Category Archives: Generation Procurement

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-Balance-FBNSME/Shutterstock.com

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

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.

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?

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

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.

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.

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

Bridging the Procurement Talent Gap with ISM CEO Tom Derry

Welcome back to the Second Part of our interview with the CEO of ISM, Tom Derry. In Part One Tom spoke about the changes occurring within our function and outlined the vast opportunities a career in procurement and supply chain presents.

Today we’re discussing talent, more precisely, the procurement talent gap.

Procurious asks: We hear a lot of talk about the procurement ‘talent gap’. ISM itself has called this out as a potential issue facing the function. As a representative industry body, do you feel that your organisation has a role to play in closing this gap?

Tom: Within the United States we’re witnessing a demographic shift. A huge number of people will be retiring within the next ten years. By 2025, the so-called millennial generation, people born from 1980 onwards, will constitute three quarters of the global work force. So clearly, there is a lot of knowledge that is about to leave the workforce. We need to ensure that knowledge is transferred across to the younger generation.

Also, the rate at which technologies and the markets move now, means we need to be constantly up-skilling just to stay up to speed.

The skills issue real, it’s a challenge that most companies are aware of.

ISM wants to be the facilitator that addresses this skills gap and allows procurement and supply chain teams to succeed well into the future. We’ve recently developed a model that enables us to effectively do this; it’s called the Mastery Model.

The Mastery Model provides a strategic approach that allows procurement and supply chain teams to deepen their expertise. The model is designed to drive organisational success through increasing staff capability.

Whether you are early in your career, just entering in the field, or a highly skilled supply chain professional, the Mastery Model can be used to make sure you continue to build up your experience and expertise.

The model defines 16 major competencies and 69 sub-competencies, tailored to four different career levels: essentials, experienced, leadership and executive. Users complete a self-assessment process; this is linked to their own personal aspirations. The Mastery Model then maps out a competency based learning and development program that will enable the user to develop the skills required for their desired role.

The Mastery Model takes the mystery out of understanding the steps you need to make the next jump in your career. 

Procurious: It sounds like a great way to open up a conversation between an employee and a manager around personal development planning.

Tom: Absolutely, staff members can determine the sort of role or position they are after, fill out the self assessment section and be provided with a run down of the areas they need to develop in order to be effective in their desired role. This can lead to very constructive conversation between employees and their managers.

I have to point it out that the tool is multidirectional. We’ve had employees approach managers after having completed the assessment. Managers too, have used the Mastery Model as means to set a development path for their staff and we’ve also seen managers and employees sitting down together to work through the assessment to create a personal development plan.

Procurious: Can you give us some insight and background into how the Mastery Model was developed?

Tom: As an organisation, ISM has been certifying competency for a great number of years. Over this time, we’ve developed an amazing database detailing the evolution of peoples skills within a procurement and supply chain context. It’s at the core of what we do as an organisation.

Now what we’ve done, is build upon that knowledge base to develop a tool that can be actively put into practice in the supply chain and procurement community. An advisory committee that was comprised of procurement professional, practioners and internal staff here at ISM developed the tool. Working together with these great professionals, we’ve been able to develop a model that strategically maps and matches training materials to your career experience and aspirations.

Procurious: What sort of time commitment does an assessment on the ISM Mastery Model require?

Tom: Well, that really depends on individual company, but it’s not a long process. In one thirty-minute session most people would be be able to complete it. What we encourage, is for people to do it in stages; complete your own sections then take it to your manager and get their input and review.

At a conference back in June, I had three young professionals to come up in front of the audience I was addressing. I asked them specifically about their career goals “where are you headed?” I asked. As the conversation flowed, we did their assessments live on the website, we drove down into specific competencies and consulted their levels of experience in certain areas. At the end of the process, a series of resources popped up that showed them what they needed to do to get to where they wanted to go in their careers.

After that, they were in a position to go back to their bosses and say “here are some areas I can work on to get better at my job”. I think that’s pretty powerful.

Procurious: The Mastery Model sounds like a fantastic tool. How can people out there access it.

Tom: It’s simple, just go to the ISM website. If you’ve already got an account with us, just log in and away you go. If you don’t have an account yet, you can get one right there on the spot.

Stay tuned for part three of Tom Derry’s chat with Procurious where Tom will talk us through the importance of social media in the procurement and supply chain space.

If you would like more information on ISM’s Mastery Model you can find it here.

The Supply Chain Entrepreneurial Spirit is Alive and Well

When analyzing my connections on Twitter, one of the biggest words in my tag cloud describing my followers, next to business, marketing and supply chain, is “entrepreneur.” I can understand the desire to associate oneself with this word as it is often linked to success-oriented character traits such as tenacity, optimism, passion and creativity. Luckily for supply chain processes, the boom in creative thinkers and doers has flooded into the industry, and new ways to achieve supply chain excellence are sprouting up all around us.

I partly credit the hit reality series Shark Tank (or Dragons Den for those in the UK) for the explosion of entrepreneurs out there today. During the show, businesspeople pitch their unique ideas to “shark” investors in hopes of receiving funds to help bring their new product or service ideas to the market. The majority of questions asked by the investors come back to supply chain processes (Where are you producing? What does your distribution network look like? How much stock do you have on hand?). In more recent episodes, people have been pitching their supply chain as a competitive advantage, including messages of transparency and promises of speedy delivery.

In recent weeks I have personally noticed the impact of the entrepreneurial spirit on the supply chain industry and want to share a few examples:

Procurious – Sharing is Caring

The final encouragement to write this article came after being asked by Procurious to contribute to the platform’s blog. This platform, designed exclusively for procurement and supply chain professionals, embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of next generation managers and encourages the sharing of information to increase collaboration and learning opportunities. Founding Chairman, Tania Seary, recognized a need (a fragmented industry in need of a makeover), gathered a small team of professionals, and created a platform that has now grown to over 6000 users worldwide in just over one year. The role of social media in supply chain processes will continue to grow, and Procurious has established itself as an early-mover.

Logistics: Who can deliver faster, and cheaper?

As consumer expectations grow, especially in the field of E-commerce, so too does the stress on logistics processes. Today’s “I want it now (and cheap)” culture has led to an influx of crowdsourced delivery service start-ups in the logistics industry. Basically, people bring items to other people while en route to a particular destination. This concept follows in the footsteps of car sharing, apartment sharing and other aspects of today’s sharing economy. The first company name that comes to mind when discussing this topic is Uber, which started as a ride-sharing service and has since expanded into a multi-faceted transportation company, with tests such as Uber Fresh (food order delivery) and Uber Rush (courier package delivery) under its belt.

Creative delivery solutions are however not just limited to startups. Back in April, Amazon and Audi announced their plans to develop a service that would allow for the delivery of a package directly to a car’s trunk.

This is definitely a sector to keep an eye on in the coming months.

BlueBlox & Coke Life

Back in June, I had the privilege of meeting two supply chain entrepreneurs at the European Supply Chain and Logistics Summit in Barcelona. It was great participating in an event that encouraged innovative thinking and included industry entrepreneurs.

The first encounter was with Dorothy Diedericks, founder and CEO of BlueBlox. Dorothy recognized a need in the supply chain industry, namely the closure of the gap between the potential in emerging markets in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe – and multinationals that want to conduct business there, but can’t due to numerous challenges. BlueBlox takes a modular approach to addressing these cross-border challenges, creating more visibility and increasing compliance.

Secondly, I sat-in on a presentation by Simon Berry from ColaLife. Back in 2008, Simon Berry and his wife Jane started an online “movement” which turned into an official charity in the UK in 2011. Essentially, Simon found it hard to believe that Coca-Cola was available in the majority of developing countries, but access to basic medicines was scarce. He had the idea of tapping into private sector supply chains to distribute anti-diarrhoea kits in Zambia, where 1 in 9 children die before their 5th birthday due to preventable causes such as dehydration from diarrhoea. After years of progress and innovation, it is safe to say that the entrepreneurial spirit of Simon and his small team has saved many lives.

WalMart Buyers meet “made in the USA” suppliers

In an attempt to improve its image and product assortment, Wal-Mart recently set-up a “shark-tank-like” pitch process that connected entrepreneurs with company buyers. Obtaining shelf-space at retail is not easy, let alone getting face-to-face time to pitch a product, so many businesses took advantage of this opportunity.

The pursuit of U.S. suppliers helps Wal-Mart gain some transparency in its supply chain and gives consumers more options both online and in U.S. retail locations. After all, according to Matt Kistler, Wal-Mart’s head of global customer insights, where a product is manufactured serves as a major deciding factor in purchasing decisions, second only to price. This forward thinking buyer-supplier set-up truly embraced the entrepreneurial spirit.

Closing Words

It is great to see the entrepreneurial spirit take over an industry that can use some more excitement and positive press coverage. It is safe to say that the supply chain industry has come a long way thanks to the tenacity, optimism, passion and creativity of industry professionals. The emergence and proliferation of connected devices, smart factories, and the sharing economy are sure to set the stage for more exciting times in supply chain and logistics.

Have you recently come across some exciting new projects? What are some examples of entrepreneurship you have seen in the industry?