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Faculty CPO of the Year mentors CIPS Young Procurement Professional of the Year

What do you get when you put two award-winning women of procurement together?

Billie Gormon, Bree Pitcher, Visna Lampasi

Inspired by the Women in Procurement panel at the 2013 CIPS Australasia Annual Conference – four women blazed a trail for a new breed of mentoring program. Just under a year later the Australasian pilot of the global Women in Procurement has become a reality – the program has been designed to connect future procurement leaders (both female & male) with female role models they don’t necessarily have access to in their sector or region. There is also hope that it will address some of the disparity found in the percentages of women in procurement roles, into the future.

Those  four motivated women were Linda Eames (Head of Group Procurement, NRMA), Sommer Baxter (Director Procurement, PwC), Carrie McCafferty (Category Manager, Westpac), and Sarah Collins (CPO, Roads and Maritime Services).

With this fresh in mind, enter Billie Gorman (Manager Procurement Excellence at Thiess), who connected the 2014 Young Procurement Professional of the Year with another award-winner – Visna Lampasi (The Faculty’s CPO of the Year).

Bree Pitcher won the CIPS Young Procurement & Supply Chain Professional Award at the recent 2014 CIPS Procurement Awards in Sydney – she will be mentored by Visna Lampasi over the next twelve months.

Procurious talked to both women following Billie’s introduction, quizzing them on their wins, the future, and importance of the mentorship program.

Procurious asks: Let’s talk the power of networks – why do you invest time in growing your network?

Visna answers: Skilful networking, which these days is far more than shaking hands and introducing yourself, is a powerful marketing approach which can accelerate the access to opportunities as well as sustain success.  From a business perspective, it provides me with the ability to identify and tap procurement talent for future hiring, as well as bringing ideas and people together that would have not otherwise crossed paths.

If fact, it was Billie Gorman (Procurement Excellence Manager at Thiess) from my network who had introduced me to Bree Pitcher at the recent CIPS Procurement Professional Awards dinner in Sydney, Australia and suggested the potential mentoring opportunity.

Procurious: What impresses you about young people starting out careers in Procurement?

Visna: These days, young people have far more resources available and they are utilising them. They are also establishing and leveraging their networks, actively seeking out Mentors (more than one in many cases) and often have a career path already mapped out for themselves which they regularly review and adjust.  When I first started in procurement, there were not many courses available in Australia.  Fortunately, the companies that I had worked for were multi-nationals which gave me access to programs offshore.

Procurious: Why mentor? What are the benefits to you? 

Visna: Mentoring gives me the ability to share my knowledge and experience, which hopefully are useful insights to assist someone with navigating the organisational landscape.   It also gives me the opportunity to give back to the procurement profession, as well as the satisfaction that I am helping someone to achieve their professional goals.

Procurious: Do you have any top tips for others wanting to position themselves as a great mentor?

Visna: Outside of being qualified on the relevant subject matter and interested in the development of others, a mentor needs to display the highest of ethical standards, be a good listener and be able to steer, guide and inspire the mentee rather than direct and control.

The American author William Arthur Ward said it best – “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires”.

Procurious: How has mentoring changed since you first started your career?  

Visna: Mentoring is utilised more nowadays than in the past.  Many organisations and professional bodies offer formal mentoring programs which are well structured.  For example, it would not be unusual for the two individual’s to enter into a Mentoring Agreement, along with having documented Mentoring Action Plans which are reviewed periodically throughout the relationship to ensure that they are on track.

Procurious: Did you have any mentors on your way up?  Do you still now? 

Visna: Fortunately for me, I did have a number of senior male mentors during my career who took me under their wing. This was particularly important to me, as the majority of my career had been spent in male dominated industries. Up until most recently, I also had a female Executive Coach assigned to me by my previous employer as part of their senior executive leadership program.  Whilst I am in between mentors at the moment, I still keep in contact with those that have helped me throughout the different stages of my career.

Bree Pitcher

Procurious asks: What does it mean to have CPO of the Year as your mentor?

Bree answers: I am very fortunate to have Visna as a mentor. It is clear that she has achieved so much in her career to date and I look forward to spending time with her and learning from her wealth of knowledge and experience. The opportunity will greatly assist me in developing further as a young professional which in turn will help me to progress my career and achieve my future goals.

Procurious: How did you get into Procurement?

Bree: I, like many others in the field, stumbled across the procurement profession. As a soon to be university graduate I by chance met a representative from the Queensland Government Procurement Office at a careers fair held on campus. As soon as I heard about what was involved I knew it was the career for me. I applied and was successful in obtaining a placement in the Queensland Government Procurement Professional Graduate Development program placed at Government Owned Corporation Tarong Energy now Stanwell Corporation.

7 Years on, I feel so very fortunate to be part of such an exciting profession. I enjoy the challenges of my role each and every day and thrive on the opportunity to make a measurable impact and difference in my organisation.

Procurious: As a millennial do you see a change in this new generation of procurement? 

Bree: It is truly exciting to see so many young, capable and passionate professionals involved in the procurement profession. From my own perspective, I am never afraid of a challenge, continuously question the norm and strive to think outside the box, all important and distinctive traits in which I see very often in many of my millennial peers. For this young and enthusiastic generation the profession really does present so many exciting challenges and opportunities to make a difference. The foundation and ever increasing profile for procurement which experienced CPO’s like Visna have worked so very hard to build and foster within business means the opportunities are plentiful and for me, procurement really is the “career of choice”.

Procurious: Networking and making contacts is a valuable career investment! To that end, how are you investing in your network?   

Bree: I cannot stress more the importance of building and fostering a professional network. I am very fortunate to be involved in professional associations such as the SCLAA and CIPS where I have had the opportunity to meet and liaise with likeminded and passionate individuals who are happy to share their knowledge, offer guidance and provide introductions to others in industry. In fact it is through my network that I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Visna.

For me the investment in my network is essential in my development as a professional, however it is equally as rewarding to give back and share my own knowledge and experience with my peers.

Procurious: How did the mentoring opportunity come about?

Bree: I was fortunate to be introduced to Visna at the 2014 CIPS Australasia Awards Dinner through the wonderful Billie Gorman, a procurement professional whom I connected with through my own professional network. Visna was delighted with the announcement that I was the winner of the CIPS Australasia Young Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year award for 2014. She kindly offered to mentor me and we have since begun to connect. 

Procurious: What do you hope to get out of the mentoring experience?

Bree: I look forward to working with Visna to help identify areas in which I need to build upon my current skillset and experience to enable me to further progress in my career. My ultimate goal is to one day become a successful CPO leading and inspiring others to make a difference and deliver valuable outcomes for business. I know Visna as the successful professional and CPO of the year that she is will be able to share her knowledge and guide me further with my own career path.

Procurious: And finally, can you provide any tips on finding a great mentor?

Bree: Finding a great mentor and someone who is the right fit for you is not always a short and simple task. There is great potential to meet your next mentor through your professional network connections. I would also encourage those interested in finding a mentor to become involved in professional associations. In particular a number of associations (including the SCLAA) now offer formal mentoring programs whereby mentors and mentees are paired and connected. The important thing to note with regards to mentoring is that you personally have to know what you want to achieve from the experience. Your mentor is there to guide you however you only get out what you put in to the opportunity.

Procurious thanks both Visna and Bree for their time.

If you are interested in registering for the Women in Procurement program you’ll need to complete the registration survey by clicking here.

Feminist t-shirts ‘sweatshop’ row

UK politicians Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have made headlines for the wrong reasons… this and more in our weekly news-blast of procurement’s biggest stories.

Feminist t-shirt labour row

Feminist t-shirts ‘sweatshop’ row

  • A women’s rights charity behind a t-shirt campaign now caught up in controversy over claims the products were made in “sweatshop” conditions has said it will order the clothes be withdrawn from sale if the reports are proven.
  • The T-shirts, proudly worn by Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman proclaiming their feminist credentials, are made by women workers being paid just 62p an hour, the Mail on Sunday reported.
  • The paper said its investigation had found the t-shirts with the slogan “This is what a feminist looks like” were being produced on a factory on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius where the women machinists sleep 16 to a room.
  • Fashion retailer Whistles, which sells the garments for £45 each, described the allegations as “extremely serious” and said it would be mounting an urgent investigation.

Read more on MSN

Britain’s drone tech future relies on supply chain know-how

  • An interesting article has appeared in The Telegraph on the rise of drones and the economic benefit they could bring to the UK. It is penned by Michael Minall – Aerospace and Defence Director at Vendigital.

  • Developing a supply chain for drone production is such a significant challenge as the current aerospace sector is already competing for capable capacity in the supply chain. The task of making enough commercial aircraft to meet rising passenger numbers (20,000 over the next 20 years) means that many manufacturers are working at stretched capacity. To combat this, innovators of drone technology must move now to engage in supply chain mapping and open a dialogue with key suppliers regarding future business needs, communicating their requirements in terms of volumes, key capabilities and location.
  • Michael also touches on the potential skills gap, highlighting how unpopular engineering has become as a degree subject. So in order to source staff with the desired technical skills, firms should be prepared to take action at a grassroots level.

Read more at The Telegraph

CIPS Pan African Procurement Awards winners revealed 

  • The winners of the CIPS Pan African Procurement Awards 2014 were announced at a ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • Awards in 10 categories were presented to organisations in the public and private sectors, and two postgraduate awards and nine certificates of recognition were also handed out at the celebration at the Premier Hotel OR Tambo.
  • The evening included a speech from Jimmy Manyi, president of the Progressive Professional Forum and former CEO of government communications and information systems for the Republic of South Africa.
  • Award highlights included: Most Procurement & Supply Orientated CPO/CEO of the Year: Garry Pita, Transnet, CIPS Young Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year: Lindiwe Ntuli from NECSA, while Kamogelo Mampane was awarded the CIPS Fellowship.

Supply Management has published a list of the winners in full

Ben Ainslie Racing

Olympian partners with high-tech procurement company in bid to win America’s Cup

  • Ben Ainslie Racing the racing team set up by Olympian and America’s Cup winner Ben Ainslie has partnered with high-tech procurement company Matrix in a bid to win the America’s Cup with as green a boat (and surrounding infrastructure) as possible. Through buying components from within the UK, especially the Solent area close to their workshop in Portsmouth, reducing the impact on the environment and boosting the local economy.
  • The technology will enable BAR to support smaller businesses, taking advantage of the best of British tech and innovation; in contrast to other teams such as Oracle Team USA who wouldn’t tend to look for smaller suppliers, the BAR and Matrix partnership aims to support British businesses.
  • Matrix already enjoys long term relationships with around 78 local authorities and the wider public sector including the NHS, higher educational establishments, schools, police authorities and the not-for-profit sector through the procurement of temporary staffing.
  • The buying platform opens late November, with Matrix and BAR hosting  a supplier day open to all suppliers interested in working with BAR.

Read more at Ben Ainslie Racing

New security solution to protect against supply chain attacks in enterprise

  • Micron, Wave Systems, Lenovo, and PC Bios software vendor American Megatrends plan to develop enterprise-class security for enterprise class IT business systems.
  • The solutions to strengthen the BIOS specific feature called Core Root of Trust for Measurement (CRTM) to protect against current and emerging pre-boot threats within the supply chain. The companies intend for these solutions to form the basis of a new industry standard designed to ensure the integrity of the supply chain.
  • The comprehensive enterprise security suite will serve to protect memory content from its inception in manufacturing throughout a computing device’s life cycle.  It is hoped that a centrally managed security solution (working in conjunction with a client’s core root of trust for measurement) will provide client system integrity throughout the supply chain.

Read more at EE Herald

Paddy procurement halted as Punjab exhausts CCL

  • The paddy procurement in Punjab has been stopped midway as the state has exhausted its first installment of cash credit limit (CCL) of Rs. 8,000 crore received from the Centre, and the second installment of Rs. 10,000 crore has not arrived despite several frantic reminders by the state.
  • It is a crisis-like situation as the state government has not paid the farmers since ten days for the large quantity of paddy procured by Punjab. About 40 lakh tonne of paddy still remain in grain markets waiting to be procured by government agencies.
  • So far, payment has been made for 55 lakh tonne. Other farmers are awaiting payment while agencies have already obtained the grain from them.

Read more at Hindustan Times

Standardised procurement could save English fire services £18 million a year 

  • Fire and rescue services across England could save £18 million annually by standardising and streamlining the way they buy firefighting clothing and equipment, according to a joint report from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Chief Fire Officers Association.
  • A report commissioned by DCLG found fire services buying identical kit at vastly different prices, with variations of up to 200 per cent. It cited examples including a pair of protective trousers costing between £125 and £274, a fire helmet costing £105 to £131, and the price of a fire coat ranging £220 to £366.
  • Concluding that fire and rescue authorities could achieve savings of £18 million from a total spend of £127 million a year, the report suggested the savings could be even greater if applied to all purchases by all fire services, which spends an estimated £600 million each year on buying equipment and fire engines.

Read more at Supply Management

Talking point: popular discussions on Procurious

Over the last few months, there have been a number of topics and themes within our Discussion forum.

We don’t want this information to go to waste, so we have pulled together the key points from some of the most popular discussions that we have seen so far.

Most popular discussions on Procurious

What do you say when a supplier (existing or potential) asks you: “What budget do you have in mind?”

There were a number of different answers from the community, ranging from a response of “why do you want to know that?, where the buyer elicits more information from the supplier, before asking for a firm price quotation, to no suppliers would ask that because they know that they need to quote best price or the existing relationship is critical to both parties.

A number of key points were brought up in the answers. The response to the question being asked depended on:

  • The relationship with the supplier
  • What commodity is being purchased – a key commodity might have more of a discussion around a price that worked for both parties, than one that is a best price discussion
  • What quality is expected
  • When the question is being asked – is it during a negotiation, or as part of a tendering process

There was agreement in that most people wouldn’t reveal the budget, would give a figure that was a percentage of the total budget or wouldn’t answer the question, either at all or without more explanation from the supplier.

Links were given for further information reading on suppliers combating the response to this question:

Trying to improve how we do contract management at CnES. Where should I start?

There were a few answers to this question, but some that got a few of the members commenting about the quality.

Consensus was to design a framework both for the management of the contract but also the KPIs to be involved in the contract itself. The most highly rated response was Cristian Martin:

  • Agree how to categorize your contracts/suppliers so you maintain focus on the most important ones. (Krajic, ABC or both).
  • Agree the method of contract management and standardize it so that you can compare supplier performance (under performing contracts can be seen and understood across the business when the process is standardized. e.g. use only 10 KPIs on all contracts and all KPIs are marked 0-5 (a score of 30 means the contract is performing to specification, Higher recognizes excellence and lower means there are issues that need to be resolved.)
  • Standardize the reporting and ensure it is seen at senior level on a regular basis. (Provide a quarterly report along with your savings report and get the recognition for your hard work).
  • Provide the tools to contract managers for lower value/risk contracts to give contract managers practice and improve their skills in Contract Management so that when you work on contracts together, you can focus on the contract and not in their CPD.

Cristian went on to recommend that only 10 KPIs were used in his contracts. Not the same every time, but a maximum number of 10.

He also asked his suppliers as part of the tender process to suggest KPIs for the contract to establish a starting point for discussion.

How sustainable procurement can be best defined?

This is common question across the profession at the moment and one that there is no real defined answer for. The top definitions given were:

  • To ensure that all procurement includes a requirement to maximise the benefits to the Outer Hebrides and the wider world that may arise from the purchase.
  • Preserving and cultivating the human resource of relationships
  • A process whereby organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money on a whole life basis in terms of generating benefits not only to the organisation, but also to society and the economy

A key learning point given from the theoretical side of the debate was the concept of the Triple Bottom Line. This breaks Procurement activities into three distinct areas, all of which should be considered by buyers:

  1. Environmental Impact
  2. Economic Impact
  3. Social Impact

Sustainable Procurement is seen as a common buzzword, but not so common in practice, but there is evidence that it can provide value. Another point raised was why should there be a separate name for these activities – shouldn’t they just fall under the normal daily activities of procurement? What do you think?

To contribute to all of these discussions and more, head to https://www.procurious.com/discussions/

10 years of supply chain CSR

We’re leading this week’s news headlines with a decade of supply chain corporate social responsibility presented in an easy-to-digest infographic. It’s like Christmas has come early…

Ten years of supply chain’s corporate responsibility

  • A new infographic which highlights the high-profile events that have driven global momentum for business and supply chain responsibility over the past decade has been created by the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex).
  • From the Morecambe Bay tragedy in the UK in 2004 to the horsemeat scandal which rocked industry last year, the Sedex infographic puts the spotlight on the events that have driven global momentum for CSR and supply chain responsibility.

View the infographic in full below (thanks to edie.net):

Infographic: 10 years of supply chain CSR

 

Carlsberg pours Office 365 into supply chain operations

  • Danish brewer Carlsberg has deployed Office 365 in a bid to help the company manage its supply chain operations around the world. The Carlsberg Group is deploying Office 365’s integrated productivity and collaboration services to underpin the Carlsberg Supply Chain (CSC), an initiative to help streamline the company’s global supply chain operations.
  • Since 2000 the company has expanded from a local production base of just six markets to servicing pubs and restaurants in over 140 markets, and the company has launched what it calls “GloCal,” an attempt to improve its operational efficiency by centralising management of its procurement, production, logistics and planning functions.
  • Etienne Dock, vice president of IT architecture and sourcing at Carlsberg said the company is using Microsoft Exchange Online for email and calendaring; Microsoft Lync Online to connect via web conferencing and instant messaging; teams are collaborating on projects using Microsoft SharePoint Online; and employees are adopting the Yammer Enterprise social networking platform for messaging and collaboration.

Read more at Business Cloud News

DHL Supply Chain wins new five-year contract with Volvo Cars

  • Under the new contract, DHL will manage four shared use local distribution centres. Deliveries will take place through the night using DHL’s Auto Alliance collaborative platform. During the day, deliveries are made through the same day service to all of Volvo Cars UK dealers. This service incorporates flexible driver departure times to even the most remote dealers, meaning an enhanced, more efficient delivery service nationwide.
  • Michael Martin, VP Business Development, Automotive, DHL Supply Chain added: “DHL is delighted to be working with one of the world’s leading automotive companies to drive forward innovative approaches for exceptional customer service. “This new contract heralds a new partnership between DHL and Volvo Cars, which will see us deliver an innovative service-level delivery network, resulting in increased efficiencies”.
  • A new fleet of increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles will be deployed, with more than 35 trucks that feature forward facing cameras, Microlise vehicle tracking to increase fleet performance, full closure tail lifts to maintain high safety standards and state-of-the-art double deck trailers specifically designed for working in the Aftermarket environment.

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

Huawei boosts European procurement spend to more than $4 billion

  • The Chinese IT company spent $3.4 billion on components, engineering and logistical services in 2013 but plans to increase this to $4.08 billion by 2015.
  • At its European Partner Convention in Germany the firm, which deals with more than 3,000 suppliers in Europe, said spending was “gathering further speed” as part of plans to expand in the region.
  • Kevin Tao, president of Huawei Western Europe, said: “Europe remains our top investment destination. “Europe’s fertile IT environment, and the trust of our valuable European partners, has enabled us to get us to get where we are today. As our engagement with the European business environment deepens, procurement will be continually increasing to fuel this expansion.”

Read more at Supply Management

Competition from China PC supply chain to remain strong in 2015

  • Although demand for PCs has started recovering recently and shipments in 2015 are expected to remain at the same level as in 2014, Taiwan’s supply chain is still facing fierce competition from China-based component makers, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.
  • The sources pointed out that the hinge industry is one of the major battlefields for Taiwan makers, as China-based manufactures such as GT Technology have been expanding their presences in the monitor and all-in-one PC industries. Although notebook hinges are still supplied mainly by Taiwan-based companies, China makers’ aggressive moves have created strong pressure.
  • In addition to hinges, the competition between Taiwan and China makers has also grown fierce for components such as batteries, cooling modules, cables and connectors.

Read more at Digitimes.com

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Jason D’Assisi

He may be a procurement superstar now, but after high school, Jason D’Assisi wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do.

Jason D'Assisi

With a little push from his family, he ended up in real estate, but when an opportunity to do something different came along, he jumped at it and took a role with an import/export organisation. He recalls working his way through the organisation and experiencing the different aspects of procurement, including commercial negotiations and sourcing strategies.

He knew he’d found his niche and in 2008 he began studying supply chain management full-time while also continuing to work full-time in procurement.

He went on to work for KPMG Australia as a procurement specialist and Myer as a category manager, where he gained valuable leadership and management experience.

These days, you can find him at Newcrest Mining, where he’s a supply specialist and category lead for engineering services, CAPEX and site services.

“I didn’t get to where I am today without having experienced teams around me to learn from and develop. Add a supportive wife to the mix and I’ve been lucky enough to have the foundations needed to help me succeed in this industry,” Jason says.

“I’m also ambitious and naturally competitive and both these traits have helped me achieve success in the last five years.”

Jason has worked with some great leaders that have helped him develop invaluable strategic sourcing, negotiation and procurement skills during his career. He’s now on the lookout for a formal mentor to ensure he reaches his full potential.

He’s been told he’s an outcome driven person, which he agrees with.

“I really enjoy reading a supplier and deciphering their real intentions in a negotiation. It allows me to expose their real needs and wants, which I can use in the negotiation process to deliver greater commercial outcomes for an organisation.”

Jason also hopes to be part of a mentorship program so he can share the story with young procurement professionals looking for guidance and career direction.

“Most of us can and do procure in some way in our everyday activities, but procurement for me is more than just the transaction. It’s about developing the skill and ability to get the most out of the negotiation in order to benefit the organisation.”

Supply chain issues on the small (and silver) screen

According to an excellent commentary from The Guardian, viral YouTube hits and blockbusting movie releases are helping to shine light on pertinent issues affecting supply chains the world over.

The Guardian cites such cinematic successes as Blood Diamond, alongside indie-documentaries like Blood in the Mobile (an expose on mobile phone production methods that are financing war in the DR Congo), and The Price of Sugar (at what human cost is sugar produced?) But there’s also a growing glut of online-only, YouTube short films – each aiming to achieve the same goals.

The Story of Stuff is a great example, as well as being something of a YouTube success story… Originally released in 2007, it’s been watched by over 44 million worldwide.

The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Can you recommend any other videos that are making similar waves in these areas?

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Language barriers: the dangers of Google Translate

Procurement Professionals on LinkedInThis guest blog was written by Marcia Thompson and originally posted in the Procurement Professionals LinkedIn group. It has been redistributed with their permission.  Read more on Procurement Professionals LinkedIn group at: http://linkd.in/1uupe8p or Twitter: @ProcurementProf

Many years, in a restaurant in Ankara, Turkey, I made a faux pas when I was offered tea, or çay in Turkish. I replied in the little Turkish I had learnt. What I said was “no tea”, which I meant as no tea for me thanks. But apparently this was interpreted as “there is no tea”. This caused major confusion as saying there is no tea in Turkey is the same as saying there is no pizza in Italy or no vodka in Russia. The more the waiter tried to convince me that yes, there was tea in his restaurant, the more I said “no tea”. It took a few minutes to sort it out and my friends, the staff and I laughed about it.

google-tranlate

Whilst this example of a language misunderstanding was minor with no harm done, how many mistakes are made on a regular basis without people being aware.   Compounding this lack of awareness is “Google Translate” where people blissfully assume that the translation of words is correct and that the other party to the communication meant to say those words.

According to Wikipedia, effective communication occurs “when a desired effect is the result of intentional or unintentional information sharing, which is interpreted between multiple entities and acted on in a desired way.” (source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication). Now I have to stop and wonder if readers with English as a second or third language – for the purpose of this article, I will say “ESL (English as Second Language) readers” – can understand that sentence. In “plain English” (English that is easily understood), effective communication is when the message received is the same message as the one that was sent.

Lost in translation

“Google Translate” is a translation tool that should be used with some caution. It ignores tone, regional differences, gender bias, perception, history, jargon, abbreviations and noise, et cetera.  Basically, all of these factors filter the information received and are potential obstacles to effective communication. I deliberately chose noise as the last factor.

Many ESL readers, and even some native English readers, would read “noise” as something we hear but actually “noise” can also be used to describe irrelevant information. The Oxford English Dictionary defines one meaning of noise: “in non-technical contexts: irrelevant or superfluous information or activity, esp. that which distracts from what is important” (source: http://www.oed.com).  Interesting that this definition uses “esp.”, which could create some confusion, or indeed “noise”. Esp. could be interpreted as an abbreviation for Espana for Spanish readers and if you google “esp.” extrasensory perception is ranked the highest definition. In a google search for “what does esp. stand for: http://www.abbreviations.com/serp.php?st=ESP.&p=7, there is a list of 158 meanings for esp., but the one that the Oxford English Dictionary meant, “especially”, is listed on the 7th page.  It could be a real challenge for ESL speakers to work out something as simple as this one abbreviation is (for native English speakers) and it is a great example of how Google Translate, or even Google Search, can’t be relied upon to assist with complete understanding.

English is the most commonly used language for business purposes between people from different countries.   As more interactions and transactions are carried out, esp. (J) online, it can be easy to assume that everyone that is communicating in English has a common understanding. Even native speakers can have trouble communicating with each other.

So what is the solution? Well, basically all of the parties to the communication need to check that they have understood the communication. It is better to do this sooner rather than later.   How depends on the type and purpose of communication. In Procurement, it could be that the supplier needs to demonstrate they have understood the specification of a good or service.   This could be a sample, photo, drawing or anything that clearly shows they are delivering as required by the specification.

A second opinion could be helpful, for example someone else reading a contract to ensure understanding of the terms and conditions.   Calling the other party to discuss the contents of a written document can also be useful. Whatever the situation is, don’t assume that Google Translate will be able to translate your words 100% effectively. There are many words in English that have two or more meanings. Native English speakers are used to it and don’t realize how many there are.

As an example, I am going to leave you with my interpretation of the word blue:

  • colour like as the sky, feeling sad, fight or argument, genuine (as in true blue), mistake, the name of someone with red hair (also known as Red), and royal (English royals are said to have blue blood).

Procurious debuts slick new homepage

If you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise… Yes we’re mindful that Halloween is creeping ever nearer, but that doesn’t mean it’s a scary treat!

New Procurious.com homepage

Our homepage has enjoyed something of an epic refresh – we hope you like it!

This is the first thing you’ll see when you visit Procurious.com – to all of our members, you’ll be able to log in as usual. To those newcomers among you, it’s still super simple to register and get involved. Just follow the appropriate buttons.

Look beyond the pretty exterior and you’ll discover an interesting personality too.

New Procurious.com homepage

We’ve helpfully broken down the site into its respective sections – a sort of interactive tour if you will…

The aim of the new homepage is to tell prospective members (and media) exactly what we’re about, as well as promoting the benefits that Procurious provides to the profession.

What are you still reading this for? Take the new homepage for a spin, head back to Procurious.com (you may have to sign out first) and tell us what you think.

We’ve created the perfect primer so it would be rude not to share it with your wider team and colleagues. If they’re not onboard yet, why not share Procurious.com with them too?

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‘Weak’ UK supply chain is holding back investment

The British are coming! Controversial acceptance speeches, staunch warnings, and more – feature in our weekly news blast.

Twilight of supply chain
If quality doesn’t improve, could this be the twilight of the UK’s supply chain?

 

Business calls for measures to boost supply chain

  • Weaknesses in the UK’s supply chain are holding back industrial investment, according to British business. Industry is calling on the government to help boost competitiveness with measures to incentivise innovation, improve financing and resolve a crippling skills gap.
  • Close to 80 per cent of companies say improving the quality of Britain’s supply chain will be crucial to future growth, according to a study published on Monday by the Confederation of British Industry and consultants AT Kearney.
  • Industry’s call is made more urgent after the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane last week warned that productivity remained 15 per cent below pre-crisis levels despite unprecedented declines in wages.
  • Yet in a blow to the CBI’s findings, some global manufacturers said Britain’s relatively high costs would remain the biggest deterrent to investment. “It’s far more expensive . . . here,” said Neeraj Kanwar, managing director of India’s Apollo tyres. “The UK as far as manufacturing is concerned is not lucrative at all.”

Read more at FT.com

Top transport, logistics, supply chain operators in Malta honoured

  • Noel Ellul, an expert in transport and logistics in Malta with a career spanning over 40 years, was awarded the ‘Outstanding Achievement of the Year’ honour at the first TransLog Awards to be held.
  • Key transport, logistics and supply chain stakeholders operating in Malta were recognised with awards in 12 different categories at the TransLog Awards presentation ceremony held at the Intercontinental Hotel.
  • Organised by Support and Supply Management Group (SSM) and marketing communications agency BPC International, and supported by HSBC Bank Malta, the TransLog Awards attracted nominations from both Maltese and regional businesses operating in Malta.

Read more at Times of Malta

Osborne poaches Balfour Beatty supply chain manager for director role

  • Mr Robeson joins Osborne from Balfour Beatty Construction Services UK, where he worked in supply chain management until September 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has also worked for Wates Construction and Berkeley Homes.
  • Osborne said Mr Robeson would bring experience and expertise in supply chain relationship development, procurement best practice and added value realisation.
  • Osborne Construction managing director Andy Steele said: “I am delighted to welcome John to the Osborne Construction Leadership Team. John will help us improve on stakeholder engagement and further us to increase our operational excellence agenda.”

Read more at Construction News

Stirling Prize winner hits out at UK procurement

  • Stirling Prize winner Steve Tompkins has criticised the UK’s procurement system for freezing out young practices.
  • The Haworth Tompkins director contrasted the “increasingly bureaucratic” British system unfavourably with that found overseas where greater weight is often placed on talent and ideas.
  • He said his own practice had struggled to break into new typologies because PQQs in this country so often demand prior experience. “The whole procurement structure in this country is increasingly bureaucratic,” he told BD after scooping the Stirling Prize on Thursday night for the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. “The number of hurdles you have to pass through to get a commission is daunting and the amount of design work you have to do is daunting, demoralising and very wasteful.
  • He continued: “It’s increasingly hard for young practices to get in at all. I wish that was a debate we could have with the procurement process.”

Read more at bdonline.co.uk

Supply chain boost with new Discovery Sport

  • The first Land Rover Discovery Sport has rolled off the production line at Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) Halewood site, with the UK supply chain benefiting from £3.5bn in contracts from the new vehicle.
  • The latest model in the range has created 250 manufacturing jobs in Halewood as the result of a £200m investment.
  • Fifty-five suppliers have also secured a total of £3.5bn in contracts to support production, which has led to the safeguarding and creation of more than 1,000 UK jobs, JLR said.

Read more at Insider Media Limited

Germany wants cleaner, kinder textiles supply chain

  • Gerd Müller, Germany’s Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), launched a new Textiles Alliance in Berlin late last week. Its goal is to help move the international textile supply chain toward better labor and environmental practices.
  • Müller’s ministry wants to see improvements at every link in the supply chain – from the cotton fields through the textile dyeing and clothing production process to distribution and retail.
  • Among other aims, the Textiles Alliance seeks decent wages, an end to forced labor and child labor, respect for safety standards, and a stop to the use of certain particularly environmentally toxic chemicals in the textiles supply chain.
  • Membership in the alliance is voluntary, however, and while the ministry reported that 29 textiles companies and associations had joined the Textiles Alliance in time for the launch, many key industry players and associations in Germany gave notice that they would not join.

Read more at Deutsche Welte

HGV driver shortage may affect UK supply chain

  • Members of the British International Freight Association – who tend to be truck hirers delivering container and trailer imports from ports to distribution centres – have reported significantly increased waiting times for an available vehicle, much higher costs from haulage companies and surcharges from some shipping lines.
  • The implementation of the new HGV driver regulations – the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) – in September has already contributed to a lack of new drivers within the logistics and distribution sector, and the shortage of drivers has been compounded by the imports forecast, as well as the earlier-than-expected peak season.
  • BIFA director general, Robert Keen said: “New HGV drivers are urgently required in the UK logistics business to help alleviate the problems caused by the current shortage, which is leading to significant pressures on logistics costs.”

Read more at Supply Management

Are we in the Golden Age of Procurement?

Rio’s CEO says it’s time “to meddle in the middle”

Rio Tinto’s CEO Sam Walsh put a spotlight on the value that can be delivered by both the C-level and procurement shifting their focus from the top and bottom-line to the “middle line”, when he spoke at the CIPS conference in Sydney last week.

Sam Walsh - CEO Rio Tinto

He said most companies were not making the most of the possibilities of procurement. In fact, research showed that when it comes to procurement, 50% to 90% of companies recognise that they do not employ best practices. This is despite research also showing that companies who get their procurement operations to the standard of the best – can increase their profit margins by 15 per cent.

“Shift your perspective.  Instead of spending your whole time obsessing only about the top line, and the bottom line, focus on the middle line as well.”

Even though turnover and profit are critically important, you don’t hear many people talking about the cost of sales or improvement in their working capital. Have you ever turned on Bloomberg in the morning and heard them say, “Today, Unilever’s cost of sales went up by 3.5%?”

“The middle line is frequently where you can make most difference, securing your competitive advantage, proving your value, showing your mettle,” said Sam.

In encouraging the procurement profession to seize the opportunity, he said “And if the middle’s in a muddle? Meddle! You won’t regret it! You might just make a tonne more money.”

In his speech “The golden age of procurement“ Sam shared some of his thoughts about the importance of procurement from the perspective of a global chief executive. In opening, he mused that there has never been a more exciting or important time to work in procurement. Sam cemented the fact that a lot has changed since he first started out, and went on to praise today’s women and men that are pushing forward, making businesses more innovative, productive, and creating the partnerships that will see us into the future.

One of the areas highlighted for “meddling in the middle” was to focus on innovation.

“You need to collaborate to compete,” said Sam.

Rio Tinto has a whole raft of strategic partnerships that are incredibly beneficial. Strategic partnerships with academic bodies, research institutes, as well as suppliers.

Working closely with key partners, Rio Tinto has established a great record in innovation. Its ‘Mine of the Future’ programme has been developed working with companies like Hitachi, Atlas Copco, Komatsu, Bridgestone, and General Electric. All of which are producing stunning results.

“You might have read about driverless cars in the papers. Rio Tinto already has 53 driverless trucks operating in the Pilbara. Collectively they’ve driven 3.9 million kilometres, and are all operated remotely using GPS,” Sam said.

Another area recommended for “meddling in the middle” was sustainability.

“So the saying goes, we are what we eat. In business, we are what we buy,” he said.

Rio Tinto spent around US$26 billion dollars last year. The decisions it make about where and how it invests this spend can have a huge impact. An important part of its approach is to source locally, and it applies this same approach in other markets as well. For example, at Rio Tinto’s new mining lease area in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal region, the company is investing time, money and skills as one of the major employers in the region to develop lasting community businesses that can supply the mine.

Sam reminds us however that all of this doesn’t come without effort; that it’s about getting the skills right too. He says that today’s procurement professionals require a much wider skills-set than was needed when he first started as a trainee buyer at General Motors Holden.

“Today’s procurement professionals need to work smarter, harder and faster.  Procurement used to be predominantly focused on achieving security of supply. Today, we’re operating in a business environment that is far more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous than it was when I started out,” he said.

“We’re getting increasingly used to economic, political, and environmental shocks. As procurement professionals we need to be on top of these changes as and when they happen, we need to negotiate contracts that can withstand sudden and dramatic economic change.”