Texas Tech University

From Retail to Aerospace, 2014 Retail Management Alumna Thrives as Corporate Buyer

Hannah Fields

September 22, 2020

Bailey McPherson

Bailey McPherson found her passion in the Retail Management degree, leading to dream career

Bailey McPherson, a 2014 Retail Management alumna, began her journey at Texas Tech University as a Pre-Med student. However, after realizing she wasn't the path for her, she decided it was time for a change. That decision took her through three academic major changes until she found the perfect fit in the Retail Management program in the College of Human Sciences.

"I remember reading through the degree program online and looking at the classes," McPherson said. "I've always been interested in corporate buying and I loved that the program had a path that would allow me to get a minor in business. I felt that this program was business-based and would give me the tools and skills needed to pursue my dreams of becoming a corporate buyer."

Not only was she intrigued by the course material, but her professor's passion for the curriculum facilitated a great learning environment. In addition, each course allowed her to hone her skills and equipped her with the tools necessary for kickstarting her career, which ultimately led to her first job.

"I submitted my buying simulation project along with a handwritten letter to the recruiter at Neiman Marcus, who ultimately interviewed and hired me for my first (dream) job out of college," McPherson explained.

While at Neiman Marcus, McPherson was an Assistant Buyer working in an office responsible for procuring Menswear ranging from luxury suiting to sportswear to accessories to men's denim. It was also at Neiman Marcus where McPherson discovered a passion for voluntarism through the company's volunteer opportunities throughout Dallas for buying teams to give back. This opportunity allowed her to be heavily involved with the North Texas Area Foodbank, where she assisted in putting together after school food bags for schoolchildren.

McPherson has since moved on to the next stage of her career path, now working as a Contracts Negotiator, Sr. in the Lockheed Martin Corporation's Aeronautics division, where she is responsible for independently proposing, negotiating, and administering under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), Part 15 Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) post-production sustainment and non-annualized labor and material contracts for domestic, partner, and international foreign military sales customers.

"I am responsible for full life cycle acquisition including shaping, proposing, negotiating, and executing F-35 production contracts," McPherson explained. "My negotiation and execution portfolio exceed $8.5B, with singular proposals exceeding $2B. The scope of my work consists of domestic and international F-35 opportunities from non-annualized (nonrecurring sustainment) to production activities."

Her role doesn't end there. McPherson is responsible for managing the coordination of F-35 sustainment and production proposals, ensuring timely requests of proposals from the government, administering proprietary information agreements with other corporations and foreign governments, negotiation of contract clauses, briefing government executives on contract statuses, and much more.

McPherson has also found more opportunities for volunteering through Lockheed Martin by getting involved with the Junior League of Fort Worth.

"Through Junior League, I continue my love for voluntarism through being a big sister at the Young Women's Leadership Academy (YWLA) in Fort Worth, Texas," McPherson said. "YWLA is a 6-12 school for girls in Fort Worth who want to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Most of these girls will be the first of their families to go to college."

It is also through this volunteer opportunity that McPherson uses skills she learned through the Retail Management bachelor's degree. During her time in the program, McPherson said she was able to take interviewing workshops, trainings on how to dress for an interview, attend networking events, and instruction on how to create a resume workshop. McPherson has taken what she learned and passed it on to the girls she mentors through YWLA, including Retail Management professor, Deborah Fowler, Ph.D. recommendation of following up interviews with handwritten notes.

McPherson also credits the Retail Management B.S. degree for preparing her to work with Lockheed Martin, especially having a focus on group work and scheduling in her upper-division classes.

"The ability to work well in a group and with other people is integral when entering corporate America," McPherson said. "Learning how to take a lead role but also learning and having the ability to delegate has helped me tremendously in my current role with Lockheed Aero when my workload becomes overwhelming."

McPherson is currently working on completing her Master of Science in Systems Engineering Management at Southern Methodist University with an expected graduation date of May 2021.