It’s grand-final week at The Faculty. The team has been working towards this week for months – there are whiteboards all over the office covered in scribbled plans and brainstorming, the printer has been running almost continuously and the atmosphere here is at fever-pitch. It’s the week of the 8th Annual Asia-Pacific CPO Forum, a 2-day event where we’ll be hosting no fewer than 56 of the region’s top CPOs, with a collective influence over $180 billion spend.
But that’s not all. This week will see no fewer than six major events, namely the Future Leaders in Procurement Forum (FLiP) followed by the Future Leaders’ Dinner, the National CPO Roundtable Meeting, the CPO Forum itself, an executive breakfast with The Hon. Jeff Kennett, and the CPO Forum Gala Dinner – the networking event of the year if you want to mix with the who’s who of procurement in the Asia Pacific.
The events run over the next three days, and attendees have been arriving at Melbourne Airport to be greeted by typical May gloom – overcast with a threat of rain, and temperatures dropping as low as six degrees tonight. No matter, though – we’re prepared for the usual witty comments about our weather from Sydneysiders and other delegates from the sunny north, and we have such an action-packed program lined up that there’ll be no thought of stepping outside the event venues until the end of each day.
I’m going to cover the events through a series of blogs, bringing you the big ideas, themes, news and surprises from the next three days. There’s so much happening that it’ll be impossible to cover it all, so I’ll be sending you the highlights, along with the key take-outs from my colleagues and the attendees. Lisa Malone is here representing the team at Procurious, and she tells me to keep an eye on the hashtags #CPOforum15 and #FLiP15 @TheFacultyHQ.
So, what’s happening today?
There are two major events happening concurrently today, catering to two sets of attendees in very different stages of their careers. At Melbourne’s Park Hyatt Hotel, 32 delegates are gathering for the Future Leaders in Procurement (FLiP) forum. Who are they? They’re category managers, procurement analysts, sourcing specialists and other role-holders from organisations all over the region, and as the name of the event suggests, they’re the region’s future leaders of the procurement profession. Nurturing these top-performers and giving them every opportunity to develop their leadership capabilities, define their career paths and expand their professional networks is an absolutely key part of the much-discussed “war for talent”. The very fact that these 32 rising stars are in attendance today is a fantastic reflection on the organisations they represent – these companies have recognised and rewarded their most talented individuals by making the time and resources available for them to attend. That’s a big deal, when you consider the frenetic pace of modern procurement careers and the rare chances we get to come up for air, focus on ourselves and consider what’s ahead.
The FLiP delegates have a huge day ahead. They’ll be learning from some of the nation’s leading CPOs including Keith Bird (QLD Rail), Andrew Ordish (AMP) and Cindy Dunham (Fortescue), along with experts on the human side of being a leader (team-building, trust-building and understanding customer mindsets) – Dave Lourdes (Evolving Human Potential) and Dan Gregory (CEO of The Impossible Institute and a regular on ABC’s Gruen Transfer). Other big names include Holly Ransom (Chief of Staff to the NAB Wealth Chief Executive and one of Financial Review’s 100 Most Influential Women), who will challenge delegates to smash through their comfort zones and practice big-picture thinking. Laurel Papworth (Forbes Top 50 Social Media Influencers and Educator, UNSW) will guide the attendees through the critical role of social media and its power to drive deeper market insights and foster supplier innovation.
Meanwhile, here at The Faculty headquarters, the biggest players in the business are arriving for the National CPO Roundtable Meeting. The Roundtables for Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth meet on a quarterly basis, but this gathering is the only opportunity in the year for all 26 attendees to meet as a group. They’re here today because they recognise the immense opportunities offered by networking with their cross-sector peers, the benefits gained from procurement market intelligence and the unparalleled power of collaborative learning. I’m privileged to be sitting in on their meeting today and I’m aware that up-and-coming procurement professionals such as those gathering at the FLiP forum would give anything to be a fly on the wall in this room. In fact, we’re confident that when the time comes, a number of the FLiP attendees will one day take their own places at this meeting, and that’s very exciting.
The CPOs will be sharing their challenges for the financial year ahead and exploring the critical issues facing them individually and collectively. They’ll be hearing from The Faculty’s Founding Chairman Tania Seary on The Big Ideas Summit that was recently such a success in London, and from Braam Uys (Rio Tinto) on his “Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove” approach to supplier relationship management. We’re expecting some provocative ideas to come out of the group discussions, and looking forward to those “a-ha!” moments where one CPO is able to provide a solution to another’s challenge.
So, the two meetings today have different agendas but there are certainly some common themes that will be tackled by the two groups – leadership, embedding change, raising the profile of procurement and, most of all, networking. The most exciting part of the day, for me, will come at 4.00pm when the CPOs wrap up their meeting and walk the two blocks to the Park Hyatt to offer the FLiP delegates a CPO Mentoring Masterclass. By this point of the day, the “FLiPpers” will be bursting with new ideas, inspiration and excitement about taking their learnings back to their organisations. They’ll get the opportunity to bounce these ideas off the CPOs, or perhaps seek advice on their greatest challenges, or simply discuss their vision for a stellar career path in procurement.
As exciting as the day ahead will be, I have to keep reminding myself that it’s only a preliminary to the main event ahead – the CPO Forum. But I’ll save that for another blog. The CPOs are coming through the door, so I’m going to get a coffee and settle in to find out what the future holds in store for procurement in the Asia-Pacific.