All posts by Procurious HQ

How To Become A Corporate Superstar Overnight

Bravo! Tania Seary shares her thoughts on gender disparity in procurement, having the courage to  get big ideas through big companies and why procurement is THE career choice if you want to become a corporate superstar overnight!

Kaspars Grinvalds/ Shutterstock

Procurious Founder, Tania Seary, remembers her first day in a procurement role as a game-changing moment in her career.

“I’d had some fantastic jobs in marketing and communications but nothing struck me like that first day I worked in procurement, moving from one side of the table to the other. It was a real rush.”

For Tania, the scope and scale of the function along with the ability to impact so many parts of the business meant that she was sold straight away.

Like so many of procurement’s rising stars, Tania fell into the profession unexpectedly.  Speaking to peers on her MBA course at Penn State, she was fascinated by the number of people who aspired to go into procurement roles. When she questioned their reasons, the answer was always “because you can become a corporate superstar overnight, saving millions of dollars for the organisation.”

In procurement, they told Tania, the CEO and CFO know who you are and you can get promoted quickly. “It sounded like a great idea to an ambitious 30-something … and as I said, once I got to the other side of table I was really hooked.”

On Day 3 of the Bravo podcast series Tania Seary shares her thoughts on gender disparity, getting big ideas through big companies and the importance of having a human touch in procurement.

Getting your big ideas heard

Courage is one of the key attributes required to drive the best ideas forward, along with resilience and the ability to choose your projects wisely. “Getting a big idea though a big company takes a lot of energy and time”, explains Tania.  She shares her top two tips for getting big ideas off the ground:

  1. Do your homework and have a strong business case – You can really build support across your organisation as you’re building your business case, then fall back on those people as your support network when you get challenged at the senior level.
  2. Choose your sponsors wisely – It’s vital to have a corporate sponsor for some of these courageous projects, but make sure they’re not simply picking you to be involved as the flavour of the day. Find someone to help who understands the business benefits of what you’re putting forward and will support you because they believe in the project.

The human touch goes a long way

Tania stresses the importance of procurement professionals behaving like human beings in the workplace. The old-school  workplace attitude demanded that your personality be left at the door. “It’s increasingly important [for your team] to see that you’re a little bit vulnerable, a little bit human and that they can relate to you.”

At Procurious, we’re often questioned on the benefits of having separate social media accounts for personal versus corporate life. But Tania is a firm believer that you should be one person, with the courage to show your genuine self online, and in the office.

Tania believes that being human will be procurement’s competitive advantage in industry 4.0. “My belief is that our role in industry 4.0 will be to orchestrate and collaborate within this complex tech-enabled web of suppliers.  When robots are pointing us in different directions we have to be the ones who step in and reconcile, playing to our strengths.”

Collaboration, innovation and influence are things only humans can do. “That will be the future of procurement; trusted advisors who can solve complex problems.”

The pay gap 

Gender inequality in procurement is an ongoing concern for Tania. “It’s something that needs to be addressed. Looking at the [pay gap] statistics in the UK, US, and Australia is astonishing.” This hard-hitting data has motivated Tania to be a champion of change for women working in procurement. “I’m really going to be encouraging leaders around the world to tackle this head-on and ensure that their teams are paid equally”, she says.

“It’s something that the whole business world struggles with, but procurement can take a firm stand and be one of the first functions to put its hand up and say we’ve achieved this important goal.”

Tania’s short-term dream for the profession? “If we can say – by the end of 2020 – that we’re a very ethical profession that pays employees fairly, that would be a great result.”

In Bravo, our five-part podcast series celebrating women in procurement, five inspiring and courageous women share their stories and the secrets to their success. Sign up to now (it’s free!)

How To Survive And Thrive In An Uncertain Environment

Inspirational speaker, Nicky Abdinor, advises how to create sustainable attitude change and thriving in an uncertain environment. 

Nicky Abdinor’s self-appointed tagline is that she was “born without arms but not without attitude.” It’s a punchy line,  and it also couldn’t be more accurate.

Nicky was born with physical disabilities, no arms and shortened legs and she describes how her parents were totally unprepared for her disability. “In those days there were no scans to [determine] if you were a boy or a girl let alone if you had a physical disability. But I’m so grateful they chose to focus on my strengths.”

As she grew up, it was never a case of “can Nicky do this?” rather “how is Nicky going to be able to do this?”

Nicky believes her upbringing helped her to  adapt to her disability and flourish. “A big part of my success is having that nurturing environment and access to mainstream schooling.  I was encouraged to take part in all activities and I’ve learnt to do things just a little bit differently.” Nicky was unable to do things the same way as everyone else on a physical level but instead she used her acamdeic abilities and passion for human psychology to her advantage.

She now works as an  international keynote speaker, registered Clinical Psychologist and founder of the non-profit, Nicky’s Drive.

Creating sustainable attitude change

Nicky’s work as a  clinical psychologist focusses on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

The premise of CBT is the belief that “it’s not our situation  determining how we feel or behave but how we think about those situations.”

It’s useful to recognise that so many of us could be experiencing the same or similar situations but we all have entirely unique responses to that situation. The key to actually creating sustainable change, Nicky explains,  in our attitudes, beliefs and emotions is  to understand the core thought processes that we implement on auto-pilot.  An everyday situation  such as a meeting with a manager could trigger  a  particular behaviour. “But we need to understand our thought pattern.  We’re wired to think in a certain way and people don’t realise that you can’t truly change the way you think about a situation until you understand those automatic thought processes.

With some work, it’s possible to recognise your cognitive roadmap and what gets triggered, which is often linked to previous experiences and relationships.

Nicky explains that it is quite liberating to realise we don’t have to change our situation, “we can change how we think about a situation to bring about wellness and a better quality of life. It’s empowering to know we can’t change our situation but we can certainly change the way we react to that situation.”

Thriving in an uncertain environement

Nicky speaks passionately on the concept of uncertainty and how it impacts on our every day lives.

“A lot of people come for therapy because they are anxious about the future. A big part of what I do is help people learn to tolerate uncertainty.  None of us have absolute control over what the future holds. Ultimately, people find it hard to tolerate because they place demands on themselves that they have to know whats going to happen.”

In a corporate setting the same applies. Leaders of today are concerned about reaching their targets, will there be another recession, what’s going to happen to the political landscape of my country and how will it impact by business? We want to know exactly what’s going to happen.

But, Nicky argues, we must learn to tolerate that uncertainty, which ultimately means teaching yourself to live in the present . “If we worry too much about tomorrow,  we cannot enjoy today,””

When it comes to hiring talent,  recruiters need to ascertain whether applicants understand this concept. “Can that person deal with uncertainty, does that person have the ability to recognise the limitations for going into the future. When we have the ability to understand uncertainty we can achieve so much more. Worrying is a waste of time and we need a bit of anxiety to motivate us to do the right thing, be ambitious and reach your goals.”

In Bravo, our five-part podcast series celebrating women in procurement, five inspiring and courageous women share their stories and the secrets to their success. Sign up to now (it’s free!)

Nicky Abdinor was a keynote speaker at Big Ideas Summit Sydney earlier this year and wowed our audience. You can watch her presentation in full here and get in touch with Nicky regarding speaking opportunities here (Procurious HQ couldn’t recommend her more!) 

Don’t Stick To Procurement – Adventure Is Out There!

Procurement professionals can, and should, move in and out of the profession – it will make you better at what you do! 

Shutterstock/ By Dudarev Mikhail

We all want to get the most out of our procurement jobs, but it’s easier said than done.

Should you stay in procurement for your whole career?

What key skills should you focus on developing?

And how do you aim high whilst maintaining a healthy work/life balance?

With 20 years’ experience in procurement, a team of 300 people and a total spend of $14 billion Telstra’s CPO, Thomai Veginis, knows a thing or two about successful procurement careers.

Moving in and out of the profession

One of the reasons Thomai has been so successful in her career is due to the skills she’s learnt outside of the profession. “You can – and should – move in and out of the profession. The skills are absolutely transferrable and personally, I’ve appreciated the profession more when I’ve been out of it.”

“A trait you sometimes see in procurement teams is a lack of empathy for people who don’t follow the process.”  Thomai notes that working in different areas of the business has taught her to have empathy, in particular, for sales and delivery roles. “Gaining experience in that kind of role will help you be a better procurement professional.” 

“If you want to develop empathy,” she advises, “go and do a front-line, customer-facing role, and you’ll understand how hard it can be. One of the compliments I receive is that people want to work with me because I understand the sense of urgency for the people in front-line sales. When [sales teams] call me in my procurement function, they’re often quite desperate and in need of some help, and I understand what that’s like – being in need of some support from a function that’s not your own . So I’ll prioritise that and work with them closely.”

And when it comes to working in other areas of the business, procurement skills are highly transferable. “Honestly the commercial that skills you get in a procurement role are transferable everywhere; relationship roles, managing contracts understanding the nuances of a deal, what makes a deal etc.  That’s the kind of stuff that you use in any role.  I’ve been in tech roles and been able to leverage my procurement skills to bring another perspective and more value. And then you become a better person when you come back into the function.”

Thomai also recommends that procurement professionals use any time working elsewhere as an opportunity to get to know the nuances of the organisation. It’s a chance to reach out to stakeholders, find out their business plans, what’s happening for them this year and discover their pain points.

Finding a balance

Thomai has worked in project roles focused on delivering to a customer which saw her working in the office from 8.00am until 8.00pm. “As a result of that work I had the opportunity to be promoted but realised I didn’t want to be in that career path because I couldn’t spend the time I needed with my children.”

“Over my career I’ve tried to manage my work-life balance. In procurement roles you can balance it better than people in a sales role who need to fit in with their customers’ schedules.”

She believes that procurement is an ideal career for parents returning to work. Not that you work less – it’s more about the opportunity to work flexibly in ways that work for you.

“When I came back from maternity leave after my second child, one of the first things I did was to stand in front of my team and explain that I’ve got two young children and I plan to leave at 5pm everyday. It’s important people understood how I  was going to balance my life. I can do the role if I’m in the office after 5pm or not.

In Bravo, our five-part podcast series celebrating women in procurement, five inspiring and courageous women share their stories and the secrets to their success. Sign up to now (it’s free!)

Reach Your Summit at Big Ideas Zurich

Sign up as a digital delegate to be in with a chance of winning a Parrot Bebop drone worth £449.99!!

Sign up as  a digital delegate for Big Ideas Zurich (it’s free)  

On the 10th December we’ll be donning our hiking boots, picking up our trekking poles and embarking on a new adventure.

Brace yourselves, because Big Ideas is about to get truly digital!

For the first time ever, we’ll be filming and streaming the entire day’s event via the Digital Delegates group on Procurious. If there was ever a time to register for one of our summits, it’s now. Featuring presentations and interviews from some of Europe’s top procurement leaders, we’ll be discussing:

1. Procurement and Supply Management Towards 2030
2. The Talent Equation
3. Automating Procurement out of a Job
4. Time Enough at Last: where would top practitioners focus energy if tactical elements of procurement were automated?

Prizes for procurement pros – WIN Parrot Bebop drone worth £449.99

You probably don’t need any added incentive to sign up, but everyone loves a prize, right? And believe us when we say we’ve got prizes falling from the mountaintops.

We’ll be doing seven prize giveaways throughout the day to digital delegates actively participating in our online discussions. And, by joining the group you’ll be automatically entered into our prize draw to win  a Parrot Bebop drone.

To be in with a chance of winning…

Step 1: Sign up as a digital delegate for Big Ideas Summit Zurich

Step 2: Get automatically entered into our prize draw to win a Parrot Bebop drone worth £449.99

Step 3: We’ll reveal the winner during Big Ideas Summit Zurich on 10th December

6 reasons to become a digital delegate

Registering as a digital delegate for Big Ideas Zurich is totally free and will give you access to the entire day’s event. Here’s what you can expect from the day:

Drive your peak performance 

As we charge towards the new year, this is your final chance in 2018 to fulfill your personal development goals. Learn how YOU can reach the summit of your career in a whole range of critical areas, from business partnering to engaging with the latest game-changing technology.

Watch from anywhere 

We’ve pushing the digitisation of this event to the limits! Big Ideas Zurich will be streamed on Monday 10th December via Procurious. Become a Digital Delegate to watch from wherever you are, whether you’re at the office, on the bus, or at home enjoying a glass of wine.

Win a Parrot Bebop Drone worth £449.99 

All Digital Delegates that engage in the Procurious Big Ideas Zurich Group on Monday 10th December will go in the running to win a drone! Procurious will also be giving away a whole range of prizes on the day – but only to those who get involved! Follow Procurious on social for more details on prizes and giveaways.

Get the latest research

Be one of the first to get hold of Procurious and Michael Page UK’s final installment of the Procurement 2030 report. This much-anticipated research paper will be released on Monday 10th December, with a live discussion of the findings with one of the report authors.

Engage with the hottest topics facing procurement and supply 

What skills do I need to drive peak performance in my procurement career? What’s the latest intel on blockchain? What steps can I take to close the gender pay gap? Digital Delegates tuning into Big Ideas Zurich will hear about the latest, hottest topics that are challenging procurement and supply professionals around the globe.

Hear from procurement’s top thought leaders

Watch presentations and interviews with inspirational speakers including blockchain guru Olinga Ta’eed, gender equality champion John Everett and supplier innovation expert Jeurgen Nelis. But that’s not all! This event will be packed with bite-sized content including research updates, top picks from the Procurious Blog, and CPO interview compilations.

FAQs

When is it?

10th December 2018. But a lively conversation has already begun on Procurious! Expect to see most of the action between 10am-3pm GMT when we’ll be streaming all of the action from Zurich.

Where is it?

Although our top influencers will be meeting in Zurich, due to its digital nature Procurious members across the world can watch the whole event from the comfort of their office, armchair or even from the beach!

How can I join?

Simply sign up to Procurious to become a digital delegate. You’ll instantly gain access the Big Ideas Zurich Group and the live stream on the 10th December

Does it cost to attend as a digital delegate?

It is completely free to join Procurious and to be a Digital Delegate! Simply sign up or enrol here.

Do I have to be a member of Procurious?

Yes. Participation as a digital delegate is free and open to all members of Procurious. You’ll be joining a community of 32,000 like-minded procurement peers and gain access to all Procurious’ free resources.

Help – I can’t make the live-stream on 10th December!

No worries! If you can’t join the action on the 10th December, you’ll be able to catch up when it suits you, on demand, via the digital delegates group.

Sign up as  a digital delegate for Big Ideas Zurich (it’s free) 

How the Rise of AI Will Lead to a Pay Rise in Procurement

It may seem that the AI reduces human labour and eliminates the need for manual intervention, however in order to fully exploit the AI functionalities, human skills are a must. Here’s how the rise of AI could be lucrative for procurement professionals…

With the advent of transforming technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, the landscape of businesses has seen a tremendous change in the last couple of years.

In fact, some of the industry giants are already enjoying the many benefits of AI.

Amazon has been using transactional AI for quite some time now. It has been using predictive analysis for understanding a customer’s purchase behaviour. Tesla cars and their self-driving features, is yet another example of AI being utilised for enhancing the user experience. Another powerful example of AI being used for human interaction is the technology used by Cogito. It uses behavioural adaptation and emotional intelligence for customer support.

According to a recent research study by Ivalua, a leading spend management cloud provider, about 55 per cent of the organisations are about to make a significant investment in AI in the coming two years. If we go on consulting industry trends, these figures clearly point out that AI has already started paving its way towards all the major industries including supply chain management and procurement.

Why is AI essential for procurement?

Procurement workers spend a large chunk of their time binding together fragmented information coming from myriad transactions, something that technology can easily take care of within a fraction of a second. Repetitive, labour-intensive transactions, cost negotiations, supplier performance monitoring etc. add further to the woes.

So how exactly has artificial intelligence strengthened the functioning of various tasks in procurement organisations? Let us find out:

  1. Automation for Repetitive Tasks: One of the trickiest parts in the procurement process is the number of repetitive tasks that consume a substantial amount of time and energy. AI technologies like machine learning, cognitive learning and robotic process automation not only make these iterative tasks faster but also more economical.
  2. Efficient Strategic Sourcing: With a robust machine learning technology, the data acquisition, cleansing & classifying of data and spend analysis become extremely efficient. It is even possible to analyse the spend patterns using real-time classification technology.
  3. Improving Engagement with Bots & Virtual Employee Assistant Chatbots a.k.a conversational interface is capable of incorporating both written messages as well as voice messages that can emulate chatting with a real person. Because of their recall abilities, they can even identify the users they’ve talked with before, thus improving the engagement. The voice assistant technology, on the other hand, is changing the way the user experiences the procurement process altogether.
  4. Handling Supply Management: Through AI, it has become possible to tell the overhead cost by gauging the stocks beforehand. This means that the AI technology intelligently balances the supply and demand by optimising the goods delivery. All this can be done by merely defining the action parameters through machine learning.
  5. Taking Care of Risk Management: AI also helps the enterprises to manage risks related to sourcing from suppliers during procurement. Supplier selection is made more predictive and intelligible. It is also capable of integrating the external data and financial risk scores to chalk out the potential threats.

Investment Required for AI in Procurement

The efficacy of AI in procurement is undebatable. However, setting up AI for procurement comes at a cost. The complex technologies that AI envelopes require application by trained professionals. Here are some of the technologies that come under the purview of AI in procurement:

  • Machine Learning (ML)– This is the most sought-after and most investment consuming technology for organisations today. This consists of APIs (Application Program Interface), development tools and algorithms. ML constantly keeps evolving and improving itself using a given data.
  • Deep Learning– It is actually a type of machine learning. It mimics the human brain in the sense that it observes a large amount of data and learns from it. The learning thus comes here from observing patterns in the given data.
  • NLP– It is a software that helps machines to understand human language and interact accordingly. It is capable of understanding the structure of the sentence, intent and meaning.
  • Virtual Agents– They are the computer programs that are capable of having meaningful conversations with humans. Alexa, Cortana, Siri are some of the popular virtual agents.
  • Decision Management– Decision Management architecture includes systems that can make information-driven automated decisions.

Investing in Human Skills

It may seem that the AI reduces human labour and eliminates the need for manual intervention, however in order to fully exploit the AI functionalities, human skills are a must. Procurement organizations cannot overlook the need for hiring dedicated professionals who master data science and have logical skills for using AI technology appropriately.

Despite the rapidly growing need of AI in major industries, the demand for data scientists and data engineers are not meeting the supply. As a result, the rise in the salary structure for these professionals stands inevitable. A recent survey of 50 best jobs in the USA by Glassdoor ranked data scientists at number one with a median salary of about $110, 000.

This also means that procurement organizations that are looking to get a stronghold in the industry with AI-driven technologies will have to loosen their pockets to get the best team on board.

Time is Money

The transformational footprint of AI on procurement and supply chain operations today has made it the most coveted technology. What the organisations fail to realise is, they are unknowingly shedding big bucks in the guise of time when they are manually performing the procurement functions.

Smart procurement can positively trigger efficient decision making, reduce human errors and save your precious time. This time can then be utilised in taking more strategic initiatives such as building influence within the organisation, improving relationships with suppliers, focusing on innovation, upskilling teams etc.

These initiatives will ultimately give you a bigger ROI and also an edge over your competitors. So if you consider the eagle’s eye view, investing in AI at this point in time is like securing your place as the world rides the digital transformation wave.

This article was written by Ethan Scott

Can We Tell You A Procurement Story?

When we say a story, what we really mean is five stories.

In Bravo, a new five-part procurement podcast series, we interview five inspiring and courageous women to discover the secrets to their success.

Discover why you should become a master storyteller, learn how to focus on your strengths, and listen as we debate critical issues including the salary gap, key procurement skills and the greatest challenges facing the profession.

What is the Bravo podcast series?

Bravo sponsored by Telstra, is a five-part procurement podcast series celebrating women in procurement. The series features five, fifteen-minute podcasts that have been designed to give you some inspiring insights from five top thought leaders in the profession.

How do I listen to the podcast series?

Simply sign up here and you’ll be re-directed to the Bravo group where you can access all five podcasts. You will also join a mailing list, which will alert you each time a new podcast is released.

How will I know when each podcast is published?

The series will run for one week, starting on 26th November with a daily podcast released on Procurious each day. We’ll drop you an email to let you know as each podcast becomes available.

Is the podcast series available to anyone?

Absolutely! Anyone & everyone can access the podcasts and it won’t cost you a penny to do so. Simply sign up here!

When does the podcast series take place. 

Starting on the 26th November the series will run for five days. The podcasts will be accompanied by daily blogs from speakers plus group discussions and articles on Procurious. When the series is complete, all five podcasts will be available for registrants via the Procurious eLearning hub, FREE of charge.

Podcast speakers

1. Thomai Veginis – CPO – Telstra

Thomai is the CPO of Telstra, and as such holds one of the very top CPO roles in Australia, with an eye-watering total spend of $14 billion, a portfolio of 36 categories, and nearly 200 procurement and supply chain staff reporting through to her.

2. Julie Masters, CEO – Influence Nation

Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the weekly podcast Inside Influence.

3. Carlee McGowan, GM Planning – Telstra

Carlee McGowan is a strategic manager with extensive Supply Chain end to end business acumen and a passion for driving and delivering best practice opportunities. She has worked for over 25 years in the field, with profession extending across fast moving consumer goods, retail, telco and international environments.

A change leader who has established, mentored and lead teams, and is known for her passion in customer centric Supply Chain Management using Sales and Operations Planning principles to create end to end business plans to exceed business objectives.

4. Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious

A true procurement entrepreneur, Tania is the Founding Chairman of Procurious, The Faculty and The Source. Throughout her career, Tania has been wholly committed to raising the profile of the procurement profession and connecting its leaders.

After finishing her MBA at Pennsylvania State University, Tania became one of Alcoa’s first global commodity managers.

In 2016, Tania was recognised by IBM as a #NewWaytoEngage Futurist and named “Influencer of the Year” by Supply Chain Dive. She hosts regular procurement webinars, and presents at high-profile events around the world.

5. Nicky Abdinor, Clinical psychologist and show-stopping motivational speaker

Nicky Abdinor is an international keynote speaker, registered Clinical Psychologist and founder of the non-profit, Nicky’s Drive. She is based in Cape Town, South Africa, where she runs her clinical practice. Nicky travels globally for keynote speaking events and has spoken at conferences across Africa, Europe, the USA, Australia and the Middle East.  Nicky is always commended on being a “credible” agent of change whether you are connecting with her one-on-one or from an audience. When you meet Nicky, it is hard not to recognise that she puts her message into practice. She was born without arms, not without attitude!

Bravo, the podcast series sponsored by Telstra,  goes live on 26th November 2018. Sign up now (it’s free) to access the series.

Three Ways To Make An Impact In Your Procurement Career

Procurement professionals are in a unique position to step up and make a positive impact. Here are three areas where procurement professionals should direct their attention… 

In an age when people want to work for companies who are doing good in the world, when consumers vote with their wallets and achieving supply chain transparency is easier than ever before there has never been more pressure for procurement professionals to commit to, and prioritise, making a difference in the world with the work that they do.

Tom Derry, CEO – ISM, discusses three areas where procurement professionals should direct their attention…

1. Sustainability

There was a time when sustainability was merely a PR strategy with minimal corporate effort put behind it. But those days are long gone and we’re at the tipping point where businesses can finally see the financial benefits of operating sustainability.

I’m familiar with the CPO of a major food manufacturer here in the United States,” says Tom.  “One day the Rainforest Action Network was protesting on their corporate campus. It came down to the sustainable sourcing of palm oils, which is a major food ingredient. What we’re realising now is our supply chains can create unexpected consequences. In this case, palm oil was being sourced from Indonesia, which incentivised local farmers to burn down the rainforests in order to plant palm trees. The food manufacturer was jeopardising the existence of this incredible biodiverse resource, without any sense of the consequence of sourcing palm oil to make their products.”

Tom also mentions the importance of catering to customer demands.  “My own daughter makes her consumer purchase decisions based on how she views the sustainable practices of the companies. Companies have realised that if they lose that customer, consumers walk away and you never get that business back.”

But, according to Tom there’s another reason key you have to take sustainability seriously. “In the stock market, companies like JP Morgan are publishing reports on companies based on ESG – which stands for Environment, Sustainability and Governance. So it’s no longer just financial metrics that are driving stock prices. It’s your score on your environmental performance, how sustainable you are, and your governance around your sustainability strategy.

“When that starts to drive stock price, that gets everyone’s attention. Believe me!”

2. Modern slavery

With 21 to 46 million people in slavery around the world, procurement professionals have a huge responsibility in weeding it out of their supply chains?

As Tom points out, it’s a sobering statistic but companies are  beginning to do amazing things. to tackle modern slavery.  “Nestle, for example, investigated their own supply chain for fish used in pet food products and found that the Thai fishing flight was using impressed labour. They identified the problem and proactively went out to address it rather than waiting for someone else to discover it.”

This approach allows companies to avoid appearing defensive and reactive and Tom believes we’ll see more and more companies taking that kind of stance, “because they have to!

“It’s not just about protecting your company’s reputation, but it’s also a recognition that we all share as humans that it’s a morally reprehensible practice – and none of us want to be a part of it.”

3. Diversity and Inclusion

A third way procurement and supply chain professionals can make an impact in their organisations is to improve supplier and workplace diversity.

“We need to make sure our supply bases reflect the kinds of communities where we do business,” argues Tom. “We also need to make sure our teams, internally – and our leadership teams – reflect those communities too.”

“Diversity broadens our point of view. We become more sensitive to cultural issues.”

Remember the backlash last year when PepsiCo released an ad featuring Kendall Jenner that somewhat insensitvely echoed a Black Lives Matter protest? Criticised for trivialising and exploiting the movement the ad was soon removed but not without significant damage to the PepsiCo brand.

As Tom points out,  “a diverse team will heighten your awareness to those issues before they get out into the public domain and embarrass you. You have a multitude of perspectives on how to solve problems.”

“ISM has got a long standing leadership position in this area . We’ve got a formal statement on the value of diversity to the profession we organise a conference and sponsor a certification to help people become leader of diversity efforts.”

Part 3 of Tuesdays with Tom is available now. Click here to sign up and hear ISM CEO Tom Derry talk on sustainability, modern slavery, and diversity. 

Is It Time For Procurement Pros To Go To Market?

Going to Market (Place) : The Future of Procurement goes live on 13th November. Sign up now.  

Could a  B2B e-marketplace transform the lives of your procurement team? What are the key benefits of using a marketplace and why are some procurement leaders reluctant to take the leap?

We hear from Molly Dobson, Head of Enterprise Customer Success – Amazon Business and Mary Hetherington, Director of UK Group Procurement – AXA to get the low down on the future of marketplaces, how they can benefit procurement professionals and what reservations are still held by the profession.

Whist digital marketplaces have evolved over time, and come and gone with varying success, the core functionality remains in that they are a central place where people gather to buy and sell goods and services.

“The digital marketplace isn’t a revolutionary concept.” explains Molly. “But it definitely has been more prevalent in our personal lives than our professional lives – e.g. Uber, Airbnb and Amazon.”

Having said that, “early innovators really did introduce a concept in procurement that still underpins the business marketplaces of today. These are capabilities like electronic procurement, reverse auctions and buyer discovery.”

Molly outlines the three core components of any procurement marketplace:

  1. Breadth of choice

The  first core characteristic of a marketplace is having that “wide range of choice within a single interface, which is why we all like to use marketplaces within our personal lives. Within a marketplace like Amazon Business you can access 250 million products from toilet paper to precision test and measurement instruments, to professional medical supplies.”

2. Competition 

“Users of a marketplace get access to multiple sellers for the same offer. Each of these sellers is competing against one another to get your business and with this competition you can have reduced commitments to some of those long, inflexible contracts. We like to talk about a marketplace being dynamic in that sense.”

3. Transparency 

“In a marketplace you can have transparency of product and seller reviews and pricing and delivery options. You really get the capability to compare all of your options and make informed buying decisions.”

“In the procurement space, in particular, you have additional requirements with things like the ability to integrate with other procurement applications.”

Marketplaces and maverick spend

Mary recently began piloting a marketplace at AXA.

“In the short space of time that we’ve been [trialling a marketplace] it has really surprised me the depth of information that we can attain about who’s buying what, the types of goods and services we’re buying,  at a very low level which hasn’t always been that transparent in the past.

“This is really useful for a large organisation like mine where we’re supporting several different business units with very diverse sets of requirements and lots and lots of small purchases. It gives us the opportunity to consolidate information and identify rogue spend very quickly.”

Measuring marketplace success

AXA has been measuring the success of its marketplace with three metrics; customer satisfaction, billing and fulfilment and  management of information.

  1. Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction on the solutions and the process around Amazon Marketplace is one metric AXA have been using to measure success.

“We all know that Amazon is the go to place for purchases. We use it in our private lives and people like that experience so we want to try and give our business customers some of that experience and flexibility when dealing with business purchases.”

2. Billing and fulfilment

Making sure that billing and fulfilment of the goods is effective, [that it] interfaces neatly with our purchase to pay solutions  [and] that we get the granularity we want on our invoicing.”

3.  Great management of information

It’s important to ensure procurement leaders can make well informed decisions about their future spend and future requirements.

“It can take some work to get [a marketplace] off the ground, [fitting into] your strategy [to a point where  multifunctional leaders can buy into it.”

Marketplace adoption

So what’s holding procurement teams back when it comes to adopting marketplaces. Mary Hetherington, Director of UK Group Procurement – AXA believes part of the challenge is procurement’s need to achieve a healthy balance between enabling the business and applying controls.

“We need to show flexibility but also proportionality when we’re looking at different sizes of purchasing,” she argues.

“The challenge with a marketplace is ensuring we determine the appropriate level of control that gives that flexibility to the business but doesn’t compromise any of our existing  preferred supplier  arrangement or bypass certain checkpoints of governance as a finical services organisation that we need to carry out.

“The key here is pitching it at the right level to ensure both the procurement team and the business get the solution they want.”

Are marketplaces the future of procurement? What are the pros and cons? We discuss in new Procurious webinar. which goes live on 13th November.  Sign up now (it’s free!)

Why Quick Decision-Making is the Name of the Procurement Game

ISM CEO Tom Derry urges procurement leaders not to let perfect be the enemy of good – make decisions and move on!

When Tom Derry, CEO – ISM attended Procurious’ Big Ideas Summit in Sydney this week he came armed with a stark warning for the procurement professionals in attendance. “If you’re the steward of a process, then your job will inevitably be automated.”

Concerned? You should be. Because, as Tom points out, there are an awful lot of procurement roles that fit this bracket. In the very near future, for example, every sourcing event is likely to be automated.

This article is a compilation of Tom Derry’s comments from his appearances at both the London and Sydney Big Ideas Summits in 2018.

Adapting to the pace of change

Procurement has changed dramatically in the past decade, and will change even more so as we move into the robotic era. Tom believes that we’re facing more disruption and a faster pace of change than ever before. “Most of us operate within a context or a framework that we’re familiar with – the established rules of the game. But when the rules get thrown out, how do we operate?

“Being comfortable with ambiguity is a rare skill, especially amongst executives,” he argues. But he reminds procurement leaders not to let perfect be the enemy of good, urging them to: “Make decisions and move on. If we don’t, our competitors will. Being able to move on and know that there are going to be times we don’t win is important. Accepting that as the cost of being in the game and having the opportunity to win is the reality we are in.”

“We can’t anticipate every possible scenario but what we can do is be ready for multiple scenarios and recognise that when we face an unfamiliar scenario we’ve built up some skills and reflexes that we can put into play.”

Of course, as Tom admits, it’s human nature to react in fear to such rapid change. But “there’s always opportunity when there is inherent change and risk.” The skill is in recognising where that opportunity lies. And that, according to Tom, “comes from a deep understanding of what creates value. The source of value might shift but it is still there somewhere.”

Making procurement indispensable

What key skills should aspiring procurement professionals be developing in order to make themselves indispensable?

“The CPO of the future possesses an openness to change, an openness to developing and an openness to sharing.” says Tom.

To improve business-wide understanding of procurement’s value offering it’s vital that procurement leaders allow their people to reach their full potential and move on. “Maybe it’s within your company, and now you’ve got evangelists in other functions who understand the importance of procurement, or maybe it’s outside the four walls of your company. There’s no better reputation to have than being seen as a cultivator of talent, both inside and outside the company”

Tom also highlights the following three skills as critical attributes for procurement professionals.

1. Understanding Markets
“This is about more than just the price,” asserts Tom. “Procurement professionals must understand the dynamics that drive the price whether it’s short supply or supply disruption, new technology that disinter-mediates an old technology.”

2. Strategic Acumen
Procurement leaders must ask of themselves “where am I going as a business? What’s important to my business in the next two to-three years?”

3. Financial Savviness
Procurement teams must accept that they really are driving financial results for their firm. “Sometimes we are a bit too afraid to engage with financial metrics and the traditional income statement or balance sheet. But we must embrace engaging with that income statement and balance sheet in order to understand how what we’re doing in procurement is driving financial metrics such as earning per share and driving revenue growth . We must not focus on metrics that are largely discredited like cost avoidance.”
The future of professional associations
[ISM has] been around for over 102 years and so future-proofing professional associations really matters to Tom. “For 102 years we’ve been very successful but you can’t continue to execute that playbook and expect to still be around.”

“An association used to function as the place where people felt obliged to belong,” says Tom. But nowadays he doesn’t believe procurement professionals feel such a sense of needing to belong to an association just for the sake of belonging. What people need and demand from associations like ISM is “value for money and the provision of tools and skills that enable them to be successful at a critical moment in their career.”

Another key evolving role for associations, according to Tom, is their role as data brokers. “We’re able to reflect back to the profession everything we learn about the profession because we deal with all industries and all geographies, we have a broad view of what’s happening.”

Going To Market(place): The Future of Procurement

Are marketplaces the future of procurement? What are the pros and cons? We discuss in new Procurious webinar. 

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, B2B e-marketplaces were hyped up as the next big thing. For a while it seemed these were going to transform the lives of supply chain and procurement professionals forever. But they never quite took off perhaps because they were too far ahead of the technology and change-management requirements of the time. Indeed, most of the public and consortia marketplaces failed and of the 1,300 that were launched, fewer than 50 exist today.

Fast forward 20 years and, as consumers, we’re all enjoying, and heavily relying upon, the benefits of consumer companies with marketplace models such as Uber, Airbnb and Amazon.com. And whilst the B2B marketplace model might not be expanding with such speed, it is being applied to more diverse industries and with more success than previous models.

If you’re struggling to get a hold on your organisation’s maverick spending, concerned about disruption and risk mitigation within your supply chain or in serious need of a larger supplier pool, a marketplace might just be the answer to your prayers!

In our latest webinar, sponsored by Amazon Business, we explore the evolution of procurement marketplaces and their prevelance in organisations today, the pros and cons of using a marketplace and what the future holds for procurement if this trend continues.

Who is speaking on the webinar?

Molly Dobson, Head of Amazon Business Accounts – Amazon Business 

Molly Dobson is the Head of Enterprise Customer Success for Amazon Business UK. Prior to her role with Amazon Business, she was Head of Buying for European Business, Industrial, and Scientific Supplies and Category Leader for Amazon’s Luggage and Travel business. Molly has her MBA from London Business School and has also worked for Marks & Spencer, Coca-Cola, and Gap Inc.

Mary Hetherington, Director of UK Group Procurement – AXA

Mary Hetherington is the Group Procurement Director for AXA UK.  Mary has worked in the Insurance Industry for over 30 years managing a combination of Finance and Procurement functions. She has led several large multi-company third party programmes focusing on outsourcing, divestment and acquisition activity and GDPR. As part of a broader initiative to bring more agility to Procurement processes, Mary is currently focused on the Implementation of Coupa and an effective purchase to pay strategy.

What will be discussed in the webinar?

  • How can marketplaces help CPOs and their teams control maverick spend?
  • Are B2B marketplaces the future of procurement?
  • How can procurement teams incorporate marketplaces into their business strategy?
  • Why are some procurement professionals reluctant to adopt marketplaces?
  • The evolution of marketplaces and their prevalence in society today

How do I register for the webinar?

Registering for Going to Market (place): The Future of Procurement couldn’t be easier (and, of course, it’s FREE!)

Click here to enter your details and confirm your attendance. We’ll send you a email with a link to the webinar platform in the run up to the event.

I’m already a member of Procurious, do I still need to register?

Yes! If you are already a member of Procurious you must still enroll to access the webinar. We’ll send you a email with a link to the webinar platform in the run up to the event.

When is it taking place?

The webinar takes place on 13th November at 11am GMT. Sign up or log in here and we’ll be in touch ahead of the event to provide details on how to join the webinar live.

Help! I can’t make it to the live-stream

No problem! If you can’t make the live-stream you can catch up whenever it suits you. We’ll be making it available on Procurious soon after the event (and will be sure to send you a link) so you can listen at your leisure!

Can I ask a question during the webinar?

If you’d like to ask one of our speakers a question please submit it via the Discussion Board on Procurious and we’ll do our very best to ensure it gets answered for you.

Going to Market (Place) : The Future of Procurement goes live on 13th November. Sign up now.