He can influence how one of Australia’s most iconic companies spends more than a billion dollars every year. But it’s all just part of the job for Tony Huang, who’s in charge of strategic sourcing at telecommunications provider, Telstra.
Tony heads up this important function for the telecommunications and media giant, making him accountable for the sourcing strategy across all categories. He’s been with Telstra since 1999.
He’s a highly influential part of the senior team at Telstra, and a major player in many of the large and significant projects implemented by Telstra. Many of these have massive impacts on the way Australians interact every day.
A few years ago, Tony took up a role working for Telstra subsidiary CSL in Hong Kong, where he led the mobile device marketing team.
“This role came along through my professional networks, and the learnings I took away from the experience transformed me and the way I’ve operated ever since,” Tony says.
He was ready for a new challenge 18 months later, so returned to Australia, walking into Telstra’s senior strategic sourcing manager IT procurement role.
And yet despite the huge demands of his job, Tony puts a lot of energy into coaching and mentoring staff, which gives him the chance to share the skills he’s learned along the way.
“I enjoy making a difference and improving the experience of my staff’s time in Telstra. It’s a diverse organisation, and you’ve got the opportunity to work in many difference roles.”
While his skills would be a valuable asset for any Australian company, Tony expects he’ll stay loyal to Telstra, predicting he’ll still be there in a decade.
“Telstra is a diverse organisation that gives staff the opportunity to work in many difference roles. The company also gives you the opportunity to work on the latest and greatest in just about every category.”
Companies bold enough to step into social procurement are discovering that it’s helping solve business problems and also improving the bottom line.
A recent report on social procurement found that the movement is gathering momentum both in governments and private businesses around the world.
The report, Corporate Social Procurement in Australia, was conducted by Australia’s leading social enterprise development organisation, Social Traders and The Faculty, and found that 67 per cent of companies to respond currently undertake social procurement, or intend to do so in the near future.
It found that more than $905 million was directed to social procurement by 11 businesses. This figure is expected to rise quickly, with another 18 respondents committed to connecting social procurement initiatives by 2014. The research included a literature review and a survey of 21 Australian businesses with a market capitalisation of $221 billion.
Many companies tip their toes into social procurement with a pilot program, or undertake work within discrete business areas. Some go on to develop company policies to ensure social procurement becomes the norm.
A program’s success is usually measured by jobs created, volume and percentage of total money spent, and the value delivered to the organisation and the community.
Leighton Contractors chief procurement officer, Visna Lampasi is one of those in this space to facilitate a significant engagement project with indigenous businesses into the supply chain, increasing expenditure with indigenous suppliers to $3 million last year, with a $5 million target set for this year. This achievement has gone partway toward seeing her named CPO of the Year for 2014.
Craig Laslett, managing director of Leighton Contractors says the company believes it has a responsibility to contribute to the growth and advancement of Indigenous people and communities.
“Our organisation-wide focus on strong leadership and advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Straight people and their communities starts from the top, with my personal commitment to enhancing the lives and opportunities for Indigenous Australians.”
Leading Australian construction, mining and services contractors, Thiess Services moved into this space more than a decade ago when it invited a social enterprise specialising in land care management, Marriott Enviro Services, to provide workers for landscape operations to general maintenance, grass and garden maintenance and painting.
Since 2009, Thiess has spent around $1.3 million a year with Marriott, which employs a large number of people with a disability.
Australian FMCG brand Cadbury also made a strategic decision to shift to Fair Trade certified cocoa in 2010, at a cost of $45 million. Soon after this, Cadbury became the world’s largest buyer of certified cocoa, with sales increasing.
Todd Stitzer, CEO of Cadbury said in an interview included in the report that: “The greatest power consumers have is of their buying dollar … if consumers feel that they want products more ethically produced, they should buy what they value.”
And yet, many corporates have little understanding of social procurement.
Matthew Bonwick of The Faculty Management Consultants says that the greatest challenge to the implementation of social procurement is where to start.
The key is to start small and work up to bigger things, he says.
“Many passionate advocates can be found on the ground floor of corporates, so identify existing leaders from within before scaling up,” he says.
Broad spectrum adoption from within a company is critical to corporate legitimacy in the medium run, he says.
“As markets develop and consumers become more educated, these strategies will become defining elements of competitor advantage. And key enablers will be passionate people and strategic senior managers who are willing to support the learning curve.”
Social media can be an erratic and angry beast. One minute your company is being praised, and the next it’s under fire for a minor procurement program that’s somehow landed in serious hot water.
To stay out of trouble, make sure you are prepared for any social media crisis well before there’s any sign of trouble.
Start by working up to a worst case scenario by considering what could go wrong, recommends Sydney social media trainer Steven Lewis of Taleist.
Consider who is going to be called in from other duties to lend a hand if trouble hits, he says.
“The first step in handling a crisis is to be prepared for the eventuality in the first place. If you’re prepared, you’ll know who’s going to speak, what they need, and you’ll have your channels and processes in place and tested. Having thought about those things in advance frees you up to think strategically when dealing with the specifics of a crisis,” Lewis says.
Conduct a risk assessment on each of your processes so you know how they might be questioned or attacked, and by whom, Lewis advises.
“Create a tailored response to each process that allows you to give clear justification, preferably with supporting evidence. If, for instance, you’re accused of using a supplier who uses child labour, what policies, inspections or assurances from the supplier can you cite and what would your response be to an accusation?”
People expect their corporate citizens to have human qualities, so don’t be afraid to respond on with some emotion, he says.
If you don’t know something you’re being asked, say so.
“It’s not good for a clothing brand, for example, to say it’s never even considered there might be child labour in its overseas supply chain, but you might not have all the facts to hand immediately. But an empathetic response and a promise to investigate with a deadline will help.”
In this example, he suggests a response such as: ‘We care deeply about child labour too and we’d be horrified to find we’d supported it even directly.”
It’s important to respond online, he says.
“You need to be in the channels in which you’re being discussed. If you’re being attacked on Twitter, it’s not enough to put up a media release on your website. How will the people on Twitter know it’s there?”
Remember, a social media crisis seldom involves a rational exchange of views, he says.
“Essentially, you have to be prepared for the emotion of a crisis. If you plan to deal with the crisis only through the cold exchange of facts, you won’t put out the fire.”
Get your side of the story up quickly and in the relevant media, he says.
“You’ll likely have supporters and the more you can give them to share and get your side out, the better.”
However, be prepared to wear the criticism, he says.
“In social media as in politics, it’s often the cover-up that will get you. People don’t like having their comments deleted,” Lewis warns.
International Jiu Jitsu competitor Jason Ng loves nothing better than unwinding from a day at the office with a training session of the Brazilian style of martial arts.
“The sport has a huge strategic, strength and athletic component to it, which is similar to Judo. And strangely enough, the stresses I put on my body during training allow my mind to relax.”
The Melbourne man spent three years in banking and finance, but was so moved by the impacts of negative macro-economic factors on companies that he wanted to be part of the solution.
“I read some good news stories about some high performing procurement divisions turning around ailing businesses, and this made me want to be a part of those impacting on the bottom line.
“I really felt I could apply my financial, negotiation and relationship management skills to help companies spend more wisely, so transitioned into a newly created analyst role in healthcare a year ago.”
In that time, Jason has built savings dashboards and trackers, provided new ideas to sourcing strategies and built analytical tools for more efficient and meaningful data analysis.
He gets a thrill out of seeing savings he’s able to achieve for his company, which directly impact on hospitals as well as patient’s lives.
“I like being in a role that makes an impact on an organisation’s bottom line, although making a positive impact on people’s lives has been an awesome bonus. It really puts into perspective the great outcomes that can come from a good procurement team.”
Career progression is important to him, and he will be assessing opportunities to step up into a procurement specialist/manager role in the near future.
Jason was taught the values of hard work by his family, who run a Chinese restaurant in Perth. During university, he studied full-time as well as co-running the family business.
He has two Bachelor degrees, two Masters and a desire to complete an MBA in the near future.
“I think this mentality has become increasingly scarce, especially in my Gen Y peers. Working hard has been the single most important factor in developing the foundations for a good career path, and has enabled me to achieve my goals.”
Procurement has long been one of those industries that people fall into. But that’s all changing, as people now make deliberate steps to forge a career in the profession.
The profile of procurement as a career choice has increased substantially over the years, which means that procurement professionals like Georgina Portelli don’t have to explain what she does for a job quite as much as when she started in the industry a little over a decade ago.
Closing the deal is my favourite part of the role.
Portelli started in procurement at Australian retail giant Myer and now works for Australian aged care provider, Regis.
Procurement is a good fit for her because she’s outcome focused and enjoys the influence her role has across the organisation, she says.
“Being a procurement professional is a very important part of who I am, and I take a significant amount of pride and satisfaction in what I do. I feel very fortunate that the skills I have learnt in my profession lend themselves to broader life skills. I feel that I can capitalise on my commercial acumen to negotiate my way through life. Closing the deal is my favourite part of the role.”
Procurement was also the goal from the very beginning for Newcrest Mining supply specialist Georgia Brandi.
She made a deliberate decision to work in procurement after watching her mother rise through the ranks.
“While I made my own decision to enter procurement, my mother and her friends all seemed to work in procurement, so it was very familiar to me,” Brandi explains.
Chantelle Genovezos came into the profession as a graduate and is now a procurement specialist for The Faculty Management Consultants.
She describes working on a new venture from its development as a roller coaster ride.
“For every slow ascent you have a very fast descent and you can’t always know what’s coming next. Plus, you get to make a big impact and shape the way things go. It’s all a lot of fun,” she says.
Part of the attraction is no doubt the fact that the role of procurement within the business world has evolved into a leading function with a powerful reach across so many facets of a company.
But as outlined in The Faculty’s research paper The X Factor – A Procurement Leadership Whitepaper, this is putting growing pressure on the talent pipeline and the ongoing need to attract qualified candidates into the profession.
Procurement professionals need broad skills, including the ability to demonstrate good business sense, financial management, a flair for communication and negotiation and an understanding of the global market place, the research paper found.
Marisa Menezes, managing director of The Source says procurement is one of the few professions that offer a whole business view and exposure.
“Working across all function areas gives a wonderful opportunity to meet and develop good working relationships with key influencers in the business. This is why people say that procurement is often a pathway to the CEO’s office,” Menezes says.
A selection of interesting and useful apps for your everyday use.
Buoyed by Procurious member Georgia Brandi’s discussion topic on productivity tools, we’ve come up with a few ideas of our own. Every day numerous apps are released into app stores the world over, but how do you know which ones are really worth your while?
My Destination iPhone and iPad (from free)
While My Destination isn’t the newest name on the block (owing to an already successful iPad iteration) – the iPhone version has just been released into the wild.
My Destination offers tips and insights from over 300 local experts around the globe. 100+ destination travel guides, an interactive map, and travel planner all number among its features. It will also save you from racking-up extortionate roaming charges because the premium version works offline too. The developer tells us that an Android version is coming soon.
It’s like having your own personal travel guide in your pocket…
Word Lens iOS and Android (from free)
You may have seen Word Lens in the news recently – owing to its makers, Quest Visual, being acquired by Google.
Word Lens comes to the aid of the tongue-tied traveller, knocking down language barriers with ease, and providing you with a greater understanding of the locale at large.
The app works by translating printing words using your device’s in-built camera. Plus with in-app purchases you translate anything from Russian to Portuguese.
You’ll soon be talking like a local!
Swarm iOS and Android (free)
The arrival of Swarm follows Foursquare’s decision to unbundle its services into two separate apps.
Swarm bills itself as ‘the fastest way to keep up and meet up with your friends’ – it takes Foursquare’s location-aware kahunas and uses it to notify you if anyone is nearby. Perfect if you’re attending a conference in a strange city and want to find like-minded individuals. It’s also a doddle to share a status, and let everybody know what you’re up to.
It’s currently available on both iOS and Android devices, but Windows Phone users will have to wait a little while yet…
TechSmith Fuse iOS (free)
If you’ve ever struggled to get photos or videos off your Apple device, then TechSmith Fuse might just be your saviour…
Gone are the days of clumsily emailing those holiday photos to yourself, Fuse utilizes QR barcodes to pair your PC/Mac with your favourite iThing. Thus enabling an easy import into apps like Snagit and Camtasia. All this is done via the wonders of WiFi, so your data allowance won’t take a hit – happy days!
The app requires iOS 7.0 to be running on your iPhone/iPad.
OmniFocus 2 Mac ($39.99)
OmniFocus 2 understands the pressures of the astute business professional… We’ve all got stuff to do, and balancing a healthy work life with home and play often takes a laser-like focus.
This app has been specially designed for the Mac user, and turns all those yellow post-it notes into one seriously organised workflow. It’s got a whole heap of features that can break your tasks/goals down into manageable actions and projects.
At $39.99 it’s not cheap, but what price can you really put on productivity?
Meeting with a competitor for coffee might not sound like something the boss would approve of. But perhaps you should think again.
Traditional competitors are putting aside professional differences to meet and share ideas in a new way of thinking that is gaining traction in workplaces around the world.
This approach is increasingly being referred to as ‘co-opetition’, which is a cross between competition and collaboration. And it’s enabling organisations to drive greater synergy and innovation in the workplace.
Co-opetition arrangements refer to organisations that would normally compete against each other understanding that they can gain greater synergies and competitive advantage by collaborating.
According to the executive education facilitator and program director at the Melbourne Business School, Dr Judy Kent, companies that draw a tight protective circle around themselves can fail to learn and grow. But those that subscribe to the ‘abundance’ theory are more likely to be open to new ideas.
According to a paper she wrote about co-opetition, it is sometimes referred to by analysts as ‘sleeping with the enemy’.
The paper explains that it can be hard to define competitive advantage these days with the blurring of boundaries through outsourcing and through alliances between customers and suppliers.
She writes: “These days, especially in the IT industry, there are whole cohorts of technicians outsourced to other companies. They are physically located in their customers’ premises and largely indistinguishable from that company’s employees.
Sometimes they don’t step foot in the company which pays them from one year to the next. Whose culture do they subscribe to? Which company do they feel part of? Where do they get their identity, loyalty and authority from?”
She continues by explaining that the boundaries are blurred even more as companies seek to partner with other companies that have traditionally been seen as the competition, now often referred to as co-opetition.
The paper explains that the word was coined by Roy Noordan, founder of Novell, and popularised by Adam Brandenburger from Harvard and Barry Nalebuff from Yale (1997). The pair designed a business simulation around the term which they describe as ‘a revolutionary new mindset that combines cooperation and competition, the game theory strategy that’s changing the game of business.
Dr Kent says: “Collaboration and establishing a strong network is critical for success in today’s commercial world. Competing procurement managers should come together and discuss their operations because more often than not, one and one makes three, and both companies can benefit from the synergies to be gained by looking at things through a different lens.”
The Melbourne Business School’s Procurement Executive Program has found that procurement managers from competing industries can learn a lot from each other to take back to their own organisations, but they know where to draw the line on sharing strategic information that should be kept in-house, she says.
Meeting with a competitor doesn’t imply that you have to share sensitive information with your competitors.
“You can have a relationship with them and discuss universal issues of people and process management without giving the game away,” Dr Kent says.
Interestingly, the Harvard Business Review Blog Network wrote about co-opetition recently. Author Marquis Cabrera wrote that sharing information is a good way to build trust with competitors in the lead-up to a co-opetition arrangement.
Cabrera says that these partnerships have also worked well for businesses that create new technologies given the high costs associated with research and development.
Susannah Thelander admits she had a sneaky peak in the dictionary on her first day of work in the procurement industry eight years ago. Because she wasn’t particularly sure what it meant.
She had landed a role with the tenders and contracts department of Victoria Police as part of the Victorian Graduate Scheme, where participants rotate through three government departments over a 12 month period.
Since then, Susannah has worked in private sector, public sector, consulting and now on a major infrastructure project at the Port of Melbourne Corporation.
She’s never been one to shy away from hard work. With a Bachelor of Arts (politics and philosophy) and a Bachelor of Science (maths and environmental science) under her belt when starting out, she’s since completed a Juris Doctor Masters of Law (with distinction) part-time, while holding down a full-time job.
She has her sights set on being a CEO or a senior executive in operations, perhaps, where she could broaden her knowledge of business and organisational challenges.
“I love the exposure procurement gives you to interesting activities across a business, and the opportunity to support these.”
However, the continual misconception that procurement folk simply follow process without considering whether their structures support the business frustrates her.
“Though in all fairness, that’s probably still true in some places. Procurement can often help with some of these pressures, but how well it’s implemented often comes down to the individual. If you’re passionate and engaged, you can find ways to be creative and show the value procurement can offer, even if you operate in the most constrained environment.”
Outside of work, Susannah likes snowboarding, bike riding, cooking and reading. She’s also about to start a group for young business women who want to learn to play golf.
And while she claims she’s not a great cyclist, she made the 210km ride to raise more than $3000 for the Smith Family to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds with their school expenses last year. Monumental, in anyone’s books.
“I’m passionate about the work of the Smith Family, and am looking for ways to be more involved with them this year, as long as it doesn’t involve me riding my bike a really, really long way again!”
Welcome to the first of our Procurious community updates – a place to fill you in on all of the news, developments, and announcements from Procurious HQ.
Procurious is currently in ‘beta’ – you’re helping us to make it better and iron out the bugs (hopefully there aren’t too many!) If you spot anything untoward or have an idea for a new feature, just drop us a line or comment below.
Hello to our 400+ members!
At the time of writing Procurious is only a couple of weeks young and we’re buoyed by your support so far. Here’s some quick facts:
On each visit the average user has spent 10 minutes on Procurious.
Procurious is proving popular in Australia, but we’re also attracting users from the UK and US too.
We’ve amassed over 26k page views to-date.
In February 2004 Mark Zuckerberg spoke out about a little-known social network. Something that was known simply back then as thefacebook.com…
Zuckerberg mused: “The nature of the site is that each user’s experience improves if they can get their friends to join it.”
Here at Procurious we believe the same thing is true, that’s why we’re keen to shine a little light on the inner-workings of the network.
Get others to join your network
To really get the most from the network you’ll need some buddies to share the experience with you. Fortunately we’ve made this easy: just click on the green ‘Invite contacts’ button to add connections from your LinkedIn account.
Once you’ve given Procurious permission to access to your LinkedIn account, select contacts to invite by clicking the tick box next to their name.
You’ll also be able to add a customised message to your invites before you send them. When done just hit ‘Send invitations’ and await their confirmation.
(Note: there’s a limit of 10 invites per day).
New feature: ‘User list’
As Procurious grows we’ll be building-in new functionality and adding cool new features. The first of which is the ‘User list’. Here you can see a list of every registered Procurious user, and choose who you want to add to your network.
The User list can be found in the drop-down menu, under your profile name.
We’re also working on implementing an ‘invite by email’ feature – we’ll share more news on this soon.
Flesh out your profile
So you’ve successfully signed up to Procurious – congratulations! But what next?
An empty profile is no fun for anyone. If you’ve already connected your LinkedIn account, you’re at least halfway to a richer personal page. Procurious imports most of your LinkedIn details, but you’ll need to update your dates of employment, and remember to save these changes before finishing.
If you haven’t added a profile photo, now would also be a good time to do it. People like to see who they’re talking to, and put a face to a name.
Have you checked out our learning videos yet?
Procurious isn’t just a place to network – you can delve into our learning resources and teach yourself a thing or two in the process.
All of the videos you’ll find on Procurious are available to view free of charge (we won’t ask you for credit card numbers or anything scary…)
Head on over to the ‘Learning’ page and check out the videos on offer. Each video offers a bite-size preview, so you can decide beforehand if you think you’ll enjoy the content within. Like what you see? Then it’s simply a case of clicking the ‘Add this class to cart’ button – remember, you won’t be charged a dollar/penny.