Stories from The Source – Part one: Tony Megally

The Source General Manager Tony Megally speaks with Hugo Britt about how to get yourself noticed by a top recruitment firm.

Albert Street

As with most 21st-century offices, we have an open-plan layout here at The Faculty. The team is spread across the first floor of a sun-filled, goldrush-era building in the heart of Melbourne. We have minimal partitions and senior management sits right in amongst their teams. One notable exception to this layout, however, is The Faculty’s sister organisation – The Source.

The Source is a boutique recruitment firm specialising in procurement and, due to the intriguingly confidential nature of their work, sits in a corner of the building separated from the rest of us by a glass partition. The small team beyond the wall always look incredibly busy, and when they do emerge, it’s usually with a phone glued to the ear, carrying out intense-sounding conversations in hushed tones as they pass my desk.

What goes on behind that mysterious portal? What are the particular challenges involved with recruiting for procurement? I interviewed three members of The Source team to find out, beginning with its new General Manager, Tony Megally.

So, Tony, tell me about yourself. How long have you been in recruitment?

My career in recruitment kicked off in 1999, and let me tell you, things were very different back then. We didn’t have smartphones, barely had email, no voicemail to reach people, and you were very lucky if you had any kind of database to work with. I remember the majority of my time being spent faxing resumes through to clients.

What’s “faxing”?

I’m going to assume you’re joking. Recruitment back then was nowhere near as proactive or strategic as it is nowadays – it was highly reactive and transactional. I initially worked in a volume market with the focus on recruiting for short-term, temporary assignments. I’d get a call from a client on a Friday night, for example, asking for 10 temps by the following Monday. Not easy.

What exactly has changed in recruitment over the past 15 years?

Recruitment has become a more sophisticated industry. It’s no longer so transactional and is now highly relationship-focused. We support clients to build their businesses through great talent and increasingly act as guides to candidates throughout their entire careers. That’s the beauty of recruitment – you get to follow people’s careers and watch them grow. I placed graduates back in 1999 that have now become senior and executive leaders, and in the best cases they’ve become clients themselves.

What about changes in the procurement space?

Just like recruitment itself, the procurement profession has moved away from its traditionally transactional function and is increasingly commercial-focused and strategically positioned. Things are evolving fast – the challenge for us at The Source is to keep ahead of the ever-changing expectations that organisations have in regard to the role of their procurement functions.

What levels of seniority do you recruit for at The Source?

We recruit from CPO down to the specialist level, but personally I look after the senior to executive space. This involves a broad salary range: about $150k to $350k (AUD). Clients work with us typically when it’s a hard-to-fill role, or when there’s a confidential restructuring going on and they can’t advertise. We’re in the mix – we’re searching for and networking with procurement talent all the time. Basically, clients want to partner with us to gain access to our talent pool.

How can candidates get the best out of their relationship with a recruiter?

It’s important for both sides to be as transparent and upfront about their expectations. We’ll share all the details about the client’s brief to help you secure the perfect role, but we need candidates to share as much as possible to help us promote them. It’s good to be aware that recruitment takes time. While an analyst-level could be placed within one to two months, executive placements can take six to twelve months.

Do you work mainly with advertised roles, or “headhunting” top talent?

Most of our time is dedicated to nurturing what we call “passive talent”. That means we get in touch with professionals who may not necessarily be active in the job search but are open to considering opportunities in the near future. It’s all about developing and maintaining relationships – we take a very long term view.

What makes a stand-out candidate in your view?

I look for evidence of commercial acumen, strategic agility, a relationship focus and of course a strong people focus. These soft skills make people stand out. Candidates need to be good networkers (through organisations such as The Faculty) and be able to demonstrate strong business partnering both internally and externally.

Stability is important, for example in Category Management you’ll need to prove you’ve been through an end-to-end strategic procurement lifecycle or in the case of Senior Leaders, you’ll talk to your strengths in change management and business transformation. Both of which usually take about two to three years.

So two to three years is the minimum period you should stay in an organisation?

In my view, yes. But the flipside of that is when we see someone who has sat in a role for ten years and hasn’t progressed their career, that doesn’t usually suggest drive and ambition.

Got any tips for preparing a CV and attending an interview?

The best CVs are kept simple and list stand-out quantifiable achievements. Keep track of the things you’ve accomplished.

You can never do enough research before an interview. Read everything on the company website, search for key individuals on LinkedIn, review company financial statements (easy to access for publicly listed organisations), reach out to networks. There’s no excuse for not being prepared for the “what do you know about us” question. Interview preparedness is an indication of how organised you will be on the job.

Thanks Tony. It sounds like you’re a key person to know in the Australian procurement profession.

I’d encourage anyone who’s interested in a confidential career discussion to get in touch with The Source, whether you’re actively seeking a new role or would just like to start the conversation about your career future.

The Source is a boutique mid to senior and executive recruitment and search consultancy with national reach specialising in the procurement market. For more details, visit The Source.

The Great Procurement Social Value Bake-Off

How promoting social value in public contracts should be the icing on the procurement cake.

Bake off picture

Well, what a task! I’ve just finished commenting on the draft statutory guidance to implement the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act, perhaps one of the most ambitious pieces of public procurement legislation that the world has ever seen!

Worryingly, in amongst the feedback from colleagues, is the concern that including social value considerations in contracts would push up the contract price (Here in Scotland we call them Community Benefit Clauses).

This view was echoed at the 2015 CIPS conference where lawyer David Hansen cautioned against going overboard when applying social value provisions.

But does including an element relating to social value really have to cost much more? Isn’t it something where the public sector can rightly use to take action to put the icing on the cake of great procurement?

Absolutely I say! And while I may not come close to Mary Berry’s cake making, here’s my recipe for success when it comes to Social Value Clauses.

Helen’s Recipe for the Perfect Social Value Clause

  1. Sift the social value clause into a bowl.

Social Value clauses (aka community benefit clauses) are really in vogue in Scotland just now. They’ve been included in all sorts of construction projects to generate thousands of opportunities for apprentices in the building industry, working on things like the facilities for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games or the new Forth Road Crossing.

I actually don’t know of many local authorities this side of Hadrian’s Wall who haven’t managed to get an apprenticeship or student placement into one of their major works contracts.

But it’s not just works contracts where social value can be included.

We’ve managed to secure community benefit clauses in our services contracts for things like sponsored places for the third sector at conferences and additional contact time for people receiving care at home from the supplier who delivers pre-prepared meals.

The key is, as David Hansen rightly advised CIPS colleagues, to keep things proportionate to the contract and sift out the irrelevant that will add cost.

I mean, you only need a bit of innovative thought. Just what social value can a Peterborough based IT system supplier to your Benefits Service provide when you’re based in the Outer Hebrides? IT prizes for schools? Maybe a couple of tablet PCs for people most in need?

  1. Mix in the Third Sector when it starts to boil

Keeping third sector organisations hot, engaged and ready to tender for public contracts can give a real extra dimension to the value you can achieve.

Not only will you have secured savings and benefits arising from a fabulously crafted specification and procurement strategy, but you’ll also be able to award the contract to a third sector organisation whose sole purpose is to give something back.

Awarding a contract to a third sector provider will mean your social value can really start to rise.

Awarding a community transport contract to the third sector means the outreach work they do with vulnerable people is safeguarded as they can now spread their overheads, admin and fleet costs, across more than one income stream.

What about a car maintenance contract, which, if awarded to a garage run by the third sector, can provide work placement opportunities to men who’ve been unemployed for a considerable length of time and who perhaps need a bit more support due to addiction problems or mental health issues?

You see, you can never add too much of the third sector to your recipe; the key is to make sure they’re hot and ready to bid.

  1. Finally, add the secret ingredient

Just when you think you’ve created the best social value cake you can, you need to add the pivotal secret ingredient that’s going to win you the procurement bake off prize:

User engagement and participation in the process.

Delivering real social value must be about putting service users and the community at the heart of what procurement does. Where our contracts affect people’s lives we should be out there asking them what outcomes they want to see delivered and getting them to make the choices about which supplier is used.

We’ve being pushing the boundaries up here in the Outer Hebrides through our participatory budgeting bus services project in Uist and Barra (check out @YourBus for details). But we’re not alone, Orkney have done a great job by engaging with users and carers to commission services and there’s been innovative engagement with deaf service users as part of procurement processes in Nottingham.

Putting the people who matter at the heart of the process not only means better contracts and potential reductions in cost but also, and perhaps most importantly, the legacy of a group of people whose confidence has grown.

Social Value must be at the Heart of every Procurement Recipe

Social Value does not need to be expensive, nor does it need to be ‘an optional extra’. When you view it as part of the recipe for public contracts, it’s that extra ingredient that takes the cake from average to amazing.

And suddenly, you’ll be delivering more than just contracts, you’ll be making a difference to the people your organisation is there to serve.

So why not try my recipe for social value and maybe you can win first price in the Great Procurement Bake Off!

Be Social to Perform

Marc Zuckerberg, the father of the most well-known social network recently stated: “I think a simple rule of business is, if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress”.

Be-Social

We probably all believe in the use of social media and social networking pages, however up until now there was no academic evidence that job related use of social media for procurement managers actually positively affects their job performance.

A recent study of Maastricht University, School of Business and Economics (NL) revealed interesting insights and proofs that social media, if used and applied correctly for the job, can actually increase individual job performance of procurement professionals. Prof. Dr. Frank Rozemeijer and Jonas Heller developed two research models – the one that explains the relationship of the job-related social media usage and procurement job performance will be covered in this article.

Positive Relationship

Companies usually tend to block social network sites for their employees to prevent distraction at the workplace or reduce the perceived security threat of public networks. According to the study of Maastricht University, procurement companies should reevaluate their social media policies for their procurement professionals.

The study tested the relationship of active and passive job related social media usage on procurement job performance. “Active” job related social media usage is defined as creating & sharing content with the community or engaging in on-line discussions communication, whereas “passive” usage implies searching and consuming content created by others. A positive direct relationship was found for both, active and passive job related social media usage.

Networking and Learning

In addition, to understand how the use of social platforms affects the procurement manager’s performance, the study investigated on two important tasks which are part of a procurement manager’s job: Networking capabilities and individual learning.

Networking capabilities are described as a managers capabilities to establish, maintain and develop (business) networks. Individual learning describes an individual’s capability to build knowledge through reflection about external stimuli and sources, and through using this knowledge in the workplace.

Procurement managers nowadays need a dense network of suppliers and industry contacts to ensure sustainable business performance. Connecting with peers in the procurement world helps procurement managers to maintain an overview over the market and fosters buyer-supplier relationships.

In addition, staying up to date about market developments, technological innovations and changes in rules and regulations are a crucial part of the learning process of every procurement manager’s job. Based on literature and semi-structured interviews with procurement managers, a research model was developed which was tested through an on-line survey amongst 103 procurement professionals from various industries that were active on social media.

First, the study found a direct, positive relationship of active and passive job related social media usage on procurement job performance. The direct effect of passive job related social media usage on procurement job performance is stronger than the direct effect of active social media usage.

Active Social Media

Further, the results showed that networking capabilities and individual learning fully mediate the direct positive effect of active social media, indicating that the positive effect is only present if social media is used for networking or learning activities (e.g. acquiring knowledge online by reading tweets or group discussions in procurement networks such as Procurious). Furthermore, the relationship of passive social media usage is partially mediated by networking capabilities and individual learning, suggesting that there are additional variables that still need to be investigated to explain this relationship.

The direct positive effect of networking capabilities and individual learning underlines the importance of these two activities for procurement professionals that aim to perform better than their colleagues.

The findings of this study are the first of its kind and finally proof a positive impact of job related social media usage on procurement job performance. Those insights can be crucial for procurement managers and recruiters. In a next article you will read about factors to influence job related social media usage within your company or procurement team.

Getting the Most out of Procurious in 2016

A very Happy New Year from everyone at Procurious HQ.

2016

We hope you enjoyed the festive break, survived the family Christmas and dodgy TV scheduling, managed to relax and have come back to work ready to continue the good work we kicked off in 2015.

Procurious has gone from strength-to-strength over the past 12 months, with our community growing to a fantastic 9,750 members. But the work isn’t even half done yet – we want to continue growing and get even more procurement and supply chain professionals as possible on the site.

Get the Most out of Procurious

If you’re new to the site, or have resolved to squeeze as much from Procurious as you can in the coming year, then here are a few top tips for you:

1. Complete your Profile

If you haven’t already, make sure your profile is complete and up to date. Social media profiles with a picture get around 25 per cent more interaction than those without, so add a good picture.

Make sure you complete your location, industry and category, as well as your work experience, so you can get the most from the community by connecting with people you have common interests and work with.

2. Link Your Social Media Profiles

2016 is the year for procurement to push ahead with its efforts in social media. If you have a LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook account, link it with your profile.

Not sure where to get started with social media? Make starting this your aim for January! Procurious can help with that, and offer you and your organisation a tool to boost your brands.

3. Download the App

If you didn’t know already, Procurious is launching an app! Keep an eye out for announcements on when the app will go live, but it’s sure to be worth the wait. It’s only for iOS at the moment, but we’ll be looking to roll out a version for Android later in the year so no-one misses out.

It’ll be free to download and it means you can take Procurious with you wherever you go!

4. Find a Networking Event

January is a great time to start looking for events you can attend in the early part of the year. Check out the Procurious Events Calendar and see if there is something in your area – this is a great way to connect with fellow Procurians too.

Have we missed one? Let us know and we can add it in.

5. Start or Contribute to a Discussion

Procurious members started over 400 discussions last year, and provided an amazing 2000+ answers for these burning questions. We picked out the most popular Discussions of 2015 – you can read about them here.

If you have a burning question or want to share your thoughts, and you can’t find the question already, then take the opportunity to do this now!

6. Join a Group

Find a Group that is specifically for your category, location or job and connect. Can’t find one for you? Why not create one and invite people to join.

If you’re not sure which Groups are currently on Procurious, check out our article on getting the most out of them.

7. Top Up Your Skills

Check out the Learning hub for a huge selection of fascinating and insightful videos and podcasts. We have over 80 eLearning resources from a variety of well-known professionals, renowned thought leaders and forward thinking organisations – best of all, they are all free to download!

From an Introduction to Procurement, to the future of procurement and all the content from the Big Ideas Summit 2015, there is something for everyone.

If you think we’re missing something, let us know.

8. Write for Us!

Over the past 18 months, we have carefully crafted a selection of high-quality content for you to peruse, digest and enjoy. And while we’ve had a lot of fun doing it, we think it’s high time for you to have a shot!

Get involved with Procurious by sending us an idea for a guest blog article and you could be published on the site this year. Get all the information you need here.

That’s more than enough to keep you all busy for the first few weeks of this year! We are dedicated to developing Procurious for our members, so if you think there is something missing from the site, or something that could improve it, get in touch. We always love to hear from our members!

2015 Rewind – Best of the Blog: Being at the Table – A CPO’s Tale of Woe

Our final rewind comes courtesy of one of our guest writers and friends of Procurious, Giles Breault. The article, originally shared on LinkedIn discusses what procurement needs to do to take its seat at the table.

Being at the Table – A CPO’s tale of woe

 

Some days ago while having a business lunch the topic of “being at the table” arose. It was our client’s fervent hope that as a newly appointed CPO, (a move that presumably underlined the importance of procurement) he one day would sit as a peer at the EXCOM table contributing to the strategy, growth and performance of the business. Well, thinks I, what a wonderful place to consider the notion of being at the table, while being at a luncheon table myself. It got me to thinking of the roles and responsibilities of those at and around the table.

The Options

Of course there are those whose knowledge, experience, and position, earn them a right to 1) be at the table and direct the actions of others, but there are also others at work in this community. There are those who 2) serve the table and whose unique knowledge and skills answer the call for action from those seated. Then, there is 3) the chef whose specialised skills provide the provender for consideration, and lastly there is that which is 4) to be eaten (a role that I vaguely felt myself as having held a few times).

I further reflected on how many times I heard this same refrain from many CPOs whose pre-dominant career objective was to be recognised for contributing to the business at the highest level and ultimately report as a board level peer.  Moreover, I thought back on the many organisations I have come across where the “vital” role of procurement was often tucked way neatly in the CFO shop or Business Services shop where the chance of ever getting a seat at the executive table was remote at best.

Given the fact that procurement is now recognised as a key stakeholder in organisational performance, what is holding it back from somehow being fully accepted into the community of senior leaders? While no answer is fully sufficient in a short blog, a couple of themes have emerged over the years in our work with organisations going through their own procurement transformation.

While business knowledge and acumen are the principle differentiators between those around the EXCOM table and those not, there is something more fundamental that is separating the procurement leader from the full approbation of their business colleagues. To put it back in the frame of my table metaphor,

“You don’t belong seated if you still sound like a waiter”.

And that is the essential point.

The Prerequisites

Two major things must occur that help propel procurement organisations to the senior level of strategy. Firstly, procurement must lose the connection to purchase orders. I hear some of you shouting “Heresy!”, but what I mean is that the procurement leader has an extraordinary difficulty of representing him/herself as a strategic player when the next topic of conversation is; “What is your order placement efficiency?“ Every effort should be made not to own any portion of the operative procurement cycle.

Secondly and most importantly, is the fact that procurement organisations often make a vital error by creating a separate strategy for themselves that does not altogether align with the strategy of the business. What is more, is that the strategy is often unclear how it contributes to the business in a way that satisfies more than just the finance manager.

We often find that procurement leaders speak a different language from that of other senior business leaders. While they speak of category strategies, the business is interested in how real projects bring value to their organisations. While they speak of vendor management and control the business is seeking out how external innovations can help fuel business growth.

The Solution

We advocate two distinct approaches to these dilemmas.

Firstly, develop a strategy that links to the business and directly connects benefits generated to your internal clients. We call these the pillars of successful strategic procurement and the steps are broadly as follows:

  1. Create a procurement strategy directly linked to the company’s goals
  2. Embed the annual procurement cycle into the company business cycle
  3. Drive “Lighthouse” projects directly supporting internal business clients
  4. Pull value through by having the ability to directly influence team actions
  5. Ensure that reporting is visible to your customer and ideally conducted by an organisation other than procurement

Secondly, develop an improved process of understanding the needed innovations required by your ultimate customer and significantly improve the way innovations are sought, collected, evaluated and ultimately adopted from the supplier base. We call this call the Trading Relationship Management process, and Procurement has a natural home at the heart of it.

While there is no guarantee that armed with these dual capabilities, there will be instant recognition of procurement as a future EXCOM member. However what is certain, is that Procurement will begin to demonstrate that it is not just generating business wide savings but can show where and how that value is generated and most importantly how such benefits accrue directly to internal stakeholders. Likewise other business leaders will also recognise procurement’s role as the conduit to supplier enabled innovation. Taken together, these elevate the strategic language of the function.

I explored these ideas with my lunch guest who understood and recognised how important it was for his team to strategically transform, but like so many such discussions it had to be cut short due to pressing issues at the client’s facility (I think he had to go check how many requisitions had been placed that day).

Procurious Big Ideas Keynote #6 – How People Create Alchemy in Organisations

Sarah Trota, founder of sarahtrotaalchemy and Personnel Today HR Director of the Year 2013, provided a different viewpoint in her keynote, that of procurement’s relationship with HR.

Sarah discussed her own model for how to create ‘alchemy’ within organisations – the focus of the idea is on properly engaging with employees, ensuring they are satisfied and as a result, producing better outcomes for the business.

Watch the full keynote here.

See all the keynotes and panel discussions from the Big Ideas Summit, plus Big Ideas from our 40+ Influencers.

Like this? Join Procurious for FREE and meet like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

2015 Rewind – Best of the Blog: Social Media – Breaking News and Misinformation

Our third revisit comes from later in the year, in the wake of the terrible events in Paris in November. Social media played a huge role in the development of the story, and we looked at the power of these platforms for good and bad reasons.

paris-peace

Social media was awash this weekend with information, news and an overwhelming outpouring of sympathy in the wake of the atrocities in Paris on Friday night.

The Procurious team would like to take this opportunity to offer our most sincere condolences and sympathies to people of Paris, and all those affected by this horrendous act of terrorism. We would also offer the same sympathies to the people of Beirut, Syria, Iraq and Egypt, who have all suffered similar attacks in recent days and weeks.

Social media has changed how the world sees events such as the ones in Paris. Breaking news, information and pictures all appear on the Internet during the events, with people uploading their first-hand accounts on the ground.

But, while social media can be a force for good, and a fantastic tool to help victims and their families, there is also a darker side, with misinformation, vitriol and rhetoric all spread in equal measure, often taking the focus away from the real story.

The Good

As the attacks in Paris unfolded on Friday night, many people turned to their phones to get an understanding of what was going on. With the news cycles taking time to unfold, social media was able to fill that gap with the headlines as they broke.

As well as providing access to the breaking news, social media accounts were being used to communicate with families and friends, to let others know that people were safe. Facebook immediately launched its “I’m Safe” button, which was first used during the Nepalese earthquake earlier this year, allowing a simple way to notify hundreds of people at once.

Not for the first time, a Twitter hashtag trended in the wake of the attacks. The #porteouverte hashtag offered a place to stay for those affected by the events, similar to the #illridewithyou hashtag, which trended in December last year following terror attacks in Sydney.

A sign of sympathy, a sign of solidarity, showcasing all the good that social media can accomplish in these situations.

The Bad

For all the good that social media can do, there is a dark side to the power that is wielded by its users. Giving everyone a voice allows for the support and sympathy, but also gives a voice to misinformation and ignorance.

For the most part, the misinformed stories that appear in the aftermath of such events are not malicious. A small story or throwaway quote can be exaggerated out of all proportion, taking on a ring of ‘truth’ as it spreads across social media.

Stories of the Eiffel Tower lights being turned off as a mark of respect (the lights are always turned off at a certain time of night) and of fires at the Calais refugee camp due to an act of retaliation (the cause is still unknown, but pictures were from a fire in November), are just some of the ‘facts’ that grew legs thanks to the virality of social media.

Where the misinformation is malicious, it can lead to hatred and prejudice being spread, and innocent people being targeted as a result. Already there have been arrests in the UK as a result of social media posts over the weekend.

Unifying Force

The power for good of social media outweighs the power for bad in most cases. The volume of news and information we all have access to means we can be better informed and more up to date on all the breaking stories. It would be a shame to see a tool that has the potential for being a conduit for social good be lost to the many, as a result of the actions of the few.

We have the responsibility to use this wealth of information appropriately, and keep our posts factual, especially when it comes to breaking news and events like Friday night (please still have your own opinions – this is part of the beauty of social media too!).

Let’s ensure that we use social media as a unifying force across the world, share quality information (and the occasional cat video…), shine a light in dark corners and allow us to create a global community. Are you in?