Category Archives: Procurement News

Supply Chain Cyber Attacks On The Up

Software supply chain cyber attacks look set to be one of the biggest cyber threats facing organisations in the coming years. This week, the US intelligence community issued a new warning regarding future attacks…

Varlamova Lydmila / Shutterstock

The US intelligence community has issued a new warning on cyber attack risks.

The Foreign Economic Espionage Report, which was published by the US’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), warns that China, Russia and Iran are most likely to be behind future attacks.

“Software supply chain infiltration is one of the key threats that corporations need to pay attention to, particularly how software vulnerabilities are exploited,” William Evanina, the NCSC’s director and the US’s top counter-intelligence official, told the BBC.

“To get around increasingly hardened corporate perimeters, cyber-actors are targeting supply chains.

“The impacts to proprietary data, trade secrets, and national security are profound.”

The report details that despite the opportunities that technologies including AI and the IoT offer, they will also introduce vulnerabilities to U.S. networks – for which the cybersecurity community is not prepared.

The severe impact of cyber attacks was in evidence in June last year following the NotPetya attacks, ,  which cost nearly a billion dollars in collective damages. The White House called out Russia following these attacks issuing the following statement – “In June 2017, the Russian military launched the most destructive and costly cyberattack in history. This was also a reckless and indiscriminate cyberattack that will be met with international consequences.”

Experts believed that Russian hackers launched 2,000 “NotPetya” attacks in the early hours of June 27.  NotPetya was designed to masquerade as ransomware, but was soon revealed to be wiper malware with the purpose of destroying computer systems, erasing data and disrupting business operations.

Cyber attacks on the rise

One of the consequences and subsequent risks of living in a hyper-connected world is an increased vulnerability to indiscriminate cyberattacks.

According to Chain Store Age, “nearly 80 per cent of IT security professionals across the United States, Canada, UK, Mexico, Australia, Germany, Japan, and Singapore believe software supply chain attacks have the potential to become one of the biggest cyber threats over the next three years. Yet, few organisations are prepared to mitigate the risks.”

Whilst many organisations have response strategies in place to deal with cyber attacks, they are not necessarly holding external suppliers to the same security standards.

Tesla Asks Suppliers for Cash Back

  • Tesla sent a memo to some of its suppliers, asking to return cash to the automaker, The Wall Street Journal reported. Tesla did not respond to Supply Chain Dive’s request to confirm the memo
  • The automaker told the Journal it is looking for price reductions from some of its suppliers to improve competitive advantage.
  • Since the beginning of the year, “we’ve seen a huge run up” in the amount of money due to suppliers, Bill Danner, president of CreditRiskMonitor, a financial risk analysis and news service, told Supply Chain Dive. The figure, however, isn’t unexpected as Tesla ramps up production of the Model 3
  • At the end of the first quarter of 2018, Elon Musk assured Tesla shareholders he’s feeling “quite confident” the auto company will have positive cash flow in the third and fourth quarters of the year

Read more on Supply Chain Dive

‘Change public procurement rules in response to heatwaves’

  • In a report on heatwaves, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said “extreme temperature events” in Europe were now 10 times more likely than in the early 2000s
  • “The government should make businesses aware of the developing threat of heatwaves and the economic consequences,” said the report
  • “Procurement rules should be updated so that schools and the NHS do not spend public money on infrastructure which is not resilient to heatwaves
  • “Research on the economic consequences of heatwaves concluded that there was a more significant cost to the economy than benefit,” said the report

Read more on Supply Management 

Record-breaking Prime Day’s aftermath

  • Now in its fourth year, Amazon Prime Day has grown into a major shopping event that not only drives online sales but creates ripple effects throughout the entire retail industry
  • But suppliers and retailers must prepare for a surge in consumers returning goods — or risk products turning in to “dead money”
  • Amazon recently announced it had sold more than 100 million products on Prime Day 2018, making it the biggest on record since it started the event in 2015
  • But now in the middle of its 30-day return period from Prime Day, Amazon and several retailers are likely fielding the return of hundreds of thousands or even millions of products

Read more on Supply Chain Dive

Burberry Under Fire Following Reveal of Mass Product Burn

In the past five years luxury retail brand Burberry has burned more than £90m worth of stock. What’s the justification?

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

British fashion giant Burberry hit the headlines this week as it was revealed, in its 2017/2018 annual report, that it has set fire to over £28 million worth of products.

According to the BBC, this takes the total value of goods Burberry has destroyed over the past five years to more than £90m.

Several commentators have explained this procedure as common practice in the fashion industry; used as a measure to protect  intellectual property and to prevent products being stolen, replicated and sold on for a fraction of the market price. Destroying stock also ensures it will not worn by what the brand believes to be the “wrong” sort of people.

Indeed, Burberry is far from being a singular culprit in the fashion industry when it comes to destroying excess stock. In 2017, The New York Times carried out an exposé on Nike, which revealed it was deliberately destroying stock by slashing large rips through its shoes.

According to the New Statesman, luxury brands are all at it – “the owners of Cartier and Montblanc destroyed more than £400m worth of watches in two years after buying back unwanted stock from jewellers.”

Burberry’s spokesperson said “Burberry has careful processes in place to minimise the amount of excess stock we produce.  On the occasions when disposal of products is necessary, we do so in a responsible manner and we continue to seek ways to reduce and revalue our waste.

“This is a core part of our Responsibility strategy to 2022 and we have forged partnerships and committed support to innovative organizations to help reach this goal.

“One example is our partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular Initiative, where we join other leading organisations to work towards a circular fashion economy.”

What the critics say

The news has sparked a great deal of controversy in the media with critics describing the practice as elitist, wasteful and unethical.

Kirsten Brodde, who leads the Detox My Fashion campaign at Greenpeace, spoke to The Guardian arguing that Burberry  “shows no respect for its own products and the hard work and natural resources that are used to make them”.

“To learn that a major fashion house with power and authority is choosing to add even more retail waste to the billions of tonnes offloaded to landfills and oceans around the world every year is reckless and arrogant” said Niamh Odonoghue for Image.

“The stuff that Burberry is burning is not waste – it is surplus, which is a very different concept. It is perfectly useable stuff,” said Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution, a not-for-profit group that campaigns for greater transparency in the supply chain, speaking to the Independent. 

“Designer fashion is still, undoubtedly, all about class – or, rather, about staying away from anyone not part of the elite,” said Billie Esplen for the News Statesman

In a world where there is increasing pressure for big brands to lead the charge on ethical and sustainable business, is Burberry’s behaviour completely unacceptable? Will the outrage sparked by this news story encourage luxury fashion brands to reconsider their approach to managing surplus stock? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

In other procurement news this week…

Lidl revealed as worst supermarket for recyclable plastic 

  • Less than three-quarters of the food retailer’s plastic packaging is widely recyclable, found a Which? investigation that surveyed 27 popular own-brand groceries from the UK’s 10 biggest supermarkets
  • Lidl came bottom of the pile with 71 per cent of its packaging widely recyclable, Morrisons emerged as the frontrunner with 81 per cent
  • All the supermarkets surveyed by Which? signed up to the UK Plastic Past in April, which vowed to make all plastic packaging reusable, compostable or recyclable

Read more on Supply Management 

Rising trade costs could pose a ‘dairy dilemma’

  • Even if the government strikes a trade deal with the EU, impacts on the supply chain, such as non-tariff trade barriers and labour shortages, could lead to spiralling costs for dairy companies, a report by the London School of Economics
  • The report, commissioned by Arla, said longer waiting times for customs inspections at the border would increase trading costs because of longer hours for lorry drivers
  • The report warned of extra delays because the UK Customs Declarations Service would have to deal with 250m declarations per year after Brexit, 100m more than the 150m it was designed to handle, which could further compound the £111 figure

Read more on Supply Management 

Adidas pledges to go green by 2024 

  • Adidas will only be using recycled plastics for all their products beginning in 2024. Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported the move that will feature the company removing new plastics from their athletic wear, which includes polyester
  • Polyester is currently found in 50 percent of Adidas’ products, which has become a popular material to create athletic wear with
  • This is the latest sustainable move by Adidas, who has sold one million shoes that were made with recycled plastic from the oceans

Read more on Green Matters

One Year On: Has Grenfell Changed Procurement?

How can procurement professionals learn from the tragic events at Grenfell tower in June 2017? 

Sasa Wick / Shutterstock.com

It’s just over a year on from the Grenfell Tower fire, which claimed the lives of 72 people and marked the UK’s worst residential fire since World War Two.

With the Grenfell Tower Inquiry ongoing; there are still so many unanswered questions regarding the circumstances of the fire. And for those directly impacted by the events, the trauma experienced is still very present.

As several victims and commentators have pointed out; those who lost their lives should not be allowed to die in vain. There are opportunities to learn, to improve policies and to ensure that the mistakes that were made will never be made again. Procurement should be at the forefront of these changes.

Last month, Claire Curtis-Thomas, British Board of Agrément chief executive, spoke at a select committee hearing on Dame Hackitt’s review of Building Regulations. She labelled the procurement process a “fundamental problem” that has led companies to become “complicit in poor outcomes”.

Has Grenfell changed procurement?

Alan Heron, director of procurement at Places for People (PfP), is one who believes the landscape has now changed for procurement. “It took something as horrible as Grenfell for people to realise there’s a consequence to looking for the lowest price,” he asserts. “It’s refocused everyone away from ticket price and back to value, which is where it should have been all along.”

A recent report conducted by Fusion21 investigates how procurement professionals working in the housing sector are reacting and adapting to the tragedy.

Throughout April and May 2018  Fusion21 surveyed 80 procurement professionals working for organisations that
collectively own more than a million homes.

The results suggest that social landlords are placing a much greater emphasis on quality when making procurement decisions following the fire.

  • 50 per cent of respondents said the Grenfell Tower fire has meant their organisation now places greater emphasis on quality when making procurement decisions. Among those who said Grenfell had not affected their organisation’s approach, were many who stated that quality was already vital
  • These professionals stated that there is now a greater focus on quality especially in relation to fire safety, and ensuring contractors had completely up-to-date information
  •  75 per cent of procurement professionals described compliance as “extremely important” when achieving value for money

Sarah Rothwell, Head of Member Engagement at Fusion21 explained “we conducted our Procurement Trends research in order to find out what was most important to procurement professionals after a hugely challenging couple of years for everyone in the housing sector.

“It will surprise no-one that, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the work of procurement teams around compliance hasbeen the focus of renewed scrutiny. The research findings [confirm this].”
Concerningly, 55 per cent of respondents admitted to feeling  some pressure to procure at the lowest price and one respondent, wished Grenfell had altered the emphasis their organisation placed on quality.
In other procurement news this week…

EU warns the US and China against a trade war

  • US president Donald Trump, Russian president Vladimir Putin and China have been urged to work with Europe to avoid trade wars and prevent “conflict and chaos”
  • Last week, European Council president, Donald Tusk, lambasted the US president’s constant criticism of European allies and urged him to remember who his friends are when he meets Mr Putin
  • He said that Europe, China, the US and Russia had a “common duty” not to destroy the global order but to improve it by reforming international trade rules

Read more on The Independent

Could automation increase modern slavery?

  • In its annual Human Rights Outlook, Verisk Maplecroft warned “drastic” job losses caused by robot manufacturing were predicted to cause “a spike in slavery and labour abuses” over the next 20 years
  • It said more than half of jobs across the ASEAN-5 countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand could be lost to automation, which could push already at-risk supply chain workers into forced labour
  • Women are likely to be disproportionately affected because of their high representation in the garment, textile and footwear industry, an area that is particularly at risk of automation, the report said

Read more on Supply Management 

Brexit puts food supply chains at risk

  • Perishable goods are particularly at risk when supply chains are delayed, and U.K. and EU food producers are on edge as the clock ticks down toward March 29, 2019
  • Earlier this year, food suppliers and manufacturers signed onto a manifesto advocating for frictionless trade and innovation-focused regulation
  • If, post-Brexit, enhanced border controls and regulatory checks are implemented between  nations, delays and even failed deliveries could result
  • With negotiations in flux, many U.K. and EU businesses have taken matters into their own hands. Several European companies are planning to relocate parts of their supply chain out of the U.K. About one-third of U.K. businesses with EU suppliers plan to replace them with British vendors

Read more on Supply Chain Dive

Is Australia’s Proposed Modern Slavery Bill Well Below Par?

Australia’s new modern slavery bill is a welcome development in the fight to end slavery worldwide. But is the proposed legislation up to standard? 

In April 2016 the UK passed  new legislation, the first of its kind, making it compulsory for all businesses with a turnover of over £36 million to prove they have taken steps to remove slave and child labour from their supply chains.

Legislation like this, which also exists in France the Netherlands and the US,  forces big organisations to fully audit their supply chains and has consequently put pressure on smaller businesses to eradicate the practice too.

This week, Australia announced it would be following suit, proposing a Modern Slavery Bill, which uses the UK’s act as a model.

The bill, introduced by Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Alex Hawke, “seeks to stamp out the sale of any product in Australia that involves non-voluntary labor” and will require Australia’s organisations with an annual consolidated revenue of more than $100m (around 3000 businesses) to publish annual statements on the efforts they are making  to tackle modern slavery in their supply chains. These statements will have to be signed off at board level and published within six months of the publication of their annual reports.”

The Department of Home Affairs will also start publishing an annual statement on possible modern slavery risks in commonwealth procurement.

The proposed bill follows the Federal Government’s announcement in May that $3.6 million would be provided to the Department of Home Affairs for a new Anti-Slavery Business Engagement Unit to manage Modern Slavery Reporting Requirements by large businesses.

Part of this task will be overseeing a publicly accessible central repository of businesses’ Modern Slavery Statements, as well as providing support and advice to businesses on modern slavery risks.

The announcement was well received by anti-slavery charity walk Free Foundation. “The Australian Government’s commitment to support an Australian Modern Slavery Act with a new, well-funded unit is clear progress towards the Act’s effective implementation” said Jenn Morris,  Chief Executive.

Is the proposed modern slavery bill up to scratch?

Australia’s proposed Modern Slavery Bill has sparked some controversy amongst charities and human rights campaigners for a number of reasons.

  1. The bill proposes that only businesses with a revenue of over $100m must audit their supply chains. The Law Council has argued that the revenue threshold should be much lower – no higher than $60m to demand compliance from more organisations
  2. The bill doesn’t demand that there will be a public list of who must report. Without this information, if companies fail to act, this fact will remain hidden
  3. The bill does not propose any penalties for organisations that fail to report their findings or report incorrect or misleading information on the steps they have taken to combat modern slavery. Clare O’Neil, the shadow minister for justice said “we shouldn’t be leaving it to business to police themselves on slavery”
  4. The government have not established an anti-slavery commissioner to enforce the legislation nor vowed to provide access to a national redress scheme for victims of modern slavery

Keren Adams, director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said “It’s absolutely the right step for the government to be introducing legislation to help flush out abuse, but today’s bill is missing some vital ingredients that would make it effective in doing so.”

Modern slavery: know the signs

Procurement and supply chain professionals are uniquely positioned to identify and tackle modern slavery in their supply chains. But you need to know the signs…

Firstly, it’s important to understand and look for the red flags, which might be extremely subtle. The likelihood of modern slavery is increased in conflict zones and unregulated sectors, particularly if the jobs are low-income and do not require education or specific skills. Migrant workers, women and children are among the most vulnerable.

Circumstances when passports or identification documents have been removed, excessive recruitment fees are subjected upon migrant workers or subcontractors further outsource work without prior consent are all indicators of exploitation.

Encountering one of these situations may not in and of itself amount to modern slavery but your organisation mustn’t assess anything  in isolation. It’s important to look for the series of signals in order to  decipher whether they paint a clear picture of modern slavery.

“Procurement teams are on the frontline,” Fiona David, former Executive Director Global Research  – Walk Free Foundation asserts. “They manage supplier relationships, they understand the business, the risks and the regions in which they operate. The indicators of modern slavery, being a grievous crime, is actually quite easy to identify, when you know what you are looking for.”

But advocacy groups and investigative reporters mustn’t be the sole figures doing the digging to reveal incidents of modern slavery.

“CSR and Procurement teams should work together across the sectors on these issues, as addressing modern slavery is a “pre-competitive” issue.  Companies can’t compete on sub-standard ethical and criminal practices.”

Have a listen to our recent webinar on modern slavery, Procurement Unchained. 


Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) warns of mega Brexit costs 

  • JLR has become the latest firm to warn of the costs of losing frictionless trade between the UK and EU.
  • JLR said more than 40% of parts going into cars built in the UK were imported from Europe and it spent £5.37bn with EU suppliers in 2017-18.
  • “A bad Brexit deal would cost Jaguar Land Rover more than £1.2bn profit each year. As a result, we would have to drastically adjust our spending profile; we have spent around £50bn in the UK in the past five years – with plans for a further £80bn more in the next five. This would be in jeopardy should we be faced with the wrong outcome” said Ralf Speth, CEO of JLR.

Read more on Supply Management  

Donald Trump imposes first tariffs on China

  • Punishing American tariffs on Chinese imports took effect early on Friday, marking the start of President Donald Trump’s trade war with the largest US trading partner and intensifying the anxieties of global industry.
  • The arrival of the long-threatened tariffs marked the failure of months of dialogue between the world’s two largest economies
  • An industrial survey confirmed that companies were white-knuckling their way through Trump’s intensifying, multi-front trade assault.

Read more on the Telegraph

Grenfell: Inspectors label procurement a ‘fundamental problem’

  • A leading industry certification and inspection body has labelled the procurement process a “fundamental problem” that has led companies to become “complicit in poor outcomes”.
  • Speaking yesterday at a select committee hearing on Dame Hackitt’s review of Building Regulations, British Board of Agrément chief executive Claire Curtis-Thomas said the procurement process for main contractors represented a “real problem”.
  • In Dame Hackitt’s post-Grenfell review of Building Regulations, it was suggested the industry should take the lead and decide for itself how to improve building quality and standards.

Read more on Procurious 

Team Comes First in IBM CPO’s Roadmap To Success

What would you do after all of the low-hanging fruit in procurement has disappeared?

Here’s a quick quiz:

What would you do if you became the CPO of a procurement function that is a top-quartile performer and already highly mature?

  • Keep things as they are – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  • Make small, incremental improvements, being careful not to change anything significantly.
  • Roll your sleeves up and transform the function from top-quartile performer to a world-class organisation.

Bob Murphy was faced with this choice back in 2014 when he first took on the role of IBM CPO. In many ways, inheriting a highly-mature procurement function is more of a challenge than stepping into a low-maturity team. For Bob, the low-hanging fruit had all been picked: the team had already undergone a significant transformation, it was recognised internally and externally for its high level of excellence, cost savings were at record levels, and supplier relationships and sourcing strategies were delivering results. Client engagement and interlock with business unit stakeholders was also maturing, while procurement was viewed as a key function enabling business unit objectives.

So, what was there left to do? Bob’s challenge – as well as his opportunity – was to take a high-functioning team that was delivering best-in-class outcomes and make them even better. He did this through unleashing his passion for the profession, leveraging 30+ years of procurement and supply chain experience to mobilise a global team of 3000 procurement professionals around a shared vision.

He developed a set of global, transformative initiatives and domain priorities that moved IBM from the front of the pack to a truly world-class outlier position. Today, IBM Procurement services have arrived at a status dreamt of by many CPOs – that of an essential trusted advisor to the business.

IBM’s secret recipe for success isn’t actually a secret – the roadmap established by Bob early in his tenure as CPO covers six key areas:

  1. Investment in talent and skills development
  2. Digital transformation through AI (Watson cognitive procurement), robotic process automation and Source-to-Pay transformation.
  3. Unlocking big data to drive informed, outcome-based decision making for IBM and its clients.
  4. Supercharged engagement through end-to-end ownership for deliverables and client-aligned squads, while satisfaction is captured using the Net Promoter Score.
  5. Deployment of Agile principles and self-empowerment across the entire team.
  6. Growth of supplier innovation as complex enterprise relationships mature.

Leadership recognition

It’s interesting to note that people and talent are at the very top of Bob’s list. To quote an article he wrote for Procurious, “I learned a long time ago that the key to success is having a great team. And there is a very human element to procurement. There will always be a need for people to handle the relationship management side of the function, with both suppliers and stakeholders and make the strategic decisions.”

Although he operates in a highly technical sphere, Bob stresses the importance of soft skills:

“When we think of the soft skills necessary for future success in the procurement industry, we focus on building closer stakeholder and supplier relationships. Broadening our communications skills, including active listening is a key enabler to both visibility to value proposition, but also in understanding our stakeholder requirements from their point of view. Another critical element is having better agility skills; think flexibility, adaptability and speed.”

Bob Murphy’s achievements in leadership were celebrated at the Procurement Leaders awards in May, where he picked up the prestigious 2018 Procurement Leader Award.

His first comment when interviewed after receiving the accolade? “This award is about my team.”

US Intel Chiefs Urge Business Cooperation On Cybersecurity

But what are the trade-offs in terms of privacy and civil liberties? Highlights from General Keith Alexander and John Brennan keynote at #ISM2018.

During the American Revolutionary war, military commanders of the 13 Colonies realised that the conflict could not be won with soldiers alone. Civilians left their towns and farms to swell the ranks to a level where the British could be pushed back and eventually overcome.

Retired four-star general Keith Alexander (former Director of the National Security Agency) tells delegates at #ISM2018 that just as civilians fought alongside soldiers 240 years ago, there’s currently an urgent need for a public and private partnership to defend against cybersecurity breaches. In other words, business and government need to cooperate if the US is to have any chance of defending against offshore cyberattacks and resultant IP theft.

Calling for a partnership

“I think our approach to cybersecurity has to be changed,” says Alexander. “We need a new strategy.” Companies that suffer data breaches tend to fall into two camps – those that have been attacked and know it, and companies that have been attacked and don’t know it. Alexander says that in an environment where “everybody’s getting hacked,” industry has a responsibility up to a certain level.

The issue is that intelligence agencies (such as the NSA) can’t see what’s in the packets of information that pass through cyberspace at light-speed until after the fact, which means they are relegated to reactive incident response. The solution is for companies to help build a common picture by sharing information so the government can then defend effectively. Alexander gives the example of the energy sector, where 18 companies are working together to share information at network speed.

Alexander also raises the issue of companies that have been attacked being treated as a guilty party, with some organisations getting sued after a cyberattack. “If you want industry to work with government and share what’s hitting them, you’ll have to give them liability protection. We also need to incentivise it so it’s cost-neutral to build up your cyber defence.”

Former Director of the CIA, John Brennan, comments that as difficult as counter-terrorism was, dealing with cybersecurity was even more challenging. “The digital domain is 85% operated by the private sector, and there’s currently no consensus on the government’s role in that environment,” he says. The nature of globalisation means it’s not always easy for a security agency to figure out what’s an American company. “The ecosystem is so interconnected,” says Brennan. “You’re not going to stop globalisation, but you need to [respond to it] in a way that protects government and business interests.”

Privacy trade-offs?

Panel facilitator and ISM CEO Tom Derry raised the question of how you can protect privacy and civil liberties while acting to defend against cyberattacks. According to Alexander, you can do both. “If we’re completely transparent in what we share and ensure everybody agrees to it, we can build a picture that defends our nation.” The consolidation that is taking place as businesses increasingly move into the cloud (usually via a managed service) will help in a cybersecurity sense. “It’s going to come down to consolidation,” says Alexander. “The cloud is going to be the future, collective security in the cloud will be so much better, and you’ll be assured that both your data and your privacy are protected.”

Brennan was less reassuring when it comes to privacy trade-offs. “Lots of privacy and civil liberties have been given up already. People would be shocked about how much of their information is being shared online. We need greater transparency and obligations, and need to be aware of the risks and opportunities. You can’t secure your data the same way you can secure a building.”

What can be done?

Most companies, says Alexander, have a firewall and other measures in place to defend against cyberattacks, but he gives the example of a company with 2,500 people and 5,000 systems that was discovered to have 400,000 unpatched vulnerabilities. “Most companies only try to patch the critical ones.”

Alexander and Brennan list the following solutions:

  • An unprecedented level of partnership and information-sharing between government and business.
  • Behavioural analytics, where a system-user’s behaviour raises red flags if it changes dramatically.
  • Freezing or isolating systems when malware signatures are detected.
  • Better hiring practices, training, procedure and policies to protect against the human element (e.g. Edward Snowden’s data theft).
  • Machine learning and AI systems to cope with the sheer size of the challenge.
  • Be clear on policy: what constitutes an act of war in cyberspace?

In other news from #ISM2018:

ISM Appoints First Chief Product Officer

Susan Marty to Lead Member Engagement, Market Development and Growth Initiatives for ISM.

In its mission to reflect the voices of everyone in the supply management community, ISM has appointed Susan Marty as it first Chief Product Officer. Ms. Marty will focus on member engagement, market development and growth for ISM, the leading not-for-profit, independent, unbiased resource for everyone in supply management.

“As Chief Product Officer, I am strongly committed to meeting the current and future needs of all ISM members and constituents in a timely and meaningful way. We will continue ensuring that all our offerings–from education and events, to discussions and publications–enable members to advance professionally while making their organizations stronger and better,” said Ms. Marty.

“Susan Marty is an exceptional leader with a talent for building strong customer, partner and industry relationships, and innovating in response to market shifts. At a time of rapid transformation for supply management, she will help ISM remain vital to our entire industry,” said Tom Derry, CEO of ISM.

In addition to her focus on ISM’s educational offerings, Ms. Marty will concentrate on making ISM a source for compelling, customer-driven content, including research, thought-provoking conversations with subject-matter experts, and issue-oriented articles.

She will also lead efforts to bring supply management leaders and practitioners together with technology providers, analysts, and other members of the broader professional community. Whether online or via social media, she will focus on maximizing opportunities for the profession to access all ISM has to offer.

“We are thrilled to have Susan Marty join the ISM team. She is a high-caliber talent with a wealth of experience to help us deliver superior products that are valued by our customers,” said Debbie Fogel-Monnissen, Chief Financial Officer, ISM.

“Susan Marty is exactly the kind of product leader that ISM needs to fulfill the strategy of increasing engagement with the supply management professional. Her background in creating value offerings and communicating them clearly and through multiple channels will help today’s supply management professional leverage ISM’s vast resources,” said Jim Barnes, Managing Director for ISM.

Ms. Marty comes to ISM after serving as Vice President Marketing, Product Management and Sales at WorldatWork. She previously held senior roles at Inter-Tel (now Mitel), Voice Access Technologies, OmniSky and AT&T Wireless (now AT&T Mobility).

Paydirt! Resources Sector Supply Chain GM Wins Prestigious Award

Hot off the press: the Asia-Pacific region’s 2018 CPO of the Year and Future Leader in Procurement (FLiP) of the Year have been announced at The Faculty’s Gala Dinner.

Dramatically shifting the impact of procurement in a truly international role, MMG General Manager of Supply Chain Ron Brown has been recognised for delivering major procurement and supply chain transformation, driving value creation across the organisation and consistently delivering tens of millions in savings per annum over the past four years.

Brown’s achievements were celebrated at last night’s CPO Forum Gala awards, hosted by leading procurement advisors The Faculty.

International role

Global resources company MMG Limited operates and develops copper, zinc and other base metals projects across Australia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Laos and Peru. As such, Brown and his centre-led procurement team have become adept at not only working across time-zones but also in negotiating the significant language and cultural differences in the four regions. Brown himself has a full travel schedule, as he regularly visits sites across four continents in person.

Shifting the focus

Brown’s commercial leadership has led the organisation to recognise that simply focusing on cost-down does not work. Instead, Brown has shifted the focus to:

  • Improving the skill-sets on contract management, creating commercial value over the life of the contracts and putting in place systems to ensure opportunities are not left on the table.
  • A greater emphasis on supplier relationships, including better engagement, more regular communication around performance to enable greater value creation.

Greg Travers, Executive General Manager Business Support, comments that Business Unit stakeholders within MMG have recognised the value that Brown and his team are delivering. “They have worked hard on improving relationships and have turned the perception of procurement around favourably. Ron and his team are getting out of the office to see the business, and spending more time on site.”

Influence beyond procurement

Travers also comments that Brown is a well-rounded, commercially focussed executive who contributes more broadly across the organisation, and has presence at all levels including the executive team and the Board. “Ron is one of the General Managers the Executive Group regularly nominates to attend group meetings and get involved in projects from the very start. He is energetic and is ideal for contributing to broader organisational projects and for change and efficiency reviews.”

Significant wins

Key achievements that contributed to Brown’s nomination for the CPO of the Year award include the delivery of a major procurement project to support the construction of the recently completed Dugald River Mine site in Queensland (Australia). Brown and his team embedded the contract management approach to build savings, sourced long-lead items and engaged local suppliers in a logistically challenging, complex industrial environment. Brown and his team contributed to the delivery of the project significantly under budget and ahead of schedule. They also achieved multi-million-dollar savings through an electricity contract revision for Las Bambas (Peru), and enhanced global sourcing primarily through China, resulting in significant savings across a wide range of supplier inputs.

Brown and his team have also re-engineered and simplified procurement policy, process and reporting frameworks at MMG, creating a high-level dashboard to drive visibility. Site inventory has been improved through more efficient contract management, buying at better prices and strengthening supplier relationships.

People Leadership

“Ron has significantly lifted capability across his team, hired and developed the right people in procurement and supply,” says Travers. “He mobilises his team and creates career pathways for them.” Brown has also actively promoted gender diversity across his team.

But the CPO of the Year wasn’t the only award presented at the #CPOForum18 Gala Dinner. One of procurement’s rising stars, Maryam Rahimi of Sydney Trains, was also celebrated with the presentation of the Future Leader of the Year (FLiP) Award.

Len Blackmore, Maryam Rahimi and Tania Seary

Keith Bird, Managing Director of The Faculty, says “The CPO of the Year and Future Leader of the Year Awards not only recognise the significant achievements of these talented professionals, but they serve as an important source of inspiration for other aspiring leaders in the profession. Both Ron Brown and Maryam Rahimi are known both for delivering excellent value to their organisations, but also for their dedication to mentoring, coaching and inspiring others.”

Public Sector Procurement Star Wins Future Leadership Award

It’s a big week for Sydney Trains’ Maryam Rahimi. Not only is the Australian public sector procurement professional stepping up to a new role where she’ll be leading a team of 27 people, Rahimi was also awarded the prestigious Future Leader in Procurement (FLiP) of the Year Award for 2018 at last night’s gala event in Melbourne.

Originally from Iran with an engineering and manufacturing background, Rahimi immigrated to Australia in 2010 where she entered the rail sector, first with Downer Rail and then with Sydney Trains. This week, Rahimi is moving from her role as Acting Senior Business Category Manager to Manager, Plant Hire. This leadership position with responsibilities and a team across both Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink has greatly expanded responsibilities from her previous role – and she’s 100% up for the challenge.

Len Blackmore, Deputy Executive Director of Procurement for Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink, says that Rahimi’s personal story is as impressive as her professional achievements. “Maryam is balancing the demands of a busy career whilst raising her young family, and was the sole income earner upon her arrival in Australia. She is a highly capable professional with enormous resilience.”

“Resilience” is a term that comes up frequently when discussing Rahimi with Blackmore, who says one of the key markers of resilience is that fact that she proactively champions change in the organisation. “Maryam has been enthusiastically involved in the complete revamp of our Source to Contract process”, he says. “This has been on top of her day-to-day role, where she’s also embraced the procurement improvement program we’re currently running.”

But it’s in stakeholder engagement where Rahimi has her most impressive wins. Upon settling in at Sydney Trains, she quickly identified an issue where stakeholders were not highly engaged with procurement. Through outstanding business partnering with a focus on the customer, Rahimi lifted stakeholder engagement and improved the perception of procurement through the establishment of trust, credibility, early engagement and taking the time to understand customers’ needs.

Rahimi’s commercial leadership was another key factor in her being nominated for the Award. Along with strong negotiating skills, she has a strategic focus, thinks holistically over the total life of the contract, and involves the end user in designing solutions to get results. Rahimi reportedly has a great touch in leading people and is known for her focus on working collaboratively and fostering a positive culture. She has lifted the capability of her direct reports through mentoring, coaching and inspiring others.    

“I’m absolutely delighted about her winning the award because Maryam has worked extremely hard to get where she is”, says Blackmore. “It gives someone who is a high performer with high potential the due recognition that will benefit her career.”


About The CPO of the Year Award

The CPO of the Year Award is a flagship initiative of The Faculty, created in 2012 to recognise and celebrate the achievements of procurement professionals across Asia Pacific.

For the past 6 years the Award has celebrated someone who has been assessed as an outstanding leader, a prominent contributor to their business and the broader profession, leading delivery of high ROI, and exceeding performance expectations. The Award is a measure of executive presence, commercial insight, people leadership abilities, innovation, professional advocacy, technical ability and integrity.

About The Future Leader in Procurement (FLiP) Award

The Future Leader in Procurement (FLiP) Award recognises an outstanding commercially focused member of the next generation of procurement professionals who is making a demonstrable difference to business results, across different industry sectors, budgets, team size and experience. The FLiP Award will be presented to a multi-talented professional who has demonstrated leadership capabilities and is an influencer and trailblazer in their organisation. The Award is a measure of leadership potential and presence, commercial insight, stakeholder engagement, innovation, professional advocacy, technical ability and integrity.

The 2018 Judging Panel was comprised of Michael Andrew, Chair of the Board of Taxation and former Global CEO of KPMG, Helen Sawczak, National CEO of the Australia China Business Council, and Andrew Porter, CFO of Australian Foundation Investment Company and President of the Group of 100. The meeting was chaired by Tony Megally, General Manager, The Source.

The CPO of the Year and Future Leader of the Year awards were sponsored by Coupa Software.

About The Faculty

The Faculty is recognised as one of Asia-Pacific’s leading procurement advisors. The team works with organisations to transform and elevate the role of procurement, build high performance commercial teams and facilitate professional knowledge networks.

Sorry Kids: Easter Chocolate To Be Cancelled After 2050

The world is running out of chocolate… And if procurement pros can’t find a way to save the day, no one can! 

Most of us like to indulge in a little (or a lot of!) chocolate over Easter.

In Britain alone, the projected Easter spend for 2018 is $892.6 million.

And in the US, 2018 Easter spending is expected to total a whopping $18.2 billion.

But, depending on how attached you are to your Creme Eggs, Lindt Gold Bunnies or your Waitrose chocolate avocados , you might need to stockpiling now; in preparation for a very uncertain future!

Why climate change is claiming our chocolate?

More than 50 per cent of the world’s cocoa comes from West African countries, primarily Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, whose climates have traditionally best-accommodated the cacao tree.

But,  in recent years, drying conditions, long draughts and rising temperatures, are making it harder to grow cocoa beans.

Warmer, dryer climates “will suck moisture from the soil and make it impossible to produce a good crop in many regions around the world.”

In short, climate change could destroy the chocolate industry within 30- 50 years.

What can procurement professionals do?

All is not lost! Procurement teams around the world are already investing in alternative, and more sustainable options, for their cocoa sourcing.

  • Developing a sturdier cacao plant

Last year, Mars unveiled their Sustainable in Generation Plan stating:

“We’ll invest $1 billion over the next few years to tackle urgent threats facing our business and the society we operate in – threats like climate change, poverty in our value chain and a scarcity of resources.”

Part of that investment will go towards “recruiting University of California researchers to develop a sturdier cacao plant that won’t wilt in drier climates.”

  • Changing farming approach

The majority of farms in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are run by poorer families who cannot afford fertilisers and pesticides. If modern farming techniques were made available to the farmers in Western Africa; cocoa production might be easier.

The Rainforest Alliance is working with smallholder cocoa farmers to manage climate change and protect their livelihoods and way of life.

  • Relocating suppliers

Farmers in Western Africa have the option to move their crops to higher ground; but there is limited space and many upland areas are protected for wildlife.

Organisations could look to source their cocoa beans from a different region entirely.

Dr Barry  Kitchen, executive chairman of Daintree Estates, told the New Daily that “Cairns generally had ‘ideal’ conditions for cocoa trees, which need consistent rain, warm temperatures, and shade with dappled light.”

“You’ve got to be continually innovative and continually looking at ways that you’re preparing yourself for the future.” he said.

But, given the much higher labour costs in Australia, it’s unlikely that the industry could ever migrate to Australia.

  • Changing the nature of chocolate

Research by The Conversation suggests wild mango butter, made from the fruit’s stone, has a very similar chemical, physical and thermal profile to cocoa butter.

If procurement teams decide to invest in the science behind it,  it mightn’t be too long before we’re eating mango butter Easter eggs.

Personally, Procurious thinks it’s an egg-cellent idea!

In other procurement news this week…

Starbucks Testing Blockchain

  • Starbucks is piloting the use of data technology, including blockchain, to make its coffee supply chains more transparent
  • The firm hopes the technology will provide real time information about the beans within the supply chain and help financially empower rural farmers
  • Kevin Johnson, chief executive officer at Starbucks, said: “Over the next two years, we will look to demonstrate how technology and innovative data platforms can give coffee farmers even more financial empowerment

Read more on Supply Management 

Amazon’s Latest Drone Patent

  • Amazon’s latest patent is a delivery drone that understands when you shout at it
  • The drone is designed to recognise human gestures, and then respond accordingly. Gestures the drone would recognise include, for example, waving arms, pointing, the flashing of lights, and speech
  • An illustration demonstrating the drone’s functionality shows a man wildly waving his arms and with a speech bubble next to his mouth

Read more on The Verge 

Do You Have Any Idea What Your Consultants Are Doing?

Hand-on-heart: Can you swear that you’ve properly briefed consultants and paid only for what you’ve received?

Buying professional services is often accompanied by a host of reputational risk and budgetary pressures.  However, for the public sector, a new approach to professional services procurement is proving that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Public sector procurement continues to be a highly debated topic in the UK, against a backdrop of reduced budgets and high-profile failures, it seems clear there’s still a need for new and innovative approaches.

What needs to change? Well, traditional purchasing frameworks have long been pegged as a solution to the sector’s buying challenges. They promise fully compliant access to a range of suppliers with all the hard work that comes with the tender process done for you. However, as they often offer a limited pool of suppliers and a notable cooling-off period which can delay a project’s start date, frameworks can be a frustrating route to market for some.

It’s in the procurement of professional services where the frustrations of traditional routes to market are often most keenly felt. There’s often a lot at stake. As budgets shrink and requirements evolve, the need to access expert external advice, often at short notice, is crucial to the success of some projects.

Consultants are often appointed as trouble shooters; to advise and lead on new projects or even spearhead big organisational changes. Using such services can represent a significant investment for public bodies and the failure of high profile projects such as IT infrastructure demonstrates the reputational and budgetary risk that can occur if you don’t get it right. Control is a key success factor.

There’s a need for change and some public sector bodies have already embraced a different approach. It’s an innovation that, unusually, could see the public sector leading the private sector.

The NEPRO neutral vendor solution recognises and responds to these and other short falls of traditional frameworks. It helps procurement professionals gain that control, mitigate reputational risk, deliver on budgets and manage demand. It’s a fast solution for the procurement of professional services that offers a welcome alternative to traditional purchasing routes.

The NEPRO solution is based on outcomes – buyers pay only for results delivered, measured by pre-agreed project milestones. We’ve all heard stories of consultants hired by public sector organisations to work on a specific project for a significant fee, only for the provider to still be there long after the project has finished having been hijacked by another department. This approach puts an end to that, with both the buyer and supplier clear on what is needed, by when and at an agreed fee.

If there’s no robust focus outcomes or deliverables it’s easy to see how contractors can end up staying in departments long after project completion and be paid significantly beyond the original value of the project they were hired to support.

When speed is important, procurement professionals have the opportunity to cut red tape and realise the benefits of consultant-based projects in a third of the time it traditionally takes to procure professional services. While traditional procurement routes can take 100 days from initial request for information through to a consultant starting work on a new project, this approach can see consultants start work in an average of 30 days through direct contract awards and fully compliant mini competitions.

The starting point for any new project is to fully understand what the buyer needs and find the right supplier to fulfil the brief. All the complexities of supplier management are taken care of on behalf of the buyer, providing compliance, control and transparency of expenditure. NEPRO delivery partner Bloom then manages the project and assures delivery.

We’re proud to now be transforming the procurement of professional services across the UK, giving buyers more choice and more business opportunities to suppliers of all sizes. To put that in context, last year, the number of contracting authorities wanting to procure through Bloom almost doubled to 170, suggesting that the public sector is waking up to this faster and more effective way to procure the services of consultants.

By Rob Levene, executive director and co-founder, Bloom.

With its unique neutral vendor solution, Bloom offers buyers access to a vast community of over 4,000 suppliers across 19 categories and 240 sub-categories. This dynamic supplier marketplace drives choice and competition and with over 70% of projects delivered by SMEs, helps drive growth back in the local economy and supports social value agendas.

4 Things Supply Managers Need To Know About China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Get to grips with the jaw-dropping scale of China’s investment in ultra-modern supply chains stretching from South-East Asia to Scandinavia.

title picture for blog post China's Belt and Road Initiative

China’s Belt and Road initiative is big. VERY big. We’ll get to some of the awe-inspiring numbers in a minute, but first let’s look at why this project is particularly relevant to supply management professionals around the globe.

Helen Sawczak, National CEO of the Australia China Business Council thinks that there’s a common perception that the Belt and Road will be a way for other countries to see to China.

“It certainly will enable smoother movement of goods into China, but what people need to understand is that the strategic focus is on the movement of goods out of China.”

That’s why the Belt and Road needs to be firmly on the radar of every procurement professional who sources goods from China – and let’s face it, that’s just about all of us.

In this interview with Sawczak, who is a guest speaker at The Faculty’s upcoming CPO Forum in May, we explore the sheer scale of the project, the timelines involved, its embedded supply chain technology, and what it means for standardisation of trade practices.

1: What is the Belt and Road, and how big is it?

The Belt and Road is a $900 billion-dollar signature initiative announced by China’s President Xi Jinping in 2013 and hailed by China as “the project of the century”. The name refers to the land and sea trade routes.

The “Belt” is centred around the re-establishment of the ancient Silk Road, which stretched from Japan to Europe in the time of the Roman Empire.

The modern-day Belt is actually divided into six routes where China is building roads, high-speed railways, gas pipelines and more to bridge an infrastructure gap that exists throughout Asia and Central Asia, before joining with existing transport infrastructure in Europe:

  • The New Eurasian Land Bridge, running from Western China to Western Russia through Kazakhstan.
  • China–Mongolia–Russia Corridor, running from Northern China to Eastern Russia
  • China–Central Asia–West Asia Corridor, running from Western China to Turkey
  • China–Indochina Peninsula Corridor, running from Southern China to Singapore
  • China–Myanmar–Bangladesh–India Corridor, running from Southern China to Myanmar
  • China–Pakistan Corridor, running from South-Western China to Pakistan

The “Road” (confusingly) refers to a maritime route beginning in South-East Asia, moving through the Suez Canal and ending in the Mediterranean. Similarly, China is investing heavily in ports along the route.

“Together, the Belt and Road encompass three continents, 68 countries and more than 60% of the world’s population”, says Sawczak. “An estimated 25% of all the goods that are shifted around the world will go via the new Silk Road route.”

Beijing says it will ultimately lend as much as $8 trillion for infrastructure in 68 countries.

Image: CCTV news

2: Long-term vision

During his historic visit to China in 1972, Richard Nixon reportedly asked Zhou EnLai what he thought had been the impact of the French Revolution on western civilisation. The Chinese Prime Minister considered the question for a few moments before replying, “It’s too early to tell”.

China has always taken the long-term view.

Without being locked into the short-term political cycles faced by many Western governments, China is in the rare position of being able to launch far-sighted projects to improve critical infrastructure.

As such, the length of the Belt and Road Initiative will be measured in decades, rather than years. Today, says Sawczak, “every company in China is trying to get a Belt and Road label in order to secure funding.”

“Belt and Road isn’t just about infrastructure and the supply of goods. To build this stuff they’ll need people, food, education and more. There are going to be enormous opportunities for business and suppliers to support this initiative – it’s going to have a huge impact.”

3: It’s buzzing with 21st century technology

One of the benefits of building new road, rail and port infrastructure from scratch is that China is taking the opportunity to build a truly 21st-century supply chain.

Infrastructure along the land and sea routes will feature digital technology including inventory sensors (IoT) that will enable a level of data analytics that leapfrogs past current supply chain practices.

Trading will involve blockchain verification and e-commerce settlement transactions that will vastly improve the cost and speed of trade.

To learn more about what IOT is and basics of Blockchain, check out here and here.

4: The Belt and Road will drive standardisation

“Because there are 68 countries involved, there’ll be a push for the standardisation of trade processes all along the Belt and Road”, says Sawczak. “One would hope the highest standards will be used – such as blockchain verification. Overall, standardisation is a good thing that eases free trade and boosts globalisation.”

Sawczak warns that with so many parties involved, it will be imperative for other countries to integrate their e-commerce with Chinese systems and to consider availing themselves of the new flexibility of the Renminbi as an international currency.

Read more on how to source from China here.

“Communication is another area where you’ll need to align. For example, WhatsApp has been blocked in the past in China, so cybercommunities need to be prepared to adapt to Chinese platforms to communicate during multilateral deals.”


Helen Sawczak is the National CEO of the Australia China Business Council, a membership based organisation dedicated to promoting trade and investment between Australia and China. ACBC has a Branch in every Australian State and Territory, holding hundreds of information and networking events each year to assist Australian and Chinese companies to connect.

Now in its 11th consecutive year, The Asia-Pacific CPO Forum is the region’s premier procurement event dedicated to accelerating commercial leadership at the highest level. Held at Melbourne’s Crown Conference Centre over two days, it is a once-a-year opportunity for leading Chief Procurement Officers to engage with peers and like-minded business leaders in an intimate and interactive setting. Click here to learn more.