Category Archives: Procurious News

Disrupt – Or Be Disrupted

We have to try to engage proactively with a changing business world, no matter how impossible it seems to predict what is coming.


‘It’s difficult to make predictions – especially about the future,’ as an old Danish proverb observes. 

The saying – sometimes attributed to physicist Niels Bohr – makes perfect sense. Predictions are hostages to fortune, and it’s not difficult to think of a number of well-known forecasts that turned out to be embarrassingly wide of the mark. 

Thomas Watson, then president of IBM, wrote in 1943 that he saw a world market for ‘maybe five computers’. Steve Ballmer, then the chief executive of Microsoft, said in 2007 that there was ‘no chance’ of the newly launched iPhone gaining any significant market share. Telephones were just a toy that would never catch on, wrote the president of Western Union, William Orton, in 1876, when inventor Alexander Graham Bell offered to sell him the patent. 

And so on, and so on. 

Nevertheless, not everyone has the luxury of being able to avoid being held to account. Especially those of us who run businesses or supply chains.

For us, we have to make predictions: it’s our job. And right now, we’re facing a choice – disrupt or be disrupted. Here’s why. 

Why do we need to make future predictions? 

A business or supply chain that is ill-prepared for the future is a business or supply chain that may not have much of a future. 

In the current business environment, we all need to make predictions about the future. But even so, making predictions about disruptive trends is excruciatingly difficult.

While it’s easy to laugh at how wrong predictions can be, at the time those predictions may well have appeared to be sober, hard-nosed assessments. 

All of which is worth bearing in mind as businesses and supply chains around the world begin figuring out what to do about 2 key disruptive trends that are competing for our attention. 

1. The sustainability agenda

From the fuel that powers our trucks, ships, trains, and aircraft, to the paper and plastics that make up our packaging, logistics is very much in the crosshairs of sustainability activists’ sights. 

We all need to have a strong sustainability agenda. Ignoring the issue is not an option. But right now it’s difficult to see what options we have. 

A few years ago, the focus was on ‘peak oil’ and running out of the stuff. Now investors are alarmed at the prospect of so-called ‘stranded energy assets’ – reserves of fossil fuels that may never be extracted because of their impact on climate change. 

2. Geopolitical uncertainty and the perils of a hyperconnected world

After sustainability, the next disruption that will affect all of us is ongoing geopolitical uncertainty. President Trump’s trade wars. Brexit. China and its ‘Belt and Road’ strategy. Seemingly perennial Middle East tensions. These are not comfortable times in which to be determining supply-chain strategies. 

Nor is it solely geopolitical uncertainty that impacts supply chains. From the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011 to the more recent coronavirus outbreak, again and again we see what an interconnected world we live in. 

Within days, an event on the other side of the world can disrupt supply chains thousands of miles away. Supposedly resilient, they turn out to be more fragile than anyone imagined. 

Roll it all together, and it is increasingly difficult to avoid the suspicion that present approaches to supply chain management aren’t as effective as we practitioners fondly imagine. 

What can we do? 

In short, we need something else – not least a change of mindset. Because transformation is only possible when we are willing and able to let go of our old patterns, old models – and old concepts of what constitutes supply chain management. 

Put another way, the biggest risk that businesses may face today is the risk of doing nothing at all. It is not an exaggeration to say that businesses can choose to disrupt, or to be disrupted. 

As I point out to my students, Uber is the world’s biggest taxi company, but doesn’t own a single taxi cab. Airbnb and Booking.com are the world’s largest hoteliers, but don’t possess any hotels. And after being in business for a quarter of a century, Amazon – the world’s biggest bookseller – is only now experimenting with physical book shops. 

It’s time for something more radical 

Even some of the world’s leading thinkers on business and supply chains believe we need something radical, and we need it now.

In late 2018, for instance, influential management thinker John Elkington took to the pages of the Harvard Business Review to officially ‘recall’ – i.e. take back – a concept that he had first launched 25 years ago: the Triple Bottom Line.

Simply put, he argued, the Triple Bottom Line was no longer enough. Something else was needed. Something bolder. 

To those in the know, Elkington’s admission was startling. The Triple Bottom Line had an enormous impact on businesses’ and supply chains’ approach to corporate and social responsibility. It replaced a single-minded focus on profitability with a broader focus on social, environmental and economic impact – the Triple Bottom Line. 

There’s no doubt that it’s made a big difference. But it isn’t enough, Elkington acknowledged. Too many businesses see it as a trade-off mechanism, rather than as an absolute test. 

Something else is required if businesses are to really ‘shift the needle’. Right now, though, we don’t yet know what that something else could be. 

But one thing seems certain: despite Donald Trump’s dismissive remarks at Davos this year, Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg won’t let up on the pressure to find it. 

Supply chains need a radical rethink, as well 

Another concept that may be ripe for re-evaluation is the very notion of the supply chain. Look at many real-world supply chains, and it is difficult to escape the conclusion that ‘chain’ is too mechanistic a description of fulfilment processes – too linear, too unidirectional, too evocative of inflexible conveyor belts. 

In industry after industry, real life doesn’t work like that any more, if indeed it ever did. 

What can we replace the term ‘supply chain’ with? I rather like the suggestion that ‘supply web’ would be a better term.

It is closer to what many of us deal with in practice. It brings with it values of flexibility and resilience, as well as facilitating two-way flows and multiple sourcing connections. 

Does such relabelling help? Shakespeare, after all, aptly observed that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. 

But with all due to respect to the Bard, I disagree. We need that mindset change. We need to let go of our old patterns and old models – and embrace new thinking.

As practitioners, ‘supply chains’ imprison our thinking, locking us into paradigms that constrain us. ‘Supply webs’ open us up to new possibilities, new paradigms and potentially new and different processes. 

And with the challenges the world faces, those new possibilities, paradigms and processes have never been more needed.

Disrupt – or be disrupted. Be an Uber, Airbnb or an Amazon. And not a moribund traditionalist. 

4 Tough Interview Questions First-Time Procurement Leaders Are Asked – And How To Answer Them

How can you make the most of your background and experience when interviewing for your first leadership role?


There are phases in your career that are both exciting and terrifying. Most would agree that none are so scary as your first leadership role. 

What do your team think of you? How on earth do you performance-manage someone? How do you manage the expectations of those above you if the members of your team aren’t performing? 

All these questions will most likely plague you on a daily basis. But they’re also the exact questions you need to answer if you’re interviewing for your first (official) leadership role. 

In order to unravel the mystery of what a good interview for a first-time leadership role might look like, we chatted with Tony Megally, highly experienced recruiter and General Manager of The Source

Tony gave us insights into how common it is to be interviewing for a first-time leadership role, what you’ll most likely get asked and how to answer. 

You want to become a leader. Should you change organisations to do so? 

Meet Praveen. She’s a Category Manager at a large bank. She’s been in the position for 4 years, and she’s ready to step up and take on a new challenge. She sees a team lead role at another large bank. Should she apply?

‘There’s definitely a few things I’d recommend for Praveen – or anyone in this situation – to consider before applying,’ says Tony.

But what are these things? Tony recommends that before you apply externally to become a leader, you should all explore all opportunities within your own organisation to do so: 

‘If leadership is in your sights, you should have put that into your career development plan and be actively working towards it with your manager.’ 

But what if there simply aren’t any leadership opportunities? Should you apply externally then? 

‘It depends,’ says Tony. 

‘Most often, the business that is looking externally for leadership talent will be doing so because internal capability is either lacking or requires development. So you’ll most likely need to have proven leadership experience to be able to bring value.’ 

How NOT to answer leadership interview questions 

When it comes to how you answer leadership interview questions, Tony says that if you haven’t formally been recognised as a leader or you don’t have a great deal of experience, there are still many great ways to quantify what you’ve achieved. 

But there’s one thing you should never do when talking about your leadership experience and that is: not be honest. 

Tony says: ‘To be able to position yourself for success, you need to be totally transparent about your experience.

‘It becomes obvious [that you’re not being honest] when you’re being asked about the experience you claim and you’re unable to support it by providing thorough and relevant examples.’ 

Question 1: ‘Talk me through your team leadership experience.

If you’re interviewing for a leadership position, one of the first questions you’ll be asked is about your leadership experience. But even if you haven’t had a leadership position in title, there are a number of ways you can answer this, says Tony. 

He says you should talk about how you’re developing the required skills through things you’re already doing in your job.

For example: ‘You might be a senior member of your team and have taken on the “unofficial” role as the 2IC. 

‘Or perhaps you’re actively coaching and developing peers or other junior team members, or you’re leading a project or a change initiative. These are all great examples that support your leadership ability and should be discussed as part of your experience suite.’ 

Question 2: ‘Can you give an example of how you’ve led people through change and achieved a positive outcome?

In the current business environment, managing change is an essential skill for a leader – more so than ever. But as change can be inherently challenging, businesses want to know their leaders can not only manage change but also do it in a way that gets a positive outcome.

When you’re asked this question, Tony says, you need to emphasise two things: 

  • How you have led people?
  • How did that leadership lead to a positive outcome for the business?

But the example you give doesn’t have to be from an ‘official’ leadership role: 

‘Say, for example, you volunteered to lead a high-profile project. You’d talk about the scope of that project, your role as the leader and how you influenced, engaged and managed others, even if those people are not your “official” reports and were instead business stakeholders or individuals allocated as resources as part of the project team for which you were accountable. 

‘You’d then talk about how your negotiations or perhaps great communications with stakeholders resulted in the project saving X dollars, reducing risk, etc. Whatever the outcome was, you’d make the link between your leadership skills and that.’ 

Tony also says that when you’re leading in this capacity, it’s great to validate the outcome you’re discussing by talking about how the project was received by the business’s executive leadership team: 

‘Ideally, the project you’ve led will have been noticed by senior people in the business. Being able to validate your great results by saying “XYZ executive gave this feedback” is instrumental for highlighting your ability to both manage people and results but also your ability to manage up.’ 

Question 3: ‘Tell me about a time when you performance-managed someone.’ 

One of the most challenging questions first-time leaders get asked is about performance management. It’s challenging because if you haven’t had an official leadership position, it’s hard to quantify this. 

But there are ways around this, says Tony. He recommends drawing on other experiences you’ve had, even if they’re outside of work: 

‘I’ve met countless people who in their professional careers are not formally in leadership roles, but they might be leaders through their own side-hustle, or through other paid or voluntary employment.

‘This leadership experience is relevant. As long as you’re able to provide thorough examples of how you performance-counselled an individual and the process you went through, it’s OK to discuss this in an interview.’ 

Question 4: ‘Talk to me about what techniques you use to motivate a team.’

One of the big transitions we all need to make when moving from an individual contributor role to a leadership role is to begin to think more about our team and less about ourselves. This new way of thinking, Tony says, is something that most organisations want to see in their first-time leaders:

‘Leadership, at its core, is about people and what comes with that is having a general concern for the needs of others. The quicker first-time leaders recognise this, the better they will be at their job.’ 

Tony believes that for this question, you can use outside-of-work examples if you need to: 

‘At an interview, detail how you’ve motivated groups of people – for example, perhaps you’ve coordinated social or sporting activities, or helped to identify capability gaps and then provided training as a motivational tool.’ 

Tony says that if you can provide an example of a time when you motivated people in challenging times, you’ll be doing particularly well: 

‘One of my favourite [examples to hear] is where people have boosted morale in times of significant change.’ 

Interviewing for your first leadership role will most likely be tough. But preparation is key so ensure you have quantifiable answers to all of the above questions. 

Have you interviewed for a leadership role for the first time? Was there anything else you were asked? Do you have any other recommendations? Let us know in the comments below. 

Lessons For Procurement Teams: We Should Be Serving Our Customers, Not Our Processes

How can procurement teams serve their organisations better?


Being a procurement professional can be challenging. The role requires individuals to vet contracts, pricing and supplier relationships. But the bigger picture is that procurement should be the eyes and the ears of the organisation when it comes to how much money is being spent. 

Procurement teams need to ask themselves the questions – what value can be added here, what problems are we trying to solve?

In an ideal world anyone working in procurement should be adding shareholder value, making an impact on the business’s return on investment, increasing social responsibility, driving innovation, enhancing the organisation’s reputation and mitigating risks.

As professionals, we want to enhance our company’s reputation and manage risk

While I have been in the industry for more than 25 years and I assume that this is what drives CPOs, I’m not the only one. Recent research conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services confirms it, with 55% of respondents saying that ethical and commercial considerations are equally important when evaluating suppliers.

But how could procurement professionals know it all?

Procurement leaders are not soothsayers. Nor are they mind readers. The only way they can possibly serve our organisations effectively is if they know what’s happening – the answer lies in having greater transparency of spend. Again, the HBR survey agrees: 90% of executives surveyed indicated that increased business transparency leads to better-informed decision-making across the entire organisation.

What’s stopping procurement from serving the business quickly and efficiently?

Something is holding procurement teams back. That something is a combination of outdated processes and siloed technology that prevents procurement from seeing the bigger picture.

In some instances, manual processes are providing incomplete data or data that is woefully out of date. In others, a lack of support from top management, finance or legal teams is hampering procurement. And sometimes the technology is there, it’s just too siloed to be valuable.

In short: the lack of connectivity between those responsible for sourcing, procuring, paying and reporting on an organisation’s financial transactions is preventing procurement leaders from being able to do what we know they should do, what they want to do and what they believe it is vitally important for them to do.

So how do they move from a situation where, at best, procurement professionals are seen as the naysayers of the business towards an ideal world in which procurement is proactively managing supplier risk, driving innovation and improving shareholder value?

Change the way businesses connect, and the way they buy

It’s time to reimagine the buying ecosystem. Imagine if, instead of having an adversarial, competitive relationship with suppliers, procurement could actually build strong emotional connections for the benefit of both parties? It’s possible.

And, if it works, the entire procurement-supplier relationship will change to provide better results, for more impact, greater transparency and increased shareholder value. And it can all happen faster, more efficiently.

It’s time for change

Quite frankly, the world has changed. Procurement teams who simply think their role is to reduce costs or ‘drive a hard bargain’ in a way that compromises supplier relationships may very well no longer have a job in 10 years’ time. Changing the very nature of the procurement function and its business impact isn’t a ‘nice-to-have’, it’s a ‘must-have’.

But it’s not just up to procurement teams to change this.

Procurement does not operate in a silo. As the impact of the coronavirus expands across the world it becomes increasingly obvious that managing suppliers in isolation will not solve bigger problems. As those who buy and procure goods and services, procurement doesn’t just have a responsibility to our organisations: it has a responsibility to know about every touchpoint along the supply chain.

The answer lies in collaboration

There are already pockets of people who do it right: who share information willingly, who build supplier relationships for the benefit of all parties and who understand the data behind the data. 

They deserve to be supported in this change.

It’s time for suppliers and technology providers, for vendors and innovators to join forces and make procurement of the future a business unit to be proud of.

Technology providers need to come in with a collaboration-first mindset and then make a commitment. Vendors should be saying, ‘This is what we think you need, this is how we’re going to solve that problem, and this is the ROI this solution can deliver.’

To improve connectivity within organisations and between procurement and suppliers we need to put collaboration first.

5 Unhelpful Gender Stereotypes We Wish Would Die … And What You Can Do About Them

There’s no doubt that stereotypes can be limiting. But there’s also a lot that all of us can do to help overcome them. 


International Women’s Day (IWD) is all about celebrating women’s progress, and today, women in procurement have a lot to celebrate. A recent Oliver Wyman report found that 20 percent of the top 60 listed companies in the United States and Western Europe have female chief procurement officers (CPOs). In even better news, a lot have been promoted recently: in France alone, more than 30 women have been elevated to the top procurement role within the past 17 months, representing a 30 percent increase from four years ago. We may not be close to 50-50 just yet, but a stride this big in the right direction is certainly noteworthy. 

But what’s holding us back? 

While we know that it’s likely a myriad of factors, one thing’s for sure: as women, we definitely don’t need to blame ourselves. In fact, one of the most frustrating reasons that women have not yet reached equality in leadership in procurement (and most other professions) is that unhelpful gender stereotypes continue to persist in the workplace. These stereotypes mean that managers and colleagues often unconsciously make incorrect assumptions about a woman’s competence and commitment to her role, which in turn hurts her career. 

Here are five of the most unhelpful stereotypes that linger in procurement offices worldwide … and what you can do to help overcome them. 

Stereotype 1: Activities that involve caregiving are considered feminine 

Ever gone into your office kitchen to see that the women are the ones packing the dishwasher? Or if there’s a birthday, is it a woman who is asked to find a card or a cake? While these activities might seem harmless, they only exacerbate unhelpful stereotypes that women are better ‘suited’ to caring activities and men need to get on with the more ‘important’ work. 

Owing to lingering gender stereotypes, women often feel like they need to be the ones to do this type of organising and caring work. A recent study by Harvard Business Review found that women are, on average, 48 percent more likely to volunteer for these types of ‘non-promotable’ tasks, and equally likely to be asked to complete them. 

So how do we overcome this unequal division of labour in the office? Simple: a roster system. 

At the beginning of the year, create a list of what needs to be done, and then allocate it evenly among team members. This way, everyone understands that when there’s work to be done, everyone needs to share equally in doing it. 

Stereotype 2: Risk-taking or decision making is considered a masculine strength 

Procurement, as a profession, is about mitigating risk for the organisation. But in doing so, procurement professionals have to take a lot of risks. We’re constantly asking ourselves questions such as: Is this supplier really the one for us? How well do I really understand our supply chain? Can we afford to make this decision? 

In doing so, we inherently need to take risks. So it follows that if we assume our female team members are less competent in doing so, we might subconsciously assign them tasks that are of lesser consequence. Doing so can hurt their career. 

But this stereotype is something that women can help overcome on their own, thinks Sylvie Noël, Chief Procurement Officer at Covea Group. Sylvie believes that speaking up can be the first step to ensuring you’re not overlooked for riskier, higher-value tasks or assignments: 

“[My advice to women is to] ask to be challenged in what you do and exchange ideas regularly with peers in other sectors. Make the decision to reinvent!”

Stereotype 3: Rationality is considered largely a masculine trait 

According to social researcher Jenna Baddeley, the idea that men are more ‘rational’ and that women are more ‘emotional’ and hence ‘irrational’ is one of the most frustrating examples of modern sexism. Baddeley believes that this unhelpful stereotype is often used, albeit often unconsciously, to not involve women in important decision making, or to discount decisions they’ve made. 

Behind the stereotype, though, is a false assumption, especially in today’s technology-driven world. The idea that emotions are ‘bad’ in decision making, and rationality is ‘good’ is simply not true. In fact, according to Baddeley: 

‘Emotion in decision-making is essential. Positive emotions tell us what’s working well, whereas negative emotions show us what might be amiss.’ 

This is certainly true of decisions involving suppliers. As the success of our supplier relationships are often based on the relationships themselves, emotion can actually be an asset in helping to best mitigate risks and create positive outcomes.

Yet still, how do we overcome the stereotype? 

Dr. Theresa Hudson, who studies men and women’s decision-making, says that we can all overcome the ‘rationality vs. emotional’ stereotype by simply using a more collaborative decision-making style, and having men and women equally ‘sign off’ on the most important decisions: 

“Where ever possible, get everyone to agree on a decision,’ Says Hudson. ‘This applies for both men and women.”

Stereotype 4: Men are more successful at negotiating than women 

There are many skills which are essential in procurement, but one of the most essential is negotiating. After all, we all need this skill to ensure the best outcomes for our company when it comes to our suppliers. 

So it follows that the stereotype that ‘men are more successful than negotiating then women’ can significantly hurt women’s procurement careers in more ways than one. And evidence shows that the assumption not only hurts us when negotiating with suppliers, but also on a broader level, in terms of how we negotiate for our careers. This is especially true when it comes to roles, promotions, and our salaries. 

Although negotiating for ourselves can be terrifying, with this particular stereotype, the best way to overcome it is by simply doing it – and then practicing and practicing, until it becomes second nature. Prior to any negotiation, especially one that involves your career, ensure you follow these four steps to secure the best outcome.  

Stereotype 5: Working longer hours is considered a masculine attribute, whereas flexibility is key for women

It’s a stereotype that has heralded from way back in the industrial era: the idea that hours equals productivity. Yet when women started flooding into offices in the 70s, 80s and beyond, they were forced to expect something different. How could they reconcile the never-ending working hours when they were also the primary carer of children and a household? 

These unfortunate stereotypes paved the way for even more unhelpful stereotypes: the idea that women needed flexibility so they could also manage things at home (and were, as a result, mommy-tracked from a career perspective), whereas men could continue working unabated. 

This stereotype is not one that is as easily addressed, as it does require men to take equal responsibility at home, given that women still do the lion’s share of unpaid childcare and domestic work. But at work, to move past the notion that flexibility is for working mums, simply offer flexibility to everyone (or even mandate it). Research shows that flexibility is the number one benefit employees (regardless of gender) want anyway, so giving it to all employees not only helps women, but it helps everyone to be more engaged at work.

There’s no doubt that stereotypes can be limiting. But there’s also a lot that all of us can do to help overcome them. 

Are there any other stereotypes that you feel hold women back? How, as a leader or manager in procurement, do you help your people overcome them? Let us know in the comments below. 

Gender Equality: From One Small Step at Work . . . To A (Hopeful) Giant Leap Forward

This IWD, I’m more motivated than ever to go beyond the hashtags and to start making meaningful change. Will you join me? 


Many of us, including me, have spent recent weeks transfixed by what can only be described as horrifying news. A beautiful woman, Hannah Clarke, and her three young children, Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey, were savagely murdered in Brisbane, Australia, by their estranged father, Rowan Baxter.

In 2020, after so much progress on women’s rights and equality – after #Metoo, #TimesUp and #WhyIStayed – the fact that an atrocity of this nature can happen in the first place is evidence that we haven’t come far enough. Not even close. 

There’s no doubt that we need a complete overhaul of how we work to prevent domestic violence. But beyond that, for all of the progress we’ve made, women are still at a distinct disadvantage throughout their entire lives. 

From the ongoing gender pay gap, to women’s decreased pension funds, to discrimination as we age, it seems to me that all of us – men and women – need to go beyond hashtags and endeavour to make meaningful change, as often as we can. 

Many commentators have said that progress is slow because it requires gargantuan mindset and structural shifts. But I don’t agree.

What we need is to start small, and from small things, big things will grow. Just as it’s possible to upskill your staff in less than half an hour with a $0 training budget, so, too, it must be possible for us all to make small changes to our behaviour so we can achieve gender equality – where, after all, we’ll all be better off.

The behaviour I believe we all need to start with is respect. Research shows that inequality often begins with one party not respecting the other, and I’ve certainly seen that, from business functions I’ve attended to boardrooms I’ve found myself in.

Respect isn’t hard to give, but it can be a challenging one. Often you may not even be aware that you’re subconsciously not giving it. So this IWD, let’s all change that. 

Will you join me in giving more women the respect they deserve? Here’s 5 tips for doing just that. 

1. Give eye contact 

It sounds so simple, but it’s important – research shows that we give more eye contact to people we respect.

Giving eye contact is a form of empowerment. It shows the person we’re listening to that we recognise their authority and expertise. And that we believe what they’re saying is worth listening to. 

Yet in work situations, women receive less eye contact than men. Researchers found that this was because people often unconsciously trust the opinions of men more.

Put this right by giving your female colleagues sustained eye contact. 

2. Listen 

If we want to show respect to female colleagues at work, another great way to do this is to listen. 

Studies show that, in general, women are interrupted far more often when speaking than men – on average, three times as much.This has led to the popular-cultural notion of ‘mansplaining’ – the idea that men interrupt women to explain things to them that they already understand. 

The thing about interrupting others is that we’re often not conscious we’re doing it. So next time you’re in a meeting, make sure you actively listen to the women on your team. 

3. Mention women’s job titles, not their parenting or work status 

How we describe others at work does matter, especially if it’s to people one of us meeting for the first time. And when we do this, we often default to more stereotypical descriptions of people. Men are more likely to be referred to by their role names only, whereas women are often referred to by their parenting and working status. 

For example, Lydia, the Communications Manager, might be referred to as Lydia, the working mum. Or Lydia, who works part-time. Referring to someone in this way can activate unhelpful stereotypes. 

To show more respect to women you work with, simply introduce them by their job title and leave it there. 

4. Emphasize that family leave is for women – and men 

One of the ongoing causes of inequality in the workplace is the fact that mothers typically take maternity leave – and less than 1 in 20 fathers do.  

This compounds inequality over the course of women’s lives. Women sometimes return to lower-paid roles, are mommy-tracked in their careersand ultimately end up with fewer retirement savings. 

And it isn’t only women who miss out. Research shows that the majority of dads would like to take more paternity leave if it was available to them and they felt comfortable doing so.

Taking action on this and giving mothers – as well as fathers – more respect when it comes to paternity leave can be as simple as not making assumptions when a colleague is expecting a baby. 

Instead of asking a prospective mum ‘How much time will you be having off?’ simply enquire as to the family’s plans. 

Similarly, if you know a prospective dad, let him know that taking family leave is an acceptable, and indeed great, thing to do if he can. 

5. Talk up women’s achievements 

Gender stereotypes proliferate in the workplace, and as a result of this women are less inclined to celebrate their achievements – and less likely to benefit when they do.

This often means their achievements are less likely to be noticed, affecting their ability to get recognition. And, ultimately, a promotion.

But there’s a strikingly simple action you can take today to help women you know get the respect and recognition they deserve. Talk up their achievements for them! 

Whether you do this in a meeting, via email or on LinkedIn, you could be the pivotal link that helps the women you know get the recognition they deserve.

So remember these 5 simple ways to show women respect this International Women’s Day – and do your bit towards boosting equality in your workplace.

To give more women respect and recognition this IWD, Procurious is asking you to tag your procurement and supply chain #HERo on LinkedIn – and tell us why she’s so great. Here’s our inspiring post on LinkedIn, to which you can add your nominations.

Feeling Unlucky In Your Career? Here’s How To Change That.

How do you make good fortune come your way?


This year, many of us may have had cause to feel unlucky already. Perhaps the Australian bushfires have given us the opportunity to shine at work – or perhaps they’ve left us feeling overwhelmed. 

The coronavirus might be wreaking havoc on our supply chains. Or more personally, maybe we’ve already missed out on a job or promotion we really thought should be ours. 

When we think of bad luck and its inverse, good luck, we often think about being in either the right or wrong place, at the right or wrong time. We think of it as something that just happens; an act of good or bad random chance. 

But it turns out, luck isn’t as random as we’d like to believe. A number of renowned psychologists studied ‘luck’ for decades, and discovered that it’s about so much more than chance. 

You can, in fact, create your own good luck. And you can do so by employing 4 basic principles that will rapidly increase the amount of good fortune that comes your way. 

Here’s what the 4 principles are and how you can employ them at work.

1. Maximise chance opportunities 

The first principle that psychologists found increases your luck is to maximise your chance opportunities. It makes sense, of course – the more opportunities you expose yourself to, the more likely you’ll be to succeed. 

But maximising your chance opportunities isn’t just about exposing yourself to them. You also need to take advantage of them when they come your way. 

A great way to do this is to be open to meeting new people and having new experiences, and then seeing the positive in everything. You simply never know what might lead to your next big break. 

It’s easy to see how this principle applies at work. Is there a new project you could put your hand up for? Could you go to a not-strictly-necessary meeting and strike up a conversation with a leader you’ve never met? 

The more open you are and the more chances you take, the more likely that one of these opportunities will come to fruition. 

If you’re looking for more chance opportunities in procurement, join Procurious. You’ll gain instant access to more than 37,000 of your peers. 

2. Listen to your intuition 

Opening yourself to more opportunities means you’ll invite both the good – and inevitably, the bad – in. In doing so, you’ll need to learn to listen to your intuition, to ensure you make better decisions about what’s right for you.

Think of your intuition as effectively a filtering system. With more opportunities, you need to take advantage of the best ones to increase your luck (success).

Intuition can be tricky to describe, but we’ve all felt it. Whether it’s a job we’ve gone for only to doubt whether we’ll like the manager, or a supplier we’re unsure of, we all sometimes feel things aren’t quite right. But we may not trust our judgement. From a luck perspective, we should. 

Honing our intuition can be difficult, though. In order to do so, psychologists recommend taking time to consider our decisions, avoiding stress and meditating so we can better connect with how we’re feeling.

3. Expect good fortune

A little over a decade ago, a book by a little-known author, Rhonda Byrne, went viral. That book was called The Secret and it promised that all readers needed to do was ‘invite’ good things to happen to them, and such things would come about. 

The book was soon widely rubbished by sceptics. It became the subject of countless hilarious memes. But as it turns out there was an element of truth in Byrne’s observations. 

Creating good luck in your career isn’t just a matter of inviting it. But research does show the lucky people do have a positive outlook, insomuch as they expect their future to be a success.

This often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lucky people will persist when trying to achieve their goals (even if the chance of succeeding are slim). And they’ll positively interact with others on the journey, opening up ever more opportunities. 

This is another example in which it’s easy to draw parallels to the workplace. If you’ve missed out on a promotion this time, keep your manager on side, stay positive and keep trying. This will exponentially increase your chances of success. 

No one is going to want to promote you if you’re bitter and negative all the time, regardless of your performance or how hard you work. 

4. Turn bad luck into good luck 

Are you stewing on that time when a co-worker made you look bad or stole your idea? While it’s normal to do so, lucky people have special ways of dealing with the inevitable bad fortune we all experience.

Practising their techniques can help you literally turn bad luck into good luck. 

Here’s what researchers found they do:

  • Lucky people often imagine how things could have been worse –this helps them see the positive in any situation. 
  • Ultimately, lucky people believe it will all work out in the end. Sure, your co-worker might have stolen your idea, but you’ve got plenty more to offer, right? 
  • Lucky people don’t dwell on bad things that have happened to them. This enables them to focus on their next big opportunity. 
  • Lucky people take control of situations and take constructive steps to prevent bad situations from happening again. If your co-worker has made you look bad, let them know! 

Go out and get that luck

French leader Napoleon Bonaparte said: ‘ability is of little account without opportunity’. And that has never been more true, especially when it comes to your career.

So go out there and make your own luck. And when you succeed, know this – your success is the result of your effort, not chance. 

How have you made your own luck? Tell us in the comments below. 

Building A Team This Year? Talent Alone Isn’t Enough . . . And Here’s Why

What are Sir Clive Woodward’s 3 essential qualities that go beyond talent and will build a great team?


With the war on talent alive and well, especially in procurement, if you’re hiring you should be more than satisfied with finding the most talented employee, right? 

Wrong.

While most of us would be thrilled to secure top talent, Sir Clive Woodward, England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup-winning head coach and keynote speaker at Procurious’s Big Ideas Summit, thinks that talent is simply a starting point. 

In his latest book How to Win: Talent Alone Is Not Enough he explores this theme in detail. He describes how beyond talent, there’s a myriad other qualities that are required for true success. 

And if anyone would know, it would be Sir Clive. Not only did he lead his rugby team to a history-making victory against Australia in 2003, but he’s also held many high-ranking corporate leadership positions. He now runs his own software company, Hive Learning – the peer learning platform for building culture-critical skills at scale.

But if talent is only a starting point, where do you go from there? Ahead of his address at this year’s Procurious Big Ideas Summit, we sat down with Sir Clive and discovered what he considers are the essential qualities of a great team.

1. A sponge, not a rock 

‘I always want to hire the most talented people into my teams, but this to me is the starting point and not the finish,’ says Sir Clive. 

‘I will never underestimate the importance of teamwork. But I have this saying that “Great Teams are Made of Great Individuals”. If you have great individuals in your teams, the team stuff becomes a lot easier because you have motivated people, giving their all and are dedicated to the overall goal.’

But what makes people great? It’s certainly more than talent, as Sir Clive points out.

One critical quality, he says, is that people on your team need to be open to continually learning and developing. They need to have a perpetual growth mindset, and be ‘sponges’, not ‘rocks’: 

‘I see a lot of individuals that start out as sponges when they join an organisation but sometimes the longer they have been with an organisation, they can drift into being a rock.’ In coaching language these people are unteachable, uncoachable.

Sir Clive thinks that from an individual and leadership perspective, once you’ve become a ‘rock’ you cease to be able to reach your potential. 

Yet equally, if your team are ‘sponges’ you must be willing to metaphorically give them something to absorb, says Sir Clive.

It’s your role as the leader but also each person’s as a team player to be continually pushing: ‘Many people hire very talented people, as I do. But you have to keep investing in mentoring and leading these people to harness their talent – but this must be a two-way thing.’ 

2. Working well under pressure

This year so far, we’ve had the Australian bushfires, the coronavirus and Brexit . . . and that’s just the external pressures procurement is facing. 

Stress and pressure is all around us, especially in the increasingly complex business environment. 

To combat this, a great team needs to work exceptionally well under pressure, Sir Clive asserts, which, again, comes down to the individual’s ability to work under pressure. 

‘In the military, there’s a saying that in a crisis, people fall back to their lowest level of training. The message here is: train hard and train well. You’ll need it.’ 

Many leaders who believe their people have never had to work under pressure have trouble understanding how this is a quality that can be ‘trained’.

Yet it’s absolutely possible, says Sir Clive, who is a fundamental believer in the brain’s ability to do just about anything it wants to: ‘You would be amazed at what’s possible, you really would. Even if you haven’t worked under pressure before, you can retrain your brain; your people’s brain. It’s amazing what you can do.’ 

Sir Clive is certainly the expert on working under pressure. Back in 2003, the English team were level with Australia in extra time in the Rugby World Cup Final. They ended up being the ultimate example of performing under pressure when star player Jonny Wilkinson moved the game from a draw to a victory by kicking a drop goal in the final minute of extra time. 

3. Attitude is everything 

Ever had a brilliant employee who tries to undermine you at every opportunity? Or a know-it-all who understands procurement back-to-front, but whom your team hates? 

If you’ve experienced the dreaded ‘attitude’ in your team, you’ll relate to Sir Clive’s final advice when it comes to your people and your team: Attitude is everything. 

Being a sponge is important and performing under pressure equally so. But attitude can be everything when it comes to performance, says Sir Clive: ‘Everyone in your team needs to have a good attitude. It’s the absolute cornerstone when it comes to performing at your best.’ 

Other pearls of wisdom 

Did you know that Sir Clive thinks that you can tell a lot about a person from their tardiness? And that you need a checklist, not a to-do list, to help bring a vision to life? 

Hear more of Sir Clive’s game-changing advice at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit, due to be held in London on 11 March. Not in London or can’t make it? Attend online for free by registering here for your complimentary Digital Delegates pass.

How to Manage Supply Chain Risks From the Coronavirus Outbreak

Are you being proactive in managing risks to your business from the coronavirus?

supply chain risks


The death toll from the coronavirus has reached more than 2,800 and the number of confirmed cases has exceeded 80,000. 

Beyond the enormous human toll, the effects of the coronavirus and the efforts to control its spread are being felt throughout the world’s supply chains. 

Factories in China are facing staff shortages. Or they are electing to remain closed to protect their workforce. Airlines have suspended flights to China. 

However, there is an indirect result of the necessary steps being taken to contain the outbreak. Restrictions and regulations designed to control the spread of the virus could have an adverse impact on cargo leaving and entering ports all over the world. 

Delayed Effects

And while some of the impacts have been immediate, other latent effects will not be felt for months.

This will hit:

  • manufacturers and retailers who rely on affected products and labour
  • logistics haulers expecting to transport the material
  • and, ultimately, the end consumers.

This crisis demonstrates the increasing complexity – and global nature – of supply chains and the imperative need to manage risk within this complex supply chain. 

Compare the current outbreak with that of SARS in 2003. It is striking to see how quickly coronavirus has eclipsed SARS in the number of infections. It took the coronavirus only 2 months to infect 75 per cent of the total number infected by SARS over a 9-month period. 

The crisis also shows how much China has developed in terms of population and establishing itself as a key cog in the world’s economy.

There is a danger of coronavirus becoming a major global issue if not controlled closely. So, what can organisations do to prepare themselves for these impacts?

Many leading organisations have developed programmes to manage and deal with supply chain disruption. But this situation is a unique challenge for even those organisations with advanced risk management programmes. 

Regardless of the level of sophistication in an organisation’s risk programme, all organisations can take steps to monitor their supply chain. This will help them to for the impacts of the epidemic.

3 Key Steps to Manage Risk

1. Know where your supply chain is located

Identify those countries that are currently at high risk and map your supply chain against these affected areas. This mapping should include evaluating key tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers as well as key logistics hubs that could be impacted.

2. Continuously monitor changes

Understand that the crisis is still unfolding and the true impacts from a supply chain disruption perspective may not reveal themselves for months. Establish a process to monitor other regions outside the infected areas that could be impacted.

Are ports outside the infected areas being impacted through disruption or through new regulations to protect against transmission of the virus? Are suppliers struggling financially without access to the Chinese markets, jeopardizing their viability?

3. Diversify the supply base

Like a financial portfolio, look for opportunities to rebalance and diversify the supply base to minimize the risk and take actions to qualify these suppliers in the event they are needed.

Need for Proactive Risk Management

This crisis underscores the need for organizations to establish and maintain effective proactive risk management programmes for their supply chain. 

It is impossible for organisations to anticipate these types of outbreaks. But an effective risk management programme, complete with processes, tools and data can lessen the impact. And the time it takes an organisation to recover.

Learn more about the challenges and steps necessary to build an effective and proactive Supplier Risk Management programme in this research “Integrated Risk Management: A Playbook for Procurement” from The Hackett Group.

How To Lead Differently This Year

What can we learn about leadership from the rugby field? A lot, it seems…


Have you ever headed into a supplier negotiation and joked you’re ‘going out into battle’? Ever finished a successful project, and said ‘you’re kicking goals’?

There are few physical similarities between our procurement desk jobs and the rugby field. But the way we lead our teams should be exactly the same, says Sir Clive Woodward, former coach of the England rugby team and keynote speaker at Procurious’s Big Ideas Summit.

Woodward, who coached the England side to its historic 2003 World Cup victory, believes that sport and business has more in common than we think.

‘There’s no difference between sport and business,’ he asserts. ‘In both, you need to create champion individuals and a successful culture.’  

And if anyone would know, it would be Sir Clive. 

Not only is he one of the world’s most revered rugby coaches, he’s also had a successful career in business. 

Prior to coaching, he worked for nearly two decades at Xerox in various leadership positions, as well as managing his own leasing company. Now, one of the things that he does is run a software company that helps leaders – in business and in sport – build culture-critical skills at scale.

For Sir Clive, creating a winning culture might come easily. But, as anyone who’s recently led a team will know, achieving ‘success’ in this age of mass transformations, technological change and unstable environments can be quite a challenge. 

To help, Clive has 5 ‘big ideas’ he uses to help leaders and teams achieve big things. 

1. It starts with respect

Winning and maintaining respect, according to Sir Clive, is one of business’s greatest challenges. Yet at the same time it’s a great opportunity. 

Sir Clive says that contrary to popular opinion, respect isn’t won simply by attaining a certain job title: ‘You don’t get respect simply because you’re the leader. Just because I’m the head coach or the chief executive doesn’t mean people are going to respect me.’ 

Instead, Sir Clive says that we all need to focus on the quality of our actions. 

This is particularly important for high performers, who are always striving for better: ‘You get respect because of what you do and by the quality of your actions over a sustained period of time.’

2. Talent and egos 

On talent in general, Sir Clive thinks that it’s definitely a leader’s job to try and hire the most talented people.

But what managers need to realise, he says, is that sometimes the most talented people aren’t the easiest people to work with: 

‘Everyone’s different, you can have mavericks, egos. There’s no simple way of doing it – if you employ the most talented people, sometimes they’re not the easiest people.’

But, he reminds leaders, this is part of the job that while not easy can still be managed:

‘As a manager, it’s my job to work with them [talented people, even if they aren’t easy]. The best way to manage them is on a one-on-one basis, explaining to them the philosophy and that we need them to be totally part of that process and that we’re trying to make them better at what they do.

‘I’ve not met anyone talented who doesn’t want to get better.’ 

3. Teachability

While talented people may (or may not) be easy to work with, they do need to be teachable, says Woodward. 

He says that an individual’s willingness to learn is critical when it comes to building winning teams: ‘The ability to accumulate knowledge around their role gives people an awareness of what they need to do to continually improve on what they already have.’

Knowledge, though, is not simply academic learning, Woodward asserts. It’s much more than that: ‘Knowledge is a passion for seeking any kind of self-development. It’s not simply collecting diplomas.’ 

4. 100 things, 1% better

To create a winning procurement team, you need talented, teachable people. But their talent is only a baseline – says Sir Clive.

And you need to be constantly improving them to improve performance. Contrary to popular belief, this ‘improvement’ need not involve seismic shifts in any particular area. 

Woodward says that you’re better off focusing on micro-improvements in a number of different areas: ‘Building on several areas in a small way frequently yields dramatically better outcomes. If you go into every aspect of what you do and break it down and improve those things by 1%, it all adds up.’ 

This philosophy has worked particularly well for Sir Clive in rugby: ‘In rugby, we understand all the parameters – we break it down into as much detail as possible and try and do every bit of it slightly better than anyone else.’ 

And, as in rugby, in business you can’t simply improve and then stop.

Constant performance improvement needs to become part of your culture: ‘You have to always be [improving] and just because you’ve improved something one day doesn’t mean you can’t improve it the next. It has to be the ethos of everybody.

‘Everybody in that team has the obligation, if they think we can do something better, they need to hold their hand up and say it.’ 

5. Innovation can come from anywhere 

Procurement teams are increasingly expected to be innovative. But who is responsible for that innovation? 

Everyone, according to Sir Clive, even people outside procurement, as they may bring different perspectives: ‘[When you’re looking for new ideas], it’s important to canvas the input of independent third parties in order to pool as much knowledge and ideas as possible.

‘These ideas can come from anywhere, not just leaders. Using other people you like and respect and [who] are bright enough to look in can give you amazing new thoughts and ideas.’ 

As appealing as this sounds, Woodward does concede that it can be challenging within organisations, although ultimately necessary: 

‘[Introducing new ideas] can be potentially troublesome, particularly when there is an already entrenched way of doing things. 

‘There’s no easy answer to that, there’s no magic fix. The only easy answer is to sit down, explain to your team, even in one-on-ones and then empower them to get involved.’

Sir Clive Woodward is the keynote speaker at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit in London, due to be held on 11 March 2020. Tickets are sold out, but you can secure a digital delegate ticket here (free for a limited time).

How To Figure Out Your Next Leader Before Accepting A New Role

How do you really know what your manager might be like, beyond the surface-level impressions you get at an interview? 


Few of us think that when we change jobs, a new job is all we’re getting. With any move, we’re replacing everything.

Suddenly, we’ve got new colleagues to befriend. New rules and processes to adapt to. And, most importantly, a new manager.

This can be a blessing, or, as I’ve argued before, a curse – in more ways than one

After all, 75% of all people resigning are leaving their bosses, not their jobs.

But how do you know, from the outset, what you’re getting yourself into? How do you really know what your manager might be like, beyond the surface-level impressions you get at an interview? 

You ask!

One of most common mistakes I see candidates making is treating a job interview as a one-way street, thinking it’s simply an opportunity for the organisation to get to know them. 

But that’s only half of it – and not even the most important part. A job interview is your chance to see whether the job and business you might enter align with your values. And whether your manager will help or hinder you in your career aspirations. 

Clearly, though, ascertaining this when you’re the one being interviewed can feel uncomfortable. 

So if you want to do so in the most discreet yet professional manner, here are my top tips for figuring out your manager during the interview process.

1. Ask about work style

When it comes to work, people’s preferences can vary greatly. Some of us feel comforted when our manager sticks close by us, reviewing all of our work and helping to guide our decisions. 

Others want the exact opposite – we’re completely autonomous and we only want to contact our manager when there’s an issue we legitimately can’t solve. 

Whatever your preference, it’s critical you know what your manager wants, so you can discuss it. So in your job interview, ask your potential manager about their working style. Ask questions such as: 

  • How much input would you like into my work? 
  • What’s the approval process for decisions?
  • Or simply – What’s your working style? How can we best work together? 

Doing this will help you understand their style and whether you can compromise. Or whether things simply won’t work. 

2. Discreetly ascertain expectations 

Many candidates stumble when it comes to asking about expectations in an interview, especially if they want to ask about flexibility or work-life balance.

How do you do so and still ensure you look committed to the role? 

The answer is complex, and there sometimes isn’t one correct way to approach it. However, when broaching this subject, I’ve often found it helps to do so indirectly. Here a few things you can try: 

  • Discuss the benefits of work-life balance in your old role: Even if this balance was non-existent, try saying something like: ‘In my current (or previous) role, the business advocated for work-life balance and that helped my team perform better. What’s your approach with this?’ 
  • Enquire about the working arrangements of the team: Asking about the working arrangement of the team you’re entering can be a great way to figure out if flexible work arrangements are common are not. Consider asking something along the lines of: ‘What is the team’s schedule? Is everyone in the office on certain days or for certain hours?’ The answer should give you a clue as to whether everyone works full-time, in-office – or whether flexible work is more common. 

3. Understand whether they’ll drive your career and development

In an ideal world, your manager should be your biggest champion and your biggest confidant. They should sing your praises, develop you and help you solve problems. 

But understanding whether they’ll do this for you can be a challenge. It takes more than them just being a ‘nice person’ to help you get ahead.

To see how invested they are in your career and development, try asking the following questions: 

  • Tell me about the careers of those in my team: Asking about the careers of those at your level (and a few levels above) can give you a clue as to how your manager may have helped them get there. Ask questions such as: ‘How did they get to where they are now? What opportunities were they given? What was your role in helping them get there?’
  • Feedback and feedforward: Asking about professional development opportunities in an interview should be a given. But beyond that, you’ll need to understand how your manager will develop you. To understand this, ask them about feedback. How often will they be giving it? Will it just be at a performance review, or more regularly? 

4. Learn about your boss’s boss 

In and of itself, learning about your manager’s manager is a good idea. It’s likely they’ll drive strategy and culture for the broader team, so it’s critical you understand them. But beyond this, they can also give you insight into your own manager. 

When enquiring about this, ask broad questions so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to get too personal. You can ask questions such as: ‘What do you like about this business?’ And then get more specific, such as: ‘What do you like or admire about management in our team?’

Hopefully, you’ll start to understand the management style of your manager’s manager and, by association, what your own boss likes or expects. 

5. Get insight into challenges, opportunities and plans 

No business is ever perfect – and neither is any manager. Even the best managers can struggle in stressful situations, and it’s almost inevitable their staff may feel the heat as a result. 

To see what you might be up against in this respect, try asking the following questions: 

  • What’s been most challenging in this role?’ Understanding this can give you an insight into how often your manager feels under strain in the role, and as a result, how often you might expect to be stressed as a result. 
  • What challenges lie ahead in this role?’ Not understanding the ‘roadmap’ for your role, team and manager when you’re interviewing is a fatal mistake. If you’re entering a bumpy or uncertain road, you need to be prepared. 
  • What opportunities do you foresee?’ Opportunities are just as important as challenges, so make sure you ask about these. If your manager can see and describe plentiful opportunities ahead, you’ll know that they’re the type of manager who is often on the lookout, which is a great thing. 

Are there any other discreet or not-so-discreet questions you ask to understand a manager before you take a role? Have the answers you’ve received given you insight, or have things changed when you’ve settled into the business? Share your experiences below! 

Tony Megally is the General Manager of The Source, Australia’s leading procurement recruitment and executive search firm. If you’re looking to hire in the procurement space, or alternatively, you’d like to have a confidential chat about your next role, please contact Tony on 03 9650 6665 or via email on [email protected]