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Generation Procurement: Matthew Dierkx

Matthew Dierkx

Matthew Dierkx might rub shoulders with some of the country’s most elite sporting stars all day, but for the Melburnian, it’s all just another day at the office.

The procurement maven for the Australian Football League was offered the high profile role 18 months ago after working in procurement with the Melbourne Cricket Club. He’s met some of the best known sporting names in the country along the way.

Matthew has major influence on various levels of the AFL industry, from the elite level to grassroots. He’s assisting AFL clubs to get matches scheduled and organising accommodation where required. Other days, he could be providing AusKick Packs to youngsters starting out in the game.

And while Matthew might know how to kick a football, he’s quick to point out that he feels far more at home in the corporate box than on the field.

“I’ve always loved Australian sport, so it’s great that my occupation is directly related to the country’s favourite sport. As a nation, we have a close affinity with Australian Rules, and I achieve great satisfaction from contributing to that and being part of the team.”

With a Bachelor of Law/Economics from the University of Newcastle under his belt, Matthew walked straight into the procurement industry from university. His early taste of the profession included roles in the lead-up to the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, where he was charged with the task of procuring the all-important Games Timing and Scoring System.

And while he might be surrounded by sporting greats all day, he takes all that in his stride. He names his father as his best professional mentor to date.

“My father taught me that hard work and being an individual are incredibly important aspects of both your professional and private life. He also taught me that no one ever got anything by sitting on their backside,” Matthew, a young father himself, says.

His networking efforts thus far have been conducted on the side of a sporting field, but he’s looking forward to being an active part of the Procurious community.

Generation Procurement: Tehara Wickham

Tehara Wickham

Tehara Wickham was a young school girl when she migrated to Australia with her family. But the Sri Lankan-born woman ploughed through her studies, finished high school and then university studies in her new country.

She graduated and relocated to Sydney for a finance role before moving back to Melbourne six years later for a manufacturing industry position. At the time, she was heavily involved in the implementation of an electronic procure to pay system.

She enjoyed this process, and continued to look for new professional challenges, which were leaning towards the procurement profession.

But it wasn’t until she decided to return to university to complete a Bachelor of Business and Marketing degree while working full-time that a whole new world of professional opportunities started being offered to her.

“I’m proud of my ability to challenge myself and push outside my comfort zone to learn new things. Sometimes, this puts me in a vulnerable position, but I’m all the more appreciative and proud of my achievements in the end.

Tehara works in Melbourne’s trendy Docklands precinct in the National Australia Bank’s flexible working building with some 5,000 other bank employees. Her core task is raising awareness of procurement internally, ensuring consistency and best practice is adopted in the team and to deliver value to customers.

She names a procurement colleague in a previous job as having biggest influence on her career, empowering her to take some calculated professional risks.

“I will always be grateful to that person for being genuine and instilling confidence in the decisions I was making at the time,” she says.

Learning the importance of trusting her instinct has also been an important part of the job.

“I try not to have regrets about anything, and think of experiences as opportunities to grow.”

On a personal level, she named being a mother as her biggest achievement. “I’ve never been this sleep deprived before, whilst at the same time being high on the happiness that my children bring in to my life.”

Generation Procurement: Aurelie Roberts

Air New Zealand plane

French-born procurement expert Aurelie Roberts was surrounded by champagne when she started out in the profession 14 years ago.

As an intern with a French champagne producer, she was in charge of purchasing promotional items. At the time, the job was known as purchasing, not procurement, Aurelie explains.

This early start proved the ideal springboard into senior roles. Over the years, she’s procured everything from packaging, ingredients and marketing services for companies Cadbury/Schweppes and petroleum giant BP. Most recently, she was in strategic procurement for Air New Zealand, sourcing cabin interior items for new Airbus and Boeing aircrafts joining the fleet.

“My role for Air New Zealand was very eclectic. I would look after tenders for inflight items and supplier relationship management and work with a cross functional team of engineers, financiers, interior designers and marketers.”

She describes New Zealanders as glass half-full types who look for solutions. “They are creative enough to turn a less-than-ideal situation to their advantage. It’s no wonder Air New Zealand achieves such a surprising amount for its size.”

Aurelie named a previous colleague and friend as her mentor, although she’s since sought out a life coach that she sees regularly. “I feel supported by her, and she helps me keep disciplined.”

This French woman living in Australia certainly gets attention, with her accent and frankness catching others off guard sometimes. “Other times, its most definitely worked to my advantage,” she laughs.

Aurelie recently relocated from Auckland to Melbourne after her husband landed a new role. She has three young boys and is currently on maternity leave. She will seek work in Melbourne in a few months.

“I think it’s great to have inspiration from others to always improve and be the best we can be. My previous manager is an inspiration given how she manages to combine being a family, family life and work. It’s always a real juggle, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The Big Question: Could you live in a world without the iPhone?

A wrinkle in Apple’s supply chain could spell doom for the technology giant. Procurious wonders whether we ought to be worried.

The announcement of a new iPhone/iPad is the stuff of headline news the world over. Apple is one of the most respected titans in the hardware industry, its products have a stranglehold over the hearts and minds of millions (in-fact the level of fanaticism is downright spooky). OK there may be the odd misstep (lest we forget the Apple Maps debacle), but with its impressive track record and market dominance – Apple’s products represent go-to gadgets of choice for most businesses and consummate professionals the world over.

The iPhone’s and iPad’s ability to blend effortlessly into your (doubtless) existing Apple ecosystem makes a world without this modern staple unthinkable to many, but a worrying new report from Taiwan’s Commercial Times hints at dark days ahead for everyone’s favourite fruit.

The rumour mill says we can expect to see two new iPhones (iPhone 6) in the not-too-distant future. According to the paper however, production on the larger (5.5-inch) iPhone handset could be delayed until 2015 due to difficulties in sourcing a supplier for the super-thin 2mm battery. Apple’s tough ask involves shrinking their existing battery technology by a considerable 33% – such a demand puts suppliers under immense strain and will almost certainly affect the production cycle, the effects of which will reverberate the length of the chain.

There’s a convincing argument here for the power of the brand – at this stage in its heritage, Apple’s customers will happily wait for the next-generation to arrive in their hands. But how does this make you feel as procurement professionals – can you sympathise with the situation or this unrelenting thirst for innovation a reckless and dangerous play?

We must wonder too what this could mean for Apple. Can we expect to go through the same motions a few more years down the line – a couple more supply problems, a few more delays? If so disillusionment could surely (and will easily) set in. Look at the once mighty darling of enterprise – BlackBerry. Poor components and overall build-quality affected both the Storm and PlayBook, while delays to BlackBerry software and unsold inventory effectively unseated this once proud King.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – recent iPhone sales figures point to strong Apple earnings. Overall Apple saw a 4.6% increase in quarterly revenue, far-and-away beating Wall Street expectations. However iPad shipments were shown to be on the decline (an almost 20% drop – ouch), and with the company soon to enter the wearables marketplace we wonder whether Cupertino’s finest is starting to spread itself too thin…

We must remember that Apple is also forging ahead and reporting success in BRIC countries – the iPhone has just set sales records in Brazil, Russia, India and China. And with competitor Nokia also looking to developing markets to consolidate their rule, such space could prove quite the battleground in the fight for market dominance. Whatever the outcome, the future looks set to be very interesting indeed…

Are Apple’s products still the apple of your eye? Join in with the discussion! Leave your comments below.