enjoy the daily problem-solving. Having to search for prices, best lead times, and possible sources to quote parts can feel like a treasure hunt.

What do you like least about your job?

Being stuck in the office all day. Missing the sun makes me appreciate time off. I used to think I would enjoy an office job, and I do for some part, but I’m the kind of person who needs more of a balance between inside and outside.

What has been the most rewarding experience so far in your career?

When I was able to quote a board myself without help, and then when we got the order on it. Just because we submit a bid does not mean we are guaranteed the order. It’s very rewarding to know a job you quoted is going to be built.

What is the biggest challenge for you in this job?

Dealing with difficult personalities. Where ever you go, you will find many different personalities. I am learning different people’s personalities and how to interact with them to get the job done successfully. Relationships are one of the most important things to me in a job, so it has been tough not being able to form a friendly relationship with everyone.

What are the most important personal and professional skills necessary to succeed in your field?

This is a difficult question because I don’t really know what “succeed” means in this field. Most people want to “move up,” to different jobs, but I am content with quoting. For my job, it is important to be organized and to have good relationships with vendors. It is very interesting to me that despite how impersonal circuit boards may seem, most people know each other in this business—everyone has worked with someone who knows someone else. Also, I believe the way to set oneself apart is to make this business more personal, and less about the electronics.

What could someone do to learn more about this field right now?

The best thing is to intern at a contract manufacturer to get experience regarding both the field and environment. There are many sides to the business besides quoting—including sales, account management, purchasing, process-writing, actual building and testing the boards, and the many sides of engineering and quality control—so if you’re interested in another side, there are many options.

You could also get to know part numbers and how circuit boards work if you are interested in the engineering side. You could fix your friends’ computers and electronics to get more experience with circuit boards. I’m sure they won’t complain! You could also learn computer programs for circuit board design or process-writing.

What advice you would offer to students making a career choice or on work life itself?

Most students, including myself, are led into thinking that college classes are the most important part of college (academic-wise), but really, I think it's the experiences with internships and growing yourself as a person.

I believe internships are the best way to figure out what you like without committing yourself to a career. Even a bad experience at an internship is a great way to see what you DON’T like. Keep trying different internships to see what you would like as a career, and if you think you like something, make sure to try it out before devoting yourself to it! Internships can teach you a lot more than school, get you involved in the field, and expose you to new people.

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