Tag Archives: procurement career

Career Advice To A Procurement Newbie….

Did it feel like you were thrown in at the deep end upon entering the procurement world? Some of Procurious’ resident experts offer some career advice to anyone starting out on their journey….

Starting out in a new career is never easy; there’s so much to learn, good impressions to be made and new people to meet. But all that’s made easier with a little help from your global community of procurement friends!

The discussion board on Procurious never disappoints as a hotbed for rich debate and discussion.  So, of course, we weren’t surprised  by the wealth of responses when a procurement pro in need reached out for some advice as a newbie to the profession.

To give you a helping hand we’ve compiled some of the best responses from our members….

Get qualified!

The procurement debate rages on regarding professional qualifications. Are they beneficial, are they important? Do you really need them in the age of the internet.

The general consensus amongst Procurious members is: Yes!

Anthea Simon said ” I would say a top tip would be get your CIPS qualifications, this is the advice I was given by my mentor who is a CPO for a leading manufacturing company. If you have ambitions to excel within your procurement career I would say try and get yourself a mentor.”

Steven Onyango agreed saying “have the CIPS qualification, you will really enjoy as it’s detailed and you will love and relate well with some of the units.”

Whilst Chris Cliffe conceded that the CIPS qualification will be “very valuable and worthwhile” he advises aspiring professionals not to rush “make sure it’s the profession for you first, and then commit to the training.”

Open a book

Sometimes funding and timing restraints don’t allow for official certifications and training. In these instances it’s your responsibility to take control of your career and your learning.

Anthea Simon says “read… read… read….read around procurement. There is so much information out there on procurement, supply chain management; anything and everything you want to know about this’ wonderful world of procurement’…

“I spend a good portion of my day reading procurement material whether on the internet, books, audios. Also ask questions. I work closely with the Head of Procurement for my organisation, and I’m always asking him questions if I don’t understand anything or I just want to learn more about something.

Sheri Daneliak agrees advising professionals to “read everything you can get your hands on concerning Procurement and Supply Chain until you can get your certification. This site is a great place for help…”

Build relationships

To succeed in procurement, building relationships is of the utmost importance; with suppliers, clients and stakeholders.

Mike Lewis suggests that procurement pros ” View [their]  critical suppliers as partners and develop relationships based on positive mutual benefit.”

Chuck Intrieri agreed statingThe key to procurement is collaboration. Adversarial relationships do not work. It has to be a “win-win” for both parties.”

“Bringing value to your end users and customers (suppliers and co-workers).” is Tahj Bomar’s top advice. “People, process, and technology. The process and technology, figure what works in the company culture/environment. But, getting people on board and understanding I find is the key! Create  “win-win” situations”

Understand your company

“Understanding in your company, area, category or commodity exactly what you are spending on what products with whom and why.” is Jim Reed’s advice. “I have been asked to save money several times in an area where the spend was low, optimised and attacking it would have been a waste of time, whilst big ticket opportunities would have been ignored. Being able to articulate the spend context has always enabled me to turn that round.”

Marcin Witkowski supports this and instructs professionals to “get as much information as you can about what you are supposed to buy.”

“Listening is the key” says Terry Gittins “find out what you customer wants and work with them to achieve it. Keep it simple and you will bring them with you.”

Click here to view the full discussion and all responses. 

Could You Do A TED Talk On Your Category?

Great category management is like a killer TED Talk – it’s strategic, it’s well researched and it’s delivered with true passion.  Have you got what it takes?

Our webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset takes, takes place at 1pm GMT on 29th November 2017. Register your attendance for FREE here.   

There are over 2,500  TED talks available online, each dubbed with the organisation’s tagline “ideas worth spreading” or “talks to stir your curiosity”.

But, what makes these bitesize videos so universally appealing? What common traits do the talks share that piques the curiosity of the general public and guarantees thousands upon thousands of views?

We’ve delved in to the intricacies of a winning TED talk and, it turns out, some of the key qualities of a killer TED talk can also be applied to category management.

Christopher Eyerman, Senior Director, Denali – A WNS Company explains, “Category management is not just a process, it’s not just a set of tools. It takes on-going focus and the development of key skill-sets, just like any function or discipline within an organisation, in order to be the best that you can be.”

So, what are the things category managers need to do well as per the TED talk rulebook?

Keep It Snappy And Strategic

TED talks never, ever exceed 18 minutes of content, no matter what the subject matter, level of complexity, importance or fame of the person delivering the talk. By insisting speakers cut content from a talk they might normally deliver, TED guarantees audiences a level of discipline, focus and a clear thought process behind the key point delivered. The process encourages presenters to take a strategic approach.

Christophe Ysebaert, Partner, Transitive Management, explains, “Procurement organisations need to switch from being 20 per cent strategic to 80 per cent strategic. A key skill set for your team of category managers is to have a strategic mindset.”

Much like producing a TED talk on a complex subject, “To build strategy, you have to work from a huge amount of data,” Christophe continues. “You’re going to gather data from the market, your internal stakeholders, spend data etc. At some point, you need to analyse that data and come up with something that makes sense in terms of strategy.”

Tell Your Story

It goes without saying that communication and story-telling are key elements of any TED talk. Presenting key messages, an argument or a lecture in an accessible and insightful way to a diverse audience widens the appeal of topics that might have previously been alienating.

Christophe explains,  “When you do category management, you talk to internal customers, business people etc. and you have to be able to sell your case and your strategy.

“At my company, we’ve put together a package of information about how to tell a good story because that’s something you need to do all the time in this profession. ”

Category managers must be able to present their case to a wide range of stakeholders.

Find Your Passion

It’s rare to watch a TED talk and not get a sense of the speaker’s passion for their subject. They are the experts in their chosen topic, its greatest advocates and their extensive knowledge on the subject reflects this.

Chris explains why passion and curiosity are at the heart of category management, “Getting very deep with your category, getting deep with the data, deeply understanding the external market place, and having that sense of true curiosity [is important]. The best category managers never seem satisfied, they never think they know everything they need to know, they’re always pushing and trying to find additional information and additional ways to better understand their categories.”

Ask yourself, Chris says,  “Could you as a category manager give the TED talk on your category?”

Know Your Audience

When dealing with internal or external stakeholders in category management, you need to know what makes them tick or how to engage them, what you want to achieve from talking to them and what are you selling them!

“This doesn’t mean – ‘I know Joe we play basketball together!’ ” says Chris. “It’s about really understanding them. From their business, their needs, co-aligning with them in terms of their objectives and yours, developing a strategy, and sharing your vision with them.”

Just like in a TED talk, category managers need to leverage their sales skills.

Chris concludes “Selling your vision, building a strong business case and being able to influence stakeholders and align stakeholders to a strategy” are crucial to make it as a great category manager.

Want to hear more on this topic from Christopher Eyerman and Christophe Ysebaert? Tune in to today’s webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset at 1pm GMT. Register your attendance for FREE here. 

Why Don’t You Trust Your Procurement Boss?

Ever feel like you’re being stabbed in the back by your procurement boss? You’re definitely not alone and we have the stats to prove it!

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When Procurious put out a call for procurement survey participants, we were delighted when 500+ professionals across more than 50 countries shared their insights and wisdom.

Amongst our most startling discoveries was that over half of those surveyed don’t trust their boss to be proactive about their career progression. This result indicates that professionals need to seize control of their own career advancement, while managers need to be incentivised to support and progress their direct reports.

The Results Explained By Global CPOs

At The Big Ideas Summits in Chicago and Melbourne earlier this year we revealed the results of the survey to our CPO delegates.

We were particularly interested in their thoughts on what procurement managers should be doing in order to regain the trust of their team members. The video below shows a compilation of their responses:

What’s the root cause of these  trust issues?

Why is trust so terribly lacking between procurement professionals and their leaders?  A number of  key factors arose from our research:

Rate of Change – David Henchliffe, Group Manager Procurement OZ Minerals attributes the lack of trust to the astounding rate of change in today’s organisations, “What people seen as firm and certain today, is gone tomorrow. That constant change erodes trust. And it erodes peoples’ view of your genuine-ness.”

My boss doesn’t want me to leave – Many of us can relate to the experience of having an overly protective boss, a boss who is keener to hold on to their talent at all costs rather than priortise career development. Alan Paul, CEO Sourceit, takes his responsibility in this area very seriously, “As a manager I need to demonstrate to my staff that I’m not afraid of them leaving the organisation. I want to develop them I want them to improve themselves.” If employees feel like they are missing out on opportunities because of an unsupportive boss, it’s likely they’ll leave anyway!

My boss doesn’t engage or communicate with me – The value in talking and listening can never be underestimated.  Imelda Walsh, Recruitment Consultant, The Source believes that “fantastic leaders encourage honest and open conversation. If procurement managers can take that step, you’ll naturally build trust”

My boss isn’t helping my career development – If it appears that your boss doesn’t care about helping you to advance your career, of course you’re not going to trust them! Michelle Varble, Procurement Director, United Airlines, asserts that  “we need to take a geuine interest in [our employees] success- we need to take on the roll of mentor even if we havent recieved a specific invitation to be a mentor.”

My boss isn’t ethical – Employees will hold a leader in high regard who both demonstrates good ethics  and demonstrates that they genuinely care about good ethics. People want to work for companies that are not soley motivated by savings and profit, that aren’t covering up immoral behaviour and where they aren’t suspicious of the goings on at the top of the company.

A lack of ethical behaviour at the top sets a terrible example to the rest of the organisation and destroys trust.

What can procurement leaders do to regain trust?

Encourage development – Anna O’Dea, Director and Founder of Agency Iceberg, believes that “a  good employer should encourage the development of their employees. If your employer isn’t investing in your training or opportunities, you could be in a one-way relationship.”

Spend time with your talent – David Henchliffe advises leaders to regain trust by devoting more quality time with employees, “spend time with them, get to know them, admit your mistakes and praise them when they do well.”

Put clear career progression procedures in place – Implementing clear structures within an organisation reassures employees that their progress is being monitored and the value they contribute is recognised.  John Foody General Manager Procurement, U.S Steel explain how his organisation “We’ve put in place some tools that we call Career Ladders, that evaluates and gives feedback to our people. It provides them with feedback on their skills, their capabilities, areas to continue to work on. It gives them a sense of progress as they continue to move through our organisation.”

Take the fear away – Don’t let your employees worry about your lack of commitment to them. Reassure them that you  have their best interests at heart, and not your own!  Alan Paul asserts that “for a manager, a true leader, it’s about taking away the fear that your people are going to leave and trust that they’re going to stay. But also accept the fact that eventually they are going to move on.

How can you advance your career without the help of your untrustworthy boss?

As Procurious founder Tania Seary asserts, “It’s all too easy to find excuses for why your career is not panning out the way you intended. Soft targets for blame include your employer, your peers, your organisation or even your own personal life- challenges for blocking your charge to the top.

“We know there are some significant problems with procurement bosses around the world but…as I have always said, and will continue to say, the only common denominator in your career is YOU.”

So join that professional network, start updating your online CV, enroll on an eLearning course, listen to that podcast series you keep forgetting about  and start connecting with influential peers and thought leaders! The procurement world is your oyster…

Request your copy of the Gen NEXT Report

The Gen NEXT report, exclusively available to Procurious members, is packed with data, insights, recommendations, and links to over 20+ Procurious articles that further explore many of the findings that are raised in the report. Email us to request your copy. 

Don’t let your career break become a career breakdown

We know the story; a promising career comes screeching to a halt! But how do you ensure your career break is the start of something brilliant and not the car-crash it, at first, appears to be!

Kamelia Ilieva/Shutterstock.com

The first part of my professional story sounds exactly like scores of other professional women’s: college, work, apartment, graduate school (nights), wedding, better job, travel, better job, and… family!

Suddenly, the career I had been working so hard to build came to a screeching halt. I went from being the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris to… well I didn’t know what. My newborn daughter was completely unimpressed with my title, my two graduate degrees, or my extensive knowledge of spend management principles. I honestly didn’t know if and when I would return to the workplace, in procurement or otherwise.

Then I received a completely unexpected, unsolicited invitation to join Buyers Meeting Point. Anna was 18 months old and her little brother Timmy was expected in a few months’ time. Could I juggle two small children and a fledgling business? I labored over the decision, but ultimately came to the realisation that I might never get such as opportunity again.

I am not a natural entrepreneur!

Here’s the funny thing about that: I am not a natural entrepreneur. I know a lot of entrepreneurs. They are a very unique and amazing group of people. They have vision. They have passion. They act with confidence even when they don’t particularly feel it. They have a tolerance for risk that I can hardly comprehend. In fact, I’m such a NON-trepreneur that when I was getting my MBA at Babson College (home of U.S. News and World Report’s #1 graduate program for entrepreneurship in the nation for over 2 decades) I did not take one class in entrepreneurship. Why? I was never going to own a business… doh!

I found myself at home with 2 children under the age of 2 and no schooling in entrepreneurship building a business. As I look back 8 years later, part of me is still shocked that I made it work. I think the key was my goal: to never, ever, ever, (ever!) return to a cube again.

My kids are now 9 (Anna), 7 (Timmy), and 4 (Joseph). They are healthy, active children, and since the kitchen table is also my executive conference room, my business life and personal life often collide. If your career break becomes a brand new beginning, here is my advice for balancing family and work from the joyful chaos of a home office.

Partner with your calendar and task list

When you have a lot of disconnected moving pieces in your head, your best bet is to communicate with yourself in writing. I am disciplined about keeping my calendar(s) up to date so that podcast interviews and new prospect calls do not collide with horseback riding lessons or meeting the school bus.

The same goes for managing tasks. I am not kidding about this piece of advice: if you do not write it down, it will not happen. Period. There are daily tasks, weekly and monthly recurring writing schedules, and one-off writing contracts. They all have to be kept in priority order so that deadlines are not missed. I find it helpful to work with a hard copy to do list each day, putting work tasks alongside family ones. That way, if the vet calls while I am finishing an article, or I see a request come in from a colleague to share something on social media while I am making lunches for the next day, I can jot it down without breaking off to find my phone.

Build a network

Something I know I share with procurement colleagues working in traditional positions is that feeling of dread that arises when someone at a party asks what I do for a living. “Procurement? What on earth is that?” Sigh.

It is even more important that non-traditional professionals have a strong network of peers to lean on. The major downside of working from home is that you can feel isolated without ever being alone (not even for a second). Using Skype and social media sites to build connections and invest in peer relationships is a must. Figure out who is really a ‘friend’ and who just wants another number in their connection statistics. Make sure you reach out to people and engage with their topics on a regular basis – not just when you need something.

And… most importantly, laugh!

For years, I have scheduled calls around nap schedules, archery lessons, half day preschool, and parent teacher conferences. In the summer (when book manuscripts are inevitably due for some reason…) I keep Italian ice in the freezer because it takes my kids so long to eat it. One of my final book manuscripts received a little additional editing from Anna – she drew a shark on page 137. I have presented webinars with Joseph driving Matchbox cars at my feet and once I tripped over a Minion toy during a podcast interview. Luckily, the sound was not picked up on my microphone!

When work and home life share the same headquarters, your best case scenario is two-way immersion. I like to think that I show my children that the only thing that can hold you back in life is the limitation of your own imagination. They have been at my side (cheering!) as I brought each of my final book manuscripts to FedEx to overnight to the publisher. My husband (a hardware engineer) has been called upon more than once to work ‘IT magic’ for some accessibility or conversion effort. I get to continue working in an industry I love without being tied to a desk.

With today’s connectivity and open-mindedness about contract labor, there are very few things that you can’t turn into a career from home. If you have the determination and discipline, there is no reason that you, too, can’t say good-bye to a ‘cube dwelling’ life forever.

Your Procurement Career Upgrade: Download Complete!

Career Boot Camp 2017: That’s a wrap! 5 global CPOs, 5 FREE procurement podcasts – available NOW! 

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Career Boot Camp 2017 is done and dusted!  Sign up here (It’s FREE!) to access all five podcasts. 

Procurious promised we would upgrade your career.

We pledged that we would transform your procurement future.

We swore our five, global CPOs would prepare you for workplace 4.0.

But we never said it would be easy!

Last week, Procurious and Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain presented Career Boot Camp 2017.  If you joined us, we hope you’re feeling inspired and motivated to make you procurement dreams come true! Now’s the time to take you career to hand; using the tips, guidance and insights provided by our podcast speakers, you’re equipped to take the procurement world by storm. It’s going to be a long journey but we’re right here with you, every step of the way!

Want to catch up on any missed episodes, recap on your favourites or get stuck in to heaps of related content? Look no further.

Over 5000 procurement pros took part in Career Boot Camp.  Were you one of them?

I couldn’t make it, can I still take part?

Want to learn how to “fail forward”, why you should be locking up your data scientists or the reason Co-op’s CPO won’t be showing you her cake recipe?  

Great news! You might be a little late to the party but that means you can access the whole series in one fell swoop. Whether you want to listen on the go, from your sofa or during your lunchbreak, in one day, one week, or one month, Career Boot Camp 2017 is ready and waiting for you to listen at your leisure!

Anyone and everyone is welcome to partake in Career Boot Camp and it’s totally, 100 per cent free.

How do I join?

If you’re already a member of Procurious simply head over to our eLearning area to access the full series of Career Boot Camp 2017.

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

What can I expect?

Career Boot Camp 2017 was designed to help you transform your career and your future if, and only if, you’re ready and willing to upgrade! Our five CPOs provided inside information on what it’s like to work at their organisation, what they’re looking for in new hires and how they see the function progessing in the coming years.

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.

Need a little more persuasion. Click below to listen exclusively to Day 1 of Career Boot Camp in FULL.

Ramsay Chu, Rio Tinto CPO, How to Fail Forward:

“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.”

Best of the Career Boot Camp Blog

Once you’ve had your fill of our five podcasts you might like to do a little wider reading. There’s heaps of great. related conten in our blog at the moment. Here are some of the highlights.

  • The Biggest Mistake Leaders Make On Their Way To The Top By Tania Seary, Founder Procurious – Procurement leaders, listen up! We hate to break it to you, but life’s not fair. And neither is your procurement career!
  • Personal Development: You Da Brand! By Matthew Friend, Associate Director Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain – 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.
  • 5 Global CPOs Answer Your Top Five Procurement Questions By Procurious HQ – How did the CPOs at Barclays, Vodafone, The Co-operative group, AstraZeneca and Rio Tinto fair when we put them to the test in a round of quick-fire questions?

Gain instant access to the full series of Career Boot Camp 2017 when you sign up to Procurious. 

Already a member of Procurious? You’re automatically enrolled for Career Boot Camp! Click here to listen now!

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! 

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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!)

 

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.

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!

Don’t Be Afraid To Kick A Colleague When Negotiating

In a major negotiation, procurement needs to deal not only with the supplier representative on the other side of the table, but with the internal stakeholder sitting next to you. If that person deviates from the script – as they so often do – then don’t be afraid to kick them in the shins. It’s your job!  

Procurious was invited to attend a Negotiation Roundtable organised by CABL (Conti Advanced Business Learning) and facilitated by its Founder, Giuseppe Conti.

Conti introduced the subject by pointing out that in many negotiations, it isn’t enough to negotiate with the suppliers. Usually, there’s a minefield of internal negotiation to get through first.

Don’t enter the maze without a map

Håkan Rubin refers to his company (IKEA) as a “matrix organisation”, and therefore sees stakeholder mapping and management as crucial before any sourcing activity. In his role as Supply Chain Operations Leader (Group Sustainability Innovations), Rubin says that identifying who the key players are internally isn’t always that obvious. “We try to get everyone on board, to make sure that resources are available and that everyone feels they are involved.”

Paul André, Emerging Products & Commercial Supply Director at JTI, built upon Rubin’s point: “I find that even though you’ve carried out your stakeholder mapping and have a joint meeting with key people involved, a lot of discussion happens outside of that meeting. What happens between the meetings is often more important, where people agree on things in one-to-one discussions.”

Overcoming resistance

Kemira’s Senior VP of Global Sourcing, Thierry Blomet, examined some of the typical resistance that procurement faces from internal stakeholders. “They have restrictive time constraints, heavy specifications, and often want to select suppliers based on past history and how comfortable they are with using them. It’s often challenging for procurement to convince stakeholders that there’s a better option against so much resistance, especially in a conservative industry not willing to take on the adventure of new technology or new suppliers.”

Xinjian Carlier (Strategic Sourcing Commodity Manager -Honeywell) shared an example of how she overcame resistance to a request for extra resources to deal with a major issue with significant financial impacts. “The reaction was ‘we don’t have time – I can’t give you the resource.’ I explained that the reason I came to them was that the company including both procurement and engineering would suffer an impact of hundreds of million in sales. Basically, I converted the issue into facts and put both of us in the same boat. This helped the senior leader in engineering understand, and reprioritise his resources.”

Resolving conflicting objectives

Laurence Pérot, Head of Global Supply Chain & Procurement at Logitech, comments that particularly in larger organisations, it’s procurement’s responsibility (and challenge) to juggle differing objectives and agendas from varied teams. “When you’re dealing with different functions, it sometimes isn’t clear what the company actually wants out of the negotiation. It means we [procurement] are unsure what we’re going to ask for. I had an experience where we had to make the decision on our own about the objectives on behalf of the rest of the community, because we couldn’t get alignment between the functions.”

Procter and Gamble’s Global Capability Purchasing Leader, Tamara Taubert, adds that procurement owns the discipline to be able to turn around complex, multiparty negotiation effectively. “To do that, our stakeholders need to get educated on what a negotiation is, the do’s and don’ts, and their role in the negotiation itself. The procurement representative might be the only person sitting at the table across from the supplier, but there are others involved in the negotiation, whether they like it or not. Procurement can lead by connecting all parties together and help them come to a value agreement.”

Staying in control

Blomet has found that engineers are generally happy to be guided by procurement as they’re often less experienced in negotiations and sourcing events. But when senior business stakeholders step in, it’s often more challenging for procurement to keep control of the process. “Business stakeholders are more likely to say that they know how the negotiation should be handled. Procurement may be tempted to back off at this point, but my advice is don’t back off. It’s even more important to help set the scene, do the roleplay, and keep them under control both during the preparation phase and during the meeting itself. And yes, this means it might be necessary to kick someone under the table if they deviate from the script.”

Alessandra Silvano, Global Category Director Capex and MRO at Carlsberg Group, says this has happened to her. “I had to ask someone who was not keeping to the script to leave the room. This person was becoming emotional and I could see we would be left in a bad position. I called a time-out, we took a break, left the room, and the supplier stayed behind. Eventually, we went back into the meeting and said we’d like to continue in a smaller group – leaving out the person who was not playing according to the script.”

Francesco Lucchetta, Director of Strategic Supply at Pentair, noted that although emotion can cause people to leave the script, it’s part of the negotiator’s toolset. “There’s a difference between playing with emotions and keeping negotiations under control. In a supplier negotiation, you’re the customer, so you can be much more emotional than they are. In an internal negotiation, you’re more likely to change a stakeholder’s mind by pointing out the emotional/risk side of the issue, rather than presenting facts around savings.”

Interested in attending a CABL Negotiation workshop? Visit http://www.cabl.ch/ to find out more. The founder, Giuseppe Conti, has over 20 years of Procurement experience with leading multinationals and over 10 years of negotiation teaching experience at leading Business Schools (including Oxford, HEC Paris, IMD and ESADE).

Have A Nibble On These Bitesize Videos

Take a 2 minute  break from your hectic schedule to join Tania Seary. She’ll help you to dig a little deeper, inject some sparkle and rise to the top in your procurement career with these new videos.

Finding and keeping up with the most intriguing, and useful, procurement content online can put you ahead of your peers. But who has the time in their working day to go looking for it, or spend hours at a time absorbing it?

At Procurious, we know and understand your need to prioritise to ensure every minute you spend on social media is a minute well spent, which is why a lot of our online content is concise and gets straight to the point!

That’s certainly the case with our latest batch of eLearning videos, featuring Procurious’ founder, Tania Seary.
In this six-part series of two minute videos Tania offers some top procurement advice on networking, driving change within your team, hiring new talent  and making it to the top!
These videos are perfectly designed to be small enough for you to have a little nibble on at your leisure but guaranteed to fill you up with handy career tips.
Here’s a quick summary of what you can expect:

Network Your Face Off

Tania believes that networking is in procurement’s DNA and a key contributing factor to making it to the top! If you could benefit from a few handy networking tips, take Tania’s advice and get connected to get ahead!

The Disney Approach to Procurement

Is it possible that Disney has the magic formula for driving change management success in your procurement team? Adding a little Disney sparkle to your program might just be the solution to your problems. Here’s how to embrace the book, the film and the ride.

My 5 Killer Interview Questions

If you’re looking to hire new recruits any time soon, this is the video for you! Tania explains the importance of creating a good culture within your businesses. The best way to do that is to find people who are the perfect fit during the recruitment process by asking these five killer interview questions.

You Don’t Have To Be a Genius In Procurement

We all like to think that we’re some kind of procurement genius, that we can solve all of the world’s problems. But in truth, some of these problems are just too big for us to solve alone. Tania explains why collaboration is key.

Five Sure Fire Ways To Become A CPO

If you want to make sure you’re the procurement cream that rises to the top, you need to hear Tania’s five top tips for becoming a CPO. Start out by filling your trophy cabinet…

How To Strike Gold When Seeking A Mentor

This video is all about myth-busting. Tania explains why there’s absolutely no such thing as being too old for a procurement mentor. If you’re  yet to embrace reverse mentoring, now’s the time. Dig a little deeper and you’ll strike gold!

If you’d like Tania Seary to speak at your event, contact Olga Luscombe via [email protected] or visit TaniaSeary.com for more details.