Tag Archives: career advice

Barclays CPO: You’re In The Driver’s Seat, So Take The Wheel!

Don’t just come along for the procurement ride! If you want to make it big as a CPO, you’ve got to get in the driver’s seat and take the wheel!

Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!)  

What are today’s CPOs looking out for in the high performing procurement leaders of tomorrow?

Accepting change is good. But it’s even better if you can embrace it and drive it!

Barclays CPO, Al Williams, is certainly looking for more in his hires than a simple willingness to tolerate change. If you’re in the driver’s seat, you’ve got to take the wheel and drive the agenda!

On the fifth and final day of Career Boot Camp, Al discusses how procurement can generate value, how the function should be positioned within an organisation and how he encourages his hires to think about positive change.

And, if you’re in the market for some new shining stars, find out what you can do to make procurement a preferred and enticing destination for the next generation of professionals!

Five days, five CPOs, five fifteen-minute podcasts to help you upgrade your procurement career. 

Featuring tips and guidance from the best in the business, each of our  CPOs will dedicate their week to coaching you on becoming the best procurement leader you can be!

On Day 5 of Career Boot Camp we hear from Managing Director and CPO Barclays Al Williams.

Need a little convinving before you sign up? Check out our teaser trailer below to hear what Al had to say in reponse to our quick-fire questions.

Grabbing The Wheel

What attributes is Al Williams looking for in high performing procurement leaders?

“We’ve been building out a new leadership team in our procurement organization so I’ve had an opportunity to interview and select people, both with internal, internal within the organization and external. And some of the things I’m looking for, in addition to what I just talked about around innovation and problem solving and that kind of thing, is their ability and their willingness to embrace change. Not just manage it and tolerate it but they actually drive it, right?

“I want leaders who are in the driver’s seat, sort of pushing the agenda, and not just along for the ride, and certainly not those that feel like they’re victims and end up kind of victims as a part of a larger process. Deriving, embracing and driving change. I would also say a collaborative approach is very important and it’s collaborative in two dimension from both inside the organisations and outside the organization and in the market.

“It’s very important that we’re not the land of no, especially at a leadership level.  I think people want to be a part of an organisation like that, that’s a problem solving and collaborative team.”

What’s Procurement’s Position?

How should procurement functions position themselves within larger organisations? It’s a question that all senior procurement leaders are asking themselves. For Al, the answer is three-fold.

“One is we need to make sure that we’re positioning procurement as a strategic, value-adding player in the business, and not transactional. If we act transactional, and behave transactional that’s how the business will treat us, and that’s how we’ll be perceived by the business.

“Second is of course making sure that we align to the key business metrics or the key business outcomes that are important to the overall business strategy. And that would include things like financial metrics. That may be, if you’re a public company, [understand] what are the key things that are important to drive profitability and align determined outcomes to those. I would say the same thing from a risk perspective as well, aligning to the organisational risk tolerance, risk temperament and any metrics that are associated with that. So that’s an important positioning.”

And thirdly?

“Procurement used to be consultative, it needs to be in a position of influence, it needs to be helping the business, it needs to be sharing perspective, market knowledge, helping shape strategy, at least from a spin perspective for the business. When I talk about helping the business, a good example is policy compliance. We tend to have to be the communicator of, and sometimes the police of, certain policies in our businesses.

“I think it’s very important that procurement is positioned as ‘Hey, we’re here to help you be compliant to the policies and to help sort of maneuver you through the mirage of steps and checks that need to happen'”.

Listen to Al’s full podcast when you sign up to Procurious. Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!) 

Already a member of Procurious? You’re automatically enrolled for Career Boot Camp! Click here to listen to Al’s podcast in full.

Rio Tinto CPO: How To Fail Forward In Procurement

“No one is an Olympic caliber downhill skier from the outset!” Ramsay Chu, CPO Rio Tinto. That’s why procurement pros have to learn to Fail Forward! 

What better way to advance your procurement career than gaining inside information from the very best in the business.

If you only knew your CPO’s top priorities, what they’re looking for in new hires or how they see the procurement function evolving, you’d be perfectly placed to dazzle them with your foresight and intuition. Sound appealing, if not a little far fetched?

It shouldn’t do because Career Boot Camp 2017 launches today and promises to deliver with insights into all of the above.

Five days, five CPOs, five fifteen-minute podcasts to help you upgrade your procurement career. 

Featuring tips and guidance from the best in the business, each of our  CPOs will dedicate their week to coaching you on becoming the best procurement leader you can be!

There are a hundred and one reasons to tune in each day this week week but Rio Tinto CPO Ramsay Chu’s podcast is as good as any.

Need a little convinving before you sign up? Check out our teaser trailer below to hear what Ramsay had to say in reponse to our quick-fire questions.

Why Should Procurement Pros Fail-Forward?

As a CPO, it’s crucial to foster an entrepreneurial spirit within your procurement team, no matter how large the organisation. Ramsay explained to us that this happens when businesses create a safe environment for their employees to be creative.

” While that seems really abstract, I think a much simpler way to do it would be to create an environment where we can allow team members the emotional safety to speak up, develop the courage to share an idea that may not be part of the norm, and, more importantly, allow them to feel comfortable to fail.

“Trying and failing is really at the core of entrepreneurship.

“We think about some of the most transformative evolutions that any of us have personally experienced in our professional or personal careers. I can tell you that it’s almost always fraught with a history of failure and that failure is at the core of developing the entrepreneurial spirit.

“To use a more personal ideology, I think it would be very much akin to skiing. The best skiers have fallen many times. No one is an Olympic caliber downhill skier from the outset. It’s not a natural or innate talent that anyone’s born with. They get better by learning, pushing themselves to the limits, oftentimes falling, picking themselves up, and moving on.

“I think the fear of failure oftentimes casts a very long shadow, and potentially impairs our ability to really think big.”

Tech skills? Pfft! We can teach that stuff!

We were also eager to pick Ramsay’s brains on the procurement talent Rio Tinto is snapping up.  As the procurement function evolves, new skillsets are required.

Ramsay acknowledged that skillsets have historically been centered around supply chain, finance, operations or engineering, all, as he describes them “technical dicisplines.”

“What we’re trying to do [at Rio Tinto]  is find people that absolutely have what I would consider more specific experience in some of the more intellectual or emotional disciplines, in the form of either liberal arts or communications. Ultimately, it’s the ability to solve problems that I think will help and drive transformation within a company. It all comes down to having the capability to engage, to understand, collaborate, more importantly, to influence.

“We’ve had some great success with people that are creative writers, a couple of people with philosophy majors, and even a couple of communications experts. We have to be focused now on behaviors, and ultimately we can teach them those technical skills. It’s very likely and possible that we can take a philosophy major and teach them supply chain. It sometimes is harder to teach somebody that’s been rooted in the engineering discipline to think differently, so to speak, or create a different behavior.”

Listen to Ramsay’s full podcast when you sign up to Procurious. Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!) 

Already a member of Procurious? You’re automatically enrolled for Career Boot Camp! Click here to listen to Ramsay’s podcast in full.

The BIGGEST Mistake Leaders Make On Their Way To The Top

Procurement leaders, listen up! We hate to break it to you, but life’s not fair. And neither is your procurement career! 

Christin Lola/Shutterstock.com

Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts  with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!)

How many times have you been told about someone’s promotion and thought “how did they get that job? I would have been great for that!” Rejected and demotivated, you head home, resolute to move companies. You pour a tall glass of wine and start polishing your resume.

I’ve worked with hundreds of CEOs, CFOs and CPOs. I’ve seen people rise to the top, sink hard and fast to the bottom and flounder somewhere in between – never quite gaining the momentum required to propel an upward trajectory on their career.

From my experience, the biggest mistake people make in their quest for the c-suite is believing that the promotion process is fair.

Life’s not fair, and neither is your career…

You can do all the right things but it doesn’t mean you are going to land yourself the next big job. Corporations are complex and corporate politics are tricky, which means you’ll never really see the full picture.

You might be a rock star employee who delivered on all your KPIs, participated in “extra curricular” activities, and can boast a strong and supportive network (you even know the CEO!) but it doesn’t mean you’ll be offered your dream role.

So why do highly qualified candidates miss out on the top roles? There are a million and one reasons and you may never know the real answer. Some of the reasons for rejection will be about you, others will be about the company.

Here’s a handful of reasons why you may be blindsided:

Things that are not about you

  1. A change in strategy direction (ie. they put in a marketing person because they want “customer focus” or an IT person because they want a “technology focus”)
  2. The leadership team has changed and you are perceived as being part of the “old regime”
  3. They want to find a leadership role for another high potential employee and this is the best opportunity at that time
  4. There is a bias in the selection process. Even though companies are becoming increasingly aware of unconscious bias, it still may exist. Thirty years ago my husband participated in a leadership conference for 23 participants, 21 of whom were first-born sons, 1 female and 1 other male…which was my husband! Alternatively there may be a conscious bias to improve the diversity of the leadership team.

Things that are about you

  1. You’re not perceived as having the right level of experience (whether you do or not is irrelevant)
  2. You’re not promoting yourself enough. This doesn’t necessarily require an elaborate self-promotion campaign.It can also simply mean delivering on the basics. For example, one CFO told me he went into his internal HR system and some candidates didn’t even have their CV up to date, or a photo on fil That will make it unlikely for you to be selected. If you only do ONE thing as a result of reading this….PLEASE update your in-house profile!
  3. You’ve upset someone along the line. In hindsight, the inappropriate comment at an important executive meeting or the impromptu performance at the Christmas party may have been a career-limiting move. I actually know someone who slid down the boardroom table at a Friday night drinks, which may (or may not) have been forgotten, except that his belt buckle engraved a huge scratch from one end to the other – which was all too apparent to the Directors on Monday morning.
  4. Of course, the obvious: you just aren’t qualifi­­­­ed for the role!

It’s a long way to the top

As the famous ACDC lyrics go, “it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n’ roll” – tenacity is key. Wait patiently, which is not my strong suit, ­­­ for “your time”.

There is a direct correlation between how quickly you bounce back from a career disappointment and how quickly you get promoted. If you’re going to thrive, you need to take a long-term view on your career and build up your career resiliency.

I’ve seen this time and time again. One of my favourite examples was a mentor of mine who was at one point in a heated competition with one of her peers for the CPO role. Unfortunately she missed out, but quickly changed her perspective, becoming the trusted 2IC to her former peer, now boss.

Within twelve months she was headhunted to become the CPO of an even larger organisation! And guess who one of her biggest fans was? Yep!The very same person she had been competing with just a year ago; former peer and now boss,the CPO. How circumstances change!

Remember your career is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You need to build career resiliency. In the long run, your endurance will pay dividends and chances are, you’ll land the dream job when you least expect it.

Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!)

 

Personal Development: You Da Brand!

So you’ve decided you need to take your procurement career to hand by proactively managing your personal development? Here’s how to set yourself up for success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts  with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!)

What are the attributes of top talent within procurement?

Are there any common themes among successful leaders?

Where should I focus to ensure my career continues to progress?

These are but a few of the many questions you’ll have asked at different stages in your career.  But I’d like to make the assumption that a focus on personal development is the area that suffers above all else. Workload, pressures of a role, delivery objectives and even personal life challenges  means we are constantly investing in the here and now, and not on our longer-term aspirations.

Personal development is a topic we are enormously passionate about at Michael Page. Not just for our own employees, but also through the conversations we have with candidates and clients every day. A lack of development is often cited as a main reason to change roles, with development and progression opportunities both being a compelling sell for a new employer.

It’s a wonderful thing to be inspired to take control of your career development. But it’s also easier said than done, particularly when it comes to kickstarting your journey. Here are my four key building blocks to help you set yourself up for great success!

1. What does good look like?

When thinking about your own personal development, a great place to start is to gain an appreciation of what good looks like, think of someone you have worked with that has stood out from the crowd and use that as your inspiration.

2. Using failure to progress

The starting point for me when thinking about individual procurement and supply chain leaders who stand out from the crowd is often bravery. Having the confidence and foresight to try something different. This approach requires a corporate culture and environment that encourages ideas and isn’t restrictive. On a personal level, having a growth mindset is critical for framing outcomes as a development of one’s own capability. Failure should help move you forward as much as success would.

3. Nature or nurture?

One of the questions you should ask yourself is how much your culture, environment and leader, enables you to show this type of bravery. The strongest leaders will encourage you to think differently, whilst also allowing a sufficient degree of autonomy to do so. More importantly, they’ll provide cover for you internally should things not work out as desired. It is important to work for these types of individuals for your own growth and development as a leader but the type of organisation you’re in is also critical. It needs to be one that has a clear focus on development and a path for progression.

4. You’re the brand!

Think of yourself as a product. You can only take a highly effective product so far without the right marketing and brand behind it. Equally, a product with strong marketing backing and investment that doesn’t deliver what the customer wants will ultimately fail. As an individual, you have to develop your procurement toolkit, your softer skills and general competence. But you also have to build a strong personal brand. Think about the CPO’s that you aspire to be like.  Your reasons are informed through a mix of their achievements and career highlights, but also the personal brand that they have created.

Be bold, be forward thinking and creative, find an environment that enables you to do these things. Above all, live your own personal values and beliefs then create a personal brand that is true to who you want to aspire to be.

Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain have partnered with Procurious to bring you a series of podcasts from some of procurement’s leading lights.

Throughout this podcast series, five global CPOs will talk about their career journeys and the skills required to become tomorrow’s CPO. We hope this will provide you with the chance to reflect and positively affect your own development and longer-term career aspirations.

Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts  with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!)

Upgrade: Be Tomorrow’s CPO, Today

Five days. Five influential CPOs. Are you ready to upgrade your career  at Career Boot Camp 2017?

Sunny studio/Shutterstock.com

Sign up to Procurious to access Career Boot Camp from 4th September. 

Do you dream of becoming the CPO of a top organisation somewhere in the distant future?

Are you putting in the hours today to make sure you’re prepared for tomorrow?

Procurement leaders of the future will need to be agile, focused and equipped to deal with all of the changes coming our way with the developments in cognitive technology and Workplace 4.0.

That’s where Career Boot Camp comes in. Our podcast series will help you to transform your career and your future. But only if you’re ready and willing to upgrade!

Five days. Five CPOs. Five fifteen-minute procurement podcasts – tomorrow can’t wait!

What Is Career Boot Camp? 

The Procurious Career Boot Camp, sponsored by Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain, is a global professional development event for procurement and supply chain professionals. This series, featuring five, fifteen-minute podcasts, will be hosted right here on Procurious and has been designed to help the most ambitious professionals amongst you to upgrade your skill-set.

It’s an opportunity to hear from the brightest and the best in the industry in a format that is FREE and easily accessible; on the go or in the workplace, providing answers to the most common procurement questions you’re desperate to have answered!

20,000 procurement pros took part in Career Boot Camp in 2016. This year will be bigger and better!

Who’s involved in this year’s Career Boot Camp?

Explaining how to crank it up one notch at a time, why you need to lock up your data scientists and the art of failing forward, our career coaches in 2017 include:

  • Ramsay Chu, CPO Rio Tinto
  • Ninian Wilson, Global Supply Chain Director & CEO Vodafone Procurement
  • Fabienne Lesbros, CPO The Co-operative Group
  • Dapo Ajayi, CPO AstraZeneca
  • Matthew Friend, Associate Director, Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain
  • Al Williams, Managing Director and CPO Barclays

How does it work?

The series will run for one working week with a daily podcast released on Procurious from 4th September.  You can access each new podcast, featuring tips, insights and guidance from the best in the business, via our eLearning area.

Each of our five CPOs will dedicate their week to coaching you on becoming the best procurement leader you can be! Matthew Friend, Associate Director, Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain, will be providing his top takeaways at the end of each podcast.

Each daily podcast will also be accompanied by a blog article from our speakers and there will be vibrant group debates aplenty via our dicussions board.

How do I access Career Boot Camp?

If you’re already a member of Procurious sit tight until the 4th September. The podcasts will be  published in our eLearning area throughout this week.

Not yet a member of Procurious? All you need to do is register (it’s FREE!) here and you’re good to go!

You needn’t worry about the event slipping your mind either. We’ll be sending all of our members an email reminder the week before.

And, to make things even easier, we’ll be sure to deliver each podcast straight to your doorstep (straight to your email inbox!) as they become available so you won’t miss out on a thing!

When is it?

Starting on the 4th September, Career Boot Camp will run for five days. The podcasts will be accompanied by daily blogs from our speakers. When the series is complete, all five podcasts will still be available via the Procurious learning area, FREE of charge.

Is it really free?

Yes! Sign up to become a member of Procurious, and you’ll gain access to all of the Career Boot Camp podcast content, as well as all of the other resources on Procurious including featured classes, e-learning videos, thousands of procurement news articles, a curated news feed and a global events calendar.

Are the podcasts available to everyone?

Anyone and everyone is welcome to partake in Career Boot Camp and it’s totally, 100 per cent free to do so- simply sign up to Procurious.

Why should I do Career Boot Camp every day?

More and more procurement professionals are opting to develop their key skills and gain knowledge through eLearning and other online channels. In a fast-paced, technology driven world, innovation, agility and forward planning are essential if procurement professionals are to succeed and be future leaders.

Dedicating fifteen minutes a day to developing and progressing your procurement career can make the difference between standing still, or moving quickly into more impactful roles. Hearing from the best in the business will give you a valuable head start on what’s required of tomorrow’s CPO. At Procurious, we firmly believe that daily procurement learning is essential for career advancement. And 2017’s Career Boot Camp will help you get into the habit!

Sign up to Procurious to access Career Boot Camp from 4th September. 

If you’re already a member you’ll be able to access the podcasts in our learning area from the 4th September 2017. 

Please Fire Me: I Just Can’t Quit!

Stuck in a miserable, but well-paid, job you can’t afford to quit? Don’t get yourself into that position in the first place!

Philip H. “hates his life”. Those are his exact words. Specifically, he hates his all-consuming job. The work bores him and he no longer believes in his firm’s mission. The gruelling hours he puts in cost him time with his family that he can never recover.

Here’s the kicker: Phillip earns several million dollars a year heading a major office of a top-tier advisory firm. So, you might ask, why doesn’t he quit?

He’s says he can’t afford to.

There’s a big mortgage on a luxury apartment, and another on the beautiful beach house he and his wife bought two years ago. (“The summer weekends we spend there are the only thing that keep me sane,” he says.) Then there are the three kids—all enrolled at a private school. The eldest will start college in a year; the others will follow soon. Tallying up his obligations, Philip envies his Wall Street friends who earn ten times as much as he does.

A couple of days ago I mentioned this story to a well-known financial columnist. “I hear this all the time,” he said. “Lots of people moan about how miserable they are at work but they can’t see a way out.”

“Boo, hoo,” you might say. “I’d trade places with Philip in a heartbeat.” But would a huge income really make up for feeling horrible about your life?

You might think that you could put up with a few years of misery for the freedom it would buy you. You’d put a lot of money in the bank, and then walk away to do whatever you like: launch a small company, or spend the rest of your days lolling on the beach. Maybe you’d devote the rest of your life to doing good in the world. Whatever your goal, you’d collect your last paycheck and say, “Adios.”

It’s not that easy, though. You wouldn’t make a bundle starting out. You’d have to put in your time first. And when serious money began to come in, it would be tempting to reward yourself creature comforts for all the stresses you endure. The higher you climb the ladder, the harder it will be to leave. Then one day you’d turn around and find yourself in Philip’s unhappy shoes.

It might seem that I’m writing about a problem that affects only a small set of people. But I think Philip’s case illustrates issues that apply wherever you are now in the organisational hierarchy, and whether you love your job or loathe it.

Most work choices aren’t either/or

It’s late in the game for Philip, but assuming a different role in his firm might be rejuvenating. Going on sabbatical might set a great example for other colleagues. By framing his decision as stay-or-go, he’s missing other opportunities.

If you’re unhappy at the office, other people know it

Philip’s negativity must come out sideways. If he hates his own job, how can he be enthusiastic when a colleague lobbies for a new project? A big part of his job is evaluating other people’s performance. His attitude is bound to warp his judgement. (I also worry about what he’s like at home.)

Toughing things out is not a career plan

Somehow Philip drags himself to work every day. Maybe he takes pride in his perseverance. As they say, however, “persisting in the same behavior expecting different results is the definition of insanity.” The way things are headed, he risks getting pushed out by his peers. Maybe that’s his subconscious agenda, but it would be an ugly way to go.

Plan your end game

When you take on a job, set a date when it will be time to move on to something else. You can always revise it one way or another, but it’s usually better to leave a year early than a year too late.

The most important lesson of Philip’s story is not getting into his situation in the first place. If Philip had kept these precepts in mind, he would have been alert to his growing feelings of frustration. At an earlier point, a lateral move to another firm or an entirely different field might have been easier. And if he had allowed for the possibility that the job might get stale, he might not have saddled himself with so much debt. But by the time he realised he was on a treadmill, he had gone so far he felt he couldn’t step off.

Sunk cost traps aren’t just financial. They can also be social, emotional, and deeply personal. Philip may have trapped himself with worries about what others will think about his walking away from what most regard as a dream job. I’d remind him of Samuel Johnson’s advice – that we’d worry less about what others think of us if we realised how seldom they do.

In the end, Philip’s self-respect is what counts. Walking away might feel as if he’s repudiating how he’s spent his recent years. But to me, belatedly changing an unhappy life sounds a lot better than doubling down.

This article was written by Professor Michael Wheeler and was orginally published on LinkedIn.

Professor Michael Wheeler’s Negotiation Mastery course on Harvard Business School’s HBX launched earlier this year. Applications for the next wave of students, starting in September, are now being accepted. Version 1.4 of his Negotiation 360 self-assessment/best practice app is available for both Apple and Android devices. It includes coaching videos and a tactics exercise.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Procurious’ Hugo Britt shares his experience of what happens when you truly disconnect – whether it’s on an extended career break, or just a short trip away.

Our webinar, Out of Office: Your Career Break (Through), takes place at 1pm on 10th August 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

It’s 2009. I’m sitting alone in a tent perched high in the Italian Apennines, listening to the roaring of wild boars on the other side of the canvas. I’ve been scribbling away at my journal by torchlight in an effort to capture my experience hiking the 400km, 23-day Apennine Trail, when something makes me pause mid-sentence. I flip to a clean page at the back of the notebook and, in full caps, write the words “LIFE PLAN” at the top of the page.

I’ve still got that journal, but I remember tearing that page out a few days later, a bit embarrassed at how self-indulgent it seemed. What was I up to when I wrote it? I’m not normally one to come up with grandiose life plans – in fact, I usually have trouble planning more than a week or so ahead.

Here’s my theory.

Zooming out

By that point in my hike, I’d been trudging along for nearly 20 days. This was to be the last hurrah after nearly a year of travel. My then-girlfriend and travel partner (now, happily, my wife) was working in the UK, and I’d taken the opportunity to do something I’d always wanted before heading back to Australia – one of Europe’s spectacular long-distance trails. I was going it alone, not only in the sense that I didn’t have a hiking partner but because the trail rarely passed through towns. It was off-season, so I barely met anybody over those three weeks in the mountains apart from the odd deer hunter. I had a phone, but rarely had reception – and (it being 2009), I was yet to upgrade to a smartphone.

In short, I’d disconnected. I hadn’t thought about the job I’d resigned from for months – nor was I worrying about finding another job when my shoe-string travel budget inevitably gave out and I had to head home. If I did think about my career, it tended to be through a wider lens (“What do I really want to do with my life”) rather than the practical details (“I need to update my CV, line up some interviews, buy a new suit…”). Thoughts like this didn’t even occur to me, probably because they’d have been so incongruous with what I was doing at that moment, whether it was trudging up a slope or cooking dinner on a fuel stove.

My point is that if you do manage to properly disconnect, you stop sweating the small stuff. From memory, the four or five points in my so-called life plan weren’t about getting practical little jobs done – it was more of an epic to-do list. It included asking my girlfriend to marry me, deciding what city we wanted to live in, whether I really wanted to finish my current course of study – in other words, the big-ticket items.

Switching off on a short break

2017 – eight years later, I’ve just returned from a very different sort of trip. Our family of four took in the frenetic sights and sounds of Hong Kong for two weeks, which gave me a short, but invaluable, chance to disconnect from the office. Unlike back in 2009, I was very much employed this time around and must admit sneaking a glance at my inbox a couple of times in those first couple of days. Eventually, I made the conscious decision to switch off and did so by disabling just about everything on my phone apart from the camera app.

Switching off helped me zoom out. It helped me put some common-sense context around the unanswered emails and unfinished projects sitting in my inbox. While I can’t claim to have completely stopped thinking about work during that two-week break, my thought process shifted from the detailed level (sweating the small-stuff) to discovering the bigger picture. Almost subconsciously, I was rearranging the tasks on my plate into a realistic order of priority, and even had a couple of “aha” moments – not by sitting down at a laptop and working, but while I was doing something completely unrelated, like lining up to purchase a ferry ticket.

Find your holiday brain

There’s some science behind this. Earlier in 2017, Procurious interviewed James Bannerman, a Creative Change Agent and phycologist about the best ways to unlock creativity. He said “Trying to be creative is like trying to go to sleep. If you’re too busy focusing on going to sleep, you’ll stay awake because there’s all sorts of brainwave activity linked to beta waves that will keep you from falling asleep.”

Bannerman explained that there’s a sweet-spot that allows creativity to flourish. “We tend to be most creative when we’re focused but not over-focused, and relaxed but not too relaxed. You’re more likely to think creatively when you step away from your desk, and do something like go for a run, or go for a drive, or simply look out the window. It’s about finding that optimum state.”

So, there you have it. Stepping away from your career allows you to perform better in that career. Time to book my next trip.

Our webinar, Out of Office: Your Career Break (Through), takes place at 1pm on 10th August 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

The Three Stages To Coming Back From Your Career Break With A Bang

Fretting over your imminent redundancy? Let’s put a positive spin on this! A career break is the perfect time to re-calibrate, cruise and power up!

Our webinar, Out of Office: Your Career Break (Through), takes place at 1pm on 10th August 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

It’s the stuff nightmares are made of. Your legs are like jelly as you walk down the office corridor You’re responding to a summons from head office, only to be told the business is downsizing and you’re in the firing line.

Being made redundant is rarely in the career plan but taking an unexpected career break can actually be the making of you. You just have to do it right.

Your first reaction will be to panic-apply to every job advert you can get your sweaty palms on with little consideration for their suitability or appeal. The best advice I can give you is to hold your horses! You’re experiencing the entire spectrum of emotions; shock, denial, anger and upset. It’s not the time to apply for a new role and it’s definitely not the time to be making huge, life-changing decisions.

Taking a significant career break, whether by choice or due to redundancy might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s a chance to get your life in check, turn your attention to all the things you’ve been putting off and take a step back to assess the future.

It’s not often we’re de-shackled from the pressures and stresses of working life. If your brain is mossy from years of career servitude, it’s time to do a spot of gardening. Here’s my three-stage guide to preparing to come back from a career break with a bang!

Stage One – Re-calibrate

  1. Admin, Admin, Admin

It’s more than likely that you’ve still got your workplace autopilot switched on so you may as well kick of your career break with personal admin whilst you’re still in the zone! Think about what’s been causing you stress; what’s niggling at the back of your mind. If you’ve got a pile of paperwork in your home study- sort it! If you’ve been meaning to redecorate a room – do it! And if there’s whole bunch of appointments you’ve been postponing, pick up the phone and schedule them!

  1. Reconnect With Your Life

Whether it’s spending time with your family, your children or your closest friends, this is the perfect time to reconnect with everyone important in your life. Do the school drop off, get to know some of the other parents and engage with your children’s teachers. Re-integrate yourself with family life and catch up with your friends. Don’t underestimate the value of this – as well as being an important reminder of what’s really important in life and what makes you, you – you also never know who could connect you with your future job or give you some valuable advice.

  1. Health, Beauty, Fitness

We all know the benefits of keeping in good health but when you find yourself between jobs it’s more critical than ever to get the blood pumping to the brain, oxygen in lungs and endorphins released. Go for long walks, take up a kick boxing class or sign up for a (half-) marathon. If you’ve got a twinge in your knee, organise some physio…get that tooth fixed. When you finally get back to work you’ll be prepped and healthy many months to come!

Stage Two – Cruise

If you embrace and apply all of the above advice then you’ll gracefully enter into the cruise zone. Which mean it’s time to take a deep breath (or gulp!) and enter into Stage Two of your career break. Be ready to open your mind to the many possibilities open to you and take the time to really explore what you want to do with your future career.

  1. Map the Market

Have a think about some of the companies you’d like to work for based on your desired work culture. Do you want a flexible working environment, a tech-savvy forward thinking organisation, a sociable culture or the best salary possible? Your Stage One reflection-time should help you out here. You’ve had a chance to work out your priorities in life. And if you’re feeling angry and bitter about your old job, that’s ok! Harness it to establish what it is you DON’T want from your new role.

  1.  Activate Your Network

Once you’ve drawn up a list of dream companies, it’s time to do some cross-referencing! Is there anyone in your network that works for these companies? Can they help you get an introduction to any of the key decision makers? You can also use your connections for reference checking. What are their experiences of working for this company? Are they an advocate?

  1. Craft Your USP

What is your unique value proposition? Identify what you can do better than anyone else. If you were a product on the supermarket shelf, what would make you stand out as the candidate of choice?

Stage Three – Power Up

You’ve had your chill time, you’ve reflected on everything from utility bills to dental hygiene and you’ve identified your USP. Congratulations! You’re ready to get back in the game!

  1. Remember you’re in a sales process

The number one rule of selling is to uncover the buyer’s needs and that’s exactly what you need to do when you’re researching the perfect prospective employer.

This is going to require a lot of listening. Listening to your friends, your connections and how your employer of choice is marketing itself online.

You know what your unique skills are so start matching them up with the organisation’s needs and sell yourself!

When you finally meet someone with the hiring decision you’ll able to perfectly articulate what you can bring to your role within the company.

Too many people attend interviews and only talk about themselves The trick is to turn your meetings into conversations! People will feel more comfortable and your interactions will be all the richer for it!

  1. Follow Up

Don’t underestimate the value of keeping in touch. After an interview, be sure to send a follow-up note (or two!) and leverage social media to keep yourself in the spotlight and your name on people’s minds.

Connect with the companies that you want to work for on LinkedIn, Twitter and Procurious. Post issues and news that demonstrate your interest and commitment to your chosen career and employer. Set up Google alerts so you’re kept in the loop on current affairs, your target companies and all things procurement.

  1. Ask for the job

You know that you’re the best person for the job- but they don’t! Make sure you ask for the job – tell the employer how much you want to work for them and why. You’d be amazed how many people don’t actually ask for the sale!

Our webinar, Out of Office: Your Career Break (Through), takes place at 1pm on 10th August 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

Different Country, Same Procurement Culture?

Heading off to begin a new procurement chapter abroad? Make sure you’re preparedto accommodate, and adapt to, a new culture.

Have you ever wondered what courage it would  take to pack your bags and set off across the globe in order to start an entirely new chapter?

Juggling a new home, new job and a new life isn’t a challenge for the faint-hearted but it’s one you’re unlikely to regret and something that ISM board member, Kim Brown, knows all about!

Throughout her impressive procurement career, Kim has enjoyed roles at Reynolds and Reynolds Company, General Electric, Toys R Us and, most recently, at Dell, Inc as Vice President, Global Materials.

Kim’s lengthy career has taken her around the world so it’s unsurprising that she’s honed and developed her cultural intelligence (CQ) over the years. When we interviewed Kim, we were interested to hear about her global experiences, both what she’s learnt and how she’s adapted to different circumstances, and gain some advice on what it takes to hold a position on a board as noteworthy as ISM.

Procurement around the world

“I’ve lived in quite a few places, four or five US states and two countries,” explains Kim. ” I also did a stint as an ex-pat in Mexico city for a year and spent on year in Singapore.”

Was she able to observe distinct differences in working cultures  during her time abroad? “Very much so, particularly at the beginning of my time in Mexico, which has a very, verY different culture. I was working for General Electric at the time and accustomed to the direct and process-driven culture in the US. In Mexico, the conversations with suppliers, local people and colleagues were very family-based. They wanted to know about me, and understand what my family life was like before doing business with me.”

In Singapore, Kim faced the challenge of managing a widely dispersed and culturally diverse team. “I had team members in 26 or 27 different countries, all of which had cultural nuances.”

Pulling together a strategy for a large team is challenging at the best of times but it becomes even more so when you must be cognisant of how different cultures are motivated by different things. “Something that someone in the US would regard as a very small factor might mean a lot to someone in India, for example.

“Singapore itself was a very different culture.  It seemed at times cautious and a little shyer than in some other parts of the world. I’m the kind of person who says hello to a lot of people, and in Singapore they would look at the floor in response! However, once you get to know them and they get to know you I found the community to be friendly and outgoing.”

This, in a way, is the motto of Kim’s story. Working across cultures and borders requires patience, tolerance, compromise and understanding from both sides.

“As long as you go about making a change in the right way, it will work. When I first started in a global role I tried to supplement it with videoconferencing. I quickly found I was questioned “When are you coming, when will we see you?”  And there is no substitute for that. Employees are often very excited by and enthusiastic about a visit from the regional office – I’d arrive in Malaysia, for example, and find that the room was packed with people who wanted to see me, listen and ask lots of questions.”

What a board wants

If anyone knows the answer to the question “what does a board want?” it’s Kim Brown. As well as being treasurer for ISM, she’s held positions on two additional NFP boards, one of which had 70 board members. “When I went on [the board with 70 people], I wanted to be really involved, to be on the executive committee and be a decision maker, not just a voter. These roles are extracurricular but if you’re going to do it, do it!

“At ISM, we have very robust conversations, which is fun! I learn a lot and have the opportunity to interact with a whole bunch of new network contacts. I try to look positively upon any experience where I can learn something new.”

Kim’s top tips for procurement when presenting to the board:

  • Keep your strategy clear and concise and ensure you know how to sell it!
  • You need goals and objectives; lay out the salient points and present them in a way that makes sense
  • Get your act together! When you’re presenting, make sure it’s in an understandable manner.
  • Do your homework and always  look at alternatives and contingencies.
  • Use your  junior team members! I really like it when CEOs do this. It gives your team an opportunity to showcase the work they’re capable of doing, and allows us, as the board, to show your team that we’ve got confidence in them!

Are You Emotionally Intelligent? Here’s How to Tell

What exactly is emotional intelligence (EQ)? How can you determine if you have those characteristics? And why is it so important?

You’ve probably heard the term “emotional intelligence.” It’s come into vogue in recent years, with numerous books being written about the subject. Businesses are increasingly focusing on emotional intelligence and researchers are increasingly learning its importance.

What is emotional intelligence?

The term “emotional intelligence” (EI or EQ) was coined by researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer. Author Dan Goleman made the term mainstream in his book “Emotional Intelligence.”

Typically, EQ includes two related, but distinct items:

  • The ability to recognise, understand and manage your own emotions
  • The ability to recognise, understand and influence the emotions of others

 

The 5 characteristics of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is characterised by 5 distinct characteristics:

1. Self awareness

Those with high EQ are able to recognize emotions in the moment. One of the keys to developing EQ is being aware of feelings, evaluating those feelings and then managing them.

2. Self regulation

Everyone knows that emotions come quickly and with force. It’s rare that you have control over when we are hit by an emotional wave. Even the slightest thing can trigger something deep within you. However, if you have a high EQ, you can control how long that negative experience lasts.

3. Motivation

It’s very difficult to be motivated if you always have a negative attitude. Those who are full of negativity don’t often achieve their goals. Those with a high EQ are able to move toward a consistently positive attitude by thinking more positively and being aware of negative thoughts.

4. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to recognise how others are feeling. This is essential for functioning well in society and excelling in your career. A person without empathy will end up regularly insulting and offending people, while a person with a high EQ will be able to understand what a person is feeling and then treat them accordingly.

5. Social skills

The final characteristic of EQ is having and developing excellent interpersonal skills. It used to be that access to the greatest amount of information would allow you to succeed, but now that everyone has immediate access to knowledge, people skills are more important than ever. Those with a high EQ are able to wisely and skillfully navigate the various relationships that fill their lives.

How can you tell if you have high EQ?

There are various tests that can help you identify your emotional intelligence, such as the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 test. However, these tests have their limitations in that EQ is intangible, making it difficult to precisely measure.

There are a number of markers that accompany those with a high emotional intelligence.

Some of those markers are:

A curiousity about people

Curiosity comes from empathy, which is one of the most significant elements of EQ. If you are curious about people, you will also care about what they feel and how they struggle.

On the flip side, those with a low EQ don’t have any interest in others. They aren’t interested in what others think or feel. Their primary focus is on themselves.

A thorough emotional vocabulary

Remember, EQ is the ability to identify and understand emotions. Research done by Travis Bradberry, who is the author of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0,” suggests that only about 36 per cent of people have this ability.

This is partially due to an inadequate emotional vocabulary that prevents people from properly identifying what they’re feeling. Every negative feeling is simply called, “Bad,” and every positive feeling is, “Good.”

However, those with high EQ can specifically name their emotions, which then allows them to deal with them in the most effective way.

A holistic understanding of themselves

If you have high emotional intelligence, you have a holistic understanding of yourself that goes beyond just feelings. You know what you’re good at and what you’re not. You know the people and situations that frustrate you. You also understand how to avoid or effectively navigate situations that will hurt you emotionally.

If you have a high EQ, you can tap into your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

Not easily offended

Emotional intelligence involves a thorough knowledge of yourself and the ability to control your emotions. Combined, this makes you difficult to offend. You are confident in who you are and are able to understand when someone is simply making a joke versus when they are degrading you. You don’t let people easily get under your skin.

An ability to judge character

EQ gives you the ability to read and understand people. You are in tune with their emotions, which then allows you to more readily understand their actions. You can tell the difference between someone having a bad day and someone who is a bad apple. The more you develop your EQ, the more skilled you become at making character assessments about people.

Not haunted by the past

A low EQ makes it difficult to manage emotions when they appear unexpectedly. When a past mistake comes to mind, it’s easy to get dragged down into discouragement and despair.

If you have a high EQ, you are able to think about past mistakes without letting the associated emotions overwhelm you.

Giving without expecting

Those with a high EQ are able to give without expecting anything back. Because you are constantly in tune with the emotions of others, you know the effect that a gift will have on someone. When someone needs something, you want to meet that need.

This giving attitude allows emotionally strong people to build deep relationships with other people.

An ability to handle toxic people

Toxic, difficult people will often draw a reaction out of you. You feel surges of negative emotions when you are around them and often lash out, which then hurts both you and them. Lashing out also fuels their toxic behavior even more.

If you have a high EQ, however, you can keep your emotions in check when dealing with a difficult person. You don’t allow your anger to boil over. You’re able to see multiple perspectives, calmly.

As Daniel Goleman said:

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”

Janae Ernst (M.S. ’17) serves as the marketing communications coordinator for Cornerstone University’s Professional & Graduate Studies. This article was orginally published on the Cornerstone University blog.