All posts by Procurious HQ

Hope For the Best And Plan For The Worst: Dr Linda Yueh Talks Trump and Trade

Dr Linda Yueh, a renowned economist, broadcaster and Adjunct Professor of Economics for London Business School, discusses how supply managers can react to the major shifts in globalisation, trade and protectionism under Trump.

pittawut/Shutterstock.com

Yueh spoke with Philip Ideson as part of Procurious Even Bigger Ideas, a 5-part podcast series sponsored by State of Flux. You can access the series exclusively on Procurious. 

As the world watches President Trump’s next move to discover which of his campaign promises he is likely to deliver on, Dr Linda Yueh hopes that the potential impacts on globalisation are being overexaggerated.

“It’s hard to see how any one country could turn back globalisation, because globalisation isn’t just about trade agreements. National borders have less meaning now than they did in the past. That being said, protectionist sentiment is certainly on the rise.”

Protectionism is costly to trade 

Donald Trump successfully tapped into the feeling that globalisation hasn’t benefited lower-income, lower-skilled people as much as those of higher income and higher skills.

“Can this be rectified? If we’re starting a new phase of globalisation, there could be a reluctance to proceed at the pace we’ve had over the past couple of decades. If globalisation is going to work, we all have a responsibility to ensure policies around trade are more equitable so it doesn’t impact on any particular group.”

According to Yueh, the increase in protectionist sentiment around the world is likely to impact the cost of doing global trade. “Business need to be wary around protectionist sentiment being translated into additional customs checks, higher tariffs on exports and imports, or taxes on where a company locates its production.

Practically, protectionism can lead to enormous supply chain disruption. Goods or farm products can get held up at the border – for fresh fruit such as tomatoes, a few days’ delay can be devastating. Protectionism would only lead to higher costs, and ultimately that’s bad for the consumer because the cost will affect them”.

What about China?

Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership is consistent with President Trump’s focus on American jobs, American wages, and his Made in America campaign. “Trump made it clear that America First is the overriding economic principle,” says Yueh.

The TPP was going to link America with Pacific Rim countries and was part of the previous administration’s “Asia Pivot”, designed to increase their influence in Asia. The TPP didn’t include China so it was a way of asserting America’s role in the region. The big question is whether putting America first means withdrawing from international supply chains, leading to an economic impact that may not actually be so good for multi-national American companies.”

Yueh comments that there’s an indication from China that they may be willing to step into a stronger leadership position in the global economy as America withdraws.

“We’ve heard China’s views of globalisation from President Xi Jinping at the World Economic Forum in Davos. I’ve also heard from other Chinese policy-makers at various meetings around the world that China has always been reluctant to take a strong leadership position in the global economy. Their main focus has always been on domestic development.”

“If there’s a void, power will fill it. I think that’s essentially what we’re seeing. I would stress that the Chinese position is to support globalisation, because globalisation has helped its economy. It’s contributed to its remarkable growth, but they’re reluctant leaders – they’re not leaping into this space.”

In Yueh’s opinion, we’re unlikely to see a trade war despite Trump’s posturing on the topic. “I think there’s too much to lose for all counties. In reality, businesses will continue to sell to consumers all around the world. They produce overseas because that gives them a supply chain advantage. Political rhetoric won’t change this”.

How should supply managers react to uncertainty?

Yueh advises that procurement and supply management professionals should:

  • Plan ahead for supply chain and market access disruption
  • Follow closely the policies as they appear
  • Look ahead to how you would reorganise your supply chain and the location of where you would deliver your services, depending on the industry that you’re in.
  • Plan out scenarios that anticipate increases in cost and work out ways to grow the business taking into account potential disruptions.

“When we see big structural shifts in policy, it can take some time before we understand the impact on businesses. All you can do is to look at your strategy for the years ahead and be alert to policy changes, whether it’s around TPP, NAFTA or the timeline for Brexit, and plan scenarios accordingly. To quote a former British Prime Minister, “You hope for the best and plan for the worst.”

Procurious Even Bigger Ideas is a 5-part podcast series available exclusively to Big Ideas Digital Delegates. Sponsored by State of Flux, this series features interviews with five of the most intriguing power players at this year’s Big Ideas Summit in London.

Drones To Deliver Medicine, Not Missiles, To People In Disaster Areas

Autonomous flying drones will soon be drafted into disaster relief efforts to greatly improve the effectiveness of the world’s most challenging supply chains.

Lauren Elisabeth/Shutterstock.com

Establishing a supply chain in an area hit by disaster holds its own completely unique set of challenges. The speed at which the supply chain needs to be established, the unplanned nature of the event, critical safety concerns and the lack of stability in the area can all exacerbate the challenge.

Perhaps the greatest worry, though, is simply getting access to the people in need. That’s where technology can make a world of difference.

Solving the access problem

Flood events, earthquakes and other disasters can lead to an incredible amount of rubble and debris which needs to be shifted by bulldozer before aid workers can reach the people in need. It can take days before an effective path is cleared to enable trucks to begin bringing up the tonnes of supplies required to feed, house and treat those affected by disaster.

Problems with access by land are compounded when air and sea transport facilities are also damaged. We saw this in 2010, after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake (followed by over 50 aftershocks) devastated Haiti.

The disaster led to anywhere between 100,000 to 160,000 deaths and the collapse of 250,000 residential buildings. Other countries and international organisations dispatched humanitarian aid in the form of rescue teams, medical teams and engineers, but chaos at the airport caused by a damaged air traffic control tower led to some of these crucially important flights being turned away.

Helicopters would seem to be the obvious solution when planes cannot land and bulldozers haven’t yet done their work, but that’s where aid agencies come up against funding issues – even the largest of the international organisations simply can’t afford the fleet of helicopters that would be required to deliver effective immediate disaster relief on any scale.

How flying drones can save the day

Imagine an international aid agency ship mooring off the coast of a disaster-affected area, such as Peru or Japan, and acting as an aircraft carrier to deliver immediate relief to people in need. Instead of having jets or helicopters taking off from its flight deck, however, it is packed with small, autonomous robot drones.

The first drones to go out would be for the purpose of mapping and observation – they’d stay up at altitude and monitor the area, assess damage, and help direct the delivery efforts with real-time information. Soon, the sky between the ship and the disaster area would be thick with a swarm of buzzing drones; carrying food, water, clothing and medicine to victims and then flying back to the ship, resupplying, and taking off again.

A helicopter, of course, could carry human passengers and vastly more weight, but for the scale required to be effective, a fleet of autonomous drones is significantly less expensive than a fleet of helicopters. Drones are currently severely limited in the amount of weight they can carry, but capacity is expected to improve. At present they’re ideal for light-weight, high value items such as medicines or blood. They could also be used to fetch medical samples and bring them back to base for analysis. Other applications may include:

  • Deliveries into conflict zones where a helicopter may be shot down
  • Coordination of search and rescue activities from above
  • The provision of internet to disaster zones.

Problems to be solved

There are some challenges to be overcome before drones can go into action when the next disaster inevitably hits. For example, if drones are to work in conjunction with helicopters and other aircraft, air traffic safety must be a priority to avoid mid-air collisions.

There are also some extremely negative perceptions of drones in war-torn areas, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. There, drones are either regarded as spy-craft, or as dangerous, weaponised systems capable of delivering a missile to any point on the ground. A humanitarian aid drone would therefore be met with suspicion and fear by people in need.

Similarly, a report from the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action found that humanitarian aid workers are concerned that drones are “too distant from people and inhumane”. This raises an important point about the role of aid workers, who are not only there to assist people and deliver much-needed supplies, but provide human comfort; something that a faceless drone cannot do.

Drones will soon be a common sight in disaster zones, if only in an observational or mapping role at first. While drones are unlikely to completely replace helicopters and trucks, they can play an essential role in supporting and complementing other means of delivery, particularly when access by land has not yet been established. Supply chain managers working in humanitarian aid can look forward to incorporating drones into their means of delivering assistance and, ultimately, saving lives.

In other news this week 

A milestone week for Procurious

  • Procurious delivered its signature event, the Big Ideas Summit, in London on Thursday last week, with speaker highlights including Oxford University’s Linda Yueh, CAPS Research Managing Director Deb Stanton, Barclay’s Chairman John McFarlane and Futurist Mark Stevenson.
  • On the eve of the event, Procurious also announced that its community has grown to 20,000 supply management professionals worldwide.
  • Procurious has also launched its new Corporate Site, with the first major client being the UK-based Society of Procurement Officers (SOPO).

Read more via Yahoo Finance

UC Berkeley recycles 3D printers’ plastic waste

  • In response to a surge in plastic waste generated by over 100 3D printers on campus at UC Berkeley, PhD students have launched a 3D Printer Filament Reclamation Project.
  • The campus-wide system takes used 3D printer plastic, grinds it up, melts it down and produces a spool of recycled plastic that can be used again in the campus’s 3D printers.
  • The recycling system is expected to be replicated in businesses using 3D printers on an industrial scale to minimise, or even eliminate, waste products from the printing process.

Watch UC Berkeley’s video here

Toyota and General Motors hold top number of renewable energy patents in the US

  • Research company CB Insights has analysed over 50,000 US renewable energy patent grants between 2009 and 2017 to identify the number of patents, the top patent holders, and trends in renewable energy patents.
  • Over 26,000 U.S. patents related to renewable energy have been granted in the 8-year period to date, with the number peaking in 2014 at 4268. The top four areas are solar, wind, fuel cell and bio-energy.
  • LG has emerged as the top patent holder in solar, GE for wind, GM and Toyota for fuel cell patents, and Xyleco and Shell for bio-energy.

Read the full report here.

[Image credit: Pixar]

The Big Ideas Summit 2017: The After-Party

No one likes to reach the end of a great procurement  party. Luckily there’s still a whole lot more Big Ideas Summit content to come…

Join The Big Ideas Summit 2017 group to access all of yesterday’s discussions and exclusive video content.

Yesterday Procurious gathered 50 of procurement’s top thought leaders in London for the Big Ideas Summit 2017.

We heard from a number of  inspiring speakers, sparked exciting discussion and shared our Big Ideas for procurement in 2017. Conversation topics ranged from economics to futurism, from cognitive technology to  releasing creativity and everything in-between.

It was wonderful to see some familiar faces at this year’s event and lots of new ones too.

Big Ideas By Numbers

But the fun didn’t stop in London. Our digital delegates from all around the globe followed the day’s events via social media.

3,400 people visited Procurious to access Big Ideas content discussions and videos.

On twitter, the #BigIdeas2017 hashtag  was tweeted 1,850 times and had over 6.4 million impressions.

The Big Ideas Summit After-party

Don’t worry- The Big Ideas party isn’t over just yet!

Throughout the next week, we’ll be uploading all the video content into the learning section on Procurious. You’ll hear from each of our attendees on their Big Ideas  for procurement.

Whether it’s scaring yourself daily, paying your bills or turning statements into questions there’s a whole range of thought provoking advice to take on board.

Here’s a little taster of what’s to come:

If you’re feeling inspired by these videos, there’s still time for you to submit a Big Idea’s video. You’ll find a reminder of how to do so here.

Turning Statements Into Questions

Our first Big Ideas video comes from Creative Change Agent, James Bannerman. James wants procurement pros to start turning statements into questions in order to unleash their creative genius.  Check out the video to find out more.

You can hear more from James in our podcast series, Even Bigger Ideas. 

Even Bigger Ideas Podcast Series 

Want to hear more from some of our speakers? The final Even Bigger Ideas podcast was released today. Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson talks about how we can seamlessly transition between ordinary, analogue world to the extraordinary, digital world and who will thrive in this era of cyber disruption. You can listen to the Even Bigger Ideas Podcast Series here.

Want to catch up on all of yesterday’s Big Ideas Summit activity? Join the group here

You Appointed WHO As The New CPO?

Increasingly, companies are appointing CPOs from outside of the supply management profession. What does this tell us about C-level expectations of procurement, and why are supply management professionals missing out?

Want to follow all of the action today? Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Years of hard work and a brilliant career in supply management has brought you to within a hair’s breadth of fulfilling your dream – to become the Chief Procurement Officer of your company. Starting at the most junior level, you’ve worked your way up the ladder to your present position as second-in-charge of the procurement function. Your boss announced his retirement last week, and you’re quietly confident your turn has come – after all, there’s absolutely nothing about the organisation’s supply chain that you don’t know.

You step into the meeting room where the out-going CPO and two other executives are seated around a table. Disconcertingly, they stop talking when you walk in and look at you guiltily. Getting straight to the point, they tell you they’re excited to announce the new Chief Procurement Officer is … Jennifer from Marketing.

Is Procurement Being Usurped?

Has this happened in your organisation? There’s every chance that when it comes time to choose a new CPO, the C-Suite will appoint someone from a non-supply background. This means that a colleague of yours in a completely different department may one day swoop in to steal the job that you’ve been working towards for years.

While CEO-level expectations of the CPO continue to blur and broaden, the skill-set required to meet those expectations can now potentially be found in any department. The fact that supply managers are still reporting difficulty in educating their businesses on the value procurement can bring to an organisation doesn’t help the situation. If a CEO (wrongly) believes that a supply manager has spent his or her career focused solely on cost, then they are likely to look elsewhere for candidates for the top job.

Deb Stanton, Executive Director of Research and Benchmarking organisation CAPS Research and former Global CPO of MasterCard, has observed the trend of CPO appointments from outside of the profession. CEOs are no longer as interested in appointing CPOs who possess the traditional skill set that is earnt over years working in supply chain. A savvy marketing professional, or a cost-conscious operations manager who understands how supply management works, makes a very attractive candidate for CPO.

So, what does this mean?

  1. CEOs are looking for a different set of skills for the next CPO

The CPO of the future may have little idea how a tender is run, but they must:

  • Be business-savvy and understand the organisation as a whole
  • Know how procurement works from a customer’s perspective
  • Be completely aligned to overall business strategy (not just the supply management strategy)
  • Have a strong knowledge of the business’ finance function
  • Be focused on the core customer and external audiences
  • Embrace changing technology and external disruptive forces
  • Be an influencer and relationship management expert.

Deb referred to CAPS Research’s “Futures Study 2020”, which projects the skills required to manage a procurement function into the future.

  1. The CPO doesn’t necessarily need supply management expertise

The complex and varied skill-set picked up through a career in supply management may no longer be enough to satisfy the requirements for the job of CPO. CEOs may even regard procurement’s traditional audience of stakeholders, end-users and suppliers to be too focused.

That being said, technical procurement skills do matter, and are still vital for any procurement team’s success. In the example above, the disappointed candidate who missed out on the top job can still play a vital role in educating and supporting the outsider CPO with their supply management knowledge.

What’s the solution? If you believe the CPO role rightfully belongs to you, rather than someone from a completely different department, then make sure you broaden (rather than narrow) your focus as you move upwards in your organisation. This means familiarising yourself on a macro level with the whole business, bringing the core customer into every decision you make, and being known as an influencer who can clearly articulate the value you, and your function, brings to the business.

As Deb pointed out today, procurement professionals are in a unique position to overlook an entire business. They’ve got every chance of seeing where the opportunities are so let’s use it an not lose it!

Don’t forget to register as a digital delegate so you can keep up with the rest of today’s events.

Neurodiversity – Your Secret HR Weapon

People with Neurodiverse profiles have historically endured stigmatisation and struggled in the workplace. John Floyd explains why, and how, this is changing and what we can do to accommodate and embrace differences. 

Want to follow all of the action today? Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

We know the best performing teams are made up of a diverse group of people, whether that be gender, age, ethnicity or educational background. One of our Big Ideas Speakers, the Headmaster of Bruern Abbey, John Floyd, has just thrown “neurodiversity “ onto the list of must-have employee profiles, to help strengthen and enhance team output.

Recently rated by Tatler as one of the best Prep Schools in the UK, Bruern Abbey specialises in educating boys with dyslexia and dyspraxia. It is the only preparatory school of its kind in the UK and John Floyd is its outstanding headmaster.

John is a firm believer that learning difficulties, or learning differences, should not preclude academic success. In fact, after developing the right learning strategies at Bruern, many of the boys from go on to some of the best senior schools in the country.

Unfortunately, not everyone with dyslexia or dyspraxia is lucky enough to go to Bruern Abbey. Education systems around the world aren’t necessarily set up to accommodate those with neurodiverse profiles such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism. Of course, this extends to the workplace as well.

It is estimated that:

  • 5-10 per cent of the population has dyslexia,
  • 5-10 per cent of the population has dyspraxia
  • 5-7 per cent of the population has ADHD
  • 1 per cent of the population has autism

People with neuro-diverse profiles (and there’s a lot of them!) learn differently, think differently and apply their skills in alternate ways. As John succinctly puts it, “The term neurodiversity means that someone has a brain a little bit different to the majority of people”

Turning their differences into a virtue is a great opportunity for any team leader.

Diversity wins out

Organisations are starting to realise that employing people with neurodiverse profiles and optimizing their approach to work is great for business.

A few examples include:

  • MI5’s sister service GCHQ (the Government Communications Headquarters) employs more than 300 employees with neuro-diverse profiles and are actively recruiting more.
  • Organisations such as Microsoft and EY are trialing programs to recruit individuals with neuro-diverse profiles such as Asperger’s.
  • Last May the Labour party in the UK decided to appoint a shadow minister for neurodiversity.

Employers recognise that employees with neurodiverse profiles might offer heightened analytical skills, lateral thinking and a more naturally investigatory mindset than their peers.

How do you manage neurodiverse team members?

Everyone in your team will have different strengths and weaknesses. The opportunity for you, as a leader, is to optimize every member of your team to allow them to reach their peak performance. The key is to determine who has which strengths and to tailor the opportunities and development to suit that individual.

If you’re expecting a prospective employee’s CV to land on your desk with a neurodiverse label plastered across it, think again!

As John pointed out today, “If you start to see some badly written emails from a team member, you’ll know you shouldn’t assign them to write the press releases. But there will be a whole host of things they can do for you, and probably do better than anyone else!”

John gave a few examples of areas in which those with neurodiverse profiles might particularly excel.

Get them to do the interviewing

Dyslexics often have highly developed and fine-tuned listening and oral skills. They are the most studied of all neurodiverse profiles.

Compensating for having potentially struggled with reading and writing throughout childhood, many of them develop excellent verbal and listening skills.They are likely to be a resilient bunch and great under time pressure. Dyslexics  have learnt how to work well under stress.  having been up against it ever since they were first asked to do school-work.

It could be worth relying upon them to conduct interviews with prospective employees. They might be the most socially engaging person on your team and the most capable at listening to, and evaluating, a candidate.

Let them solve the problems

Adults with dyslexia and Dyspraxia quite literally think differently and are good at cracking codes or seeing patterns in problems that those who read with ease would overlook. They’re also great at re-inventing, re-evaluating and thinking laterally.

Give them the time-sensitive or juggling tasks

A number of adults with forms of neurodiversity such as ADHD can deal with juggling a number of tasks at high speed. It’s what they do all day anyway. For most of us it would be exhausting!  They might come up with too many ideas and try to execute them too quickly but they’ll never run out of steam and they’ll be utterly committed.

John concluded his talk today by urging us not to hesitate in employing somebody with a neurodiverse profile. They’ll be grateful to be employed, they’ll be your most resilient team members and they’ll work diligently.

You can guarantee that they’ll be thinking differently about something long before you’ve even entertained the thought that there could even  be an alternate option.

Don’t forget to register as a digital delegate so you can keep up with the rest of today’s events.

The Big Ideas Summit 2017: We Have Lift Off

The Big Ideas Summit will take flight in just a few hours time.  Want to know what’s in store? Look no further…

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

The big day is finally here! Procurious is all-set to spark vigorous discussions, light up social media across the globe and crowd-source ideas for the future of procurement.

We’ll be addressing everything from Procurement 4.0 to Cognitive Technology and Global Economics. We’d also still love for you to submit any questions for our speakers via the Big Ideas Summit group.

Here’s what’s coming up today!

Part One Pivot – Rethinking What’s Possible

 Be Brave Or Dead – Mark Stevenson, Futurist

Mark is an entrepreneur, author, broadcaster, musician and expert on global trends and innovation. Mark would describe his role as helping people and organisations to ask the right questions about the future.

Mark’s Big Idea

Be brave or be dead! Wherever you work and wherever you end up in the next 15-20 years, remember that it’s going to be a very turbulent time. Ask yourself: what’s my best effort for myself, my family and for society (and remember they’re all related). If you don’t, you can prepare to be very irrelevant and very unhappy!

Trumpism In the Supply Chain – Linda Yueh, Fellow at Oxford University & Adjunct Professor at London Business School

Uncertainty, uncertainty, uncertainty is how Linda explains 2017. At the moment, it’s over President Trump, European politics: elections and Brexit, and the slowdown in growth of China and other major economies. Thankfully Linda’s message to CPOs is one of caution but reassures that it’s not time to panic.

Linda’s Big Idea

Keep calm but be sure to keep an eye on what’s happening around the world as the globalisation landscape is shifting significantly. Global trade won’t end tomorrow but it is going to look rather different in the coming years.

Part Two Scrum – Procurement in the Digital Age

Watson: What’s The Big Idea – Barry Ward, Senior Procurement Brand Manager, IBM Global Procurement

Barry has drawn a parallel between the cognitive technology journey of Watson and the space programme and moon landing journeys of the last century. For IBM, developing and deploying Watson is something like the moonshot in the 1960s where IBM technology helped NASA make the lunar landings possible. 

Barry’s Big Idea

Cognitive technology is merely in its infancy in terms of where it can go. This journey will mostly likely take 50 years or more to be fully realised. Millennials have the chance to be there at the outset. They will see cognitive technology evolving and developing throughout their entire careers. But first we need to know how to get on them on board and enjoying the journey. 

Creating Agility In The Digital Age – Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader at The Hackett Group

Chris has nearly 20 years of experience in supply management, working directly with Fortune 500 and mid-sized companies around the globe. He believes that agility is the defining trait of the procurement team of today and the future. He reminds us that many of the problems procurement will face in the coming years have not even been thought of yet!

Chris’ Big Idea

The future is an ‘Unknown Unknown’, but with a match fit, agile procurement team, at least you’ll be prepared for what comes next. 

Reinventing The Public Sector Wheel – Paul Smith, Executive Director YPO & Board Member SOPO 

Paul has been the driving force behind Procurious’ first private, “corporate” version of the platform, which launched in January 2017. SOPO are using social media to reinvent the way in which public sector procurement professionals work , network and collaborate.

Paul’s Big Idea:

Bring together local government via social media to collaborate and network

Part Three Reboot – Building Your Workforce

Unlocking The Creative Genius In Your Procurement Team
James Bannerman, Creative Change Agent. 

James Bannerman is author of non-Fiction best-seller Genius: Deceptively Simple Ways to Become Instantly Smarter. He believes the maxim that organisations must innovate or die has never been more true thanks to rapid technology developments and fierce competition. In procurement, CPOs need to foster their intrapreneurs and work to achieve what James calls a ‘return on inspiration’.

James’ Big Idea

Miraculous and fully-formed ideas won’t simply land at your feet. Procurement pros must attempt, what James calls, “deliberate creativity.”

Unlocking The Case For Neuro Diversity – John Floyd, Headmaster at Bruern Abbey

John wants to dispel the negative connotations that are so often associated with conditions such as dyslexia and ADHD. He explains that neuro-diverse profiles are actually a bonus for employers because of their different approaches to solving problems and finding answers. 

John’s Big Idea

One in every ten team members should be someone with a neuro-diverse profile.

Panel Interview – Graham Lucas, Managing Director at Michael Page

What are the best Procurement Teams already doing to set up for success? What are the trends in creating more innovative and engaging Procurement workplaces?

Graham believes that for procurement to survive in the digital age, it might not even be called procurement! Those who try to resist the coming changes, are more likely to be part of the redundancy.

Graham will be joined on the panel by Gautam Singh, The Smart Cube and Juliet Sotnick, Babcoc.

Digital Procurement Transformation – Paul Blake, Senior Manager, GEP 

Paul Blake leads the technology product marketing team at GEP. He’ll be addressing the topic of digital procurement transformation. Paul believes that if procurement continues to accept the technological status quo as some kind of given, it’ll continue to be fed the same poor diet. Procurement must start to challenge the hard-and-fast rules we’ve adopted for so long without question.

Paul’s Big Idea

There is no point continuing to do things as we have always done, just because that is the accepted status quo. Instead we should be embracing change and adapting to future possibilities.

Procurement Talent 4.0: Future Skillsets to Build Your Procurement Organisation – Deb Stanton, Executive MD, CAPS Research

Following conversations earlier in the day about what will evolve in the next 50 years, Deb will bring us back to the here and now. Procurement teams should be focused on ‘doing the do’ and getting the basics right whilst keeping their eyes on the horizon 

Deb’s Big Idea

“Be bold, but nice” is my favorite motto and advice that I give all supply chain professionals.  We need to be bold enough to challenge, ask the right questions, and bring new ideas forward; yet do it in a way that people still want to work with us.

Leadership, Tough Love and Long-Term Partnerships – John McFarlane, Chairman, Barclays PLC

With a background that includes being Chairman of Aviva and CEO of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, leadership is an area in which John has become an expert. But guess what? He has also worked in procurement! In 1969 he joined Ford as a buyer!

John’s Big Idea

I would encourage longer-term partnerships with supply chains and encourage procurement to approach this with a win-win mentality. It’s win-win or no gain. Aim to be the customer of choice so suppliers approach you with best products.

Stay up to date with the day’s events and submit your questions for our speakers via our Big Ideas Summit Group. Follow us on Twitter via  @Procurious_  using the hashtag #bigideas2017

If I Could Turn Back Time: Advice To My Younger Procurement Self

Imagine if you could go back in time to when you started your first job. Wouldn’t you love to reassure yourself it was all going to be ok or offer some advice on how to navigate the next few years of your career? 

ashatan-f/Shutterstock.com

Procurious recently launched Bravo, a new group seeking to address gender disparity in the workplace, and celebrate and empower women working within procurement.

As part of the Bravo campaign, Procurious will be interviewing a number of high profile procurement leaders and seeking their advice on how we can help other women to get ahead in their procurement careers.

Michelle Baker is Global Procurement Director: IT and Business Services Categories at  SABMiller Procurement.

In this interview Michelle discusses the issues that affect women in the workplace, advice she would offer her younger self and why she loves procurement!

Michelle will also be attending this year’s Big Ideas Summit as a panelist to talk about Global Risk assessments.

What have been the most successful approaches organisations you know have taken to decrease gender disparity?

  1. Putting gender disparity on the leadership agenda of issues to address.
  2. Balanced slates in recruitment.
  3. Making gender disparity a talking topic across the whole company, irrespective of people’s gender.

What has been your most rewarding experience and greatest accomplishment to date?

Leading and developing people in diverse global teams (and not just gender diverse, but race, religion, age, sexual orientation  etc.) has been fantastically rewarding personally.

My greatest accomplishment in the workplace is  that I am still curious and excited about the work I do after so many years:  IT’s evolution has  meant I have to constantly hurry to keep up!

What issues currently affect you as a woman in procurement?

I don’t think diversity is an issue exclusively to procurement.

But, looking back, I think the absence of positive role models in senior roles made it more difficult to navigate corporate politics than it needed to be.

Who are the most influential women in your life?

Too many to mention!  I have a healthy group of friends and family that go back to my early days at university in South Africa and many others scattered across the countries in which I’ve lived.  They each offer their own special support, whether they know it or not,  in my development.

Why is procurement the perfect career for you?

It keeps me endlessly curious and allows me to have direct contact with what a range of senior stakeholders in my company are doing and trying to achieve.

If you could offer your younger self two pieces of advice, what would they be?

Find a mentor, and never stop learning.

Some of the Procurious team joined Michelle at a Women in Procurement Breakfast last year at ProcureCon IT.

Following an  insightful discussion,  everyone said  the two pieces of advice that they would offer their younger selves.

Michelle put together this fantastic infographic to represent the group’s responses.

Let us know the two pieces of advice you’d  like to offer your younger self via the Bravo group. 

Join the  Big Ideas 2017 conversation and register as a digital delegate 

Don’t Judge A Procurement Job By Its Cover

Ever been attracted to a new job because of the flashy brand? Graham Lucas warns that you should be looking at the people on the inside. 

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Graham Lucas is Managing Director – Procurement & Supply Chain and Logistics at Michael Page. He’ll be speaking at this year’s Big Ideas Summit about procurement  recruitment.  We’ve picked his brain this week to find out what key skills procurement recruiters are fighting over in 2017 and what mistakes job applicants should avoid making.

Who are the best procurement candidates and why?

For me, the best procurement candidates are those that are highly commercial whilst having lots of emotional intelligence. We are also increasingly talking about bravery.

The requirement around influencing, communication skills, and category knowledge are well trodden boards and are still very valid. But the bravery and creativity it takes to innovate is underdone. This is something that we need to see much more of day-in and day-out if the procurement functions are going to end up as overall commercial custodians of their organisations.

What key skills are recruiters fighting over in 2017?

People who can demonstrate an ability to:

  • Deliver value to the bottom line in a dynamic manner and not just reduce costs
  • Unlock competitive advantage from the supply base through true partnership
  • Influence others, both internally and externally
  • Embrace technology that can help us move further, faster
  • Innovate by managing a supply base of experts to help their business compete

What are the biggest mistakes procurement professionals make throughout the recruitment process?

I think many people are keen to talk about the £30m saving they made.  This is great but I do think that, unless you are managing a huge spend, it’s easy to oversell your impact.

Talking about some of the more tangible things that you did, and how you delivered these, is more impressive. I met with a candidate last week who had identified a food material that was being cooled a further four degrees lower than was required before being packaged. He was able to explain the financial benefits across the utility and labour spend which amounted to a £400k saving. All whilst speeding up the manufacturing process, which supports their customer objectives. Evidently, the previous half-dozen people in his role didn’t identify this.

How has the recruitment industry changed during your time at Michael Page?

Fourteen years ago the market was fairly linear. The line manager or their personnel team recruited someone, or an agency did.

Now the market is much more varied, highly competitive and dynamic. Four thousand recruiters started up last year I believe and that’s just in 2016.

Add to that the advances of technology (job boards, linked in etc.) in-house recruitment teams, RPO’s, MSP’s, and we can see that many more commoditised markets have been eroded.

Whilst recruiters are having to evolve and embrace these challenges, I genuinely believe the right specialists, knowledge and strong relationships, have never been more required than they are now.

What two pieces of career advice would you give to any of procurement’s rising stars?

Don’t be blinkered. The more you can understand your broader business, the sector you are in, supplier challenges etc., the more likely you are to progress. Your ability to navigate organisations and departments outside of your own will be essential. That’s the secret to being  highly successful.

Don’t judge a job or organisation on the brand, or value of your category. A great career move tends to be based on the person you will work for, the people you will work with, and how those two things can personally develop you.

How do you identify innovation in candidates?

Someone should be able to clearly and positively explain what they have challenged, changed and most importantly, show what positive impact that has had on customers. For me, the best innovation has the customer at the heart of it, adding value to them even if at times it hasn’t directly benefited the bottom line.

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It’s Not Your Father’s Procurement Organisation

Procurement organisations of today differs greatly from previous generations.  The Hackett Group’s Chris Sawchuk discusses changes he has witnessed in his seventeen years at the company. 

Predrag Popovski/Shutterstock.com

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

Procurious are delighted to welcome back Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader at The Hackett Group, to the Big Ideas Summit 2017. Chris spoke last year about why procurement needed to put agility at the centre of all its activities. This year, Chris will be taking the conversation one step further, discussing ways to enable agility through digital transformation and creating an agile team.  We chatted to Chris this week to learn more about his career, The Hackett Group’s journey and how he energises his workforce.

What should procurement organisations be focusing on in 2017?

2017 is the year of digital transformation.  If you or your company isn’t yet focused on it, you will, and need to, be very soon.  Companies and procurement organisations are beginning to re-imagine themselves in a digital world.  They  ask themselves, if I had to build the business or function today from the ground up, would it look the same?

In most cases, the answer is no.  A great first step is to create awareness across the organization of the technologies that are available today and more importantly, emerging.  Ask yourselves, how can these improve and augment our abilities to collaborate, predict, be agile, extract new insights…and ultimately create an advantage in the market.

Can you name a particular accomplishment that has shaped your career?

I am not sure there was a specific accomplishment that shaped my career, but a series.  My career began in the highly technical and analytical field of electrical engineering at United Technologies and IBM. It shifted to more of a business focus as I completed my MBA and began a new phase of my career in marketing & sales.

This phase helped to shape and develop my people-focused skills.  After some time, I found myself desiring to combine the analytical skills in my early career with the people-focused skills I developed in marketing & sales and this led me to consulting.

Having worked in consulting and specifically on procurement & strategic sourcing for many years, The Hackett Group provided an opportunity to help augment their project focused benchmarking and consulting business.  This involved building a global member based advisory business that would provide an opportunity to develop unique intellectual property and research.

After more than 10 years, I am still engaged in that business; leading it’s sourcing & procurement efforts globally.

What skills/talents contribute to an all-round, great team?

  • Diversity in thinking and background
  • Willingness to collaborate and share
  • Similar levels of motivation and drive

How do you energise your millennial workforce?

Understanding that it can be challenging to energize your millennial workforce through traditional advancement opportunities. We need non-traditional methods, particularly in an environment of accelerated millennial expectations.  If you agree that millennials are energised by change and new opportunities, then we need to focus on ways to energise them in an environment where upward mobility may be more limited in an era of flatter organizations.

We challenge individuals with developing new client services, new process focus areas, etc.  The real difficulty is balancing.  We are in a global environment that expects consistent improvement in how we deliver value to clients whilst also delivering new value. Whilst this is difficult, it does provide the opportunity for change that energises millennial workforces…and beyond.

You’ve worked at the Hackett Group for seventeen years.  In what ways have you seen procurement organisations develop over this time?

Wow, great question.  As they say, it’s not your father’s procurement.  Today, we focus much more on business enablement.  As you see, I didn’t say “spend cost savings”.  Now, saying that, we still have a long road ahead of us.  I truly believe if we look at what we do through the business success lens, we will be successful.

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Industry 4.0 Will Change the Very Nature of Procurement

Automation and digital technology will change supply chains. But, Industry 4.0 looks set to change the very nature of procurement.

Download your copy of ‘Procurement 4.0 – The Digitalisation of Procurement’ on the Fraunhofer IML website.

So far in this series we have looked at the concepts behind Industry and Procurement 4.0, and the start of procurement’s journey. Now, with the idea that digitalisation is inevitable, we look to explore how it will change the nature of procurement.

As the manual processes are removed, or made more efficient, procurement professionals will tackle a much-changed role.

Setting New Objectives?

The BME study looked at four key areas of procurement that will be impacted by Industry 4.0. These are: technologies and systems; organisations and processes; management and people; business models.

The study highlighted key procurement objectives for leaders within each area.

Technologies and Systems

  • Real-time and better data availability
  • Improved data quality
  • Data access from all locations
  • More transparency of data and across the supply chain
  • Quick response to market changes

Organisations and Processes

  • Standardisation of processes
  • Faster, more efficient processes
  • Increased efficiency
  • More flexibility
  • Better global networking

Management and People

  • Improved human resources planning
  • Strategic placement of procurement within the company
  • Bigger savings
  • Creating synergies
  • Tapping into strategic markets

Business Models

  • Preserving competitiveness
  • Easier communication with customers and suppliers
  • More customer-oriented business models
  • Stronger development into a service provider
  • Creation of new networks

The objectives range from the strategic, to the vague. They also fail to really provide a focus for what procurement needs to achieve. Additionally, the objectives could well have been set without a consideration of the impact of Industry 4.0.

And without due consideration of what the future will look like, procurement seems destined to stand still in a fast-moving world.

Changing Procurement’s Nature

Although it seems to be procurement’s nature to revisit ‘traditional’ objectives, there is a chance that change will be forced upon it. And as the role of procurement changes, so too will the role of the procurement professional.

Prof. Dr Michael Henke,  Head of Enterprise Logistics at TU Dortmund University believes that “Procurement professionals need to move away from old management structures. Procurement 4.0 requires rethinking and thus also a management 4.0.”

Even although there is an inevitability about this change, there is resistance to it. Could this resistance be mitigated, or even overcome, by improving education on benefits and advantages to organisations?

If digitalisation can help achieve proper efficiencies, and help procurement deliver on objectives, then the profession can continue to evolve. But even as procurement evolves, there will still be a place for people in the process.

People’s Place in Procurement

According to the survey, the general feeling is that much of procurement will be automated, and will therefore require fewer people to manage it. Companies may even outsource procurement in a way more commonly seen with services.

However, the smaller number of procurement professionals will be highly skilled, well-qualified, and much sought after. ‘Purchasers’ will work with complex data, and interact with departments more as consultants. But it’s the focus on people that will remain, regardless of other changes.

People will still be involved with negotiations, and in management of relationships. Irrespective of how processes are managed, strategic relationships will underpin procurement activities, and, because of this, will need human involvement.

Exactly how this will look is still unclear. And there is certainly discussion required in this area. Both the human factor, as well as resistance to change need to be considered as the first hurdle for procurement to overcome. That will ultimately give a much more solid platform to develop from.

We will consider the challenges for procurement in Industry 4.0 more closely in our next article.

The Association Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics (BME), founded in 1954, is the leading professional association for supply chain managers, buyers and logisticians in Germany and Central Europe.

Fraunhofer IML, founded in 1981, is a global expert on all fields of internal and external logistics. The Institute also currently heads up the largest logistics research centre in Europe.

To download your copy of the report, visit the Fraunhofer IML website.

The procurement function must adapt and evolve to accommodate technology changes and be ready to embrace what we’re calling Procurement 4.0. The question is: Are We There Yet? Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for The Big Ideas 2017 in London.