Category Archives: Generation Procurement

5 common procurement myths busted

We arm you with some myth-busting one-liners to help you educate your workplace.

Myth: Procurement people are nothing more than over-paid bean counters

Reality: Procurement people have a vastly different role and responsibilities to Finance people, with each contributing differently to the success of the overall business. For procurement, this often means acting as the interface and conduit for the business with external parties and being agents of change and innovation within the business. Procurement people are just as much sales people as they are finance people.

Myth: Procurement is a constant obstacle for other business functions

Reality: Procurement works with other business functions to overcome business obstacles and create better outcomes. Often this is not a quick fix for the short-term; rather it’s an action for the long-term. Obstacle or aid, it’s a deliberate practice for business sustainability.

Myth: Procurement people just get in the way and complicate things

Reality: Procurement people help make things happen, in the right way and with the right resources. This takes effort upfront and should be seen as an opportunity to get things done right. Complications arise from lack of consideration, which is not the case for procurement.

Myth: Procurement is nothing more than glorified outsourcing

Reality: Procurement is the means to consider different options and seek opportunities, get thinking creatively, and forge new and better ways. Outsourcing is a potential strategy that has its appropriate uses, but it’s not the only option that is put in place.

Myth: Procurement departments are always trying to find ways to save costs, but don’t consider the broader cost to the business of what they do

Reality: Cost is a major factor, but it’s more than just a dollar value. Procurement is in a good position to highlight different perspectives and the cost/benefits from business decisions. Savings is one of the tangible outcomes from looking at situations differently.

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What’s it like to be a procurement professional in Dubai? Farshad Bahmed speaks

Ladies and gentlemen please be upstanding for Farshad Bahmed.

Our #firstmovers series profiles those members who we feel truly embody Procurious, and go to show just how “rich” and global our network is becoming.

Farshad is a senior consultant for A.T. Kearney, and works out of Dubai. You can find out more about him – here.

Procurious asks: How do you think procurement differs in your country, as opposed to elsewhere in the world?

Farshad: I work mostly for clients in the GCC. As opposed to other parts of the world, especially EU and US, the Procurement functions here are still in a developing phase. That’s why quite a lot of focus is on developing the internal capabilities i.e., people, processes, etc., Obviously driving cost savings is expected from any Procurement function and hence strategic sourcing programs are also picking up very fast.

Overall, I believe organizations in GCC are realizing the value of Procurement beyond their operational work and depending on them to create value in terms of cost savings, innovation, product development and other critical value generating areas.

Procurious: Do you know how many other procurement professionals are in your country? 

Farshad: The demand for Procurement professionals is immense in GCC partly owing to the fact that very few academic programs cater to Supply Chain / Procurement in this region and hence there is still a lot of dependency for “importing” this critical skill set from outside the region.

The Procurement teams are growing and becoming more influential, which is good news for the profession.

Procurious: Are you usually an early adopter? (Perhaps you’ve been a “first mover” with something else…)

Farshad: I work mostly for other companies (my clients) on Procurement consulting projects and usually “adoption” of global best practices has been a little delayed. But as I mentioned earlier, organizations are now waking up to the importance of having an efficient and effective Procurement function. And the fact that I can help different companies in their journey towards Procurement excellence gives me a lot of satisfaction.

Procurious: Why did you join Procurious?

Farshad: Procurious attracted me as it is probably the first genuine social network for Procurement professionals.

I believe it is important for Procurement as a profession to create a strong identity and social networks such as Procurious can go a long way in helping popularize Procurement and help it get the deserved due credit.

Procurious: How did you find out about us?

Farshad: I am a frequent reader of Supply Management (both the website and magazine) and this is where I got to know about Procurious.

Procurious: What are you hoping to get out of the network?

Farshad: Connecting with other like-minded Procurement professionals, share and learn more about the profession and contribute in any way I can to market this interesting profession further.

Procurious: And finally, are you going to invite your peers?

Farshad: I will try in a personal capacity.

Many thanks to Farshad for contributing and answering our questions.

If you would like to be considered for a future profile, please drop Matt Farrington Smith a line – he’d love to hear from you! (Bribes may or may not be encouraged…)

Meet our other #firstmovers:
Harold (Hal) Good

Generation Procurement: Paul Holland


Like so many, Paul Holland didn’t have specific ambitions to work in procurement. But after his boss pulled him away from his usual duties to work on a procurement project, he found his niche.

“I had no idea how in-depth procurement was at first, and what value you can create for your organisation through the role. It gives you so much scope to explore other aspects of the business.”

The Melburnian works for transport provider Transurban, where he’s been stepping into bigger shoes every year or two since 2007.

He’s managing the current procurement transformation project within the corporate behemoth. The company has chosen the Ariba solution and is part-way through implementing a full end-to-end solution including sourcing, contract management, supplier performance management, spend analysis and requisition to pay functions. This will be complemented by a new procurement operations team, which Paul is also in the process of building.

“This is a huge undertaking for us and will bring major efficiencies and automation to the business. We’re also growing the role that procurement plays within the company, which is why we need to be smarter in the way we operate,” he says.

The implementation will take around 10 months and once complete, will mark his biggest professional achievement to date.

“In the past, we were rubber stamping the procurement process within the company, but now we’re making huge changes to that and the business is now realising the real value that a procurement team can deliver.

“I love the fact that the job changes every day and we can influence and change entire processes to make them more efficient at all levels within the business.”

Paul isn’t sure what his professional future might bring, but says as long as he’s still being challenged by new opportunities and enjoying his role, he’ll be happy.

He plays football on weekends and is a young father, which he names as his biggest achievement in life. He’s also working towards an Executive MBA, which he expects to complete by the end of the year.


Generation Procurement: Tony Huang

Tony Huang

He can influence how one of Australia’s most iconic companies spends more than a billion dollars every year. But it’s all just part of the job for Tony Huang, who’s in charge of strategic sourcing at telecommunications provider, Telstra.

Tony heads up this important function for the telecommunications and media giant, making him accountable for the sourcing strategy across all categories. He’s been with Telstra since 1999.

He’s a highly influential part of the senior team at Telstra, and a major player in many of the large and significant projects implemented by Telstra. Many of these have massive impacts on the way Australians interact every day.

A few years ago, Tony took up a role working for Telstra subsidiary CSL in Hong Kong, where he led the mobile device marketing team.

“This role came along through my professional networks, and the learnings I took away from the experience transformed me and the way I’ve operated ever since,” Tony says.

He was ready for a new challenge 18 months later, so returned to Australia, walking into Telstra’s senior strategic sourcing manager IT procurement role.

And yet despite the huge demands of his job, Tony puts a lot of energy into coaching and mentoring staff, which gives him the chance to share the skills he’s learned along the way.

“I enjoy making a difference and improving the experience of my staff’s time in Telstra. It’s a diverse organisation, and you’ve got the opportunity to work in many difference roles.”

While his skills would be a valuable asset for any Australian company, Tony expects he’ll stay loyal to Telstra, predicting he’ll still be there in a decade.

“Telstra is a diverse organisation that gives staff the opportunity to work in many difference roles. The company also gives you the opportunity to work on the latest and greatest in just about every category.”

Generation Procurement: Jason Ng

Jason Ng

International Jiu Jitsu competitor Jason Ng loves nothing better than unwinding from a day at the office with a training session of the Brazilian style of martial arts.

“The sport has a huge strategic, strength and athletic component to it, which is similar to Judo. And strangely enough, the stresses I put on my body during training allow my mind to relax.”

The Melbourne man spent three years in banking and finance, but was so moved by the impacts of negative macro-economic factors on companies that he wanted to be part of the solution.

“I read some good news stories about some high performing procurement divisions turning around ailing businesses, and this made me want to be a part of those impacting on the bottom line.

“I really felt I could apply my financial, negotiation and relationship management skills to help companies spend more wisely, so transitioned into a newly created analyst role in healthcare a year ago.”

In that time, Jason has built savings dashboards and trackers, provided new ideas to sourcing strategies and built analytical tools for more efficient and meaningful data analysis.

He gets a thrill out of seeing savings he’s able to achieve for his company, which directly impact on hospitals as well as patient’s lives.

“I like being in a role that makes an impact on an organisation’s bottom line, although making a positive impact on people’s lives has been an awesome bonus. It really puts into perspective the great outcomes that can come from a good procurement team.”

Career progression is important to him, and he will be assessing opportunities to step up into a procurement specialist/manager role in the near future.

Jason was taught the values of hard work by his family, who run a Chinese restaurant in Perth. During university, he studied full-time as well as co-running the family business.

He has two Bachelor degrees, two Masters and a desire to complete an MBA in the near future.

“I think this mentality has become increasingly scarce, especially in my Gen Y peers. Working hard has been the single most important factor in developing the foundations for a good career path, and has enabled me to achieve my goals.”

Procurement: the deliberate career choice

Georgina Portelli

Procurement has long been one of those industries that people fall into. But that’s all changing, as people now make deliberate steps to forge a career in the profession.

The profile of procurement as a career choice has increased substantially over the years, which means that procurement professionals like Georgina Portelli don’t have to explain what she does for a job quite as much as when she started in the industry a little over a decade ago.

Closing the deal is my favourite part of the role.

Portelli started in procurement at Australian retail giant Myer and now works for Australian aged care provider, Regis.

Procurement is a good fit for her because she’s outcome focused and enjoys the influence her role has across the organisation, she says.

“Being a procurement professional is a very important part of who I am, and I take a significant amount of pride and satisfaction in what I do. I feel very fortunate that the skills I have learnt in my profession lend themselves to broader life skills. I feel that I can capitalise on my commercial acumen to negotiate my way through life. Closing the deal is my favourite part of the role.”

Georgia Brandi
Procurious member Georgia Brandi

Procurement was also the goal from the very beginning for Newcrest Mining supply specialist Georgia Brandi.
She made a deliberate decision to work in procurement after watching her mother rise through the ranks.

“While I made my own decision to enter procurement, my mother and her friends all seemed to work in procurement, so it was very familiar to me,” Brandi explains.

Chantelle Genovezos came into the profession as a graduate and is now a procurement specialist for The Faculty Management Consultants.

She describes working on a new venture from its development as a roller coaster ride.

“For every slow ascent you have a very fast descent and you can’t always know what’s coming next. Plus, you get to make a big impact and shape the way things go. It’s all a lot of fun,” she says.

Part of the attraction is no doubt the fact that the role of procurement within the business world has evolved into a leading function with a powerful reach across so many facets of a company.

Chantelle G
Procurious Partnerships Manager, Chantelle Genovezos

But as outlined in The Faculty’s research paper The X Factor – A Procurement Leadership Whitepaper, this is putting growing pressure on the talent pipeline and the ongoing need to attract qualified candidates into the profession.

Procurement professionals need broad skills, including the ability to demonstrate good business sense, financial management, a flair for communication and negotiation and an understanding of the global market place, the research paper found.

Marisa Menezes, managing director of The Source says procurement is one of the few professions that offer a whole business view and exposure.

“Working across all function areas gives a wonderful opportunity to meet and develop good working relationships with key influencers in the business. This is why people say that procurement is often a pathway to the CEO’s office,” Menezes says.

Why having coffee with a competitor is one of the best things you can do

Meeting with a competitor for coffee might not sound like something the boss would approve of. But perhaps you should think again.

Traditional competitors are putting aside professional differences to meet and share ideas in a new way of thinking that is gaining traction in workplaces around the world.

This approach is increasingly being referred to as ‘co-opetition’, which is a cross between competition and collaboration. And it’s enabling organisations to drive greater synergy and innovation in the workplace.

Co-opetition arrangements refer to organisations that would normally compete against each other understanding that they can gain greater synergies and competitive advantage by collaborating.

According to the executive education facilitator and program director at the Melbourne Business School, Dr Judy Kent, companies that draw a tight protective circle around themselves can fail to learn and grow. But those that subscribe to the ‘abundance’ theory are more likely to be open to new ideas.

According to a paper she wrote about co-opetition, it is sometimes referred to by analysts as ‘sleeping with the enemy’.

The paper explains that it can be hard to define competitive advantage these days with the blurring of boundaries through outsourcing and through alliances between customers and suppliers.

Why having coffee with a competitor'

She writes: “These days, especially in the IT industry, there are whole cohorts of technicians outsourced to other companies. They are physically located in their customers’ premises and largely indistinguishable from that company’s employees.

Sometimes they don’t step foot in the company which pays them from one year to the next. Whose culture do they subscribe to? Which company do they feel part of? Where do they get their identity, loyalty and authority from?”

She continues by explaining that the boundaries are blurred even more as companies seek to partner with other companies that have traditionally been seen as the competition, now often referred to as co-opetition.

The paper explains that the word was coined by Roy Noordan, founder of Novell, and popularised by Adam Brandenburger from Harvard and Barry Nalebuff from Yale (1997). The pair designed a business simulation around the term which they describe as ‘a revolutionary new mindset that combines cooperation and competition, the game theory strategy that’s changing the game of business.

Dr Kent says: “Collaboration and establishing a strong network is critical for success in today’s commercial world. Competing procurement managers should come together and discuss their operations because more often than not, one and one makes three, and both companies can benefit from the synergies to be gained by looking at things through a different lens.”

The Melbourne Business School’s Procurement Executive Program has found that procurement managers from competing industries can learn a lot from each other to take back to their own organisations, but they know where to draw the line on sharing strategic information that should be kept in-house, she says.

Dr Judy

Meeting with a competitor doesn’t imply that you have to share sensitive information with your competitors.

“You can have a relationship with them and discuss universal issues of people and process management without giving the game away,” Dr Kent says.

Interestingly, the Harvard Business Review Blog Network wrote about co-opetition recently. Author Marquis Cabrera wrote that sharing information is a good way to build trust with competitors in the lead-up to a co-opetition arrangement.

Cabrera says that these partnerships have also worked well for businesses that create new technologies given the high costs associated with research and development.

Read more about Dr Kent on The Faculty website.

Generation Procurement: Susannah Thelander

Susanne Thelander

Susannah Thelander admits she had a sneaky peak in the dictionary on her first day of work in the procurement industry eight years ago. Because she wasn’t particularly sure what it meant.

She had landed a role with the tenders and contracts department of Victoria Police as part of the Victorian Graduate Scheme, where participants rotate through three government departments over a 12 month period.

Since then, Susannah has worked in private sector, public sector, consulting and now on a major infrastructure project at the Port of Melbourne Corporation.

She’s never been one to shy away from hard work. With a Bachelor of Arts (politics and philosophy) and a Bachelor of Science (maths and environmental science) under her belt when starting out, she’s since completed a Juris Doctor Masters of Law (with distinction) part-time, while holding down a full-time job.

She has her sights set on being a CEO or a senior executive in operations, perhaps, where she could broaden her knowledge of business and organisational challenges.

“I love the exposure procurement gives you to interesting activities across a business, and the opportunity to support these.”

However, the continual misconception that procurement folk simply follow process without considering whether their structures support the business frustrates her.

“Though in all fairness, that’s probably still true in some places. Procurement can often help with some of these pressures, but how well it’s implemented often comes down to the individual. If you’re passionate and engaged, you can find ways to be creative and show the value procurement can offer, even if you operate in the most constrained environment.”

Outside of work, Susannah likes snowboarding, bike riding, cooking and reading. She’s also about to start a group for young business women who want to learn to play golf.

And while she claims she’s not a great cyclist, she made the 210km ride to raise more than $3000 for the Smith Family to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds with their school expenses last year. Monumental, in anyone’s books.

“I’m passionate about the work of the Smith Family, and am looking for ways to be more involved with them this year, as long as it doesn’t involve me riding my bike a really, really long way again!”

The 5 must-have attributes of a procurement superstar

Attributes of a procurement superstar

Procurement professionals need plenty of key attributes to be a real superstar.

We’ve called out five skills that are vital for anyone working in procurement. If you feel any of these skills are still an area for development, then it’s about time to skill up…

1 The ability to innovate

An innovator is someone that’s extremely creative, highly motivated and a leader able to visualise the big picture. They also understand that the key to a growth strategy is to develop and implement disruptive ideas.

Often also known as a pioneer, these people are often inventing new ways to do things and know how to solve problems by coming up with new ways to do things.

And in today’s hyper-competitive global marketplace, there’s a pressing need for procurement professionals to consistently remain ahead of the growth curve.

2 A serial strategist

Strategists are the ones in the workplace that understand that there are ways to work smarter, and set about finding ways to make that happen. They also believe in hard work.

Having a strategy in place rather than racing headlong into a major project is a major part of the job in procurement. Above all else, you need the ability to create a strategy and communicate it to the team.

3 A major influencer

Sure, you may be the boss, but a title isn’t enough to get people to do what you ask. Your ability to command others may be further diluted when you work in a team or across boundaries, which is why personal influence is such an important leadership skill.

Influence is the power and ability to affect others’ action, decisions, opinion or thinking. And it’s a vital part of the job for those in procurement.

4 A natural leader

Being out front and leading a team isn’t a skill that comes naturally to everyone. Good leaders can delegate, are good communicators, they’re confident and committed to their role. They are the role models in an organisation that others look to for professional inspiration, and are worthy of respect. Above all else, they’re knowledgeable in their field.

5 True commercial nous

This is something that all companies want their employers to have, but it can often be difficult to pin down exactly what commercial nous actually means.

Put simply, it refers to a person being commercially minded and able to translate their performance into tangible and demonstrable outcomes. It also means they’re aware of the issues and current affairs influencing their industry.

When making business decisions, those with commercial nous usually go one step further by providing actual figures or metrics that demonstrate how well they can monetise their actions.

We want to hear from you. Can you add to the list? What other attributes to procurement professionals need?

Generation Procurement: Georgina Portelli

Georgina Portelli

Procuring a Bombardier Global Express XRS500 business jet was a once in a lifetime experience for Georgina Portelli, who names this procurement project as her greatest professional achievement so far. She was working at the Casino division of Tabcorp at the time, and needed a flash mode of transport for the VIPs.

“Procurement tends to be mainly indirect goods and services, so putting together a deal for a moveable asset was a key achievement. I’m pretty certain that’s as glamorous as it’s going to get, and I can cross flying on a private jet off my bucket list, which may be considered an achievement in itself,” Georgina laughs.

The general manager of procurement for the country’s largest aged care provider reckons there will be many more days of equally dizzying heights ahead.

For her, procurement has given her the skills to negotiate her way through life.

She hopes to move into a global procurement role in the next five years. Long term, she dreams of running a high-end resort in the Greek Islands.

Emulating greatness doesn’t work, she says. “A very wise woman once told me that people that work hard tend to be lucky and that’s no coincidence, and that’s stayed with me.”

Georgina has been in procurement just over a decade, after originally planning a career as a psychologist. A year into the study, she decided it wasn’t for her.

However, she’s not the type to not finish something she’d started, so completed the degree and used the opportunity to study the greats, discovering her passion for travel and taking a corporate role at Myer. A Bachelor of business followed, with a major in HR management, then an MBA.

Georgina applied for a procurement role at Myer head office post-graduation, and the rest is history.

The CIPSA and The Faculty member attends regular industry events, relishing the opportunity to network with peers.

“The value networking brings to me is the solace that we all face similar challenges with the maturing role and expectations of procurement. It has evolved into a true partnering role, which is very exciting. Maybe it’s the safety in numbers thing, but it always makes me feel positive about the profession as a whole and my position in it.

“I love that my role is valued and gives me the ability to influence buying decisions across the organisation, building on a commercial culture.”