Category Archives: Generation Procurement

Gender Balanced Leadership – Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action, and the use of quotas and targets in business, creates stigma and erodes merit. Fact or fiction?

affirmative action

Read the first part of my update here.

Affirmative action measures such as quotas and targets are seen to be problematic for many reasons. Perhaps the biggest concern is that women will be selected for roles based on their gender alone.

This leads to a double negative. First, there is a perception that women themselves will suffer the stigma of being in a role under false pretences. Second, that merit is eroded leading to a performance deficit, as women selected under these conditions are not deemed suitably capable.

What’s the evidence for stigma?

Numerous studies led by Heilman and others between the mid-1980s and mid-2000s explored the idea of stigma. Their research showed that women hired and explicitly identified as being hired under affirmative action programmes were generally seen to be less competent and less deserving of their positions.

This applied even where it could be demonstrated that they were as competent and qualified as male colleagues. (It’s something of a conundrum that women as competent and qualified as male candidates had to be hired through an affirmative action programme…).

Both men and women assessed the women described in this way as less capable. The women appointed through these processes themselves held these views, even in the face of contradictory evidence about their competence!

They also went on to take less credit for successful outcomes and indicated less interest in continuing in leadership roles.

More recent meta-analysis of this same databank, as well as more recent research, creates a more refined view that points to a fundamental problem with how we see affirmative action.

Why Affirmative Action?

Affirmative action is designed to ensure proactive investigation of whether or not equality of opportunity exists. And if it doesn’t, to take steps to eliminate barriers and establish real equality.

Quotas and targets are amongst such measures, in recognition that women and men of equal talent and skill tend not to be appointed to roles with the same frequency, as noted above.

The more refined view reinforces the importance of the language we use. Unzueta and his colleagues found that women’s self-image benefited generally from affirmative action policies, so long as they did not think they had personally benefited.

Other studies have shown that those who benefit from affirmative action recognise the success of such policies, see them as providing them with opportunities, and enjoy working for employers with affirmative action policies. Where women are told their qualifications are high, they do not experience the same negative effects.

Feeling Stigma?

In summary then, stigma may well occur under certain conditions, and how women’s success is described is a critical factor. If women are told they have won their role solely because they’re women, they are more likely to feel stigma.

Where there is a general environment that opportunity is being re-balanced and women move into senior leadership roles, there seems to be no stigma.

Where women are told they have won their roles because they are competent and capable, whatever the affirmative action landscape, there appears to be no stigma. (And this happens not just for women, but for any group in the minority, including male nurses working in a predominately female working environment.)

As it is so unlikely that women will be placed in roles solely because they are women, and as long as women are not described as winning roles solely on the basis of their gender, stigma should not be an issue.

Is Merit Eroded?

Merit is often discussed as if it were an absolute. As if there were perfect standards and assessment tools that allow raters to make unequivocal judgments about individuals. There is however clear evidence that measures of merit include subjective elements and are influenced by stereotypes. The testing community willingly admits to the challenges of making fair assessments of individuals.

Test construction and conditions remain open to bias, and plenty of research supports this. Given that implicit beliefs that associate men with leadership and women with support roles are held at least slightly by the greater majority of the population, it is clear that even those of us with good intentions may not be able to suppress these when we are  assessing capability.

And according to Crosby, most people just don’t notice persistent injustices unless they have access to systematic comparative data. At individual decision level, and even within departments, and even by those attuned to such discrepancies, discrimination between different demographic groups isn’t discerned.

Detecting Different Patterns

It is only when reviewing large amounts of aggregated data comparing smaller groupings across a larger collection, that people are able to detect different patterns in hiring women and men.

Crosby and her colleagues put this down to a fundamentally human need to believe we live in a just world. When we perceive difference, we would rather put it down to a random quirk than to intention (discrimination), and so we miss the pattern.

Because observers are not always able to detect unfairness in processes, valid assessment of the merits of women are harder to achieve than valid assessment of the merits of men.

In Crosby’s words, “the main reason to endorse affirmative action … is to reward merit. Without the systematic monitoring of affirmative action, one can maintain the fiction of a meritocracy but will have difficulty establishing and sustaining a true meritocracy”.

What to do:

  • Prime women for competence
  • Prime others for women’s competence
  • Take care in choosing assessment methods, and as far as possible structure assessment processes to avoid priming on gender lines
  • Increase transparency of the numbers.

Dr Karen Morley is an Executive Coach, Associate Dean at Mt Eliza Education, expert on gender-balanced leadership and registered psychologist.

5 Ways to Beat the Procurement Blues

emoticons-for-happy-people-d-desktop

“In a ditch calling for a shovel” is a favourite saying from my husband’s long repertoire of business expressions.

In my recent blog 6 sure-fire ways to become a CPO, I talked about the high levels of frustration people feel when roadblocks get in the way of their ambitions and career progression.

It started me thinking about the many times I felt frustrated as a category manager. Sometimes, there were genuine business delays or hiccups that de-railed my ‘perfect world’, but other times it was just the sameness, the daily grind, which left me feeling less than optimistic about my future in procurement.

Suspecting that some of you may face these challenges, I thought I would share five ideas to help you break the cycle, get out of that rut, and reset your career trajectory.

1. Get out of the office – Sorry, I’m not suggesting that you start working from home or have coffee with all your friends because you’re bored or frustrated with work.

If your contract negotiation or rollout has come to a standstill, why not try and re-ignite activity and the relationship by organising site visits to your supplier, their competitors and, ideally, their customers. Taking a different, and potentially more relaxed, approach to communicating with your suppliers or stakeholders will create a new atmosphere for collaboration.

You will also gain a lot of new ideas and information from these interactions, which will hopefully inspire you to take a new approach and alleviate the current stalemate.

2. Update your online profile and look at other jobs – Before you get excited and think I’m going to advise you to quit your job because you’re bored, I’m not.

My point here is that updating your profile is a great way to remind yourself all you’ve learned in your current job, and allows you to reflect on the progress you are making in your career. Even though you may be frustrated now, you need to see that you are building an impressive story with your career to date.

I’d also encourage you to just look at other jobs, although not to apply for them. I suggest this approach in order to help you realise two things. Firstly, that the grass is not necessarily greener; and the importance of continually developing your skills in order to be qualified for your next career opportunity.

So take some time to look the job you want (the aspirational one), understand what you need to develop to get that role and get to work aligning your skills. You’ll find this will spark your motivation back in the workplace.

3. Organise a team event – Many of our workplace frustrations are focussed on our interactions with our peers, direct reports, or bosses. Often the root cause of these frustrations are that neither side really understands where the other is coming from.

Social events are the ideal way to break down some of these barriers and better understand your peers. A team event could take many forms – a volunteering day, a fun learning exercise, an activity, a party. The important thing is that it is something that most of the group would be interested in and is appropriate for endorsement by the company.

4. Offer your services to your CPO – Hopefully you have a very open and positive line of communication with your boss. If so, you should broach the concept of you helping complete one of the many “team development” projects they have on their plate.

There is always some work to do on the performance management process, or the SRM framework, or some communication material that needs updating. I would be surprised if there wasn’t something that you could help with.

Your CPO should be delighted with your initiative and provide the opportunity for you to demonstrate how you handle this type of leadership project. Completing such an assignment is a brilliant way for you to ensure that your name stays on the radar as a high potential employee – so make sure if you volunteer for this, that you give it 100% and complete the project on time and to specification!

5. Get connected – The best people to consult when you are having a tough time are people who understand your role, but are not closely involved and can therefore act as an unbiased third party to talk through your challenges. If you have a mentor, this is the perfect time to be talking regularly with them to work your way out of your rut. If you don’t have a mentor, it’s time to get one!

Make sure you reach out to the right contacts in your network – either through your professional association (CIPS, ISM), the Roundtables or networking groups your company subscribes to (Faculty, Hackett, Procurement Leaders, PSC), or your on-line networks (Procurious, LinkedIn).

There will be a number of people within your broader network who can provide invaluable advice on how to get out of your current career gridlock. This is an invaluable, yet free, source of support for you and it’s only a click away!

Search for Ladders, Not Shovels

The suggestions above may be nothing more than temporary diversions away from your negative thought-trains and frustrations. Throughout my career I have found that by occupying my mind with another task, even for an hour or so, helps to reinvigorate my motivation and allows me to step back and see the big picture. This perspective means I can return to task at hand with a new drive.

It’s normal to get frustrated about your role from time to time, particularly if you are ambitious and have plans to succeed and progress. What’s important is that you look for ladders, rather than shovels, to get yourself out of these holes.

Good luck!

Gender Balanced Leadership – Token Representation to Critical Mass

For gender balanced leadership, moving from 10 per cent to 30 per cent representation doesn’t happen ‘naturally’.

gender balanced leadership

In a couple of recent posts on LinkedIn, I’ve explored the areas of women’s representation in politics and on boards, and have been pondering why achieving a critical mass of women seems so challenging.

Here’s a summary of the three key barriers to critical mass.

1.  Token numbers lead to complacency and stall progress

The existence of women in token numbers creates a belief that the glass ceiling has been breached. ‘Token practices’ lead to a form of complacency – women perceive that as long as one woman has made it, their own mobility is possible.

Once at least 10 per cent of board members are women, men also view hiring practices as equally fair to men and women.

Even where the number of women in senior roles doesn’t change over time, women still tend to believe that hiring is fair. They view their organisations as providing them equal opportunity. Men are aware that they have a greater chance of promotion under token conditions. And under token hiring practices, men feel that their status as the majority is legitimate.

Recent research into the gender balance of the five highest paid executive roles in 1,500 US firms between 1991 and 2011 found that once one woman had been appointed, the chance of a second woman joining this group dropped by about 50 per cent.

The researchers had expected to find that the introduction of one woman into this top echelon led to a snowball effect. That did not occur over this 20 year period.

2. Homophily restricts network reach creating gender stall

Networks are the traditional basis for and continue to influence board appointments. Homophily is the tendency to associate with those like ourselves.  At token representation levels, the density of the female director network remains subcritical.

Token conditions mean that women already in the system can’t develop a strong network that enables them to invite a sufficient number of other women onto boards. Men’s tendency to network with other men also means that prevailing conditions don’t change.

Without intervention, critical mass cannot be generated. Too many boards with no women, and too many boards with token numbers, equals gender stall.

3. Gender bias limits women’s perceived legitimacy for leadership roles

Leadership continues to be associated with agentic characteristics such as dominance, competitiveness and ambition. The pervasiveness of this set of beliefs means that decisions about legitimate leadership are routinely biased against women and in favour of men.

Women face a dilemma. They’re damned for being competent as leaders, or doomed to support roles when they demonstrate gender-associated warm and communal behaviours.

It is well researched (e.g. Bhonet et al 2014) that hiring and selection decisions are impacted by unconscious bias based on candidate gender. Males are more likely to be selected even where experience, skills and abilities of male and female candidates are identical.

Targets, quotas and other methods are required to to counter-balance these forces, and achieve critical mass.

Make sure you come back for the second part of this article next week.

Dr Karen Morley is an Executive Coach, Associate Dean at Mt Eliza Education, expert on gender-balanced leadership and registered psychologist.

What You Can Expect from a Procurement Job in Australia

Melbourne1

After three weeks, eight flights, a wedding and some workshops, I’m finally back from my trip to Australia. It was a great trip – as well as spending time with my friends and family, I had the chance to reconnect with the procurement community ‘down under’.

Australia is where I started my procurement career and I feel I know the landscape down there pretty well. So on the flight home I penned my tips for anyone considering a procurement role in the ’lucky country’.

1. You’ll land in a hotbed of procurement talent

The spotlight is shining bright on Australian procurement professionals. Kylie Towie, the CPO of WA Health, won this year’s ‘Procurement Leader of the Year’ Award. Last year’s winner was another Australian Scott Wharton, who is working in New York as the Global Head of Enterprise Supply Chain for Citi.

The Procurement Leaders Award pits the top supply chain and procurement professionals from around the globe against one another. Having Australians win the award in consecutive years is a major achievement for Australian procurement.

According to Eva Wimmers, the former CPO of Deutsche Telekom, the procurement function in Australia is in a mature state.

2. Be Wary of the Boom

Unlike the rest of the developed world, the Australian economy was, by and large, unaffected by the Global Financial Crisis. In fact, Australia has seen unbroken economic growth for the last twenty something years. Unemployment rates are enviably low (6 per cent), there is very little public debt and inflation has been stable for many years.

For procurement, huge resource and infrastructure projects over the last decade have meant that Australian companies have needed to purchase a lot of stuff.

Sounds perfect, right?

Not quite. The Australian economy weathered the financial crisis largely thanks to its enormous natural resource sector (and the Chinese appetite to consume these resources). However, 2015 has seen shaky growth figures from China, causing commodity prices to plummet, and the Australian economy is feeling the pinch.

Large resource projects have been mothballed, and will likely remain so, until commodity prices show significant signs of recovery. While the mining and resources sectors are only one part of the Australian economy, the knock-on impacts for business confidence across the country cannot be understated.

3. The supply market is shallow

Although the Australian economy is strong, it’s important to remember that it is also isolated and relatively small. As such, the depth of the supply market is not comparable to markets in Europe and the USA.

Monopoly or duopoly suppliers dominate many industries, meaning you’ll need to get creative with your category management plans. Good category managers are constantly looking to create competitive tension in the supply base. This may mean leveraging international suppliers more frequently or even producing the required product internally.

4. You’ll be part of a connected community

The Australian procurement community is well connected. There are more than 2000 Australian members of Procurious (it’s one of our strongest membership groups).

CIPS has a strong and active presence in Australia. The Institute runs events, provides certification and training and numerous networking opportunities for procurement professionals down under.

The Faculty, too, provides a number of development opportunities for procurement professionals in Australia. The company’s Roundtable acts as a forum to bring together elite procurement professionals to share their experiences and insight.

By leveraging Procurious, CIPS and The Faculty, you’ll find it very easy to connect and continue to grow as a procurement professional.

5. There is a unique industry focus

People used to say that Australia rode on the sheep’s back. While, strictly speaking, that’s not true any more, the Australian economy is certainly very heavily weighted towards primary production. The retail and services sectors are respectable, but it’s mining and oil and gas that really drive the economy.

6. The pay is good

Procurement pays well in Australia. According to recruitment firm Hudson, a full-time procurement manager in Western Australia can earn between $150 and $210k; experienced category managers can expect to earn about $120-150k. Even taking into account unfavourable exchange rates, these salaries are enviable when compared to similar positions in the US or Europe.

7. And you’ll need every cent

Australia isn’t cheap. Sydney consistently ranks amongst the world’s most expensive cities to live in. Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide don’t trail too far behind.

House prices in Australia have boomed in recent years. A modest, two-bedroom apartment in Paddington (a suburb in inner-city Sydney) will set you back roughly $1200 a week in rent.

If you’re buying in the same neighbourhood, you’re looking at close to $2 million. The cost of living (eating out, shopping, etc.) is also consistently high too.

8. Visas can be tricky but not Impossible

If you’re not an Australian or New Zealand national, you’ll need a visa to work in Australia. There are a number of different visa options for people looking to migrate to Australia for work, but the most common, particularly amongst senior level staff, is sponsorship.

Visa sponsorship requires commitment of both time and money from employers, but, as Brendan Turner from The Source told me, “Australian employers are open to visa sponsorship, especially for senior roles and for those candidates coming out of the UK market.”

9. It’s Fun!

There is no that opportunities for employment and personal development are abundant in Australia, but it’s the lifestyle that is the true superstar.

Whether it’s lattes in lane ways (Melbourne), surfing on the Sunshine Coast (Queensland), or barbecues in Bondi (Sydney), the Aussie way of life is second to none. We love our sport, we love our beaches, the food is fresh, the coffee is great, the air is clean and sun is almost always shining.

To quote one of our B-grade celebs…“Where the bloody hell are ya?”

Ahhh…it’s enough to make you home sick.

2015 FLiP Ambassador Talks Future Of The Procurement Function

Procurious interviews 2015 FLiP Ambassador – Ryan Kirgan.

The future of the procurement function

Ryan Kirgan is a Portfolio Category Manager at Downer, a leading provider of services to customers in markets including Transportation, Mining, Energy and Industrial Engineering, Utilities, Communications and Facilities.

At the recent Future Leaders in Procurement (FLiP) event, Ryan was awarded the position of FLiP Ambassador for 2015. Procurious recently caught up with Ryan to discuss his ambassadorship, the FLiP event and the future of the procurement function. 

Procurious asks: Ryan firstly, congratulations on being recognised as the FLiP (Future Leaders in Procurement) 2015 ambassador and carrying the flag for the next generation of procurement leaders. Could you give us some background into the FLiP group and what it hopes to achieve?

Ryan answers: The FliP group is a collection of young leaders in the procurement function. Our meetings are held in conjunction with The Faculty’s CPO Forum. When we meet, we undertake an intensive program of discussions, presentations and networking with the ultimate goal of developing the next generation of procurement leaders and furthering the procurement profession.

FLiP put on a fantastic series of events. Through the relationship with The Faculty, we are able to attract a good number of truly outstanding speakers. This, and the chance to network with our peers in other businesses, presents a fantastic opportunity to develop our skills not only as procurement professionals, but also as leaders.

Procurious: How have the FLiP events helped develop you as a leader within your business?

Ryan: The most critical link I think, in developing the functions future leaders has been the access FLiP has granted us all to senior procurement leaders.

We have been given backstage access to a huge number of influential CPOs. All of these leaders have been very approachable and accessible. They’ve opened up on discussions and events that are impacting the function at the moment. To have access to this level of seniority has been huge. We’ve all been able to benefit from people who have already had long and successful careers in procurement.

What has been really great is that rather than discussing the technical capabilities of procurement staff, which most other conferences do, FLiP is pitched much more around soft skills with a younger audience in mind. That’s something I haven’t come across at other conferences. The program is really tailored to what we’re doing as young procurement professionals.

Procurious: Aside from the speakers and CPO access, were there any other intangibles you were able to take away from the event?

Ryan: The event was fantastic for market intelligence. When you put people who are making similar decisions in the same room you’re bound to learn something.

It was a great opportunity to understand my suppliers, not just from a procurement perspective, but also more broadly around what they are trying to achieve as a company. That sort of insight is priceless.

The general openness and willingness to impart knowledge and help out as much as possible is fantastic. It’s not like you’re making a cold call and asking for insight. It is senior level procurement professionals who are there with a genuine interest in helping out and developing the function.

Obviously, networking is what you make of it, but I’ve had great engagements off the back of the conference. A few days after the event, another delegate contacted me to discuss fleet management, a category that my organisation sources well. I was happy to share my experiences. A few weeks later my help was reciprocated when the person I spoke to was able to assist me with some queries I had about supplier relationship management.

Procurious: Have you been able to transfer any of the learnings from the FLiP conference into your job at Downer?

Ryan: At the end of the conference Gordon Donovan (Principal Consultant at The Faculty at the time) challenged us by saying that he would be calling each attendee 50 days after the conference to see what changes we’ve made based on what we took away from the conference.

This is something that I got down to right away. The day I got back to the office, I called a meeting with the corporate affairs manager. We spoke a lot about alignment with corporate objectives at the conference and I wanted to ensure my activities were contributing directly towards our corporate success.

Downer has recently refreshed its corporate identity. This has involved a shift towards a greater customer focus. Our tagline is “relationships creating success”.

During this discussion I found myself asking, “how does my work as a procurement professional align to the corporate vision?” I quickly realised that I had a fairly deep understanding of our relationships with our top 100 suppliers, however knew little about our engagement with all but a handful of our key customers. This seemed ridiculous.

I grabbed all the guys in the team and went through a process of aligning each of our category plans to the corporate vision and to our end customers. I also initiated our team’s ownership of managing revenue data reporting in addition to spend data; all of which helps bolster our presence as commercial leaders within the company. Unless I’d gone to the conference, I don’t think we would have gone through that process.

Procurious: As part of your ambassadorship you were given the opportunity to take part in a panel discussion at The Faculty CPO Forum. Can you tell us about that experience?

Ryan: It was a great opportunity to speak in front of such an experienced procurement audience. I feel that those sorts of opportunities are a valuable part of our professional development as leaders.

To sit alongside three highly experienced CPOs and to come off the stage and be told that I didn’t seem out of place up there was very humbling and flattering.

We spoke about ensuring alignment of procurement activities to the wider business. It was reassuring to see that across industries, procurement teams are taking on similar programs and facing similar challenges. As I mentioned earlier, this initiative is something that I acted on as soon as I got back to the office.

Procurious: At Procurious we’re passionate about social media and its role in the development of the procurement function. What have been your experiences as a procurement professional on social media?

Ryan: The opportunities that lie within social media are truly eye opening. I think the biggest challenge is staying on top of everything. The speed that things are changing is so rapid.

Social media is becoming standard practice for procurement; it’s no longer a fringe activity. We need to leverage our relationships with suppliers, co-workers and colleagues and social media is the most effective way to do this.

Social media gives us access to knowledge sharing and best practice thinking from across the globe. All of this builds out our capability as professionals.

Access to sites like Procurious means that good ideas don’t remain hidden for very long. If one person asks a question, you’ll get 30 people responding. There is so much knowledge and wisdom out there and Procurious is connecting all of that.

At Downer, we use Yammer as well and I’d be one of our most active Yammer users. I’ve established a group to discuss our fleet services; the 80 stakeholders across the business for fleet services are in this group. It’s a brilliant way for us educate and connect with the stakeholders. We get great engagement on there.

Procurious: Thank you for taking the time to speak with Procurious and again, congratulations on your ambassadorship for 2015. Any final thoughts you’d like to leave us with?

Ryan: I’d like to thank FLiP and The Faculty for the opportunity they’ve given me. The exposure to all of The Faculty’s programs has given an insight into just how switched on they are. Having programs that develop procurement people at each stage of their professional development is brilliant. They are great advocates for the profession.

How Do You Turn A Technical Expert Into A Leader Of The People?

How to turn technical staff into leaders

Procurious recently caught up with Karen Morley to discuss her upcoming presentation at the CIPS event in Melbourne, Australia. In the first part of our interview we learnt what separates good CPOs from great CPOs and discussed the impact truly great procurement leaders can have on their business. That article can be found <here>

Today, for the second part of our discussion with Karen, we’ll be covering the development of technical experts into leaders of people and pointing out what procurement professionals should be doing to continue their progression up the leadership ladder.

Procurious asks: In a recent LinkedIn Pulse article you published, you discussed the difficulties organisations face in transitioning technical experts into managers and leaders of people. Can you provide some commentary on that? 

Karen: I’m coaching a young woman at the moment who trained as an engineer. She was promoted into her first management role in 2011 but did her first leadership program in 2014. She has joking said that it would have been pretty handy if it had been done that the other way around.

It wasn’t until she got into the management program that she started to understand the concepts of leadership and the need to think differently when you are leading other people as opposed to when you are the functional expert or an individual contributor.

This sort of transitioning is something that I’m constantly working with people on.

When you are a functional expert, or an individual contributor, you are responsible only for yourself. But when you start managing other people or when you are moving to general management areas, you are the authorizer of the work that other people do. People are looking to you to be the authority figure and I think that is a very significant part of the transition.

Again, this is consistent with those leadership attributes we discussed earlier. People who are able to demonstrate all of those things, particularly presence, integrity and the professional advocacy are able to make a big difference.

Procurious: Do you feel that by moving technical experts into managerial positions we are promoting them towards failure rather than celebrating their specific expertise? 

Karen: I think this is an important point and I really wish we thought of career paths in quite different ways. I think that some people are great technical experts, who are vital to the success of an organization and perhaps we don’t see enough value in their technical expertise. In a sense, we run the risk of shutting down on their brilliance and technical capability by promoting them.

I would like to see organisations promoting and recognising people for their scientific, engineering or procurement expertise without necessarily having the need to move them into big leadership roles.

I think when you are in the front line leading, you still need to be across the functional areas in a very big way. You might even be doing some functional work as well as leading the team. When you get to a general management level, you lose the ability to have deep knowledge into the technicalities of the functional areas.

Promoting experts to managerial roles also presumes that everybody has the same level of ambition and everyone wants to move up the line as far as they can.

Some people just want to be really good at what they do. Some people want to be the best category manager out there. There are a lot of things you can do for these people to ultimately improve their performance and their value to your organisation. You can allow them to have a mentoring role with other category managers, perhaps outside of their own group. They can help to train or advise non-procurement people in category management and how they integrate into the business. It’s a huge opportunity not only for the employee but also for the business.

Procurious: Any final tips for procurement professionals out there looking to continue their progression up the procurement ladder?

Karen: Raise your game; raise your voice. I would highlight the importance of spending the time to focus on what I call the leadership narrative. So often people wander through their careers and things happen or don’t happen, maybe they set goals and maybe they don’t. But the idea with the leadership narrative is that you are thinking about where you want to end your career right now and being more focused on how to move towards that end goal.

Also, I would suggest, you need to understand your own identity, values and core purpose and you should look to create a link between those things and what you’re trying to achieve from a career perspective. These help your to retain your own authenticity and natural approach. Being able to talk about and articulate these things are critical steps for those trying to get ahead.

Read the first part of this article

To Make A Difference CPOs Must Have The X Factor

Do You Have The X Factor?

Ahead of the upcoming CIPS Australia event, Procurious caught up with Dr. Karen Morley, one of the event’s distinguished presenters. Karen has extensive experience working with organisations, teams and individuals to increase their leadership effectiveness.

Over her career Karen has led a broad range of leadership development, succession and talent management assignments. She emphasises evidence-based approaches tailored to suit the organisation/firm’s context.

Today Karen is talking about what makes great procurement leaders and how to successfully move technical procurement experts into managerial positions.

Procurious asks: At the upcoming CIPS Australia conference you will be discussing a piece of research you produced for The Faculty that looks to distinguish the very best CPOs from the rest. What would you say are the traits that separate the great CPO’s from good CPOs?

Karen: That’s right, I will be presenting the findings of our X Factor research. The report addresses the importance of great leaders in the procurement function.

To answer your question, I would say the two things that make the great CPOs stand out from the rest are their interpersonal leadership attributes and the way they go about linking these relationships to the commercial direction of the organisation.

It is clear that the really outstanding CPOs nail commercial leadership. This stems from the fact that they possess an in-depth understanding of the whole business, not just procurement. They are engaged across the entire organisation and are speaking to other functional leaders on a strategic level. They are engaging with the board and CEO on what has greatest strategic value, and they interpret this through their procurement initiatives.

Once that strategic dialogue has been established, the next critical step is to ensure these messages are reaching staff further down the chain. It’s here that interpersonal skills become critical. Great CPOs have very close relationships with the people that report into them. They are able to align the goals and expectations of the business to activities of their staff.

Procurious: Can you provide any insight into what difference these ‘great CPOs’ can make for their organisation?

A lot of organisations are still focused solely on cost cutting. It’s a vital part of what procurement teams do and this will certainly continue to be the case. I think the difference that really great CPOs make is around moving discussions and activities to a more strategic level. They are not simply focusing on what can be cut out, but where savings can be made and value added at the same time.

I think that’s a pretty rare mindset. A lot of procurement leaders talk about value, but only a few can actually deliver it.

The costs cutting initiatives will always be there. It’s something that you can do successfully for a couple of years and come up with some impressive saving numbers. But, the challenge comes in finding what’s next. Once you’ve delivered those initial savings, then what are you going to do? The great CPOs realise they need to understand the business broadly and create close relationships across functions to see where procurement can best add value.

Procurious talks to Mark Lamb of CIPS Australasia

Procurious interviews the mastermind behind CIPS Australasia – Mark Lamb.

Mark Lamb CIPS Australasia

Ahead of the CIPS Australasia 2015 Conference on 17 Sept, Procurious posed some brain-teasers to Mark Lamb, General Manager – Australasia.

Are you attending? We’ve created a CIPS Australasia Group to gather all the discussion from the day and Awards.

This is what Mark had to say:

Procurious asks: This year CIPS is running with a common theme – ‘Raise your game, raise your voice’. What’s the idea behind this, what messages are you hoping to convey?

Mark Lamb: ‘Raise your game, raise your voice’ will cover the capabilities you need to get out of your comfort zone and face future challenges head-on. The world is changing at such a pace, this profession has to evolve with it. Individually we are challenging professionals to ensure they have the right set of skills to be fit for the future. In addition we want this profession to raise its collective voice and start shouting about our success, about the true value we bring and the real difference we make.

We recognise that people require many difference aspects from conference. It’s important we offer practical advice, as well as inspiration and insight to help advance the profession and for our delegates and members to achieve personal success. 

Procurious: Does more need to be done to promote, encourage and develop pathways into a procurement career?

Mark: CIPS has done a huge amount of work in this area – the Be a Buyer website has given us a great platform to help direct people and showcase the exciting opportunities this profession has to offer them. We also encourage members to do their bit and become advocates. We have packs and presentations available so volunteers can go and deliver their own workshops in their local schools and colleges. CIPS has also been involved in the UK to develop the current level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Procurement and there is work underway to extend that now to level 4.

Procurious: Have you noticed a change in the CIPS membership in recent years, are the skills being brought to the table different to those from 5, 10 years prior?

Mark: Skill sets are changing all the time – again this fits with the Conference theme. We have to stay relevant – react to the world around us or we will cease to be a success differentiator and have other functions move in to our space. So yes we do see skill sets change – hence the reason we regularly review our own syllabus.

Procurious: What do supply chains have to do to ensure they avoid another Nannas Berries scandal?

Mark: In order to avoid such scandals, we all need to look beyond the first tier of our supply chain and ensure we have clear visibility of the second tier and beyond. Many organisations report that they only have sight over the first tier – this clearly is no longer enough.

Procurious: Speaking of ‘raising your voice’ do you think social media can play an important role in (dare we say it) modernising the profession?

Mark: I’m not sure that I would say social media will ‘modernise’ the profession, I happen to think the profession is already moving forward at a lightening pace. However, social media is a crucial business tool that we can embrace and use to enhance our communications, our building of communities and contacts and sharing of information generally. As a profession, or world never stops – we work across continents and time zones, our suppliers can be based anywhere in the world – social media can connect us all.

Are you attending the CIPS conference on 17 Sept? Join the discussion and meet fellow delegates on our CIPS Australasia Group page.

Procurement: Is it a young person’s game?

We speak to 30 Under 30 Winner Nicholas Ammaturo on attracting Millennials to the profession.

Nicholas Ammaturo ISM 30 Under 30 Star

Procurious recently quizzed Nicholas Ammaturo on making his mark in the world of supply chain management and procurement.

Nicholas is one of procurement’s rising stars, as demonstrated by his entry into ISM’s 30 Under 30 Program.

Procurious asks: The challenges facing the Millennial workforce. Competition, the contract vs. perm debate etc.

Nicholas: I think the biggest challenge facing the millennial workforce in Procurement, is the misconception about us not working hard. In most examples, Millennials in this industry work much harder than they get credit. They are often generalized based on age and experience. There needs to be more of a sense of development, support as well as recognition.

Procurious: What [skillset] do today’s professionals bring to the table, that perhaps the CPOs of yesterday lack?

Nicholas: In some cases, today’s professionals have been acclimated with technology and are more comfortable with it. This is a mass generalisation, but there is a certain acceptance by younger generations and their approach to technology. Social Media is powerful and I have seen many masters as every age, but it’s more seamless for today’s professionals. A lot of things were previously built on relationships alone; today there are multitudes of tools from e-procurement to BI dashboards for KPI’s, in addition to the importance of relationships.

Procurious: What needs to be done to transform the profession, and bring it up-to-date?

Nicholas: Someone needs to address the Universities.

I made an attempt to connect with all the local schools and preach about Supply Chain/Procurement, but I got little traction.

I would like someone to back me and get more programs created, make this industry more relevant so we can build the bench. I think the industry is “sexy” and up-to-date; we just need to get the word out.

Procurious: Do you think it’s fair to say that most CPOs are running scared of social media?

Nicholas: Too funny, as I read this question and see my response above. I don’t think they are running. I see many of them embrace is. Some are fluent in LinkedIn and Twitter and put me to shame! I think they are the minority, so perhaps there needs to be more CPO’s out there who embrace it.

Procurious: How important is it to have a clearly defined brand today?

Nicholas: This is my goal every day. I am my own company. I happen to provide my services, but at the end of the day, you need to build your skills and advance your career.

Procurious: Let’s talk innovation – who/what is innovating in the procurement technology space right now?

Nicholas: Who isn’t playing in this space today? I can’t tell you how many cold calls I get. The most innovative thing I’ve seen is ScoutRFP. Smart guys who are going to shake the space up. I am looking forward to their success. I think Amazon innovation will drive innovation everywhere. They are continually re-paving some of the landscape in business and others are feeding off them, this will be no different than this industry.

Procurious: Is more innovation needed in the building and maintaining of supplier relationships?

Nicholas: No, I think more communication is needed. A simple phone call can solve everything; sometimes people are so keen to shoot of an email and are lose the personal connection. I think innovation and technology will keep people honest during the process, but communication and transparency are needed to make it more of a partnership than your traditional supplier/buyer arrangement.

Procurious: Would you recommend the ’30 Under 30 Program’ to those looking for a route into the profession?

ISM & ThomasNet’s 30 Under 30 Program is promising for young professionals. They have taken a stance to create awareness around the industry and have continued to make the investment. I was honored to receive the recognition. I think its motivating to see the others who share my passion and regardless of their education or role, they all love what they do. There was certainly a common theme when I reviewed all the winners and met them in person, most fell into the industry by chance and most will never leave it. We love it.

CEO of ISM on the Importance of Social Media in Procurement

Welcome back to the final instalment of our recent chat with ISM CEO, Tom Derry.

Social media is key to procurement's future

 

To wrap up our chat with Tom, we discussed the important role that social media plays in the development of the procurement and supply chains professions.

Procurious asks: At Procurious we’re passionate about how social media and connecting a global network of procurement and supply chain professionals can improve the profile of our function, promote knowledge sharing and ultimately enable people be better at their jobs. Do you see a role for social media in the development of procurement and supply chain professionals?

Tom Derry: I honestly I don’t see how anybody could plan to be an effective professional in our field without using the social media tool kit. There are lots of reasons for this. Social media is a vital part of the way we work. The opportunities for procurement and supply chain professionals in social media are huge.

Social media is critical for connecting procurement professionals. It allows people to share information in a private and confidential manner and to leverage a global knowledge base to get answers to questions you just wouldn’t get otherwise.

Being connected through social media means people can understand and monitor the risks that are present in their markets. I’ve heard stories of our members getting procurement market information off Twitter, learning about labor unrest in their overseas supply chains and fires at supplier manufacturing facilities. All of this information is available in real-time through social media.

Twitter itself is becoming such an important source of data for the procurement and supply chain function.

More and more, we need to be able to contact people and pull on extended networks to gain reliable and current information.

I believe that social networks will continue to grow in importance over the coming years, particularly as younger people, who are more familiar with social media, move into managerial roles.

I really don’t see how you could be an effective procurement or supply chain professional without fully engaging in the social media space.

I think Procurious is right where it needs to be. By connecting procurement people across the globe, you are absolutely building on the right idea at the right time and adding greatly to the function. With the exception of possibly finance, I can’t think of a more globalised profession than procurement and supply chain. I certainly can’t see how procurement and supply professionals could even consider creating a successful career, without having an active presence on social media.

Want to read more from Tom?

Bridging the procurement talent gap with ISM CEO Tom Derry
Tom Derry on Innovating from your supply base