Category Archives: Career Management

3 Steps To Building A Future-Proof Organisation

Automation, artificial intelligence and emerging technologies are changing our world and redefining the future of work. Organisations need to gear up to manage this transition wisely and understand the new rules of the game.

This article was written by Kumeshnee West

The fourth industrial revolution has the potential to disrupt every industry in every country through large-scale automation, adoption of emergent technologies, big data and artificial intelligence. There are many predictions and estimates on how this will affect labour markets, but one thing is certain – the jobs we do, and the skills we need to perform them, will change, and rapidly.

A McKinsey report estimated that by 2030 at least one-third of the activities of 60 per cent of occupations could be automated. This means that globally up to 375 million people may need to change jobs or learn new skills. A World Economic Forum report predicted that current trends in a disruptive labour market could lead to a loss of 7.1 million jobs, two thirds of which are in administrative roles. And a study by Oxford Universityestimated that 47 per cent of total employment in the United States is at risk due to computerisation, given that automation and computerisation are no longer confined to routine manufacturing tasks. Big data and artificial intelligence are allowing a wide range of non-routine cognitive tasks to be performed by machines.

While this may sound catastrophic, the good news is that while large-scale automation may redefine the workplace it does not necessarily mean we will all be out of a job. Changes in technology also create new jobs and spawn new industries. The challenge is going to be ensuring that workers have the skills they need to transition to different jobs. The fourth industrial revolution poses a risk to job security only in the sense that not managing this transition can lead to greater unemployment and social inequality.

In approaching what lies ahead, managers and leaders should consider the following three truths.

1. Talent will be more important than capital

Klaus Schwab, Chairman of the World Economic Forum believes that “in the future, talent, more than capital, will represent the critical factor of production”. To make sure they are ready for a future that is still emerging, organisations and people need to be adaptable, innovative and responsive. If up to 65 per cent of the jobs of tomorrow don’t exist yet – it is impossible to “train” people in the conventional sense. Rather we need to invest in their essential capabilities.

To ensure we build talent that is capable of mastering change we need to invest in resilient leadership. Leadership skills are not tied to particular jobs or industries and solid leadership development provides the kind of transferable skills likely to be needed in the future. The WEFidentified the top ten skills that will be most needed in 2020 as: complex problem solving; critical thinking; creativity; people management; coordinating with others; emotional intelligence; judgement and decision making; service orientation; negotiation and cognitive flexibility. These essential skills have long been part of most good leadership development, MBA and executive education programmes – and they will need to be scaled up.

2. Education needs to be flexible too

The WEF report recommends that organisations embrace talent diversity, leverage flexible working arrangements and incentivise lifelong learning to best manage the changes ahead. Lifelong learning and executive education certainly have an important role to play in a rapidly changing job market, and these programmes also need to be flexible and adaptable to student’s and organisation’s needs.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) already offer flexible access to lifelong learning and the number of courses available is rapidly increasing to meet demand. Many perceive the downside of online learning to be the loss of face-to-face interaction, which is still regarded as critical to the quality of education – specifically when it comes to learning and practising the essential skills identified by the WEF. Educational institutions are looking to fix this by offering a mix of traditional and online learning to reskill and prepare for workplace transition. There are opportunities for combinations and blends of one-on-one and group interactions at all levels of learning.

3. The link between education and business is a two-way street

The format of what is being taught needs to be flexible but so does the content.

As the WEF report suggests, education systems need to be re-designed if we are going to tackle the transitions ahead. This entails businesses, governments and educational institutions working together to provide curricula that meet current and future needs. The McKinsey report suggests that governments have a role to play in maintaining economic growth, scaling job retraining and workforce skills development, and providing income and transition support to workers whilst retraining. But they cannot do this on their own.

Educators supply industry with critical skills, and industry has a hand in shaping the talent pool and informing educational institutions of the changes they foresee and the skills they wish to develop. Businesses that invest in long-term partnerships with educational institutions to develop skills and respond to changes in the environment will stand a better chance of building a workforce that is future proof: suitably skilled, adaptable and ready for the challenges that we collectively face. As the African proverb goes: If we want to go far, we need to go together.


Kumeshnee West is Director of Executive Education at the UCT Graduate School of Business. This article was originally published here.

3 Mistakes That Will Destroy Trust Between Procurement And Suppliers

As you’ll  know from your personal life, the most loyal friendships are earned through  experiences, challenges, and good times. So why should be any different with your suppliers?

If you have a vendor who constantly demonstrates great performance and continues to deliver and deliver and deliver…reward them! Give them extra projects or new developments and more business. Don’t continue to pressure them and penalise them, because this relationship might erode over time. Perhaps it could still functional and transactions will happen, but the relationship will be affected as a result.

Here I have collected three typical mistakes that will destroy trust between a procurement organisation and its suppliers.

1. Empty Threats

“Be constructive in your arguments and honest in your feedback…”

This was one of the first lessons I learned from a mentor when I asked about contract negotiations. It’s simple but powerful and it genuinely creates trust.

If you are bluffing –a professional partner will recognise it. And you want to work with professionals, right?

Walk the talk. If you’re claiming that a supplier is offering a better price – be able to prove it.

Making empty threats is either the result of a lack of preparation  or a lack of any decent arguments full stop.

Remember that trust is the base for a good partnership. And fake promises can easily destroy trust.

2.  Continue negotiations after contracts are signed

I have to confess that I’ve done this many times in my procurement career so I understand how harmful it can be.

There is an unwritten rule for sales people that states you should stop selling after the client has agreed to a deal.

The very same  rule should be applied to procurement professionals. We should have the ambition to reach the best deal within our budget and time limits, we should consider risks and potential threats but all of this should happen before we agree the final contract. After the two parties agree prices, terms and conditions of contract, everyone should concentrate on execution.

Normally we set certain deadlines for the supplier selection process and close to these deadlines we can become more and more stressed, losing focus and failing to mention  important details or opportunities. As a result we often finalise the agreement not because we are sure that this is the best deal, but because we are short of time.  And then, after the documents are signed, we attempt to save costs further with the vendor.

Procurement professionals must act professionally in such situations. Simply opening up new negotiations with the vendor will destroy trust, sending the signal that the agreement means nothing to you and that you’ll happily switch to a better alternative whenever you get the chance. As a result, they will also de-prioritise you as a customer and not invest the time and efforts into developing your products.

If you see an opportunity to decrease prices after the contract is signed,  be open and transparent to your vendor. Explain your reasons set the arena for a new discussion and listen carefully. With any luck you can find a solution that suits you both.

3.  Focusing only on price reductions

I like to explore competition in Procurement! Preparing a good RFQ/RFP process and making suppliers fight for your business is great isn’t it?

Doing this process a number of times within the same product group will definitely lead you to a dead end. You’ll reach a threshold where quotation will not bring more savings.  It’s a frustrating moment when there is no more low hanging fruit, no more chances to cut the prices by reverse auction or bidding processes. So now what?

In most cases the extra revenue can be gained in more ways than simply cutting your suppliers’ margin or increasing purchase volumes.

Look into the business relationship, the supply stream and the infrastructure of the business and investigate where we can save costs and do things better, faster and smarter. More often than not, if we really find this momentum and use it to reduce costs, we will get bigger volumes into this business. New projects will come and more development will happen if the relationship is strong and there is trust. This will also result in more revenue coming to both sides – it’s a win-win.

Procurement 2030: Time Enough At Last?

With 41 per cent of procurement professionals expecting there to be fewer procurement and supply jobs available in the year 2030, career longevity will be held only by those with the right skills.

Fans of The Twilight Zone will remember the Time Enough At Last episode, where it takes a nuclear apocalypse before a frustrated bank clerk finally has the time to indulge his passion.

For procurementand supply professionals standing on the brink of the robotic era, the coming wave of automation presents an unprecedented opportunity to spend time on strategic and value-adding activities that are often pushed aside in favour of the tactical workload.

Procurious and Michael Page UK’s survey of nearly 600 global procurement professionals revealed the top three activities that people would spend time on if tactical elements of their role were automated:

1. Increasing procurement’s influence in the organisation

2. Developing team and talent

3. Seeking opportunities to contribute to top-linegrowth.

This result begs the question: Why wait? If these are the three key activities that procurement professionals would like to spend more time on, they should be prioritised today.

Time for a brand makeover

As the profession continues to transform and evolve, the procurement ‘brand’ is a recurring topic of debate at conferences around the globe. Is it still relevant today, and does it encompass the many value-adding activitiesundertaken besides sourcing? Results from thissurvey reveal that nearly 72 per cent of professionals believe ‘procurement’ will still be an appropriate term in 2030, despite the expectation that the rate of change will increase over the next decade.

Re-skill to survive

With 41 per cent of surveyed professionals expecting there to be fewer procurement and supply jobs available in the future, career longevity will be held only by those with the right skills.

Critical thinking, problem-solving and relationship-building have been nominated as the key skills for the year 2030.

What would you do with 42 per cent more time?

Level 1 of this four-part series revealed that procurement professionals spend, on average, 49 per cent of their time on tactical tasks. Survey respondents expect 42 per cent of their overall workload to be automated, which raises the question: what will people do with their new-found time by the year 2030?

The top three responses indicate that procurement professionals would spend more time on tasks that generate value for their organisation

.• Increase procurement’s influence through stronger alignment with the business and better communication to enable engagement in strategic decisions.

• Do not rush the development and recruitment of top talent, even if there is a pressing business need to do so. Spending more time (not necessarily more budget) on talent will allow the development of highly-skilled teams that can drive value for the organisation.

• Seek opportunities to contribute to top-line growth. This often requires creative thinking and a thorough review of end-to-end processes, particularly in mature functions where further savings opportunities are becoming difficult to find.

The automation of tactical procurement tasks in your organisation will not take place all at once, but piecemeal automation is already happening. Be ready to seize the opportunity to drive true value as tactical tasks are incrementally automated.

Automate to humanise

Overwhelmingly, procurement professionals believe automation will enable a greater focus on building strategic relationships. While tactical transactions with the bulk of suppliers in the spend tail may well be 100 per cent automated, productive engagement with strategic suppliers will increase with technology.

  • Apps or web-apps will drive collaborative processes through event triggers and notifications.
  • Less time will be spent arguing about data, with trusted data allowing more time to spend on collaboratively finding ways to build value.
  • Expect to see more personal interaction but shorter meetings, as the tactical discussion and low-level relationship management will already have been taken care of.

Interested In Learning More?

This content-packed report also contains links to relevant thought-leadership from Procurious and Michael Page UK, including videos, blog articles, podcasts and webinars.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD PROCUREMENT 2030: LEVELS 1 to 4

3 Attributes Of The Future CPO

Why are organisations appointing CPOs from outside of the profession, what’s the no. one category that will produce future CPOs and should there be a new label for the role of CPO. 

The modern day CPO is vastly different to the CPO of a decade ago – both in terms of management style and the expectations put upon them by the organisation.

And so we can only assume that CPOs in 10-15 years will be similarly unrecognisable.

Who will get the top job in the future , what sort of professional background will they have ?

Tom Derry, CEO – ISM discusses why companies are appointing CPOs from outside of the profession, the no. one category that will produce future CPOs and a new label for the role of CPO

It doesn’t take a procurement professional to be CPO

There’s been a real trend in recent years of CPOs being appointed from outside traditional backgrounds. A savvy marketing professional or a cost-conscious operations manager could make a very attractive candidate for the role.  Similarly, IT professionals – the innovation scouts who know how to drive change and understand key threats to the business like cyber security – could be chasing the CPO role.

“Requirements of the job and the definition of the job have to evolve over time and in the not too distance future,” explains Tom.

Tom outlines some of the key qualities of the CPO of the future.

Customer-facing expertise

“Customer-facing expertise, the ability to interact with, understand and even anticipate customer needs, is a critical skill”

One of the key themes in a recent CAPS research survey emphasised the importance of a demand-driven supply chain.          “[This] means an orientation toward, and a sensitivity to, the needs and requirements of the customer, flexing to meet the customers requirements and configuring your supply chain and your procurement activities to meeting those requirements.”

Market expertise

It’s so important for future procurement leaders to have clear vision and strategy – a strategy that your team can implement based on what you’ve identified.

“Another way of saying that is market expertise” explains Tom.  “Understanding where your company is, what markets you’re going after and the characteristics of those markets in terms of customer and suppliers [is really important]. [Someone with an understanding] of where markets are today and where they’re headed would be ideally suited to lead the supply chains and procurement activities of the future.”

Leadership

Tom stresses CPOs of the future do not need to be process experts. “We don’t need someone who has grown up in the ranks of procurement and has become very good at RF processes, scouting new suppliers, or understanding supply markets.  These are key skills but they are not the leadership skills that are required to lead the entire companies  effort-  they’re just necessary functional skills.”

So where does Tom think CPOs will come from in the future? “Some will become category managers and then move laterally into different positions, and then move into the top job. But it won’t be a straight-line path. You won’t be climbing a ladder within the function to get to the CPO job. You’ll have to leave the function and come back, or come from outside the function because you’ve got the vision and strategic skills to lead.”

Part Three of Tuesdays with Tom is available now. Click here to sign up and hear ISM CEO Tom Derry discuss CPOs of the future and how we might label the profession going forward. 

Big Ideas Zurich: 3…2…1… ACTION!

Big Ideas Zurich is now available to watch on demand. Sign up as a digital delegate to watch the event in full! 

We’re so excited to finally share Big Ideas Zurich with you. This truly digital event addresses what skills you need to perfect in order to drive peak performance in your career; what’s the latest intel on blockchain and how to close the gender pay gap in procurement.

The entire event is now available to stream on-demand via the digital delegates group on Procurious.

Check out the agenda below to see what tickles your pickle and watch some highlight videos from the event:

Tania Seary on Driving Peak Performance

Joelle Payom on Diversity and Inclusion

What is your favourite job interview question?

Big Ideas Zurich is now available to watch on demand. Sign up as a digital delegate to watch the event in full! 

Category Management – What’s The State of Play?

Do you know how to measure the performance of category management in your organisation? It might be a top three priority for 85 per cent of leading procurement teams, but only 5 per cent of teams have fully optimised their category management…

Category management, and in particular cross-functional category strategy development, is a central feature within procurement organisations – particularly where there is a desire to transform from a sourcing and price management focus.  This allows teams to work more closely with business stakeholders and co-create visionary category strategies that access the full range of value levers available. This maximises and broadens the range of value delivered in terms of total cost reduction, risk reduction and revenue increases.

Although category management was first introduced 30 years ago in procurement, there has been no playbook for implementing it. Approaches used vary from organisation to organisation and category to category.

Since 2012, over 1,100 professionals from 40 countries have taken part in our three previous global surveys in collaboration with Henley Business School.

Since we began doing this survey, our objective has been to develop this playbook, by identifying what causes that inconsistency and identify which practices are most effective, which are least well used, and how the delivery of results links to these areas. The comprehensive report we produce, is an invaluable guide to procurement teams wherever they are on their category management journey.

What is the survey?

A mobile-friendly 10-15 minute survey with multiple choice questions in five different sections. You can share your views on the current state of category management in your organisation. Your individual responses are collated and drive the report but are not shared with any third parties.

The insights coming out of the analytics will again be developed into a comprehensive actionable report, available early next year and published to participants in advance. You will also receive an immediate benchmark assessment at the end of the survey – comparing your organisation’s category management performance with the other participants.

Why do we do it?

We wish to provide insights that will allow participants to improve their organisation’s category management capability and build a business case for investment if needed. This includes:

  • Identifying the most powerful practices being used by leaders to make category management successful
  • Providing practical recommendations on how to implement the powerful practices identified
  • Quantifying the extra value and savings that category management leaders achieve versus followers

How does the 2018-19 survey and report help procurement leadership teams?

For leadership teams, the survey questions provide a checklist of topics that they should consider as a team when designing their operating model for category management. Topics include:

  • Providing category management awareness training for stakeholders
  • Aligning the category management process with related business processes
  • Prioritising projects to work on jointly with budget holders on an annual basis
  • Securing senior stakeholders as sponsors for key categories

Our experience is that many leadership teams do not formally plan their operating model for category management. The impact of this is that category managers can feel that they are operating in an ambiguous environment that limits their efficiency and effectiveness. Examples include extensive time being required to persuade business stakeholders to participate in cross-functional category teams and category managers being excluded from sessions where fundamental components of category strategies are being worked on by stakeholders.

Procurement leadership teams that invest the time to pro-actively design their operating model create an opportunity to consider the numerous and often interdependent moving parts that impact category management success. They remove ambiguity and address the design issues that often cause category management to operate sub-optimally. They provide a clear structure and defined environment for category managers to operate within. The team become clear on “what good looks like” and performance across the group is more consistent and reliable. Ultimately, they deliver better results than their peers – they are the category management Leaders. The report identifies which are the most important elements of a category management operating model to consider – derived from the survey results and detailed analysis conducted by Professor Marc Day from Henley Business School.

How does the 2018-19 survey and report help category managers?

The results from the last survey clearly demonstrated that category managers need to excel in two dimensions:

  • Behavioural skills: to develop excellent stakeholder relationships.
  • Technical skills: to build excellent category strategies.

The challenges of building excellence in behavioural skills such as building trust with stakeholders, communicating effectively and understanding needs is commonly understood by procurement teams, but the direct linkage to benefits delivered has only recently been evidenced from the analysis of 320+ respondents in our 2016-17 survey.

In the 2018-19 survey we have responded to feedback and have introduced questions that explore the specific attitudes and behavioural skills associated with stakeholder engagement. Our intention is to see which of these capabilities have most impact on business results created through category management.

We have also extended the questions about the technical skills required to create and implement category strategies. These include business requirements development, mapping technology changes, identifying market dynamics and understanding how to apply a range of relevant value levers.

For category managers, the survey and report provides a summary of the key skills that they will require as go-to-market activities get automated and the focus on category strategies intensifies.

Immediate Benchmarking

A new feature in this year’s survey is the ability to give participants instant feedback of their own performance against the other results submitted. For larger organisations, there is also the possibility to create reports focused just on that organisation – from a variety of respondents.

We believe that this survey gives a lot of value back to the category management community, and we’re hoping that a record number of people will support this edition. If you’ve any questions or comments please let me know. Also, please forward this blog to any members of your network that would benefit from participation and the benchmarking assessment.

Procurement Isn’t Lighting Up The World…Yet

“Procurement itself – let’s face it – isn’t going to light the world currently, but I believe it will be the new instrument in 2030 to change the world.” – Olinga Taeed, Visiting Professor in Blockchain at Birmingham City University

As we hurtle towards the new year, you might be starting to look ahead and reflect on your personal and professional development goals.

But why wait until January 1st to put your plans into action?

Next week, we’ll be addressing a huge range of critical areas for procurement and supply chain professionals at Big Ideas Zurich.

And, 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 procurement and supply management towards 2030, the future of talent, automation, blockchain, diversity and so much more.

Check out our teaser trailers below for a little sneak peak of what’s to come.

Procurement isn’t lighting up the world

“Procurement itself – let’s face it – isn’t going to light the world currently, but I believe it will be the new instrument in 2030 to change the world.”

Olinga Taeed, the world’s first Professor in Blockchain and Social Enterprise, reveals how blockchain can be used for social good, why procurement isn’t currently lighting up the world and when that’s set to change. 

On December 10th discover…

  • What skills you need to perfect to drive peak performance in your career
  • The latest intel on blockchain 
  • How procurement can close the gender pay gap 
  • The latest updates on game-changing technology 
  • How to develop strategic partnerships 
  • Why supplier diversity is best for business
  • What procurement and supply chain will look like in 2030
  • How to stand on your supplier’s shoulders 
  • How to make your key business stakeholders love you
  • The ways to shift your procurement mindset 
  • The importance of having a digital endgame

Win a Parrot Bebop drone worth £450

We know that everyone loves a prize. And believe us when we say we’ve got prizes falling from the tops of the Swiss Alps.

As a registered digital delegate you’re in with a chance of winning one of eight amazing giveaways including the big-ticket item – a Parrot Bebop drone worth £450.

Plus, we’ve got Patagonia t-shirts, a Fjallraven backpack, stashes of Swiss chocolate and Herschel beanies up for grabs.

We’ll be doing eight prize giveaways throughout today with winners selected every half an hour. To put yourself in the running you simply need to get involved on the digital delegates group – posting your comments, insights and questions.

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

8 Attributes Supply Chain Professionals Can’t Live Without

Supply chain is an excellent career destination, but it takes a particular skill-set to reach the top. For our fifth and final podcast in the “Bravo” series celebrating women in procurement and supply management, Telstra’s General Manager of Planning Carlee McGowan shares the top skills and attributes that every supply chain professional needs.

Would you regard yourself as influential in your organisation? Do you frequently put your courage to the test? Do you genuinely enjoy immersing yourself in data? If so, then you just might be destined for an incredible career in supply chain. Procurious interviewed Telstra’s GM Planning, Carlee McGowan, to learn the eight skills and attributes every supply chain professional should master if they want to get ahead.  

  1. Have an analytical mind

“Supply chain professionals must have the ability to look at the data, manipulate it and then come up with a recommendation”, says McGowan. “When I’m hiring new team members, sometimes I even go so far as giving them a study in Excel and asking them to determine what improvements could be made and what conclusions they would draw.”

“I truly believe integration of data and transparency of that data is the next big challenge  (and opportunity) for supply chain”, says McGowan. “But it needs to be correctly integrated within your planning, forecasting and operating tools. With full transparency of data you can identify where your risks are and galvanise the organisation to mitigate those risks to get the best outcome for your customer and ultimately your business.”

  1. Know how to influence

Having the ability to influence others is important in any career, but particularly important when trying to land a change program in supply chain management. According to McGowan, it’s an area where some of the top professionals really let themselves down. “You can have the smartest mind in the world, but if you can’t present your ideas in a way that your colleagues and stakeholders can understand, you won’t get the results you’re looking for.”

  1. Seek out continuous improvement

Being able to learn from failure is vital, says McGowan. “You’ll never get everything right all the time, which is why a continuous improvement mindset is so important. You need to be able to take learnings from your day-to-day work and apply them to the processes and procedures you’re working with. People in my team who can learn from their failures are really valuable – it also shows they have a bit of resilience.”

  1. Be courageous

Landing any significant change takes a great deal of ambition and courage, says McGowan. At Telstra, the supply chain team has the goal of being recognised as the most improved supply chain function and to become a benchmark for the industry. “To achieve this we’re engaging in a total supply chain transformation. We’ve built up the people, the systems and  the processes and changing our distribution centre – essentially we’ve decided to take something huge and make it bigger.”

 

“It’s a very significant change, and there have been many times when the team and I have had to call on our courage, really believe in ourselves and find the motivation to make sure we not only meet these targets, but to smash them out of the park. It’s a massive undertaking and not many organisations have embarked on something at this scale, so we have to remind ourselves how momentous it is to keep achieving results.”

  1. Embrace your transferable skills

“With supply chain, you can go anywhere in the world across any industry and apply the same principles, whether it’s in telecommunications, retail, or FMCG”, says McGowan. “You really can take your skill-set and apply it wherever you want to go.”

  1. Love tangible results

One of the advantages that supply chain has as a career is that you get to see real results as a result of your efforts. “It’s really tangible”, says McGowan. “Either you get the goods to their final destination in full and on time at the lowest cost, or you’ll learn how to achieve a better outcome next time – it’s a continuous improvement journey.”

  1. Earn your stakeholders’ trust

Supply chain managers should seek to become a trusted business advisor. “We want to be known as the function that forecasts where the business is headed and predicts what resources we’ll need to get there.”

  1. Be excited about technology

Technology has already impacted supply chain exponentially, but McGowan predicts that the best is yet to come. “Technology has raised customers’ expectations of supply chain – they want the 24/7 ability to shop and track items. As supply chain professionals we need to respond to this by acting faster, acting with urgency, using accurate data and enabling our customers to have that transparency. If you don’t have transparency of your end-to-end supply chain available to customers, they will judge you as untrustworthy.”

  1. Get close to the customer

“There are so many opportunities to better understand your customer. If you don’t try to understand what they really want, you risk setting up a supply chain that doesn’t provide the right service for them, or waste time on an area the customer doesn’t really value.”

“To give an example, one customer valued first in first out (FIFO) as a KPI, but we hadn’t been monitoring or tracking that at all. We had no idea it was upsetting the whole supply chain and causing wasted energy and time. But with a small tweak of our supply chain – setting different processes and systems – we were able to exponentially increase the satisfaction of that customer. Without understanding that need, we might have lost that customer because in their eyes we weren’t meeting the service target.”

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 now (it’s free!)

7 Steps To Telling A Story

If you want anyone to take action from the information you’re looking to share or the change you’re trying to create, a story has to be an essential part of your communications armoury.
We live in an of Netflix, LinkedIn and Instagram.  A big impact of us spending time on these platforms is that our brains are being rewired for stories – we spend time consuming story, after story, after story.
Not only that, we’re able to be highly selective about the stories we consume.There are companies now that actually study what makes stories, and particular advertising stories, ”unskippable”, what makes them compelling. Because, as viewers of stories, we’ve become the connoisseurs.
But when it comes to telling compelling stories for ourselves, many people struggle, despite the fact that the ability to tell a story is becoming an ever more critical skill in our professional lives.
We live in an of Netflix, LinkedIn and Instagram.  A big impact of us spending time on these platforms is that our brains are being rewired for stories – we spend time consuming story, after story, after story.
Not only that, we’re able to be highly selective about the stories we consume.
There are companies now that actually study what makes stories, and particular advertising stories, ”unskippable”, what makes them compelling.
Because, as viewers of stories, we’ve become the connoisseurs.
But when it comes to telling compelling stories for ourselves, many people struggle, despite the fact that the ability to tell a story is becoming an ever more critical skill in our professional lives.

The importance of storytelling

Every single day, more information is created than existed from the dawn of time up until 2013. We’ve got hoards of information being streamed at us, which ironically doesn’t really work because we are not logical, linear people at our hearts.
Julie Masters, CEO – Influence Nation  believes humans are wired for stories because they are how we connect and how we engage. “They are the only way you build empathy and a connection with someone else – I tell you my story you tell me yours.
“If you want anyone to take action from the information that you’re looking to share or the change you’re trying to create then a story has to be an essential part of your communications armoury.”
On Day Four of the Bravo podcast series, Julie shares her top tips for becoming a master story teller.

1. Make it compelling

If you want some guidance on how to tell a great story, Julie advises that you start watching Netflix with an eye for storytelling. Consider how do they do it , what happens in the first 20 seconds of a compelling story. “It is a formula, so if you’re curious, watch more television!  Ask yourself, what is the last story that caught your attention and what is the last story that lost your attention?”

2. Make a clear structure

Julie believes that we put far too much kudos on how we tell or present a story and not nearly enough focus on how we structure that message in the first place. The most groundbreaking pieces of information will fall flat if they aren’t structured in a way that’s going to compel attention.

3. Be relatable

Julie advises that you organise your story into a few main points. “Are you using useful ideas and useful examples to illustrate those points – examples that [your listeners] can relate to.”

4. Have a clear beginning and a clear ending

“This one flies under the radar all too often” Julie explains . “It’s important to consider what you want us to do with your story as a result of your story. Is there something you want us to do differently, or believe differently?” Having a compelling opening is also important to draw in your audience. Julie suggests opening with question, which will “guide you into an interesting space and usually gets attention fast.”

5. Take it slow

“One of the key things we do when we’re nervous is speed up. So slow down, take a breath and remember to pause.” Julie advises that it is especially important to pause following an important point. “Our brains take a while to catch up with where you’re at and if you just keep on talking we’ll miss the fact that you believe this part was important.”

6. Monitor your movement

“Don’t be afraid to be still” Julie asserts. ‘If you’re constantly moving around  it’s like listening to the sound of a washing machine – you tune out.  Similarly, if you’re still and rigid we’ll tune out. Use your body for impact, move at certain points if you’re illustrating a point and then stand still and grounded for another point.”

7. Vary your Voice

It’s important to avoid speaking in monotone and varying your tone, pitch, volume and speed. “Up the energy of your voice and then bring it back down again. Use all the tools you have to get and maintain our attention.”

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!)

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!)