3 Attributes Of The Future CPO

Why are organisations appointing CPOs from outside of the profession, what’s the no. one category that will produce future CPOs and should there be a new label for the role of CPO. 

The modern day CPO is vastly different to the CPO of a decade ago – both in terms of management style and the expectations put upon them by the organisation.

And so we can only assume that CPOs in 10-15 years will be similarly unrecognisable.

Who will get the top job in the future , what sort of professional background will they have ?

Tom Derry, CEO – ISM discusses why companies are appointing CPOs from outside of the profession, the no. one category that will produce future CPOs and a new label for the role of CPO

It doesn’t take a procurement professional to be CPO

There’s been a real trend in recent years of CPOs being appointed from outside traditional backgrounds. A savvy marketing professional or a cost-conscious operations manager could make a very attractive candidate for the role.  Similarly, IT professionals – the innovation scouts who know how to drive change and understand key threats to the business like cyber security – could be chasing the CPO role.

“Requirements of the job and the definition of the job have to evolve over time and in the not too distance future,” explains Tom.

Tom outlines some of the key qualities of the CPO of the future.

Customer-facing expertise

“Customer-facing expertise, the ability to interact with, understand and even anticipate customer needs, is a critical skill”

One of the key themes in a recent CAPS research survey emphasised the importance of a demand-driven supply chain.          “[This] means an orientation toward, and a sensitivity to, the needs and requirements of the customer, flexing to meet the customers requirements and configuring your supply chain and your procurement activities to meeting those requirements.”

Market expertise

It’s so important for future procurement leaders to have clear vision and strategy – a strategy that your team can implement based on what you’ve identified.

“Another way of saying that is market expertise” explains Tom.  “Understanding where your company is, what markets you’re going after and the characteristics of those markets in terms of customer and suppliers [is really important]. [Someone with an understanding] of where markets are today and where they’re headed would be ideally suited to lead the supply chains and procurement activities of the future.”

Leadership

Tom stresses CPOs of the future do not need to be process experts. “We don’t need someone who has grown up in the ranks of procurement and has become very good at RF processes, scouting new suppliers, or understanding supply markets.  These are key skills but they are not the leadership skills that are required to lead the entire companies  effort-  they’re just necessary functional skills.”

So where does Tom think CPOs will come from in the future? “Some will become category managers and then move laterally into different positions, and then move into the top job. But it won’t be a straight-line path. You won’t be climbing a ladder within the function to get to the CPO job. You’ll have to leave the function and come back, or come from outside the function because you’ve got the vision and strategic skills to lead.”

Part Three of Tuesdays with Tom is available now. Click here to sign up and hear ISM CEO Tom Derry discuss CPOs of the future and how we might label the profession going forward. 

Big Ideas Zurich: 3…2…1… ACTION!

Big Ideas Zurich is now available to watch on demand. Sign up as a digital delegate to watch the event in full! 

We’re so excited to finally share Big Ideas Zurich with you. This truly digital event addresses what skills you need to perfect in order to drive peak performance in your career; what’s the latest intel on blockchain and how to close the gender pay gap in procurement.

The entire event is now available to stream on-demand via the digital delegates group on Procurious.

Check out the agenda below to see what tickles your pickle and watch some highlight videos from the event:

Tania Seary on Driving Peak Performance

Joelle Payom on Diversity and Inclusion

What is your favourite job interview question?

Big Ideas Zurich is now available to watch on demand. Sign up as a digital delegate to watch the event in full! 

Three Truths For Building Future-Proof Organisations

Automation, artificial intelligence and emerging technologies are changing our world and redefining the future of work. Organisations need to gear up to manage this transition wisely and understand the new rules of the game.

The fourth industrial revolution has the potential to disrupt every industry in every country through large-scale automation, adoption of emergent technologies, big data and artificial intelligence. There are many predictions and estimates on how this will affect labour markets, but one thing is certain – the jobs we do, and the skills we need to perform them, will change, and rapidly.

A McKinsey report estimated that by 2030 at least one-third of the activities of 60% of occupations could be automated. This means that globally up to 375 million people may need to change jobs or learn new skills. A World Economic Forum report predicted that current trends in a disruptive labour market could lead to a loss of 7.1 million jobs, two thirds of which are in administrative roles. And a study by Oxford University estimated that 47% of total employment in the United States is at risk due to computerisation, given that automation and computerisation are no longer confined to routine manufacturing tasks. Big data and artificial intelligence are allowing a wide range of non-routine cognitive tasks to be performed by machines.

While this may sound catastrophic, the good news is that while large-scale automation may redefine the workplace it does not necessarily mean we will all be out of a job. Changes in technology also create new jobs and spawn new industries. The challenge is going to be ensuring that workers have the skills they need to transition to different jobs. The fourth industrial revolution poses a risk to job security only in the sense that not managing this transition can lead to greater unemployment and social inequality.

In approaching what lies ahead, managers and leaders should consider the following three truths.

1. Talent will be more important than capital

Klaus Schwab, Chairman of the World Economic Forum believes that “in the future, talent, more than capital, will represent the critical factor of production”. To make sure they are ready for a future that is still emerging, organisations and people need to be adaptable, innovative and responsive. If up to 65% of the jobs of tomorrow don’t exist yet – it is impossible to “train” people in the conventional sense. Rather we need to invest in their essential capabilities.

To ensure we build talent that is capable of mastering change we need to invest in resilient leadership. Leadership skills are not tied to particular jobs or industries and solid leadership development provides the kind of transferable skills likely to be needed in the future. The WEF identified the top ten skills that will be most needed in 2020 as: complex problem solving; critical thinking; creativity; people management; coordinating with others; emotional intelligence; judgement and decision making; service orientation; negotiation and cognitive flexibility. These essential skills have long been part of most good leadership development, MBA and executive education programmes – and they will need to be scaled up.

2. Education needs to be flexible too

The WEF report recommends that organisations embrace talent diversity, leverage flexible working arrangements and incentivise lifelong learning to best manage the changes ahead. Lifelong learning and executive education certainly have an important role to play in a rapidly changing job market, and these programmes also need to be flexible and adaptable to student’s and organisation’s needs.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) already offer flexible access to lifelong learning and the number of courses available is rapidly increasing to meet demand. Many perceive the downside of online learning to be the loss of face-to-face interaction, which is still regarded as critical to the quality of education – specifically when it comes to learning and practising the essential skills identified by the WEF. Educational institutions are looking to fix this by offering a mix of traditional and online learning to reskill and prepare for workplace transition. There are opportunities for combinations and blends of one-on-one and group interactions at all levels of learning.

3. The link between education and business is a two-way street

The format of what is being taught needs to be flexible but so does the content.

As the WEF report suggests, education systems need to be re-designed if we are going to tackle the transitions ahead. This entails businesses, governments and educational institutions working together to provide curricula that meet current and future needs. The McKinsey report suggests that governments have a role to play in maintaining economic growth, scaling job retraining and workforce skills development, and providing income and transition support to workers whilst retraining. But they cannot do this on their own.

Educators supply industry with critical skills, and industry has a hand in shaping the talent pool and informing educational institutions of the changes they foresee and the skills they wish to develop. Businesses that invest in long-term partnerships with educational institutions to develop skills and respond to changes in the environment will stand a better chance of building a workforce that is future proof: suitably skilled, adaptable and ready for the challenges that we collectively face. As the African proverb goes: If we want to go far, we need to go together.


Kumeshnee West is Director of Executive Education at the UCT Graduate School of Business. This article  was originally published on the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business blog. 

Category Management – What’s The State of Play?

Do you know how to measure the performance of category management in your organisation? It might be a top three priority for 85 per cent of leading procurement teams, but only 5 per cent of teams have fully optimised their category management…

Category management, and in particular cross-functional category strategy development, is a central feature within procurement organisations – particularly where there is a desire to transform from a sourcing and price management focus.  This allows teams to work more closely with business stakeholders and co-create visionary category strategies that access the full range of value levers available. This maximises and broadens the range of value delivered in terms of total cost reduction, risk reduction and revenue increases.

Although category management was first introduced 30 years ago in procurement, there has been no playbook for implementing it. Approaches used vary from organisation to organisation and category to category.

Since 2012, over 1,100 professionals from 40 countries have taken part in our three previous global surveys in collaboration with Henley Business School.

Since we began doing this survey, our objective has been to develop this playbook, by identifying what causes that inconsistency and identify which practices are most effective, which are least well used, and how the delivery of results links to these areas. The comprehensive report we produce, is an invaluable guide to procurement teams wherever they are on their category management journey.

What is the survey?

A mobile-friendly 10-15 minute survey with multiple choice questions in five different sections. You can share your views on the current state of category management in your organisation. Your individual responses are collated and drive the report but are not shared with any third parties.

The insights coming out of the analytics will again be developed into a comprehensive actionable report, available early next year and published to participants in advance. You will also receive an immediate benchmark assessment at the end of the survey – comparing your organisation’s category management performance with the other participants.

Why do we do it?

We wish to provide insights that will allow participants to improve their organisation’s category management capability and build a business case for investment if needed. This includes:

  • Identifying the most powerful practices being used by leaders to make category management successful
  • Providing practical recommendations on how to implement the powerful practices identified
  • Quantifying the extra value and savings that category management leaders achieve versus followers

How does the 2018-19 survey and report help procurement leadership teams?

For leadership teams, the survey questions provide a checklist of topics that they should consider as a team when designing their operating model for category management. Topics include:

  • Providing category management awareness training for stakeholders
  • Aligning the category management process with related business processes
  • Prioritising projects to work on jointly with budget holders on an annual basis
  • Securing senior stakeholders as sponsors for key categories

Our experience is that many leadership teams do not formally plan their operating model for category management. The impact of this is that category managers can feel that they are operating in an ambiguous environment that limits their efficiency and effectiveness. Examples include extensive time being required to persuade business stakeholders to participate in cross-functional category teams and category managers being excluded from sessions where fundamental components of category strategies are being worked on by stakeholders.

Procurement leadership teams that invest the time to pro-actively design their operating model create an opportunity to consider the numerous and often interdependent moving parts that impact category management success. They remove ambiguity and address the design issues that often cause category management to operate sub-optimally. They provide a clear structure and defined environment for category managers to operate within. The team become clear on “what good looks like” and performance across the group is more consistent and reliable. Ultimately, they deliver better results than their peers – they are the category management Leaders. The report identifies which are the most important elements of a category management operating model to consider – derived from the survey results and detailed analysis conducted by Professor Marc Day from Henley Business School.

How does the 2018-19 survey and report help category managers?

The results from the last survey clearly demonstrated that category managers need to excel in two dimensions:

  • Behavioural skills: to develop excellent stakeholder relationships.
  • Technical skills: to build excellent category strategies.

The challenges of building excellence in behavioural skills such as building trust with stakeholders, communicating effectively and understanding needs is commonly understood by procurement teams, but the direct linkage to benefits delivered has only recently been evidenced from the analysis of 320+ respondents in our 2016-17 survey.

In the 2018-19 survey we have responded to feedback and have introduced questions that explore the specific attitudes and behavioural skills associated with stakeholder engagement. Our intention is to see which of these capabilities have most impact on business results created through category management.

We have also extended the questions about the technical skills required to create and implement category strategies. These include business requirements development, mapping technology changes, identifying market dynamics and understanding how to apply a range of relevant value levers.

For category managers, the survey and report provides a summary of the key skills that they will require as go-to-market activities get automated and the focus on category strategies intensifies.

Immediate Benchmarking

A new feature in this year’s survey is the ability to give participants instant feedback of their own performance against the other results submitted. For larger organisations, there is also the possibility to create reports focused just on that organisation – from a variety of respondents.

We believe that this survey gives a lot of value back to the category management community, and we’re hoping that a record number of people will support this edition. If you’ve any questions or comments please let me know. Also, please forward this blog to any members of your network that would benefit from participation and the benchmarking assessment.

Procurement Isn’t Lighting Up The World…Yet

“Procurement itself – let’s face it – isn’t going to light the world currently, but I believe it will be the new instrument in 2030 to change the world.” – Olinga Taeed, Visiting Professor in Blockchain at Birmingham City University

As we hurtle towards the new year, you might be starting to look ahead and reflect on your personal and professional development goals.

But why wait until January 1st to put your plans into action?

Next week, we’ll be addressing a huge range of critical areas for procurement and supply chain professionals at Big Ideas Zurich.

And, for the first time ever, we’ll be filming and streaming the entire day’s event via the Digital Delegates group on Procurious.

If there was ever a time to register for one of our summits, it’s now. Featuring presentations and interviews from some of Europe’s top procurement leaders, we’ll be discussing procurement and supply management towards 2030, the future of talent, automation, blockchain, diversity and so much more.

Check out our teaser trailers below for a little sneak peak of what’s to come.

Procurement isn’t lighting up the world

“Procurement itself – let’s face it – isn’t going to light the world currently, but I believe it will be the new instrument in 2030 to change the world.”

Olinga Taeed, the world’s first Professor in Blockchain and Social Enterprise, reveals how blockchain can be used for social good, why procurement isn’t currently lighting up the world and when that’s set to change. 

On December 10th discover…

  • What skills you need to perfect to drive peak performance in your career
  • The latest intel on blockchain 
  • How procurement can close the gender pay gap 
  • The latest updates on game-changing technology 
  • How to develop strategic partnerships 
  • Why supplier diversity is best for business
  • What procurement and supply chain will look like in 2030
  • How to stand on your supplier’s shoulders 
  • How to make your key business stakeholders love you
  • The ways to shift your procurement mindset 
  • The importance of having a digital endgame

Win a Parrot Bebop drone worth £450

We know that everyone loves a prize. And believe us when we say we’ve got prizes falling from the tops of the Swiss Alps.

As a registered digital delegate you’re in with a chance of winning one of eight amazing giveaways including the big-ticket item – a Parrot Bebop drone worth £450.

Plus, we’ve got Patagonia t-shirts, a Fjallraven backpack, stashes of Swiss chocolate and Herschel beanies up for grabs.

We’ll be doing eight prize giveaways throughout today with winners selected every half an hour. To put yourself in the running you simply need to get involved on the digital delegates group – posting your comments, insights and questions.

Sign up as  a digital delegate for Big Ideas Zurich (it’s free) 

Piracy Still Rules On The High Seas

Piracy may not quite be the world’s oldest profession, but for thousands of years plundering and pillaging on the high seas has struck terror into the hearts of more honest seafarers… 
Are you responsible for sending your people into danger? In a new Procurious blog series, The World’s Deadliest Supply Chains, we investigate the most high-risk supply chains out there.

Piracy may not quite be the world’s oldest profession, but for thousands of years plundering and pillaging on the high seas has struck terror into the hearts of more honest seafarers.

Along the journey – or should we say voyage – these seafaring brigands have developed a cuddly reputation as harmless Captain Featherswords with bushy beards and eye patches, bearing a Jolly Roger for show more than anything.

Even the feared 17th century English pirate Blackbeard was romanticised posthumously after a life of pillaging and murdering in 1718.

Of course, there’s nothing innocuous about latter-day piracy, which remains the scourge of merchant shipping in some of the world’s busiest transit lanes.

For a start, cutlasses have been replaced by high-speed landing boats, automatic weapons and even rocket-propelled grenades.

Modern cargo and tankers might not look vulnerable, but despite their gargantuan size they’re crewed by just a handful of people who – by convention – are unarmed.

The extent of piracy has always ebbed and flowed, but it re-entered the public consciousness when the disintegration of the Somalian state in the early 2000s spurred a surge in piracy across the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

Recent activity has focused on the Gulf of Guinea and, more specifically, Nigerian waters.

Other modern piracy hotspots are the Straits of Malacca, Gibraltar and the Philippines. There have even been reports of ‘river piracy’ on the Danube in Serbia and Romania.

The enforcement problem with modern-day Blackbeards is that most of the piracy occurs on international waters, with many countries willing to turn a blind eye.

Over the last 10 years, the trends look to be heading the right way: according to the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre, in 2017 there were 180 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery, compared with 267 attacks in 2007.

Of these, 15 resulted in 91 crew being taken hostage, with another 13 attacks resulting in 75 crew being kidnapped (that is, taken off the boat).

Sadly, three crew members were killed and six were injured.

The IMB’s updated figures suggest some slippage: in the first six months of 2018 there were 107 reports of successful or attempted attacks, compared with 87 for the same period last year.

Of these, 69 resulted in the pirates boarding and 11 in the ships being fired upon.  Across seven incidents, 102 crew members were taken hostage, compared with 63 previously.

Geographically, piracy is an ever-shifting activity: none of the 107 reported attacks was in the old hot spot of Somalia, while 31 were in Nigeria and 25 in Indonesia.

Unlike in Captain Phillips – the 2013 celluloid account of the US mariner’s struggle with Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean – the US navy is unlikely to steam to the rescue.

But the long-term trends suggest increased vigilance on the part of ship owners and a somewhat belated response from navies and maritime authorities.

In a celebrated case, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency recently apprehended 16 pirates attempting to board a tanker six nautical miles off the coast of Pulau Tinggi.

Given the vastness of international waters and extent of shipping activity, no boat can rely on protection being close at hand, and captains are adopting their own measures to protect crews and cargoes in vulnerable regions.

These remedies include razor wire on decks, hoses converted to sea water cannons, hardened bridges and even the use of mannequins as ‘armed’ guards. The high-end yachting sector has deployed laser dazzlers that can temporarily blind attackers before they board.

Not all of the solutions are high tech. Earlier this year, pirates attempted to board the merchant ship MV Kudos near the island of Sibago in the Philippines. They were fought off after the crew adopted the medieval siege trick of pouring boiling water on the assailants.

Of course, prevention is better than cure and crews in vulnerable areas are advised to maintain a 24-hour watch and radar vigilance.

The IMB’s not-for-profit piracy reporting centre provides an around-the-clock service for Masters to report hijack attempts and suspicious activity, with regular updates.

Despite the distress caused by modern pirates, at least their demands for monetary gains are clearer and easier to accede to than, say, the demands of politically inspired terrorists.

Unlike the chest of gold doubloons in the past, loot can take several forms.

In some cases, the culprits demand hostage money, leading to delicate negotiations as ship owners determine just how ambit the claims are.

(The 2012 Danish movie A Hijacking documents the bewilderment of a ship’s crew as the hijackers and the ship owner’s dispassionate head office bean counters quibble about what their lives are worth).

In extreme cases the pirates hijack the ship itself and take it to a friendly port for a new identity. In other cases, the contents of the ship’s safe and the crew members belonging will suffice.

The resilience of piracy is linked with poverty and upheaval resulting from civil war: they’re desperate acts carried out by desperate people. In the case of Somalia, fishermen became pirates after foreign boats took advantage of the lack of government by overfishing or dumping toxins in the waters.

In other cases, it’s the work of highly organised gangs.

Given the varying motives, we can never quite be sure why pirates are pirates, so let’s just say it’s because they ‘arrrr’.

8 Attributes Supply Chain Professionals Can’t Live Without

Supply chain is an excellent career destination, but it takes a particular skill-set to reach the top. For our fifth and final podcast in the “Bravo” series celebrating women in procurement and supply management, Telstra’s General Manager of Planning Carlee McGowan shares the top skills and attributes that every supply chain professional needs.

Would you regard yourself as influential in your organisation? Do you frequently put your courage to the test? Do you genuinely enjoy immersing yourself in data? If so, then you just might be destined for an incredible career in supply chain. Procurious interviewed Telstra’s GM Planning, Carlee McGowan, to learn the eight skills and attributes every supply chain professional should master if they want to get ahead.  

  1. Have an analytical mind

“Supply chain professionals must have the ability to look at the data, manipulate it and then come up with a recommendation”, says McGowan. “When I’m hiring new team members, sometimes I even go so far as giving them a study in Excel and asking them to determine what improvements could be made and what conclusions they would draw.”

“I truly believe integration of data and transparency of that data is the next big challenge  (and opportunity) for supply chain”, says McGowan. “But it needs to be correctly integrated within your planning, forecasting and operating tools. With full transparency of data you can identify where your risks are and galvanise the organisation to mitigate those risks to get the best outcome for your customer and ultimately your business.”

  1. Know how to influence

Having the ability to influence others is important in any career, but particularly important when trying to land a change program in supply chain management. According to McGowan, it’s an area where some of the top professionals really let themselves down. “You can have the smartest mind in the world, but if you can’t present your ideas in a way that your colleagues and stakeholders can understand, you won’t get the results you’re looking for.”

  1. Seek out continuous improvement

Being able to learn from failure is vital, says McGowan. “You’ll never get everything right all the time, which is why a continuous improvement mindset is so important. You need to be able to take learnings from your day-to-day work and apply them to the processes and procedures you’re working with. People in my team who can learn from their failures are really valuable – it also shows they have a bit of resilience.”

  1. Be courageous

Landing any significant change takes a great deal of ambition and courage, says McGowan. At Telstra, the supply chain team has the goal of being recognised as the most improved supply chain function and to become a benchmark for the industry. “To achieve this we’re engaging in a total supply chain transformation. We’ve built up the people, the systems and  the processes and changing our distribution centre – essentially we’ve decided to take something huge and make it bigger.”

 

“It’s a very significant change, and there have been many times when the team and I have had to call on our courage, really believe in ourselves and find the motivation to make sure we not only meet these targets, but to smash them out of the park. It’s a massive undertaking and not many organisations have embarked on something at this scale, so we have to remind ourselves how momentous it is to keep achieving results.”

  1. Embrace your transferable skills

“With supply chain, you can go anywhere in the world across any industry and apply the same principles, whether it’s in telecommunications, retail, or FMCG”, says McGowan. “You really can take your skill-set and apply it wherever you want to go.”

  1. Love tangible results

One of the advantages that supply chain has as a career is that you get to see real results as a result of your efforts. “It’s really tangible”, says McGowan. “Either you get the goods to their final destination in full and on time at the lowest cost, or you’ll learn how to achieve a better outcome next time – it’s a continuous improvement journey.”

  1. Earn your stakeholders’ trust

Supply chain managers should seek to become a trusted business advisor. “We want to be known as the function that forecasts where the business is headed and predicts what resources we’ll need to get there.”

  1. Be excited about technology

Technology has already impacted supply chain exponentially, but McGowan predicts that the best is yet to come. “Technology has raised customers’ expectations of supply chain – they want the 24/7 ability to shop and track items. As supply chain professionals we need to respond to this by acting faster, acting with urgency, using accurate data and enabling our customers to have that transparency. If you don’t have transparency of your end-to-end supply chain available to customers, they will judge you as untrustworthy.”

  1. Get close to the customer

“There are so many opportunities to better understand your customer. If you don’t try to understand what they really want, you risk setting up a supply chain that doesn’t provide the right service for them, or waste time on an area the customer doesn’t really value.”

“To give an example, one customer valued first in first out (FIFO) as a KPI, but we hadn’t been monitoring or tracking that at all. We had no idea it was upsetting the whole supply chain and causing wasted energy and time. But with a small tweak of our supply chain – setting different processes and systems – we were able to exponentially increase the satisfaction of that customer. Without understanding that need, we might have lost that customer because in their eyes we weren’t meeting the service target.”

In Bravo, our five-part podcast series celebrating women in procurement, five inspiring and courageous women share their stories and the secrets to their success. Sign up now (it’s free!)

7 Steps To Telling A Story

If you want anyone to take action from the information you’re looking to share or the change you’re trying to create, a story has to be an essential part of your communications armoury.
We live in an of Netflix, LinkedIn and Instagram.  A big impact of us spending time on these platforms is that our brains are being rewired for stories – we spend time consuming story, after story, after story.
Not only that, we’re able to be highly selective about the stories we consume.There are companies now that actually study what makes stories, and particular advertising stories, ”unskippable”, what makes them compelling. Because, as viewers of stories, we’ve become the connoisseurs.
But when it comes to telling compelling stories for ourselves, many people struggle, despite the fact that the ability to tell a story is becoming an ever more critical skill in our professional lives.
We live in an of Netflix, LinkedIn and Instagram.  A big impact of us spending time on these platforms is that our brains are being rewired for stories – we spend time consuming story, after story, after story.
Not only that, we’re able to be highly selective about the stories we consume.
There are companies now that actually study what makes stories, and particular advertising stories, ”unskippable”, what makes them compelling.
Because, as viewers of stories, we’ve become the connoisseurs.
But when it comes to telling compelling stories for ourselves, many people struggle, despite the fact that the ability to tell a story is becoming an ever more critical skill in our professional lives.

The importance of storytelling

Every single day, more information is created than existed from the dawn of time up until 2013. We’ve got hoards of information being streamed at us, which ironically doesn’t really work because we are not logical, linear people at our hearts.
Julie Masters, CEO – Influence Nation  believes humans are wired for stories because they are how we connect and how we engage. “They are the only way you build empathy and a connection with someone else – I tell you my story you tell me yours.
“If you want anyone to take action from the information that you’re looking to share or the change you’re trying to create then a story has to be an essential part of your communications armoury.”
On Day Four of the Bravo podcast series, Julie shares her top tips for becoming a master story teller.

1. Make it compelling

If you want some guidance on how to tell a great story, Julie advises that you start watching Netflix with an eye for storytelling. Consider how do they do it , what happens in the first 20 seconds of a compelling story. “It is a formula, so if you’re curious, watch more television!  Ask yourself, what is the last story that caught your attention and what is the last story that lost your attention?”

2. Make a clear structure

Julie believes that we put far too much kudos on how we tell or present a story and not nearly enough focus on how we structure that message in the first place. The most groundbreaking pieces of information will fall flat if they aren’t structured in a way that’s going to compel attention.

3. Be relatable

Julie advises that you organise your story into a few main points. “Are you using useful ideas and useful examples to illustrate those points – examples that [your listeners] can relate to.”

4. Have a clear beginning and a clear ending

“This one flies under the radar all too often” Julie explains . “It’s important to consider what you want us to do with your story as a result of your story. Is there something you want us to do differently, or believe differently?” Having a compelling opening is also important to draw in your audience. Julie suggests opening with question, which will “guide you into an interesting space and usually gets attention fast.”

5. Take it slow

“One of the key things we do when we’re nervous is speed up. So slow down, take a breath and remember to pause.” Julie advises that it is especially important to pause following an important point. “Our brains take a while to catch up with where you’re at and if you just keep on talking we’ll miss the fact that you believe this part was important.”

6. Monitor your movement

“Don’t be afraid to be still” Julie asserts. ‘If you’re constantly moving around  it’s like listening to the sound of a washing machine – you tune out.  Similarly, if you’re still and rigid we’ll tune out. Use your body for impact, move at certain points if you’re illustrating a point and then stand still and grounded for another point.”

7. Vary your Voice

It’s important to avoid speaking in monotone and varying your tone, pitch, volume and speed. “Up the energy of your voice and then bring it back down again. Use all the tools you have to get and maintain our attention.”

In Bravo, our five-part podcast series celebrating women in procurement, five inspiring and courageous women share their stories and the secrets to their success. Sign up to now (it’s free!)

How To Become A Corporate Superstar Overnight

Bravo! Tania Seary shares her thoughts on gender disparity in procurement, having the courage to  get big ideas through big companies and why procurement is THE career choice if you want to become a corporate superstar overnight!

Kaspars Grinvalds/ Shutterstock

Procurious Founder, Tania Seary, remembers her first day in a procurement role as a game-changing moment in her career.

“I’d had some fantastic jobs in marketing and communications but nothing struck me like that first day I worked in procurement, moving from one side of the table to the other. It was a real rush.”

For Tania, the scope and scale of the function along with the ability to impact so many parts of the business meant that she was sold straight away.

Like so many of procurement’s rising stars, Tania fell into the profession unexpectedly.  Speaking to peers on her MBA course at Penn State, she was fascinated by the number of people who aspired to go into procurement roles. When she questioned their reasons, the answer was always “because you can become a corporate superstar overnight, saving millions of dollars for the organisation.”

In procurement, they told Tania, the CEO and CFO know who you are and you can get promoted quickly. “It sounded like a great idea to an ambitious 30-something … and as I said, once I got to the other side of table I was really hooked.”

On Day 3 of the Bravo podcast series Tania Seary shares her thoughts on gender disparity, getting big ideas through big companies and the importance of having a human touch in procurement.

Getting your big ideas heard

Courage is one of the key attributes required to drive the best ideas forward, along with resilience and the ability to choose your projects wisely. “Getting a big idea though a big company takes a lot of energy and time”, explains Tania.  She shares her top two tips for getting big ideas off the ground:

  1. Do your homework and have a strong business case – You can really build support across your organisation as you’re building your business case, then fall back on those people as your support network when you get challenged at the senior level.
  2. Choose your sponsors wisely – It’s vital to have a corporate sponsor for some of these courageous projects, but make sure they’re not simply picking you to be involved as the flavour of the day. Find someone to help who understands the business benefits of what you’re putting forward and will support you because they believe in the project.

The human touch goes a long way

Tania stresses the importance of procurement professionals behaving like human beings in the workplace. The old-school  workplace attitude demanded that your personality be left at the door. “It’s increasingly important [for your team] to see that you’re a little bit vulnerable, a little bit human and that they can relate to you.”

At Procurious, we’re often questioned on the benefits of having separate social media accounts for personal versus corporate life. But Tania is a firm believer that you should be one person, with the courage to show your genuine self online, and in the office.

Tania believes that being human will be procurement’s competitive advantage in industry 4.0. “My belief is that our role in industry 4.0 will be to orchestrate and collaborate within this complex tech-enabled web of suppliers.  When robots are pointing us in different directions we have to be the ones who step in and reconcile, playing to our strengths.”

Collaboration, innovation and influence are things only humans can do. “That will be the future of procurement; trusted advisors who can solve complex problems.”

The pay gap 

Gender inequality in procurement is an ongoing concern for Tania. “It’s something that needs to be addressed. Looking at the [pay gap] statistics in the UK, US, and Australia is astonishing.” This hard-hitting data has motivated Tania to be a champion of change for women working in procurement. “I’m really going to be encouraging leaders around the world to tackle this head-on and ensure that their teams are paid equally”, she says.

“It’s something that the whole business world struggles with, but procurement can take a firm stand and be one of the first functions to put its hand up and say we’ve achieved this important goal.”

Tania’s short-term dream for the profession? “If we can say – by the end of 2020 – that we’re a very ethical profession that pays employees fairly, that would be a great result.”

In Bravo, our five-part podcast series celebrating women in procurement, five inspiring and courageous women share their stories and the secrets to their success. Sign up to now (it’s free!)

How To Survive And Thrive In An Uncertain Environment

Inspirational speaker, Nicky Abdinor, advises how to create sustainable attitude change and thriving in an uncertain environment. 

Nicky Abdinor’s self-appointed tagline is that she was “born without arms but not without attitude.” It’s a punchy line,  and it also couldn’t be more accurate.

Nicky was born with physical disabilities, no arms and shortened legs and she describes how her parents were totally unprepared for her disability. “In those days there were no scans to [determine] if you were a boy or a girl let alone if you had a physical disability. But I’m so grateful they chose to focus on my strengths.”

As she grew up, it was never a case of “can Nicky do this?” rather “how is Nicky going to be able to do this?”

Nicky believes her upbringing helped her to  adapt to her disability and flourish. “A big part of my success is having that nurturing environment and access to mainstream schooling.  I was encouraged to take part in all activities and I’ve learnt to do things just a little bit differently.” Nicky was unable to do things the same way as everyone else on a physical level but instead she used her acamdeic abilities and passion for human psychology to her advantage.

She now works as an  international keynote speaker, registered Clinical Psychologist and founder of the non-profit, Nicky’s Drive.

Creating sustainable attitude change

Nicky’s work as a  clinical psychologist focusses on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

The premise of CBT is the belief that “it’s not our situation  determining how we feel or behave but how we think about those situations.”

It’s useful to recognise that so many of us could be experiencing the same or similar situations but we all have entirely unique responses to that situation. The key to actually creating sustainable change, Nicky explains,  in our attitudes, beliefs and emotions is  to understand the core thought processes that we implement on auto-pilot.  An everyday situation  such as a meeting with a manager could trigger  a  particular behaviour. “But we need to understand our thought pattern.  We’re wired to think in a certain way and people don’t realise that you can’t truly change the way you think about a situation until you understand those automatic thought processes.

With some work, it’s possible to recognise your cognitive roadmap and what gets triggered, which is often linked to previous experiences and relationships.

Nicky explains that it is quite liberating to realise we don’t have to change our situation, “we can change how we think about a situation to bring about wellness and a better quality of life. It’s empowering to know we can’t change our situation but we can certainly change the way we react to that situation.”

Thriving in an uncertain environement

Nicky speaks passionately on the concept of uncertainty and how it impacts on our every day lives.

“A lot of people come for therapy because they are anxious about the future. A big part of what I do is help people learn to tolerate uncertainty.  None of us have absolute control over what the future holds. Ultimately, people find it hard to tolerate because they place demands on themselves that they have to know whats going to happen.”

In a corporate setting the same applies. Leaders of today are concerned about reaching their targets, will there be another recession, what’s going to happen to the political landscape of my country and how will it impact by business? We want to know exactly what’s going to happen.

But, Nicky argues, we must learn to tolerate that uncertainty, which ultimately means teaching yourself to live in the present . “If we worry too much about tomorrow,  we cannot enjoy today,””

When it comes to hiring talent,  recruiters need to ascertain whether applicants understand this concept. “Can that person deal with uncertainty, does that person have the ability to recognise the limitations for going into the future. When we have the ability to understand uncertainty we can achieve so much more. Worrying is a waste of time and we need a bit of anxiety to motivate us to do the right thing, be ambitious and reach your goals.”

In Bravo, our five-part podcast series celebrating women in procurement, five inspiring and courageous women share their stories and the secrets to their success. Sign up to now (it’s free!)

Nicky Abdinor was a keynote speaker at Big Ideas Summit Sydney earlier this year and wowed our audience. You can watch her presentation in full here and get in touch with Nicky regarding speaking opportunities here (Procurious HQ couldn’t recommend her more!)