Category Archives: Career Management

Here Are 5 Of The Most Life-Changing Career Tips Of 2020

2020 has been a year like no other. Which of course means we need an update in our go-to career tips…


Unfortunately, careers often look better with hindsight. If only I hadn’t taken that role, we often think, or perhaps, I could be better off if only I’d learnt to better negotiate my salary. 

Fortunately for you though, those types of concerns or regrets might not be something you have to worry about after you read this article. We all need some good news right now, so to bring you five of the most life-changing career tips of 2020, we chatted to one of the most-experienced supply chains recruiters in the world, Tim Moore. As the President and Owner of Tim Moore and Associates, has single-handedly placed thousands of high-ranking supply chain executives into roles all over North America for the best part of almost three decades. 

He sat down with us to share ‘something money simply can’t buy’- hindsight. 

Tip 1: Stand out – you may soon have some competition

When it comes to global supply chains, it’s fair to say that the coronavirus pandemic has changed absolutely everything. From food to medical supplies, the crisis has caused all of us to consider just about every element of what we do, from how we manage suppliers to what technology we use and why. 

It has also brought significant awareness to the importance of a resilient, secure and reliable supply chain. This, in turn, says Tim Moore, has led to an increased interest in completing your supply chain qualifications: 

‘Thanks to COVID-19 and the awareness of Supply Chains there will be a long overdue “spike” in the number of new students enrolling in supply chain courses.’ 

‘Fortunately, I think there are now many degree programs ready to cater to this boom and help rectify today’s shortages of supply chain talent.’ 

Is an increased interest in a supply chain as a career going to pose a threat to today’s seasoned supply chain professionals? Not really, says Tim, but if you are at a more junior level, standing out when applying for jobs will become more important than ever. 

Fortunately though, more qualified junior talent in supply chain will be of great support to teams this year who have a lot to grapple with throughout the pandemic and beyond. 

Tip 2: Your profession has skyrocketed in importance and awareness – make the most of it  

Prior to writing this, we Googled whether there was such a thing as the ‘Year of the Supply Chain’ (sort of like the Chinese Zodiac “Years Of”). Sadly, there wasn’t. 

But if there was, undoubtedly it would be 2020. 

At no time in history has supply chain management been as crucial and all-defining as it has been this year. Suddenly, procurement and supply chain has gone from an overlooked ‘function’ to the crucial heart of the organisation. If ever you wanted to be strategic, get noticed and truly ‘take a seat at the executive table,’ now is the time to do so, says Tim.  But you have to be strategic and proactive.

He truly believes that this year will be career-defining for many supply chain professionals who step up and take the initiative: 

‘There has never been a time since the second world war, when the supply chain profession, and the techniques they bring, have been so important and visible to the senior executive within the firms that employ them.’ 

‘Every supply professional has learned lessons about the vulnerability of their particular supply chain(s) – and should be proactive taking steps to reduce the risk of disruption in the future.’ 

‘You can’t afford to wait and gamble that it won’t happen again…it will.’

Tip 3: Salary surveys may give good insights – but be careful how you use them

With the supply chain profession being elevated in importance, and businesses (hopefully) edging towards recovery as the year continues, opportunities may increase for people in the hunt for a better salary. But Tim cautions everyone to be very careful when it comes to the old ‘grass is greener’ salary argument. 

Tim has seen many supply chain professionals become disgruntled because they believe they are being underpaid. Yet the places they get their information may not be what they seem: 

‘I’ve heard some people say that “money talks” and they’ll crack open an industry salary survey to try and determine whether they’re ahead or behind others in terms of the salary curve.’ 

‘The thing is, those surveys can be almost impossible to fully interpret, and are often misleading to the casual reviewer.’ 

Especially this year, Tim says, salary survey results may not be able to tell you much as many companies are freezing pay levels and asking employees to take pay cuts. The ‘greener grass’ may in fact not be green at all when it comes to pay. 

Yet should you still use these salary surveys as leverage in your own pay discussions? Tim says:  

‘In any salary discussion, it’s important to know what your range should be, based on firms of the same size, in the same industry and of the same profit level. But really, it’s hard to glean this information from a survey so likewise, hard to use this as leverage.’ 

‘Pay discussions should be based more on your achievements and your tenure with the firm, whether the firm has been profitable and frankly, whether or not there has been recent layoffs or downsizing.’ 

Tim cautions, though, that now might not be the right time to ask for a salary increase: 

‘In some cases, people should be happy to have a job, let alone be seen as gouging their employer for demands for a salary increase.’  

Tip 4: Consider the big picture – and put your negotiation skills to good use

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on economies, lives and jobs losses, and that means that inevitably, some supply chain professionals might find themselves without work  this year. This is a terrible outcome, of course, but when the market picks up Tim does genuinely believe there will be more opportunities than ever. 

But when and if we all decide to accept an offer of employment, Tim believes that we should consider the ‘big picture’ of what an employer is offering; as it will be more important than ever before: 

‘When considering a new opportunity, of course look at the salary range, and compare this to your competitors and your industry at large.’ 

‘But remember, as your supply chain training  has taught you – salary, like price, is only one element to consider. Think long and hard about other benefits, for example: educational reimbursement, membership in your local supply chain association, bonuses if any, (and how frequently they’re paid), stock options, and healthcare and dental coverage.’ 

‘Post-COVID, increased benefits may be  easier to achieve than a dramatic salary increase..’ 

When it comes to negotiating your package, however, Tim believes that supply chain professionals need to remember their training: 

‘I’ve always maintained that you never get paid what you’re worth, but you ALWAYS get paid on how you negotiate and how well you have interviewed.’ 

‘It’s surprising that so many supply chain professionals go blank and completely forget their negotiation training when presented with a job offer.  After you feel confident that you’ve checked all of the boxes and know you’re the right fit, just like with negotiating with vendors, you can always ask for:  1. Time to consider it further,  2. For the offer to be put in writing, and for those adventurous  3. “Is that the best you can do?”’

With the final request, Tim says, if you execute it politely and professionally, you may be able to leverage up your offer. 

Tip 5: Ask the hard questions

With unemployment approaching an all time high, many of us may be forced into a ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ type situation, where we simply take the first job we can get. But nonetheless, Tim says, you should research the company you plan to join, because if you do end up having to leave after a short amount of time, it may not look great on your resume. 

In order to research the company you plan to join, Tim recommends the following: 

‘Find out about everything. Look up the organisation’s products and services, read their financial reports, look at their social media accounts. Make sure you take detailed notes in all of your interviews, and don’t be afraid to ask why they’re interested in you and how you might fit exactly within the role in their eyes.’ 

‘But more than that, ask some harder questions. Ask WHY the position is available, and what happened to the previous individual in the role?  Enquire as to how long they were in that role?   You’d be amazed at what you can uncover!’ 

There’s very few professions that will be able to claim that 2020 was a great career year. But for many of us in supply chain and procurement, we might just be able to surprise ourselves. 

Will you negotiate harder for your salary increase or greater benefits this year? Or are you concerned about competition? Let us know in the comments below.

Join Procurious to connect with 40,000 other ambitious procurement professionals and get free access to networking, industry news, training and much more. 

Backstabbing Co-Workers: How To Handle The Two-Faced Foe

Are you walking around with knives in your back? This is how to handle office backstabbing…


Backstabbing in the Office

Most of the time we are walking around with a knife in our backs, and we don’t even know it. Bleeding and hemorrhaging with no way of knowing how to fix it.

See Mary from accounting over there? She told the VP of the department she sees you taking 2-hour lunches on a consistent basis.

And Jack from IT. He told your colleagues what “interesting” google searches you’ve made lately. And Susan from Marketing, she made up a complete lie about your conversation last week and now your boss is calling you into his office.

Think it doesn’t happen to you or your company? Think again. You just may not have heard about it yet.

Depending on how strong your network is, how much others trust you, and for a multitude of other reasons you may not find out for months how badly you’ve been attacked. And that’s only the beginning.

The First Time

I think I was in literal shock. An Executive Director had told my boss a bold-faced lied. He said I wasn’t willing to work with him and I that had demanded it was to be done my way. I had been back-stabbed.

Now, I may be a bull in a China shop in my early years, but I’m not stupid. Nor am I a jerk. And he had painted me out to be both.

So when my boss told me about the feedback I was stunned. How could he have made something up, literally out of thin air? And why would he do that? I was never a fan of soap operas, but suddenly my work-life had turned into one. But I wasn’t going down without a fight.

I literally never spoke with anyone again over the phone for the next year. Everything was voicemail or email. I kept track of everything.

The Repeat Backstabber

This time, I had been bleeding for longer than I could have ever known. But at least my boss knew me well enough to come to my aid.

A coworker had taken parts of our conversations, twisted them and told one of my bosses. Just to try and gain an edge for his personal promotion.

I never knew. He was doing it to try to get ahead in the company, but unfortunately, it didn’t work.

So when he contacted me on LinkedIn a few months later, l confronted him. He never apologized, and I haven’t heard from him since.

I also found out a year later his previous business partners were hunting him down due to the ‘savings numbers’ he had made up. They were being taken from their budgets. Budgets that they didn’t have to give in the first place.

He was a snake in the bush. And we all had suffered the consequences of working with him. But from that point on I had learned my lesson. Always watch out for those who feel slighted in their current position, want to move up or just have questionable motives for talking with you. They have the most to gain.

Countless Other Backstabbing Incidents

If you’ve read some other blogs, you know this hasn’t been the first I’ve experienced with backstabbing coworkers. I’ve had other women’s efforts stop me from getting a job.

These are only the times I actually know about. I’m sure I’m still walking around with a few knives in my back. Some I’m sure I will never be aware of, but that’s okay.

The fact remains, people really are willing to go above and beyond to get ahead. Especially if it’s at someone else’ cost.

How do we handle the two-faced foe?

1.  Maintain integrity. Never return the favor, as it will only make you look bad.

2. Politely confront the situation. I firmly believe people do this and continue to get away with it because most are too scared to confront them.

3. Maintain your distance. Knowing is half the battle, so keep 99% of coworkers at arm’s length.

4. Always be alert/aware. It’s always the quiet ones who end up doing the most damage.

5. Create and maintain a strong business network. The more eyes and ears you have, the better chances you’ll hear things sooner rather than later.

6. Never underestimate others. People will surprise you every day with what they are capable of.

7. Don’t let it get you down. Karma always has a way of finding those who provoked it in the first place.

This article was originally published on Ms. Category Management on July 3rd, 2019 and is republished here with permission.

Join Procurious to connect with 40,000 other ambitious procurement professionals and get free access to networking, industry news, training and much more. 

5 Expert Tips To Reduce e-Waste

You’re being asked to source more sustainable products, meet climate goals, anticipate post-pandemic supply chain shifts and reduce end of life impact. It’s a challenging task, particularly with IT products. The good news is, many procurement professionals have taken on this assignment before you, and they’re here to help. 


With more than 50 million metric tons generated annually, e-waste has become the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. Only around 20% of global e-waste is actually responsibly recycled. 

With the typical IT contract based on a three-to-four-year use cycle, the piles of e-waste are growing ever larger. While procurement with a purpose can net you impacts across the organisation, the solution is circularity, an approach gaining traction around the world.  

Transitioning from a linear to a circular economy can solve some of society’s most pressing sustainability challenges when it comes to IT products. In this blog, we share expert tips on how to source sustainable products, cut costs and meet climate goals through circularity – the solution for circular procurement of IT products.

Defining Circularity 

In a linear economy, we make products from virgin natural resources and we discard those products once we’re done using them — often after a relatively short time. Today’s linear consumption creates substantial carbon dioxide emissions, exhausts natural resources and creates vast amounts of hazardous waste.  

In a circular economy, resources are handled more responsibly, with a goal of extending the lifetime of products and recirculating all materials without producing any waste. Circularity means no waste, lower emissions, longer lifespan, lower costs, and a cleaner environment. 

Where do we start?  

Circularity isn’t an abstract notion. Many organisations are practising it now. They’re demanding – and getting – change from suppliers. 

A new report from TCO Development, the organisation behind the leading global sustainability certification for IT products TCO Certified, offers concrete examples of organisations and manufacturers practising circularity. The report sets out how the circular economy helps solve many of the most pressing sustainability challenges associated with IT products. They’ve distilled their research into 33 tips for bringing circularity to your organization.  

Based on the interviews with experts around the globe, here are the top five tips to make your procurement more sustainable.  

1. Use your IT products longer: this is the single most important thing you can do to reduce the consumption of natural resources and cut greenhouse gas emissions. And it cuts costs. 

The studies show that simply adding two years to a laptop’s life reduces emissions by 30 percent per year. And extending the life of a computer workstation from three to six years saves 28 percent on costs. To keep computers in circulation longer, buy durable products that are possible to repair and upgrade, and choose models with enough performance to cover long-term needs.  

2. Work to gradually implement circular practices in your organisation. Take-back programs are an easy way to start.   

Large brand owners such as Dell, HP and Lenovo are starting to see IT equipment as a service. They, and all other brand owners with products certified according to the criteria in TCO Certified, have programs that take back computers after your organisation is finished with them. It’s an easy first step to add this to your organisation’s purchasing process.   

3. Think circular when you purchase IT products. Use circular criteria.  

For example, add specifications for durability and repairability that will allow you to keep products longer, and criteria for reduction or elimination of hazardous substances that make materials more recyclable. Communicate your goals and tactics with internal and external stakeholders throughout the IT product life cycle.  

4. Give your IT products a second life by reselling them. 

Even if they no longer meet the needs of your organisation, your equipment still has value. Discuss resale options with a reputable refurbishment or remanufacturing firm that also ensures your data stays secure. Consider charitable donations or surplus resale to employees. 

5. Acknowledge that circularity is a team effort and that no one can do it alone. Internal and external cooperation is crucial! 

Invite decision makers and specialists from at least your IT, procurement, sustainability, finance, facilities and communication teams to create circular practices inside your organization. And don’t go it alone – team up with other buyers to increase your purchasing power and influence. The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council is a good place to start. Learn more about TCO Certified and get free support with your sustainable IT procurement. 

Procurement’s role 

As manufacturers are moving circularity forward through product design and service offerings, what’s the role of procurement? Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council CEO Donna Westerman sees procurement professionals as key to driving demand for change.  

“Procurement has the power to influence an entire product ecosystem. The decisions made on what to buy impact not only product design but also how those products affect our environment and business resiliency.” Westerman said. ”Now, more than ever, procurement is at the forefront of what a sustainable future can look like.” 

Take the first step 

The key learning from all the interviews with industry leaders and organisations is simple. Get started. The transition to the circular economy is essential, and we all need to play an active part in it. It doesn’t matter so much what the first step is, as long as you take it. As Chris Fielden, Group Supply Chain Director for Innocent Drinks said, being unafraid to fail is key. 

Learn more 

To see the 33 hands-on tips for circular management of IT products from TCO Development, and read the full report, Impacts and Insights: Circular IT Management in Practice, click here 

Crafting The Job You Have Into The Career You Want

One way to take positive control of your job and career is through a concept called “job crafting”. This is how you do it…


Pursue your passions. This is the guidance we often receive as we are embarking on new jobs and careers. Whilst well-meaning this advice it is not always practical.

Many of us struggle to identify what our true passions are when it comes to work or become stuck trying to find the “perfect match” between our skills and interests and the requirements of a job.

For the vast majority of us the perfect or unicorn job doesn’t’ exist and even it did we might quickly outgrow it. The challenges and opportunities you might want today will probably look very different from those you may choose to pursue in two, three, or ten years‘ time.

This doesn’t mean we should give up trying to find jobs that fulfil and stimulate us, but we need to change how we find this work.

The secret of many people with fulfilling and engaging jobs isn’t that they have waited to find the perfect job, instead they have created, or crafted that role themselves.

Simply put, great jobs aren’t found; they’re made.

An introduction to job crafting

One way to take positive control of your job and career is through a concept called “job crafting”. Rather than waiting for others to create opportunities for development and progression, job crafting enables us to find opportunities for growth and innovation from within the jobs we already have.

Job crafting refers to individuals making changes to how they act, interact and think about their job in ways that makes the most of their individual passions, strengths and interests. Studies from around the world involving roles ranging from cleaners to CEOs have found that personalising our jobs in this way is linked to individual performance, wellbeing and career growth.

The most common and convincing explanation offered for job crafting’s positive influence on career progression is that it helps to create a better fit between the individual and their job, enabling them to express their values and beliefs whilst also making the most of their strengths and expertise.

Like people, job crafting comes in all different shapes and sizes. And there are many different ways to shape and craft your job including making changes to your tasks, relationships, skills, wellbeing and sense of purpose. Some examples of job crafting might include volunteering for new projects, doing an existing task or activity in a new way, or building or reframing existing relationships with colleagues, customers, vendors or producers.

How do you bring job crafting to life?

There are a number of ways that people can start to job craft, but here are two exercises that are particularly effective with employees who are keen to use job crafting to boost their career prospects and enjoyment.

1) Distant future – images and ideas from different career adventures

This exercise involves peering into the future and considering what you might be doing from a career perspective in 5 , 10 or even 25 years’ time.  I recommend sketching out 2 or 3 different career scenarios or adventures you might have. Questions to consider are:

–   In 2 – 25 years’ time what would be your dream job be internal and/or external to your current organization?

–   What will you be doing – what would a typical day or week look like? (what will you be doing, who will you be engaging with, what knowledge and skills will be using)

–    What skills and experiences will you need to develop further to be able to fulfil this career adventure?

Having a clear image of a future work self can enable and encourage us to create, find and seize opportunities to do things in our current jobs that they might not otherwise have had the courage or conviction to try.

2) Immediate future – starting to craft your job from tomorrow

When working with teams I often give them a job crafting budget of 10 minutes a day or a maximum of an hour a week. The secret to job crafting is to start small and to consider it a form of playful experimentation, testing out and finding the tiniest and most positive ways you can make your current job better.

These changes could be protecting an hour in your diary each week to learn a new skill, spending 10 minutes a day reading relevant industry and professional blogs, making connections on social media, changing how you structure and prioritise your day, or doing an element of your job deliberately differently (such as how you write a report or give a presentation).

To help you form some job crafting ideas here are some questions you might want to consider:

–   In an ideal world, what aspects of your job would you do more of? What would you do less of? Why? (task crafting)

–   What skills or knowledge are you most interesting in developing further? Why is this? (skill crafting)

–   What are your strongest relationships at work? (relationship crafting)

–   What relationships would you like to build further? (relationship crafting)

–   What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment in your work? Why do you think this is? (purpose crafting)

–   What changes could be made to your job to improve your health and wellbeing? (wellbeing crafting)

Careers are things that you build rather than things that you are given. If you approach job crafting with a combination of curiosity and commitment you start to shift your work in a positive direction that will make it more enjoyable and stimulating in the present and ultimately more rewarding in the future. Happy crafting.

Rob Baker is Founder and Chief Positive Deviant of Tailored Thinking a positive psychology, wellbeing and HR consultancy and author of Personalization at Work – a guide to bringing job crafting to life by Kogan Page.

Hear Rob talk with our Founder, Tania Seary, on all things job crafting, in our highly anticipated Career Bootcamp with IBM Sterling Supply Chain. Register here.

This One Trait Will Be The Key To Your Success In 2020

What trait will be the key to your success in 2020? We believe it will be resilience, and here’s why… 


Right now, no person in the entire world would call 2020 ‘easy.’ Whether we’ve been challenged personally or professionally, this year has been like no other. Which is why this one particular trait is more important than ever, and it is… 

Resilience.  

In recent years, resilience has become somewhat of a buzzword within management circles. But what really is resilience and why do we need it? 

Resilience, and more specifically, how to obtain it and use it to your advantage, has been the focus of my work for the last decade, and has inspired my now internationally-acclaimed book, Rise Warrior Rise. Through authoring my book, as well as working with numerous different organisations to help them transform their leadership capabilities through my Excelerate program, I’ve discovered what we can all do to build resilience and use it to accelerate our own personal and professional performance. 

Doing so was the topic of my discussion with Tania Seary from Procurious, as part of the IBM Careers Bootcamp series. Here is a brief overview of what you’ll learn in our podcast: 

What is resilience? 

Resilience is often said to be the ability to recover from adversity, and cope with change and uncertainty. But does being ‘resilient’ then mean that you won’t experience emotions in times of stress? 

Definitely not. 

From my research, I’ve discovered that being resilient doesn’t mean that you won’t experience life’s ups and down, in fact, it is only natural to experience these. Instead, resilience is the ability to still experience this depth and variation of emotion, but while doing so, be able to keep in touch with your best self. 

In my experience, resilience is far more than what people typically describe it as. In fact, I believe resilience has another aspect to it entirely. 

Discover what that is in the podcast

Why is resilience so important for professional and personal wellbeing? And what are the benefits of being resilient? 

Resilience has become a buzzword for a reason – we all know it’s important. But why? 

Professionally and personally, this year has been a challenge for all of us. And even though not every year will be as difficult as this one, we’ll always experience some challenges. This is exactly the reason why resilience is important – because we’ll always need it. 

While researching for my book and throughout my career in general, I’ve come across a lot of people who may not be as resilient as they could be, and that has resulted in some concerning behaviours. For example, if something bad happens to someone who isn’t resilient, typically they get stressed, and then withdraw. From there, they occupy their mind with negative self-chatter, and then they can end up feeling anxious, depressed or worse. 

But in good news, with resilience, the reaction can be the complete opposite. Instead of engaging in negative self-talk, those who are resilient typically tell themselves that the situation is temporary. And instead of getting stressed, their emotional and physical wellbeing stays intact, and they don’t lose touch with their vision for a great life.

The benefits of being resilient extend way beyond how you react when things get tough, though. From my experience, those who are resilient are more likely to lead abundant and opulent professional lives, and also are more likely to have success with their family and personal pursuits. In summary, resilient people are more likely to lead a full and rich life, without regret. 

Think this sounds wonderful? It is, and there’s one more critical reason why. Learn what that is in the podcast.

How can we become more resilient? 

It’s clear that being resilient pays off, both personally and professionally. How do we get better at it, though? 

To help, I’ve created a 13-step framework for people to increase their level of resilience. If that sounds daunting, don’t worry – you don’t need to be good at every step. Excelling at just a few steps is all you need in order to make a substantial difference. 

I won’t detail the 13 step framework here, but there is more information in the podcast if you’re interested. One important point, though, is that you do need to develop practices to keep you strong. An area that I recommend everyone works on is that of negative self-chatter. 

We all experience negative self-chatter at some point, and this is because the mind can be fickle and it often focuses on the negative. How many times have you found yourself in a situation where someone has said something awful, and it’s completely ruined your day, despite many other positive things happening? 

This is common, and we all need to do what we can to develop our own mechanisms to address it. For me personally, I’ve developed a unique routine to keep the negativity at bay. My routine includes getting up early in the morning, and doing some exercise (this might be yoga, walking or some weights). After I’ve done this, I then do exercises to regulate my breath. Even if I can’t regulate my mind, I try to regulate my breath. Finding something to focus on, for example my breath, enables me to enter a calm state. Then, I share positive words. I find that wholly rejuvenating. 

This type of self-care is critical for all of us, as it replenishes our ‘fourth being.’ More on that in the podcast – listen to it here

Remember, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances, you can build, and benefit from, resilience. I look forward to exploring the topic with you in more detail.

Roh Singh’s podcast on resilience is part of our IBM Sterling Career Bootcamp. Designed to power your mind and help you excel, the Bootcamp consists of 6 electrifying podcasts with internationally renowned experts and speakers. Sign up here if you haven’t already.

Career Bootcamp: How Can You Power Your Mind?

With only 1 week to go until our Career Bootcamp, we are taking a walk down memory lane and looking at our favourite podcasts from last year.


Can you believe it? In just one week we’ll kick off this year’s most essential Career Bootcamp, covering the one thing we know you need this year more than anything: a resilient mindset. 

In case you missed this, this incredible Bootcamp will help you power your mind and supercharge your ability to innovate, play to your strengths and be more resilient. 

But before next week, we thought we would take a look back at last year’s Career Bootcamp and all of the inspiring insights to come out of it.

One of our favourites was this podcast. Director at MIT Sustainable Supply Chain, Alexis Bateman, discusses her experiences through the lens of sustainability, where she gets her energy from and, like all truly successful leaders, why it’s just as important (if not more important!) to develop your team as well as yourself…


Not only is this next speaker a World Para-triathlon Champion and won Paralympic Gold in hand-cycling at Rio 2016, but Dr Karen Darke MBE is also an author and broadcaster, with an area of expertise on the subjects of challenge, change, resilience, sustainable wellbeing and maintaining a positive mental state.

Karen Darke is the strongest adventure athlete you’ve never met. This is why…


Have you ever wondered about the concept of biohacking? Do you think that people could unlock even more potential in themselves by using technology, gadgets or implants in their brains?

Well, as far-fetched as it might sound, Neuroscientist and Professor at Kellogg School of Management, Professor Moran Cerf, has devoted his career to this idea.


Responsible for all strategy, execution and transformation of IBM’s global end-to-end supply chain, and delivering to clients across more than 170 countries, Ron Castro, Vice President at IBM Supply Chain, is ideally positioned to share his wealth of experience and give his Bootcamp tips in this podcast…


Finally, to discuss his career journey, what habits he’s developed to differentiate himself, and what he’d advise a younger version of himself about when it comes to accelerating his supply chain career, Stephen Day rounds out our wonderful speaker lineup for 2019.


This year’s Career Bootcamp with IBM Sterling Supply Chain is set to be bigger and better than ever before. Through 6 awe-inspiring podcasts from June 22-26 featuring a stellar line-up of speakers, the Bootcamp will help you to:

  • Be more creative and innovative as Mok O’Keefe, Founder, Beehive Innovation, takes us all through practical strategies to help you and your team have bigger and better ideas.
  • Adapt and persevere as clinical psychologist Nicky Abdinor talks about how to thrive in times of uncertainty.
  • Be more resilient as Roh Singh, Founder of Populis and Excelerate You, enlightens us on how to overcome fear and doubt.
  • Alex Bailey, CEO and Co-Founder, Bailey and French: Alex will help us all identify our strengths, but more than that, she’ll help us leverage them to boost our careers. 
  • Rob Baker, Author and Founder, Tailored Thinking, will discuss how we can use those strengths to craft a job that we love
  • And finally, VP and CMO of AI Applications and Blockchain at IBM, Amber Armstrong defines what it means to be an inspiring leader, especially during challenging times.

Register here for your digital ticket.

Here’s How To Hire Better People

The coronavirus crisis has created a number of challenges for hiring. Here’s how to hire the best people during this difficult time.


It’s a fact that most business leaders already know, but one that this crisis has highlighted more than ever, and that is: your people are your everything. In volatile and stressful situations like the present, the best talent shines through more than ever, and can literally be the difference between companies that make it and those that don’t. This begs the inevitable question: How do I attract and hire great talent? 

Back in March when the world was a rather different place, I took part in Procurious’  Big Ideas Summit where I advised procurement leaders how to stay ahead of their competition by hiring better people.

Since that time, the situation has, obviously, completely changed and companies now have additional obstacles to overcome to attract the best talent. Here,  I’ll share how my clients are staying ahead of the game right now and in doing so what they have learnt about how to make their recruitment process far more agile, even when we return to ‘normality’.

Here’s how you can follow in their footsteps and hire the best talent right now: 

Hiring via video conferencing

Would you hire someone without meeting them?

At the beginning of this crisis I posed this question to a number of our key clients and the answer in 95% of cases was an emphatic ‘no’. However, as the realisation has grown that this situation is not changing any time soon, I have experienced a shift in mindset. 

Hiring managers are being forced to reconsider their stance and we are seeing a new approach to hiring, the result of which may have positive long term effects and change our attitude to remote recruitment forever.

One of our financial services clients started a proactive recruitment drive across their Global Procurement function at the beginning of the year. Far from slowing down they have continued to recruit, engage and on-board using video conference technology, taking advantage of the fact there is a pool of highly talented furloughed or disengaged talent in the marketplace.

Being a global player it’s a given that their procurement team needs to be able to engage remotely with stakeholders on a daily basis. Their belief is that by embracing the video conferencing interview process, they are able to clearly assess if a candidate will be able to drive stakeholder engagement using exactly those tools and technology. If a candidate can’t perform remotely at an interview, how then can they influence and engage with key stakeholders around the world remotely? 

In addition, their expectation is that we will see an increase in home working practice once we exit lockdown, compared to before COVID19, therefore peer to peer relationships will need to be built through remote interaction.

 Speeding up the recruitment process

If one thing is for sure about great talent, it’s that they always have other options. For this reason, you’re likely to lose talent in long and drawn out recruitment processes as someone else will simply beat you to it. In addition to this, your recruitment process says a lot about your company, and if it takes too long, this will make candidates question how efficient and effective the rest of your business is. 

When it comes to recruitment processes, the current crisis has presented an interesting opportunity. Usually, senior appointments are drawn out as they often require international travel and the coordination of different people all around the world. Given travel is currently not possible, companies have a unique opportunity to simplify. 

One of our manufacturing clients has worked closely with their HR team to redesign their interview process to a single stage panel interview, attended by all stakeholders. Where previously the process may have been drawn out over 3 or 4 stages and weeks and weeks, now the decision for critical hires is made in days as opposed to months. 

Whilst the change to process for this client is being driven by exceptional times, they believe that if they can continue to foster this ethos there is no doubt that they will put themselves ahead of their competition when it comes to engaging the best talent in the future.

Should your interview questions change because the process is remote? 

On the surface, the crisis has not really changed the fundamental scope of most roles, beyond a heightened need to be able to use technology and communicate digitally. But has it changed how we should assess people? In many ways, it has. 

One area remote interviewing has made more complex to assess is the notion of ‘cultural fit.’  It is far more difficult to ascertain natural cultural fit based on chemistry when not meeting someone face to face, therefore we need to be more scientific about what constitutes that ‘fit’. This means going back to basics and assessing key competencies rather than relying on gut feeling

In order to ascertain this, one of our clients, a food retailer,now incorporates a far greater element of questioning around self-awareness and development as part of their remote interviewing process.. For example, ‘What do you like and dislike about procurement’ helps to identify why they are in the profession and the ‘3 key areas for development’ demonstrates their depth of self- awareness.

Hiring better people

Finding talent in non-pandemic times is already a challenge. Add the changes required due to the virus, and things become even more challenging. Yet companies also have so much to learn from this crisis – and those who adapt may learn important lessons that they’ll be able to use to continue to engage top talent well into the future.

Check out Sally Davis’ presentation at Big Ideas Summit London from a few months ago here.

What It Feels Like To Be Furloughed

Have you been furloughed during the coronavirus crisis? Many people have. Here’s a searingly honest account of what it feels like.


Matt* was suddenly and unexpectedly furloughed from his job as a sourcing consulting director at one of the US’s most recognisable businesses. He has shared his story here on the condition of anonymity. 

Life has a funny way of throwing us curveballs, hey? Just last weekend, I found a list of goals I’d made, sometime after the new year when the enthusiasm of resolutions had yet to wane. I’d included the good old standard goals, something like ‘get fitter,’ ‘scroll less!’ ‘don’t get hung up on things you can’t change!’ but there was also a solid few career ones in there. None of them, I might add, included being sent home from work, suddenly and unexpectedly, with no return date and no certainty there would even be a job to return to. But then again, was a pandemic really in anyone’s plan? I’ve since heard that some people believed it possible, but to be honest I never really gave the idea much thought. 

I’m a sourcing consulting director by trade, and I love – or, I loved – everything about my job. Helping clients transition and transform their businesses was my bread and butter, and I enjoyed the variety and challenges it afforded me. On a daily basis, I’d be confronted with new and different projects; no two clients were the same. As a natural people-person, I found the client contact invigorating and the problem solving even more so. I was often jet-setting around the country and seeing different cities while living out of a suitcase and it suited me just fine. It enabled me to get properly embedded in my work and give it my all. 

Around January, I remember seeing eerie photos of Wuhan and thinking how strange it looked and seemed. I think I saw a photo of a door welded shut on an apartment block and I reflected on how grateful I was for American freedoms, and how I never thought something even resembling a lockdown could ever happen here. Boy, was I wrong. Our doors might not be welded shut but we sure are trapped in another way. 

Have you seen the movie the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? If you haven’t, it’s where four English children go through their wardrobe into a land completely unrecognisable to them, called Narnia. ‘Virus life,’ to me, felt like Narnia, but not in a good sense. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, it felt like we were safely in the wardrobe one day and then a place we truly didn’t want to be the next. 

From a work perspective, when the pandemic did hit hard, I was immediately concerned about the travel side of my job, but not my actual job, interestingly. But as a business, we were shocked at how quickly things exploded and started having an impact. Somehow, stil, I wasn’t worried. But then. 

When they told me, I didn’t really react much. I was shocked, I think, maybe a little numb. I’ve always been a risk-averse person, always doing the right thing, always trying to get a stable job and succeed at it. So when I heard I was being furloughed, I kind of got this sense of, but I’ve always done the right thing? I certainly wished it wasn’t me. In a rational sense, I got it, of course I did. I understood the dynamics, I knew that things were unstable now and changing fast. But still. 

Since being stood down from my role, time has taken on a strangely elastic sense. Sometimes days go fast, especially when I get really engaged in playing games with my family or staying up late watching a movie. I know some people’s children have driven them crazy, but I’ve honestly enjoyed my family dynamics and our closeness so much. But when I do find a minute to myself, I can’t say my mind is completely clear. My business has told me, ‘as far as they know’ that I’ll be back, but I can’t help but wonder. A few of my colleagues have been laid off and I now see the fear and dread in their eyes as they confront America’s most challenging job market. Sure, in procurement we’re weathering the storm well but nothing is for sure. I try not to think about being fired. Now I’m not ‘present’ at work, I do feel genuinely worried. 

Being furloughed has been a great time for personal reflection. Fortunately, I was in a relatively secure financial position prior to this and so far, money hasn’t been a real issue – but I know for so many people, that simply isn’t true. I’ve also paused and reflected on what is an ‘essential versus a ‘non-essential’ business – something I’d never really thought about before. All things being equal, if I was ever offered a job again, I’d definitely preference an ‘essential’ business as having a stable job is critical to me. Despite my relative financial stability, I’ll also be more conservative with cash. You truly never know what is around the corner. That’s what this pandemic has taught me. 

In life, I’ve always been used to knowing what’s coming next. It’s such a strange feeling to wake up and not have to plan anything past my morning coffee. But at the same time, it’s nice to take a breath. The future is unclear, but I feel, in procurement at least, that there’s hope.

Editor’s note: As of 20 May 2020, Matt has been officially ‘stood up’ and will be imminently returning to his role. If you enjoyed this article then read the wildly popular article You’ve been fired or made redundant. What to say to your next boss?

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Happy At Home Alone? 5 Ways To Negotiate Your New Normal

Nine in ten of us do NOT want to go back ‘normal’ once lockdown ends. So how do procurement professionals negotiate a new WFH arrangement – that works for them and their employer?


With half the world in lockdown we are starting to get used to the ‘new normal’…. and after an initial reluctance, most of us are embracing the idea of a new way of life.

Yes, we do want some aspects of “normal” life to return. Being able to socialize, see our families, have a decent haircut (that’s not done at home) or enjoy a weekend at the beach.

But we don’t actually want to go back to life as it was.

A recent poll in the UK found that only 9 per cent of Britons want to return to life as “normal” after the end of lockdown.

One area where we are yearning for change is work … or more importantly the ability to work from home and/or more flexibly now that we have put the systems in place, mastered video conferencing and created our own home-office environments.

The good news is that three-quarters believe their manager trusts them to be productive when WFH according to research commissioned by Visier, which provides people-analytics to over 5,000 businesses that employee 7 million staff across 75 countries around the world.

So, if you are one of the 9 in 10 who wants a different type of working life, build on this trust: meet your deadlines, exceed expectations, continue to work collaboratively and show that you can excel at online meetings and conference calls. Do not give your manager any excuses to say WFH does not work – and that you have to return to your place of work, once offices are back open again.

The best way to tackle this negotiation is like any business negotiation (as a procurement professional you already have the skills). So be clear about what you want to achieve, build a compelling case and then make a persuasive argument.  

STEP 1: PROVE IT’S THE BEST WAY FORWARD

Seven in ten staff who are working remotely for the first time as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, felt they were either more or equally productive as a result (despite the unique challenges of slow internet speeds, homeschooling and hours queuing to purchase life’s necessities).

So, working from home does work. Just make sure you have the data to support your argument and include this information in your flexible working request. It will make it far harder for your line manager to refuse…and also help you prove to yourself that you CAN do this.

TIP: Make this data easy to assimilate by churning the figures – I wrote five more pitches every week, responded to 15% more enquiries per day, set up an online meeting with a new supplier and negotiated a contract remotely etc… It is much harder to argue with facts.

STEP 2: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT?

As with any negotiation, you need to have a clear goal. Perhaps WFH 5 days-a-week will seem too isolating (or impractical), so do you want 3 days in the office, 2 days at home? Or maybe a 9-day fortnight.

Also, if you are likely to fall into the category of being asked to work more flexibly (social distancing is going to last for some time, so you may not actually be welcome in the office), you need to work out what works for you. If you crave the stimulation of an office environment at least part of the week, make sure your employer knows that WFH permanently is a deal breaker… and let’s face it we all find it difficult to be home 24/7 with family rows over internet usage.

TIP: Presenting a simple solution will make it easier for your immediate line manager to make a decision (remember, everyone else will be putting in flexible working requests too). However, you might have to be flexible about being flexible – for example, to agree to WFH on a Wednesday because everyone else is at home on a Friday.

STEP 3: PRESENT A SOLUTION – NOT A PROBLEM

The financial implications of Covid-19 mean that organizations will be looking to shed staff and cut overheads. One of the most obvious cost savings is premises – with predictions that there will be a huge shrinkage in office floor space even after the world gets back to work.

So, highlight the savings on office overheads from sharing space, hotdesking or remote working.

Another way to save money – and potentially save your job – is to offer to work a reduced working week.

Yes, it will mean a pro rata salary (a 20% pay cut if you move to a 4 day-week), however if the coronavirus has taught us one thing, it is to value having less while enjoying more time with those we love.

If you no longer have to afford two holidays a year (it might be difficult if there are travel restrictions for some time to come), are saving a fortune on eating out (more of us are becoming proficient home chefs) and spending less on grooming (who else is embracing a more natural look?), you might be able to take that pay cut.

TIP: Make yourself less expensive – you will then be less expendable. Being cheaper to employ while being more productive will make you less of a target for redundancies than your colleagues.

STEP 4: WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE IT WORK?

There is no point asking to work flexibly if the office can’t get hold of you, conference calls keep cutting out and your presentations no longer look professional.

So, you need the right tools. That includes the right tech (laptop, software, printer and an upgraded internet connection). Also discuss insurance (this might cost more if you have expensive equipment at home), the extra costs of running your home office (electricity) and an allowance for things like stationery, printer ink and other office supplies.

TIP: Don’t make expensive demands (it could be a dealbreaker) but show you have thought through the practicalities of WFH and wish to have an open conversation about how to make the new arrangement work. In some countries you may be able to claim these expenses against tax and in the UK from 6 April 2020 employers have been able to pay up to £6 a week (£26 a month) to cover additional costs if you have to work from home (although not for those who choose to do so).

STEP 5: KNOW THE LAW – JUST IN CASE

While employers are likely to be highly responsive to flexible working requests – or even insist that more staff WFH at least part of the week – it still pays to know the law…and in particular, what reasons your employer can use to refuse your request.

Many workers around the world (Europe, Australia, some parts of the USA) have the right to request flexible working (although this is NOT the same as being able to work in the way you wish – you just have a right to make a request).

Generally the reasons for refusal include:

  • additional costs
  • it is impractical – either you have to be there in person or there will be difficulty reorganizing work among other staff
  • there will be an impact on performance, productivity, quality, customer service

TIP: It is better to preempt a refusal, by countering it in your flexible working request. It will not only show that you know your rights but also that you have thought of practical solutions to any potential problems.

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How To Work With People You Don’t Like

Working can feel impossible when you have to collaborate with someone you don’t like. Here’s how to do it.


Michelle* had recently taken on the role of CPO at a large manufacturing organisation. It was a job she’d been planning, and pining for, for years, so she was heavily invested in making it a success. To do so, she’d carefully mapped her stakeholders, investing in understanding each of their unique needs and situations. But two months in, there was a problem. And the name of that problem was Mark. Unfortunately, Mark was also the CFO. 

Michelle had done what she could to get Mark onside. And worse, she could see from his relationships with others in the business that Mark wasn’t particularly difficult – in fact, he seemed to be generally competent and well-liked. But she just didn’t like him, and he didn’t like her either. 

As many of us in procurement would know, though, not getting along with the finance department can be particularly troublesome. And so it was with Michelle. Mark was going to be integral to her success – so what should she do?

If we’re all being honest, we’ve all come across a Mark – or a Michelle – in our working lives. Someone who, despite others not seeing it, just makes our blood boil with frustration and our mind explode with confusion. Someone we simply don’t like. 

But nowadays, with procurement intimately connected to all corners of organisations and stakeholder management more important than ever, we can’t simply ignore the fact that we don’t like someone. We need to do something about it. 

But what? Here’s how to navigate the frustrating waters of a colleague that has you hot under the collar: 

Step 1: Accept and reflect 

No matter how likeable or nice we think we are, we have to accept that it’s not possible to get along with everyone. The first step to improving relationships with someone you don’t like is simply this: accepting that not everyone will be your best friend (or even ally) and that it isn’t a personal reflection on you. 

Beyond acceptance, another important first step is to reflect on the positive you can garner from the relationship, even if it is a difficult one. What can you learn? How can you grow? Difficult relationships are, usually, much rarer than positive ones, so if you flip your frustration on its head, you’re bound to learn something. 

2. Understand their perspective 

When you decide that someone frustrates you, you naturally recoil. Then, when you do need to deal with them, you discount and/or/get annoyed by everything they say and do. In other words, once trust and respect are gone, it’s difficult to get them back. 

But in the situation where you have to work with someone you don’t like, it’s important to try and be the bigger person, no matter how challenging this might seem. Ask yourself: Why is this person acting in this particular way? What do they want/need differently from me? How might I be frustrating them? Reflecting on their motivations will help you appreciate their goals, behaviours and different points of view. In turn, this will help you have empathy for their situation. 

3. Increase your self-awareness 

The term ‘it takes two to tango’ is true of all relationships, and a large part of working with people you don’t like is to understand how you contribute to that relationship. Understanding your own personal style can be a big part of this. 

In the example above, Michelle knew that she was a strong extrovert, and that she always preferred face to face meetings and lots of social time with her colleagues. She was also a little disorganised, and never understood why past colleagues got frustrated when she was late to meetings or moved them at the last minute. After all, she got the job done. 

Mark, on the other hand, was a strong introvert and preferred the comfort of everything via email. He was precise, particular and enjoyed routines and certainty. He mistook Michelle’s carefree attitude for incompetence. 

By increasing her awareness of her personal style, Michelle could learn a lot about why she might frustrate Mark – and vice versa. Understanding this is a critical part of repairing poor relationships. 

4. Be collaborative – not competitive 

The hierarchical nature of organisations can lead many of us to feel we need to compete with each other. Yet that attitude alone is responsible for many poor relationships. If you want to get along, it’s better to focus on collaborating. 

It can take some courage to do this, but one way of encouraging better collaboration with someone you don’t like is to simply ask them how to do this, instead of constantly trying to find workarounds to make them happy. Asking something along the lines of ‘I don’t feel we’re working together in the best possible way – do you have any ideas on how to fix this?’ can go a long way in ensuring a better partnership. 

5. Flattery 

If you don’t like someone, the last thing you’re going to want to do is flatter them, as it can seem ingenuine. But doing so in a more subtle way can help repair a relationship, especially if you essentially ‘shift the problem’ of the relationship over to them by simply asking for their help. 

In Michelle’s situation, one way to repair her relationship with Mark might be to take him for a coffee and seek his expertise on how to best connect with people in the organisation and succeed. The question will have the effect of making Mark think that Michelle believes he is an organisational success story, and he might be more willing to open up. This will ‘humanise’ the relationship and help both Michelle and Mark feel more comfortable with each other. 

Most importantly – start working on your frustrations early 

For so many of us, our colleagues and stakeholders can make or break our experience at work. Inevitably though, we’ll come across people we don’t like. 

When we do, it’s important to work on those relationships, often and early. There’s nothing worse than being frustrated on a daily basis, when we could have seen the incredible human our colleague was long ago. 

What techniques do you use to better work with people you don’t like? Tell us in the comments below. 

*Names changed to protect privacy.

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