Category Archives: Trending

Life At The Coronavirus Epicentre: Is This A Glimpse Into Our Future?

Are you ready for what’s to come? …


Every day, those of us in Australia, the US and Europe are increasingly feeling the full force of the coronavirus. In Italy, where the situation has escalated, the country has been fully quarantined. Countries all over the world are implementing strict restrictions on incoming travellers, and with no end in sight, the stock market continues to plummet.

One Procurious member who has already survived the worst of the crisis, and has come out the other side, is Paul Ryder, President of the International College of Finance at the Bank of China in Shanghai. Paul shared his fascinating story with us about what he’s experienced during the last few months, including special intel on China’s current supply chain situation. His insights are perhaps a glimpse into our future … will we be able to get the coronavirus under control, or will the sacrifice feel too great? 

When the news broke … 

The scenes of chaos we’ve seen worldwide and even worse, the harrowing decisions Italian doctors are now having to make, have become what we all now accept as consequences of the outbreak. But in stark contrast, Paul says that when the virus broke out in China, he felt the response was quite controlled: 


Want to hear more of Paul’s fascinating story? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news over an 8-week content series via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. 

We’re stronger together. Join us now. 


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.

Design Thinking Applied To Procurement

Don’t reinvent the wheel, apply design thinking tools to help you plan your next procurement.


Agile processes and design thinking are not fads, they are here to stay. During a three day design sprint that I participated in recently. I was bombarded with many different models designed to stimulate creativity. The result was a continual stripping down of our ideas until they were polished and on target.

Using these tools to break down our assumptions and continually test and probe ourselves for new answers was both exhausting and inspiring. Tools to aid design thinking don’t have to be high tech, new or complex to be effective. They are simple and freely available, so why aren’t we utlising them more in procurement?

Design thinking in action

Here are some of the design thinking exercises that I have used recently in my work:

  • Lightning Demos: before a workshop set the attendees homework to discover relevant tools or examples of either how your problem has been dealt with elsewhere, and/or things you’ve interacted with in your daily life that you find easy to use e.g. pay wave credit card for ease of transacting, a website you’ve used, etc.
  • ‘How Might We…’: takes challenges and poses them as questions.
  • User Journey Maps: These help to build empathy and understanding. Start with how your user first encounters your business / product and map out their experience end to end.
  • Crazy Eights: You fold your A4 piece of paper into eight sections and set the timer for eight minutes. Try and think of any solution possible, no matter how out there.
  • Game theory: Using cards to stimulate combinations of thinking differently e.g. event cards, theme cards, product idea cards. Draw one each from the pile and see what ideas it generates.
  • The Five Whys: the idea is to keep interrogating the cause of the problem to ensure any solution has dug to the actual root cause. In the example below often the response would end at fixing the leak.
  • Personas: Another empathy building tool. Build up a detailed persona of the core or target user and use them when designing ideas.
  • SCAMPER: The acronym represents seven techniques for idea generation: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate and Reverse
  • Dot voting: With an overwhelming amount of post it notes and ideas, each person gets two dot stickers to place on the post it note that they feel is the most important and contributes to addressing the problem statement.
  • Decision matrix: Because everyone loves a four box diagram in procurement. This Is a great way to clear on priorities, especially if there are a lot of dot stickers!

Want to find out more? Google has made their design sprint kit free, its open source and available for anyone to use. You can find further information about each design thinking tool cited above by visiting their website.

How can you apply these to your procurement project?

Many internal customers come with pre-formed solutions and ideas of how to solve the problem or opportunity they wish to approach the market about. The design thinking exercises are quick ways to ensure that the right solution is being reached for. If the customer is not willing to participate, you can do these by yourself.Test for new ways to solve the issue and test that the problem or opportunity has been correctly identified in the first place.

Ditch the 400 page strategy

The Lean Canvas is where we can start to bring all the creative thinking together on one page. It should be clear, concise and make a convincing case for change. There are many free examples online. The lean canvas can be used to replace the traditional procurement plan document for low risk procurements. It can also cut down a category management paper to it’s essence, making the perfect executive summary for others to digest at a glance.

This sounds bonkers

Are people really doing this? Yes! My current workplace is central government agency and we are using the lean canvas approach in the place of traditional procurement plans.The co-design process can replace tenders effectively. The theory of change model is the perfect framework to accelerate an idea and unlock its true impact.

Get inspired and start thinking outside of the procurement box!

This article is solely the work of the author. Any views expressed in it are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect official policy of the New Zealand government or of any government agency.

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 The Coronavirus Will Impact Your Supply Chain And What To Do About It

What key steps can you take limit the potential effects of the coronavirus on your organisation?


In China on 9 February the world received news it didn’t want to hear.

The number of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus has now overtaken that of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), with more than 1000 casualties. 

In addition to that, the virus is spreading at an alarming rate. There are now more than 40,000 confirmed cases. And this number is increasing as much as 20% every day.

While the virus is terrifying from a public health perspective, it’s also alarming in terms of your supply chain. Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the virus and now a city in total lockdown and complete disarray, is one of the world’s largest industrial hubs. 

Here’s how the coronavirus is affecting global supply chains – and what you can do about it. 

Production delays and factory closures

If you’re currently manufacturing anything in China, especially in the Wuhan area, you can expect significant production delays.

Fashion fit innovation company Alvanon, who manufacture dress forms in China, has issued a statement saying: 

‘We expect at least a four-week delay on physical goods that have already been paid for. Our factory is currently closed, and while we are doing all we can to minimize delays, we currently do not know when it will reopen.’ 

Currently, all public gatherings in Wuhan are forbidden. All factories and public places are closed. The flow of goods in and out of the area has come to a halt. 

Reduction in freighting capacity 

The coronavirus is now confirmed in more than 23 countries. And the world’s airlines are responding by cancelling flights to and from China. 

Airlines all over the world have ceased some or all of their China freight routes. 

Sea freighting is also likely to be affected. If you have goods in transport from China, there may be significant delays in them leaving major ports. And when they do leave, there’s a risk that crew will become ill on the journey. 

People movement

Freight is not the only thing that needs to come and go out of China. People also do, for business or leisure. 

The restrictions on flights will start to impact business agendas.

Many international companies are shutting down their offices in China and restricting all travel. 

Commodities market and the broader economy

From a supply chain perspective, what’s most concerning about the effect of the coronavirus is the already devastating impact it is having on the commodities market and the broader economy. 

As one of the world’s largest consumers of commodities, decreased demand in the Chinese market has now caused many commodity prices to slump. Copper has fallen 12% and crude oil 10%. The Bloomberg Commodity Index has taken a 6% hit. Analysts expect these decreases to continue.

Economists warn that the impact on the economy more broadly could also be dire. They believe that the fallout from the virus will be significantly worse than the SARS epidemic. 

The Chinese economy is much larger than it was then. But it’s also weaker, due to the continued US trade wars. 

China’s GDP growth is on track to slow (at least) in the first quarter, and analysts aren’t sure it will recover. This will, in turn, affect exchange rates and emerging markets. 

Developed economies are also expected to suffer. The downturn in Chinese tourism is expected to impact Australia’s economy to the tune of $1 billion.

What should you do? 

How can you manage the risk coronavirus represents for your organisation? 

Justin Crump, Procurious consultant CEO of Sibylline, a world-renowned risk management consultancy, recommends that procurement takes the following actions immediately.  

1. Understand cascading supply chain consequences

‘You need to understand more than just your suppliers,’ says Justin, ‘as it will be second-order problems that bite when you think you’re okay.’ 

To do this, Justin recommends you dig further to understand supplier dependencies.

A great way to do so might be to survey your suppliers. Test their exposure to the virus, and then try and mitigate any issues early. 

2. Stockpile if you can 

It might be too late for some, but Justin recommends that everyone who is able ‘tries to stockpile while you still can’. 

This is difficult for those practising just-in-time manufacturing.

But Justin thinks that if you can still action this advice you’ll benefit – as oil prices are substantially lower due to a steep fall in demand. 

3. Invest in resilience

Procurement should never be reactionary when it comes to risks, Justin reminds us. ‘But now, more than ever, you need to invest in resilience.’ 

Justin believes this ‘resilience’ needs to come in multiple forms.

For example:
• look into alternate suppliers – and move now to get ahead of your competitors
• consider impacts on staff, families and customer relationships 
• think long-term about how travel and freighting might be affected

4. Consider the bigger economic picture 

It’s tempting to focus on the now, Justin says. But it’s important to consider the bigger economic picture and how you might need to mitigate that risk (if that will even be possible). 

5. Appraise the effect on international relations

All large businesses depend on international relations to a degree Justin says, ‘so the effect on international relations shouldn’t be underestimated’. 

Justin thinks it’s important that we don’t rest on our laurels and just assume business will continue as usual.

‘What I see happening is that China is quietly blaming the US in some circles for the outbreak, calling it a deliberate attack,’ he says. ‘Likewise, the US is using this to encourage businesses to pull out of China. 

‘China blaming the US feels like more of an insurance policy to deflect criticism from the regime, but still . . . it’s a reminder that the global network is under threat.’ 

So bear in mind Justin’s analysis and consider taking these 5 steps to limit potential supply-chain difficulties resulting from the coronavirus. 

What effects are you seeing on your supply chain from the coronavirus? How are you managing risk? Tell us in the comments below. 

Interested in more hot tips on how to improve your supply chain approach and get more productive? Join the Procurious community of 37,000 members where you’ll find daily inspiration.

Who Has Influence And How Do You Get More Of It?

Influence comes in all forms and from a variety of different sources. But, in the digital age, is the nature of influence changing? And how might it change further over the next few years?


What does influence look like in your life? Who are the main influencers? Depending on a great number of factors, including your values, norms, gender, race and age (amongst many others), the people who have influenced your life to this point represent a very diverse cross-section of society. And it’s likely that these influencers will change over the course of your lifetime.

How people find and consume information has changed drastically in the past decade. The relentless growth of social media and digital channels for data, news and opinion has provided new sources for people to use. This has, in turn, led to the growth of digital and social media ‘influencers’, all of whom offer something slightly different and command a different audience.

In this series of articles, I’ll look at what influence is and who the influencers are in the digital age and why this might seem paradoxical. I’ll cover the notion that the power of influencers may be on the wane, before concluding by looking at the divergence of this versus procurement influencers, and how procurement can leverage this thinking to grow influence in the right places.

The Context

There has been plenty written about influence in the past (including articles here on Procurious), including looking at how individuals can measure and increase their own. To provide a bit of context for the whole series, first we need to provide some definitions on our key terms.

The Cambridge English dictionary defines ‘influence’ as, “the power to have an effect on people or things, or a person or thing that is able to do this”. When we consider influence in our lives, what does this look like? It could be things we read, see and engage with on a day-to-day basis, or something that resonates with us.

Influences are usually delivered or underpinned by an ‘influencer’ – “someone who affects or changes the way that other people behave”. In our lives, this could be anyone from parents, family and friends, to colleagues, peers, celebrities and/or global figures.

It could be argued that this definition is more traditional, yet not necessarily outdated. In the digital age, the term might be better defined as, “a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media”. We might not all be consuming a product, but the influence is there nonetheless.

What does this mean for individual people and how they are influenced? Is it changing the nature of influence? This is still up for debate.

The Changing Influence Environment

Consider the public’s consumption of information 50 years ago. This is long before the advent of the Internet and 24/7 connectivity and long before social media was even first considered. There was the print media and the original three channels on the TV. What seemed like a broad spectrum at the time now looks very narrow.

Influencers at this time would probably have been local or national, rather than international. The range would have been limited to those people who were well-known, who appeared on TV or radio frequently and were considered as experts in their fields. We’re talking here about politicians, celebrities, businesspeople or personalities.

In 2020, we have a world of information at our fingertips all hours of the day and night. We can connect with individuals in all walks of life, discussing and sharing about more topics than we could think of. These new influencers are freely accessed on social media and can create a large-scale, global audience fairly easily (comparatively to 50 years ago anyway).

News, Media & Video

The changing nature of how we consume media and content has enabled more individuals to gain traction in the social media environment. YouTube is a massively popular platform for the new generation of influencers. Ad sales alone in 2019 generated $4.7 billion (£3.62 billion) for parent company Alphabet.

It’s easy to see why when research shows that two-thirds of Millennials prefer YouTube to traditional television, and that there are over 1 billion hours of online content viewed daily. For an individual to get started, all they need is a computer, a social media account, a camera and/or microphone, some basic editing skills and a ‘hook’.

It better be a good ‘hook’ though – 20 per cent of social media users admit that they will stop watching a video if it hasn’t hooked them in the first 10 seconds.

For influencers this means that they need to know how to attract and retain their audience, but also produce quality content. For some, it will be enough to share their knowledge. Others will only gain a small audience, or a larger audience over a longer period. But a minority will gain thousands of followers quickly, and become recognisable ‘influencers’.

Social Media – Gen Z’s World?

Which brings us to our individuals and influencers-to-be. On social media, they are categorised in three groups:

  1. Micro influencers – offer authority on a specific and narrow niche, generally with smaller audiences (10,000 people or less). They can be a useful group for marketers as they are more affordable and have higher levels of engagement.
  2. Power middle influencers – have audiences ranging for 10,000-250,000 people and likely already have experience working with brands.
  3. Macro influencers – these are the digital celebrities on social media, with an audience of over 250,000 people. Their potential reach is huge, but they are more costly for marketers and have a lower engagement rate.

If celebrities make up a large percentage of the ‘macro’ influencers, then we can consider the ‘power middle’ as the new generation of influencers. And this new generation is largely made up of younger Millennials or Gen Z (those born since 1997). In 2018, the top 10 highest earners on YouTube were all, apart from 2, under 30.

The highest earner was Ryan Kaji, who stars in the ‘Ryan’s World’ channel, with earnings of $22 million. He’s 8 years old. It’s no wonder that children and teenagers galore think that being an influencer is a career route they want to take.

Does this then give credence to the idea that the world of social media and digital influence belongs to Gen Z? It’s an interesting question that provides us with an interesting paradox.

A Matter of Gravitas? Or Consumption?

If influence in the past has been related to experience, knowledge, gravitas and global renown (not necessarily traits only found in older people), then how is there more prominence for younger influencers despite having (theoretically) less to offer?

Consider this list of the “must know” influencers in 2019. You could argue that older generations are being squeezed out of influencer circles in the digital world. This could easily be linked to how younger generations consume their media and content. You could also argue that, in the digital world, there is room for all to exist. An older generation of influencers could attract an older generation of followers, assuming these followers consume their content digitally.

However, this generation may already have missed the boat as social media influence shifts again. As the digital world continues to evolve, so does the nature of influence and its perception. So, is this generation too late? Or could they stand to benefit just as much as the game changes again? We’ll cover this and more in the next article in this series.

To hear from top procurement influencers, be sure to join up and be part of the Procurious network. With 37,000 members, this is the place to gain knowledge and insights into the latest procurement and supply chain matters.

How Did We Go? Procurement’s Performance During An Unprecedented Crisis

The bushfire crisis has devastated Australia. But how has it affected our jobs and our organisations? We spoke to members of The Faculty’s Roundtable program to see what the impact had been and how they’d managed.


Whenever the need arises, procurement steps up. And during the recent unprecedented Australian bushfires, the situation was no different: procurement professionals from across the country, in roles from analyst to CPO, took the crisis under their wing and worked hard to manage huge and urgent projects, doing everything from sourcing safety masks to visiting impacted sites and absorbing, first-hand, the horror of the situation. 

The fact that the bushfire crisis is a procurement-related issue is of little doubt, so much so that it’s made international headlines. In a case that is yet unresolved, Australian charity The Red Cross has been criticised for not distributing funds quickly enough to those in need. Yet The Red Cross has fiercely defended their work, saying, in a statement we can all relate to: ‘We must manage the money so we aren’t scammed…we need to protect funds.’  In times of crisis, supplier vetting and proper process is just as, if not more important, according to The Red Cross and other charities, especially given the public pressure to ‘spend with them,’ an initiative that encourages all Australian people and companies to spend as much as possible with bushfire-affected communities.

The Red Cross might have made the headlines, but how are we, as procurement professionals for some of the world’s leading companies, doing behind the scenes? We surveyed procurement leaders from members of The Faculty’s Roundtable Program to see what impact they’d made, how they coped and what they were proud of in this time of crisis. Here’s what they told us. 

The impact of the bushfires 

There’s no doubt that the bushfires have had an impact on procurement, and this impact has been felt most for our members in the insurance, banking and service/utilities industry. 

For one member in insurance, the procurement team has been pivotal in increasing resourcing to areas that are making claims. Yet with this, they’ve treaded carefully with suppliers: 

‘[In times of crisis, like these, my team have ensured] suppliers in fire regions are being treated sensitively.’ 

For another member in utilities, the crisis has forced them to consider a few of their policies and plans: 

‘The bushfires have really made us stress test our Disaster Recovery plan and rethink our emergency sourcing process.’ 

‘They have highlighted the critical importance of having a solid, reliable and trusted supplier partner to meet all of our urgent demands.’ 

Supplier selection 

On the issue of suppliers, many procurement teams have had to adjust their approach. One, in the services industry, has made a concerted effort to follow the ‘spend with them’ mantra: 

‘[For this crisis in particular], there is a strong imperative to use local suppliers and providers, including trades, cleaners etc. This is to ensure that any investment in rebuilding these communities comes from the communities themselves.’ 

For others, like this member in the banking industry, it’s been more about alignment, agility and innovation: 

‘Right now, we’re focusing on who can mobilise fast and solve issues.’ 

‘In a crisis, it’s not so much about being perfect as it is about getting in and trying something to see if it will work. Organisations that can provide solutions by quickly connecting people and resources are more valuable than providers who take time to line everything up and have the ideal outcome in a bureaucratic fashion.’ 

For other members, it was simply an issue of availability. Two members, both in the utilities industry, simply said that ‘resource availability’ was their focus when selecting suppliers. 

Positive impact 

While the bushfire crisis – and, indeed, any crisis – is a busy time for procurement, a number of our members have achieved great things. For a member in the services industry, they were able to make a substantial frontline impact: 

‘[Our team has helped] deliver a number of significant outcomes, including bussing people from fire-hit areas to evacuation centres and providing them with catering and other services when they arrived.’ 

Another member, from the insurance industry, has gone the extra mile to look after their suppliers: 

‘We reduced supplier payment terms to those located in fire regions from 30 days to immediate.’ 

Each member has contributed, but a member from the banking industry has gone above and beyond, ensuring that they assist from a charity and staff perspective: 

‘We are currently working with WorkVentures, a social enterprise that refurbishes laptops. We’ve funded them to refurbish 5,000 laptops to provide to the Salvation Army, who will distribute them in affected areas. This has such far-reaching implications; it will help environmentally, as well as with community disaster relief and disability employment.’ 

‘In addition to this, we’ve established a $1.5 million funding packing, which includes customer/employee grants, recovery support, relief packages and unlimited paid leave for volunteers.’ 

A strategy focus? 

Given the increasing expectation on procurement to be a strategic business partner within organisations, many procurement teams took the crisis as an opportunity to use their strategic prowess. 

Yet some didn’t consider strategy at this particular time. A member in the services industry told us: 

‘At this point, the operational requirements far outweigh the strategic requirements.’ 

Other members disagreed though, with many making strategic contributions. One member in the insurance industry has used the crisis to start focusing on a long term-issue: 

‘We’re now strategically elevating climate elements within our procurement operating model.’ 

Another member, in the transport industry, is using the crisis to make critical future preparations: 

‘After this crisis, we’re now in the planning phase for emergency preparedness and response. We are reviewing our supply market, preparing for activity.’ 

Do you relate? How has your procurement team been affected by the Australian bushfire crisis, or other crises you’ve experienced? Tell us in the comments below. 

The Faculty’s Roundtable Program gives leading procurement professionals at member organisations the opportunity to learn, connect and access industry-leading research, networks and knowledge. Collaborative in spirit, the recent bushfire crisis was yet another example of where our Roundtable community was able to band together to support each other, share best practice, and drive positive outcomes for their organisations and our profession. 

Not a member? Join us. Enquire here.

A Decade In Review: Procurement In 2020

Is procurement less, just as, or more important this decade than the last? Find out as we take a walk down memory lane…

It’s the dawn of a new decade in procurement, and goodness me, how things have changed. From the digitisation of just about everything, to the introduction of big data, 2020 looks vastly different than 2010 did. 

As a former CPO and now Principal Advisor at Procurious, I’ve been at the coalface at what I can only describe as seismic changes to our profession. 

But have all the changes we’ve seen been good changes? Are we now poised to deliver more value, or will we struggle to do more with less? And are we more relevant than ever, or is technology replacing us? Here are my key observations from the last decade – and what we need to do to stay valuable going forward:

We became captivated with compliance

The last decade started for me with a bang – I was promoted to a procurement leadership role and I was, for the first time in my career, excited to be able to effect real, lasting and meaningful change. I felt that procurement could achieve much more than pumping out stock-standard contracts and controlling third-party spend. 

Yet my excitement was short-lived. As I looked around me, I found that, as a function, the procurement community just didn’t seem interested in broader, value-adding gains. Their focus was still quite shortsighted; they seemed captivated by processes and fixated on compliance. Cost-savings, contracts and the financial bottom line seemed to be the only thing on their mind.

Data made us better advisors (but some of us are still catching up)

‘Don’t ever do a job a machine can do,’ said our grandparents, as they rejoiced at the invention of the calculator. Suddenly, this advice was ringing true in our profession – we had eProcurement, cloud computing, and AI to take away a lot of our administrative work. What came in its place was the ability to deliver new and intriguing insights to our stakeholders quickly, without having to spend hours on Excel.  

As emails replaced purchase order pads, eCatalogues replaced supplier brochures and the data started to flow through, we had the information to inform our strategies and priorities. As a result, our advice and cost savings rapidly improved. 

Not everyone was a fan, though. Many of us became concerned with job stability, and some believed that technology had created more issues than it solved.

From cost reduction to value creation

As the decade progressed, our relentless focus on cost reduction started to feel like a grind, not least for suppliers who, feeling bullied by our negotiation techniques, began to speak out and cry ‘no more.’ These changes meant that the expectations of our stakeholders started to move away from a focus purely on cost.

The good news was that our newly automated processes helped us to shift our attention from cost-savings to value creation. Before we knew it, we’d automated our entire P2P process, freeing us up to build strategic partnerships with both our suppliers and stakeholders. 

In uncertain business and economic times, the focus on value creation was exactly what our profession needed. It lifted us from a ‘necessary evil’ in some people’s eyes to a strategic partner. On the whole, though, that transformation is far from complete, and many of us still have some work to do in this regard.

It’s more about the people than ever

Behind the analysis, behind the processes, and behind the cost-savings, procurement has always been a people profession. And perhaps the best news of the decade is that with all the change, with all the uncertainty and with the new and heightened expectations, procurement professionals have shown themselves to be resilient, optimistic and future-focused. 

We’ve embraced digital disruption. We’ve welcomed, with open arms, technology that makes us more efficient, and we’ve also onboarded stakeholders and suppliers to use that technology, meaning we’re adding even more value. 

But we’ve also realised where technology stops and that is, sometimes, with communication. We now understand how critical our ‘soft skills’ are at work, and that technology can’t replace the influential conversations we need to have to convince an operational manager to change suppliers, or make a case to buy more sustainably. Technology is transformative, but then again, so is our ability to negotiate.

As for 2020 and beyond?

With digitisation and automation now happening at breakneck speed, many of us have embraced the change but fear what’s coming next. Soon, virtual assistants will abound, collaborative marketplaces will proliferate. What value will we add, then? 

The answer is plenty. One thing we’ve learnt from the last decade is that in uncertain times, human relationships prevail, and that’s where our strength and expertise shine through. Armed with our best people skills, the sky is really the limit for procurement. As a function, 2020 and beyond could see us having more strategic influence than ever before. 

What other changes have you seen in the last decade? Do you think that procurement is less, just as, or more important this decade than last? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Helen Mackenzie is a Principal Advisor at Procurious and a former senior leader in UK public procurement. Connect with her on LinkedIn and join Procurious to hear more of her unique insights.

Don’t Overlook This One Critical Factor When Choosing Your Next Role

Many mention salary as a reason to look elsewhere. So, what possibly could go wrong when you chase the money?

When Tom* was headhunted for a procurement specialist role at a major energy supplier, his eyes lit up. It was literally his dream job – and at a salary $30,000 higher than he was being paid. 

What could possibly go wrong? 

Tom resigned immediately and started planning the lavish holiday on which he’d now be able to take his family. 

Yet less than 6 months later Tom found himself in my office, miserable. 

Tyrannical boss

It turned out that what had seemed like a lucrative move was anything but.

The long hours and high stress of his new role – combined with a tyrannical and workaholic boss – had made the situation untenable. 

‘I’ve learnt the hard way,’ Tom told me, ‘that it’s not all about money.’ 

As general manager of The Source, I meet hundreds of talented procurement professionals every year.

Like Tom, many mention salary as one of the reasons they want to look elsewhere. 

But I often tell candidates that money shouldn’t be the only reason for choosing a job. And in many cases it shouldn’t be an influencing factor at all. 

Here’s why. 

Flexibility and well-being are key

Workplace satisfaction research conducted over the last decade tells us that, contrary to popular belief, salary isn’t one of the driving factors when it comes to happiness at work. 

In fact, salary comes close to last on the list. 

What makes us truly happy at work is, in fact, a combination of permanent workplace flexibility, a commitment to health and well-being and the feeling that we’re doing meaningful and interesting work. 

We also need to feel respected at work. 

We need and want our leaders to notice and listen to us.

And, to an extent, we want them to praise us for our efforts.

In Tom’s situation, he had ended up with none of these. 

He wasn’t getting any respect. In fact, his new manager often berated him in front of other colleagues. 

He also had little flexibility. 

Despite the fact that the organisation had a strong policy on workplace flexibility, Tom’s workaholic manager made him feel like he could never take advantage of it. 

Finally, the lack of flexibility, high expectations and poor management had a knock-on effect on Tom’s health and well-being.

He was stressed and tired all the time – and struggled to stay motivated. 

Again, the organisation had a policy on employee well-being. But that hardly mattered to Tom, whose entire experience was being dictated by a manager he hated. 

People leave their bosses, not their jobs

After talking to me about his situation, Tom quickly came to another realisation about his poor career move.

And this time it wasn’t about salary. 

When you look at the drivers of workplace satisfaction, almost all can be achieved – or derailed – by your leader. 

This is something that’s enshrined in fact: 75% of all people leave their bosses, not their jobs. 

So if you think about it like that, risking leaving a good boss for the unknown can make the salary gain pale in comparison. 

Sure, that extra money might get you a great holiday, help you pay off your debt or buy you the car you’ve always wanted, but what are you giving up in return? 

Your job is a 40-hour-a-week, 48-week-per-year reality, and your career – which a manager can also make or break – is a lifelong endeavour. 

After a few months of searching, we eventually placed Tom in a new role, with a leader I know will give him the career experience he wants and deserves. 

But for all of you thinking of your next move this year, let this be a cautionary tale. 

How much does salary really mean? And how much emphasis should you place on that against working for someone who holds the key to your workplace happiness? 

I’d love to hear your experiences – please share them in the comments section below. 

Interested in some more career advice? Whether you want to move up in your career, change industries, or even need some extra motivation for the new year (and new decade!), start 2020 off with a bang in our upcoming webinar – Don’t Quit Your Day Job. Register here.

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 +613 9650 6665 or via email on [email protected]

*Name changed to protect privacy