Tag Archives: 2020

2020 Broke, Can We Get a New One?

2020 needs a reboot! Read on for tips on how to reframe the year from hell into a strategy to launch your career into success in 2021.

2020 – the one we all want to forget. It’s the year where we want to phone the universe’s IT department and ask if they can please push restart and download the new update, cos this ain’t working.

It’s a year of meme gold and one for the history books.

It’s been a year of heart warming collective connections and soul crushing defeats on a personal and global scale.

The highs were hard fought and the lows had you banning sweat pants on a weekend as they were reclassified as office wear.

The end of the year is fast approaching

Typically at this time of year we begin to reflect on the year we’ve had, what went well and not so well.  Plans start to form for the year ahead. What’s different about this year is that everyone is looking forward to seeing the back of it, like 2020 was some awkward uninvited guest.

Well this guest doesn’t have a curfew, it won’t just leave because we want it to. There seems to be a collective wish that if we just push through, when we wake up on the morning of the 1st of January 2021 everything will be different somehow.

2020 is not dirt on your shoulder

You can’t just brush it off. 

If we see 2020 as some embarrassing ex that we want to forget about, then we risk falling again. Because the truth is that this new place we find ourselves in is here to stay and by that I don’t mean the cliche of “this is the new normal”, but living with relative unpredictably and having things we took for granted (like being able to travel) still being out of our reach.

Opportunity knocks

2020 offers us a chance for growth. When people say “can we get rid of 2020 already! Am I right?” I actually struggle to join in with the 2020 beat up. It had definite lows, but 2020 offered a chance to work differently, innovate products and undertake self reflection and learn new resilience skills. There was no rhythm, predictive analysis or scenario planning that could prepare  anyone for this.

I noticed the people pushing through where the ones that were asking “what can I learn?” and “what is this bringing forward?”. As a team we found ourselves discussing how we can work with more heart and how can we stay connected.

COVID Linings

Resilience used to be about dealing with change. Traditional courses had an underlying agenda that if you prepared enough then you could handle anything, well how do you prepare for an international pandemic?  Resilience is now about vulnerability. Vulnerability is the only thing we have left when everything else goes out the window. It doesn’t mean you become weaker by opening yourself up to be picked apart (a fear response) but rather it’s the fuel for innovation.

A rebel mindset is important, one where we throw out the rules we’ve built for ourselves because heck – COVID has thrown our sense of security out the window so why stick to office platitudes and tired ways of doing things?

Try these tips to take the best lessons from your 2020 into the future:

  • Try something new and see how it goes. If an inner critic raises it’s head, banish it
  • Explain what motivates and drives you, shift your perspective from focusing on the details and the what and began to ask why and how
  • Don’t be afraid to pick a passion project and call it that, share it widely and recruit people to your cause
  • Open up to your colleagues about your struggles or blockages in your work and you’ll be surprised how many can relate
  • Stop thinking about all the things you can’t control or the things you can’t do and start thinking: if there are no rules and the shackles are off, what can you challenge, change or make?

2021 is going to be much like 2020 but hopefully we’re all a little bit more prepared. Rather than leaving 2020 in the dust, what can you thank it for?

The Year That Changed Everything

As 2020 comes to a close, let’s take a moment to reflect on the year that changed everything and prepare for what comes next.


Close your eyes. Breathe in… breathe out. And again: Breathe in, breathe out.

The chaos of 2020 is nearly over.

Back in February, we knew that COVID-19 would represent a watershed moment for procurement and supply chain professionals everywhere. But little did we know just how severe and lasting the impact would be. Our own research found that 97% of the world’s supply chains were disrupted. Fast-forward nine months, and procurement and supply chain management has changed forever, and so has our world. 

2020 was, simply put, difficult, stressful and disruptive. Everything we did and experienced was in the backdrop of a global pandemic – which affected how we think and interact, to how much we work and see our friends and family. But amidst the craziness, the pandemic also created new opportunities for our profession to shine, make a difference and get the recognition we deserve. And we delivered, in a big way.

Regardless of how you are feeling right now, there’s no turning back. The new year is around the corner. As 2021 approaches, what matters is how we adapt, move forward and chart our next course.

Unfortunately, and despite our best hopes, the first half of next year likely promises more of the same stress. But if we’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that we are remarkably resilient, capable and in many cases, supernormal. We have everything we need to thrive and rise above the challenges, regardless of what is thrown our way.

Procurement Reflections on 2020: Super Heroes and Change Makers

While it’s easy to harp on the chaos of 2020, we prefer to think positive – and you should too. Consider all that we accomplished. In less than a year, our profession:

  • Overcame the biggest supply chain disruption this world has ever seen
  • Kept supply lines for critical goods and services operational
  • Used our influence to make a big mark on sustainability, diversity and social issues
  • Supported our supplier and small business partners, often during their hardest hours
  • Stepped up to lead and strategically contribute amidst crisis
  • Digitised and modernised the way we operate and collaborate  
  • Helped our colleagues make connections and find new jobs
  • Played an essential role in helping our organisations navigate the financial crisis

We also experienced a crash course in supply chain risk. We got knocked down, picked ourselves up and made seismic changes to the way we think, plan and operate. In the process, we created a more secure, reliable and sustainable supply chain than ever before.

As a profession, we should be proud. Sure, we have battle scars, but those scars make us stronger and prepare us to tackle whatever is thrown our way. That’s key – because 2021 promises to be another watershed year. Along with the ongoing financial crisis, many procurement and supply chain leaders will be tasked with protecting and accelerating the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain – and all the supporting elements that come with it. For those that play a role, whether big or small, it will be one of the most important initiatives they ever take on. Thankfully, after the year we have just experienced, we can be confident that our profession is ready and prepared.

Your New Year’s Resolution: Gratitude and Reflection

If you’re like me, there’s a million things you want to do next year. There are goals to set and plans to make. Everything can and should be made better in 2021. 

Instead of obsessing about all the things you want next, give thanks for what you have right now. Be proud of what you have accomplished. Celebrate with all those who helped you along the way.

I’ll go first. I am profoundly grateful and appreciative of our entire community. Thank you for reading and contributing. Thank you for sharing your strategies and experiences. Thank you for lifting each other up and lending a helping hand to your peers in need. Our community was all-in in 2020 – and we helped thousands of people and companies along the way. For that, I am both grateful and amazed.

Now it’s your turn. We have another big year ahead of us. But before we get caught up in it, let’s take the break we deserve. Let’s reflect on all the good we have done. Let’s spend more time with friends and family. Let’s celebrate our successes.

And let’s remember to breathe. In and out. Over and over again.

The Best Defence Is A Good Offence

Worried that your job may be on the chopping block? How to play offense & save your job!


“The best defense is a good offense.” No doubt you’ve heard this phrase. It’s been attributed to many different leaders, Michael Jordan, Knute Rockne, George Washington. But it’s an adage that’s just as old as war. This idea is also shared in business. Get out ahead of the problems. Anticipate. This is a great idea, especially if it’s starting to look like you might get fired or laid off.

First off, I think it’s fair to share that employers don’t always do an excellent job of firing people; they wait too long, do a really bad job at documenting reasons that would lead to firing people, look at emotional rather than rational reasons for letting someone go. HR is usually the fall guy – giving the manager an excuse for doing something they’ve likely wanted to do. Supervisory or management training doesn’t always include how to make good hiring decisions or how to provide constructive feedback in a way that encourages a good employee to improve or help them make a graceful exit if the position isn’t a good match for the employee’s skills.

Yet, even knowing all of that, it doesn’t make it any better to feel like your job is on the line. Even if you really don’t like your job. 

What choice have I got?

Most people I’ve talked to about this had a bit of a fatalistic attitude about it – much of the advice was preparing for what’s next: get your things together, fix up your resume and start looking for another opportunity. And honestly, take it at face value: this may be the chance you didn’t realize you were waiting for!

Which, let’s be honest, this may be what your organization is hoping you’ll do (if they are planning to fire you). Firing someone is hard. It’s uncomfortable. People are upset. Most leaders don’t like doing it and will do almost anything to avoid it. It’s not much different if you are going to be laid off.

But what if your job isn’t that far gone yet? Let’s talk about things you can do NOW to protect your job. Go on the offense so you aren’t looking for that “hail Mary pass” in the final seconds of the game. For those not familiar with American football, this is a long-shot pass, with very little chance of success. But it doesn’t stop teams from trying it, or fans from rooting for it.

(photo tribute to Star Tribune)

Be indispensable

First, let’s review my last post on how to make yourself indispensable. Do something better than others in your organization: be reliable, share information, be curious about your role and your organization. By making yourself indispensable, it will be harder for them to find a reason to either fire you or lay you off.

Share your successes

Keep track of your successes. Share your successes with your manager. Don’t assume they already know. Learn how to tell your story, and tell it often. Help your supervisor be able to tell your story to those higher up. Your success stories will confirm to others that you belong with this organization.

Explore all avenues

Maybe you are seeing the signs of a layoff. The economy, especially in America, is in a recession and lots of people are losing their jobs. If your job is at risk due to a layoff, you can still use being indispensable and successful to help you keep your job. But if it’s bigger, maybe your entire department is about to go! What else is available in your organization? Talk to your boss about opportunities to use your skills in a different area of the organization. Most skills have a level of transferability and if you are at a large organization, there may be a chance to try out something new. The healthcare organization I work at offered staff the opportunity to reskill into an area of direct patient care. Think about what else you can do.

Losing your job sucks. And I’ve been there – fired, laid off and on both sides of the coin! But the work you do now can help you keep your job, assuming that’s the end goal. Or, the work you do now, can help prepare you for that next, awesome opportunity. Good luck!

5 Things 2020 Taught Us About Our Procurement Careers

After 2020, it’s back to the drawing board as far as career advice goes! Our expert sources reveal their top career tips moving forward.


As procurement evolves as a profession, so too does the career advice associated with it. Most years, we learn a thing or two more that we’ll need to implement. This year though? Not so much. 2020 has been the year that career advice has not just evolved, but changed entirely. It has been the year where we have redefined what ‘success’ might look like, grown an appreciation for the small things, and valued the people around us even more. It has been the year where we’ve challenged assumptions about not only how we work, but also where we work and why we do what we do. 

So what, exactly, has 2020 taught us about our careers? Given the now monumental importance of the supply chain and procurement profession, many experts have weighed on what the very best career advice of 2020 has been. Here’s a round up of the five most important things we’ve learnt this year: 

1. We don’t need to be ashamed of being laid off 

It’s one of most people’s greatest fears for good reason: no one wants to get laid off. Being laid off (especially in this economic environment) can feel overwhelming, frightening and humiliating. But what is perhaps even worse is contemplating how to explain being laid off to future employers. Won’t they think that it was a problem with you? 

No they most certainly won’t, says Imelda Walsh, Manager at The Source Recruitment. Even before the millions of redundancies that happened this year, it was always best practice to be honest with a future employer about why you left your last role. 

And especially this year, Imelda says, the stigma around being laid off has all but been put to bed. Being honest about what has happened helps protect your personal brand: 

“If you’re honest, it shows you have integrity. If you’re not, it casts doubt over your whole personal brand. It takes an entire career to build a positive personal brand, but only a few minutes to destroy one.” 

You can read more of Imelda’s brilliant advice here. 

2. Looking after your people is integral to your success

In the past, many have thought of a career as an individual pursuit. In fact, in days gone by, an autocratic management style and having sharp elbows were considered a requisite to success. 

But not anymore. 

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that if our team doesn’t succeed, neither will we. Being a gracious and empathetic person (and leader and team player) has never been more important. In fact, if you want to succeed, this is the exact advice that Ian Holcroft, Director at Murphy, gives all aspiring CPOs: 

“No matter the technological advancements we have now and into the future, people will still be at the centre of everything we do. In strange and challenging times, it’s even more important to look after your people – understand what drives them, what challenges they have outside work and the status of their mental health.” `

Ian has much more excellent advice, here. 

3. Crisis can help build our leadership skills 

One piece of advice that doesn’t change year to year is that we all need to cultivate our leadership skills. This is so important, in fact, that it is considered the number one skill required to succeed in your career, regardless of your profession. 

Usually, a combination of training, experience and a great mentor can help us develop these leadership skills. But a curveball that 2020 has thrown us is that these aren’t the only ways to develop leadership skills. In fact, a crisis can be fundamental in helping us to develop the ability to lead through uncertainty, which is an essential part of leading. 

Mark Holyoake, founder of Holyoake Search, believes that 2020 has provided us all with a unique opportunity to lead, and this is something that companies look for when hiring senior procurement professionals: 

“Leading through uncertainty and adversity has certainly been required of late. As a CPO, you’ll always face uncertainty – so leading in this way is a great skill to be nurturing now.” 

Mark knows more than a thing or two about what skills companies look for when hiring CPOs. You can read his compelling advice here. 

4. Connect inside – and outside – of your industry 

For as long as we’ve been offering career advice, we’ve said one thing to all procurement professionals: building your connections is key. In fact, building connections is the reason we created Procurious in the first place. 

But this year has made the need to connect with others – both inside our team and industry, and outside of it – even more important. With the nature and complexity of some of the supply chain disruptions we’ve seen, connecting and collaborating with all manner of people is now not just a nice to have, but a need to have in order to problem solve and keep our organisations functioning. 

Ian Holcroft, Director at Murphy, believes there’s been no better time to remember one particular old, yet critical adage: 

“It isn’t about what you know, but rather who you know.” 

Ian has much more captivating advice when it comes to connecting. 

5. Be expansive in your thinking

In procurement, we like to think we’re excellent problem solvers. We’re also (usually) excellent risk managers, organisers, and creators of seamless processes. 

But this year basically obliterated our assumptions about almost everything we do. It is no longer possible to use old solutions and to solve the new problems we’re experiencing. 

They key to solving for this, says Mok O’Keefe, Chief Officer at The Innovation Beehive, is to be expansive in our thinking. He says: 

“To be expansive in your thinking, you need to suspend your judgement and forget about assumptions. Say to yourself: how else could this work? Then, when ideas come to mind, ignore the voice that says ‘this is a crazy idea and it won’t work.’ Instead, ask yourself: ‘Under what circumstances could this be possible?’” 

It’s fair to say we all need to be a bit more innovative with our careers this year. Mok’s got a great formula for this, which you can read here.  

2020, the year careers as we know them changed forever 

Like most things after 2020, our careers will never be the same. But could different mean better? Many experts think so. Let’s head into 2020 with a fresh set of advice, a renewed way of looking at things and even higher aspirations for ourselves and our profession. 

“I Want To Break Free” – Is This Procurement & Supply Chain’s 2020 Theme Song/Anthem?

We asked our LinkedIn community for their top pandemic anthems, and the result was an awesome playlist!


Owing to the myriad Supply Chain disruptions this year, many of us suddenly found that the world was no longer our oyster – or if it was, it clamped shut and trapped us inside. On top of Supply Chain chaos, we had to deal with our own incarceration.

Were you Happy like Pharrel or, despite all your rage, still just a Rat in a Cage like Smashing Pumpkins? Did you Always Look On the Bright Side of Life a la Monty Python, or did you swing from Sia’s Chandelier?

Perhaps it wasn’t The End of the World as We Know It but Lord knows you wanted to break free.

Music can either placate your mood or provoke it; it can augment your voice or do all the talking for you. In whichever case, certain songs will already be part of your daily COVID-19 landscape.

We asked our LinkedIn community for their Supply Chain anthems – and here’s the top 10:

Highway to Hell – AC/DC

– Peter Rand, Mastercard

No stop signs, speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down
Like a wheel, gonna spin it
Nobody’s gonna mess me around

When confronted with a crisis, do you let your hair down, throw your glass in the fireplace and yell “game on!”? You crank this rockin’ classic and take on the world!

Then you realise (as some of us did) these are problems we’ve never faced from a catastrophe we never imagined:

Help! – The Beatles

– Peter Rand, Mastercard

97% percent of organisations we surveyed reported a supply chain disruption – and few of us had ever seen anything like it. So if you found yourself thinking:

Help! I need somebody!
Help! Not just anybody!
Help! I need someone!
Help!

… You weren’t the only one!

One – U2

– Gale Daikoku, SAP

It wasn’t one single person or organisation who saved the world: the COVID-19 Pandemic was a textbook case of Procurement and Supply Chains working together:

We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other, carry each other

But with the huge pressures of work and the stifling restrictions on freedom, you could be forgiven for not basking in solidarity.

So Sick – Ne-Yo

– Tim Elliott, McLaren Automotive

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG2U2sjshTM

(It’s ridiculous) It’s been months, and for some reason I just
(Can’t get over us) And I’m stronger than this
(Enough is enough) No more walkin ’round with my head down
I’m so over bein’ blue

While working from home may be an introvert’s dream come true, for the rest of us the novelty is wearing thin. We all know this feeling of being locked up – especially Melburnians! Speaking of …

Locked Up – Akon

Warning: contains strong language

– Tim Elliott, McLaren Automotive

I’m locked up, they won’t let me out
No, they won’t let me out

There may not be grey walls and orange clothes, but isolation can still give off those incarceration vibes. Of course we can do most things from home, but … 

I Want To Break Free – Queen

– Rhylee Nowell, The Faculty

While our Supply Chains may be more resilient than ever, we can only take so much:

But life still goes on
I can’t get used to living without, living without
Living without you by my side
I don’t want to live alone, hey
God knows, got to make it on my own 

Or do you?

Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel

– Tania Seary, Founder, Procurious; Stephanie Shrader, Pridesports

when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Just as one Supply Chain helped another, all sorts of people put their hands up to help.

With A Little Help From My Friends – The Beatles

– Imelda Walsh, Manager, The Source

https://youtu.be/0C58ttB2-Qg

What do I do when my love is away?
Does it worry you to be alone?
How do I feel by the end of the day?
Are you sad because you’re on your own?
No, I get by with a little help from my friends

When your personal network is as strong as your business network, its support takes on inertia of its own.

Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin

– Greg Parkinson, Director, Turner & Towsend

The right frame of mind is the key to success: a little mindfulness, coupled with an Attitude of Gratitude a la Nicky Abdinor, goes a long way.

Thus set up for success, soon we’ll be poised to take on the world again:

I Want To Be A Billionaire – Bruno Mars

– Matthew Hadgraft, The Faculty

(Clean Version)

Oh every time I close my eyes
I see my name in shining lights
A different city every night oh right
I swear the world better prepare
For when I’m a billionaire

Keep your dreams, goals, ambitions and plans intact because all this will change. Every Procurement and Supply Chain executive knows the importance of a Business Continuity Plan – make sure your own plans are articulated, because who knows what opportunities the future will bring?

Do you have any suggestions for additional songs? Comment below.