Tag Archives: procurement careers

Pedal Hard, Reach the Top – Career Boot Camp 2019

Does your career need a boost to reach the top? Jump back in the saddle because we’ve got the solution for you – Career Boot Camp is back for 2019!

Imagine it is 2030. You are the Chief Supply Chain Officer of a $30 billion sustainable supply chain, and through using technology, gadgets and even implants, you structure your work day and round your peak performance levels. Is it a dream? Maybe. But you can start building this future reality next week with Procurious’ Career Boot Camp 2019.

We have curated some of the greatest global minds in supply chain, artificial intelligence, motivation and sustainability to give you a powerful push start towards the highest peaks of the supply chain profession.

Over 5 days next week, we’ll be sharing insights and learning from some of the freshest thinkers around in our no charge podcast series!

Introducing our Trainers

We have an incredible line-up of trainers for Career Boot Camp 2019. Just in case you haven’t had a chance to look yet, here’s a quick introduction:

Day 1 – Steve Day, Supply Chain Executive

The beauty of a career in supply chain is that you get to visit all sorts of exciting places and gain a wide range of experience from across the globe! And that’s exactly what our first Career Boot Camp 2019 trainer has done.

Steve Day is a Supply Chain Executive with expertise in Operations Management Supply Chain, Purchasing, Multi-Country Transformation and Change . Steve has led a number of operational transformations and developed new business models to support enterprise wide evolution from product to services and software revenue models.

His experience in the implementation of innovative approaches to existing business models, harnessing the power of the supply chain, has led him to senior positions helping a number of major organisations spearhead their digital transformations. We’re excited for him to share some of his career lessons with us!

Day 2 – Professor Moran Cerf, Neuroscientist, and Business Professor at the Kellogg School of Management

On Day 2 we will hear from Professor Moran Cerf, who will help learn how to get the peak performance from our brain. His research helps individuals and businesses harness the current knowledge of the brain to improve thinking and understanding of customers and business decisions.

Dr. Cerf’s academic studies apply methods from neuroscience to further understand the underlying mechanisms of our psychology, behavior changes, emotion, decision-making and dreams. In his acclaimed work, he studies patients undergoing brain-surgery by recording the activity of individual nerve cells using electrodes implanted in the patient’s brain. His work offers us a novel way to understand our psyche by observing the brain directly from within.

Day 3 – Alexis Bateman, Director, MIT Sustainable Supply Chains

Dr. Alexis Bateman’s work at MIT focuses on one of the exciting areas of supply chain impact – sustainability. In her work, Dr. Bateman studies supply chain sustainability through research, education, and outreach. She has engaged closely with industrial partners, public agencies, global governance organisations and non-governmental organisations.

Through MIT Sustainable Supply Chains, Dr. Bateman helps to bring together researchers from across MIT to examine the issue of supply chain sustainability, engaging on educational initiatives, research with industrial partners, and outreach to advance the knowledge around supply chain sustainability.

Day 4 – Ron Castro, Vice President, IBM Supply Chain

Do you dream of one day running one of the world’s leading supply chains?  Do you want to know what it takes to get to the top? On Day 4 you can listen and learn from an amazing global supply chain leader.

Ron Castro is responsible for all strategy, execution and transformation of IBM’s global end-to-end supply chain, delivering to clients across more than 170 countries. This transformation is inclusive of thought leadership, global talent development and is supported by a culture of engagement, agility and innovation.

Castro is leading the digital and cognitive transformation for supply chain leveraging emerging technologies to build transparent, intelligent and predictive supply chains at scale.

Day 5 – Dr. Karen Darke MBE, British Paralympic Gold Medal Winning and World Champion Hand-Cyclist, Para-triathlete, Adventurer and Author

We will finish the week on a real high, learning from an Olympic gold medalist how we all have incredible power within us to change our thoughts, our emotions, and our energy field.

After becoming World Para-triathlon Champion in 2012 and winning Paralympic Gold in hand-cycling at Rio 2016, Karen has hand-cycled to all four corners of the world, including Central Asia and the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the length of the Japanese archipelago.

As a coach and facilitator, author, speaker, and broadcaster, Karen works regularly with young people, schools, businesses and other organisations particularly on the subjects of challenge, change, resilience, sustainable wellbeing and maintaining a positive mental state. Her latest book, “Quest 79: Find Your Inner Gold”, is a collection of short stories and positive psychology tips, all based around her own experiences and life.  Karen aims to help Bootcamp participants find their inner gold.

Career Boot Camp FAQs

How could you not to be inspired by that group? If that’s got you motivated already, then make sure you sign up right now to access the podcasts as they go live. Here are the key things you need to know about how the Career Boot Camp 2019 podcast series works.

  • When does Career Boot Camp take place?

Starting on the 11th November, Career Boot Camp will run for five days. The podcasts will be accompanied by daily blogs from our Supply Chain Career Coaches plus group discussions and articles on Procurious.

When the series is complete, all five podcasts will be available for registrants via the Procurious eLearning hub, FREE of charge.

  • How do I listen to the Career Boot Camp podcasts?

Simply sign up or log in and you’ll be re-directed to the Supply Chain Pros group where you can access all five podcasts. You will also join a mailing list, which will alert you each time a new podcast is released.

  • How will I know when each podcast is published?

The series will run for one week, starting on November 11th, with a podcast released on Procurious each day. We’ll drop you an email to let you know as each podcast becomes available.

  • Why should I take part in Career Boot Camp every day?

Dedicating 15 minutes a day to developing and progressing your supply chain career can make the difference between standing still, or sprinting into more impactful roles. At Procurious, we firmly believe that daily learning is essential for career advancement. And Career Boot Camp will help you get into the habit!

Don’t delay, sign up now and unleash your inner Olympian or Grand Tour winner! Before you know it, you’ll be out of the career valleys and heading for the very highest peaks of the supply chain profession.

Creating a Procurement Video to Make Your Mum Proud!

Photo by Donald Tong from Pexels

This article was written for Procurious by Sievo. Find out more about them here.

Have you ever had a hard time explaining what you do to friends or family? Do you love your job but get the sense other people find it boring?

We all know sales drives growth, marketing builds brands and the buck stops with finance. Why is it so difficult to explain the excitement and value procurement brings to the table?

According to Wikipedia, procurement is “the process of finding and agreeing to terms, and acquiring goods, services, or works from an external source, often via a tendering or competitive bidding process. Procurement generally involves making buying decisions under conditions of scarcity.”

Yeah, I know! It sounds boring. Compare it to what we came up with to describe procurement analytics. And we promise you, this is NOT just another boring video about procurement.

Time for a Re-Brand

So why did we break the procurement as we know it and create that simple-fun video? We all know that procurement is often introduced in a boring way – it’s no Sales or Marketing.

But if Sales and Marketing can brand themselves well, why can’t procurement? Why is it that when think-ing about sales, people think of smiling businessmen in suits making deals on lunch dates that increase the company’s revenue, and when thinking of procurement it’s something….well…different.

At Sievo we do procurement analytics. It’s arguably the nerdiest, geekiest, most jargon-filled area of procurement. Analytics is tough to explain on its own. But analytics combined with procurement? I’m not going to even put the definition of that here.

But don’t worry – the fact that procurement is boring is not your fault!

You can choose who and what to blame – the fact that procurement professionals are focusing on savings instead of branding or the lack of knowledge about the subject – but one thing is true: procurement has a branding problem.

Our Procurement Video – Sharing the Excitement

A while back we were looking at YouTube videos about procurement to have some inspiration for future projects. Turned out, we weren’t very inspired at all after watching all of the long and technical videos. In fact, we got a bit worried when wondering what our moms would say if they decided to look into what we do for a living.

We decided we had to do something. Anything. We found that there was a clear demand for an interesting and fun video about procurement. Like the one the sales function has where Leonardo DiCaprio shows how to sell a pen. If for no-one else than to finally explain to our partners and mothers what it really is that we do in a way that they wouldn’t fall asleep halfway.

The thing is, procurement and procurement analytics are actually quite exciting. You should know. Sure, it’s not smiling people out on launch dates all the time, but dang it, procurement is an important function. It’s a function that should be portrayed in the exciting way it deserves.

This subject of changing the way we talk about procurement seemed to be close to the hearts of many since there has been an abundance of comments in response to the video.

Check some of those out:

“Definitely going to show this to my family to let them know what I do at work all day!”

Naavie

“Very cool – this video shows importance of procurement analytics to CPOs, cate-gory managers, compliance officers who look for sustainability in procurement process and even legal department!”

Alexandra Shtromberg

“Shared to my network, great vid… procurement analytics, simply explained and fun to watch… ”

Laura Garcia-Hornell

“Interesting and fun video, really liked it. I am all in for procurement analytics because on the best case it helps to support better decisions which lead to better negotiations… ”

Phil Kowalski

Want more? Read here 14 of some of the most creative definitions of procurement analytics by the ex-perts. Who knew procurement analytics could be explained with Tequila, an Indian wedding, and digging up gold?

Comment what you think about our approach and let us know how YOU would rebrand procurement!

Procurement Across Borders – Managing Situations In Which Culture Can Influence The Outcomes

Differences and similarities between cultures can be assessed in terms of core values, beliefs, norms and behaviour…

By Rawpixel.com/ Shutterstock

In the previous articles, we began looking at CQ Knowledge which relates to your personal knowledge and understanding of other cultures. We introduced the idea that differences and similarities between cultures can be assessed in terms of core values, beliefs, norms and behaviour and provided a cultural mirror which plots Nine Dimensions of Culture.

Having already discussed the first six dimensions, this month we will move onto the seventh, eighth and ninth dimensions, explore their application and give some tips and ideas on how to navigate these dimensions in cross cultural situations.

Dimension Seven: Polychronic- Monochronic.

Polychronic and monochronic are the terms used to describe the time orientation in cultures. The terms were coined by Edward Hall. People coming from Polychronic cultures view time as being very loose compared to monochronic cultures who view time as needing to be managed very tightly.

In monochronic cultures, people believe that time is money and it should not be wasted. Meetings tend to start on time and there is an orderly sense to the way people do things such as queueing and traffic movements. There is a methodical logic in how things work. Countries that are monochronic include the UK, Taiwan and Switzerland.

In polychronic cultures, people believe that time is life – there is plenty of time and you need to be in the present. A meeting set to begin at 9am may in fact start later than that or once everyone has arrived. In these cultures, people don’t generally queue for things and traffic can be chaotic and arbitrary. Cultures with a polychronic approach have a different sense of time which can be one of the most challenging aspects to working across culture. Countries that are Polychronic include Indonesia, Chile and Portugal.

Tips for those coming from a Monochronic Culture when working with Polychronic cultures:

1) Be fluid with timelines

2) Ensure flexibility in setting up appointments and meetings

Tips for those coming from a Polychronic Culture when working with Monochronic cultures:

1) Be punctual

2) Establish timelines for projects and ensure you deliver on them

Dimension Eight: High-Low Context Communication

High and Low context refers to the way in which cultures communicate. People coming from high context communication cultures understand that communication is multi-dimensional. In low context communication cultures, you say what you mean and mean what you say. In these cultures, “yes” means yes and “no” means no. Countries that have low context communication styles include the USA, Germany and Finland.

In high context cultures, “yes” may mean yes, it may mean no or even maybe depending on how the yes is articulated. It is not just about the spoken word, it is also about the facial expression, tone of voice, pitch and body language. Countries that have high context communication include China, Greece and Algeria.

Tips for those coming from a Low context culture and working with a High context culture:

1) Be patient and listen carefully to what is the message being communicated

2) Use metaphors and analogies to describe situations and outcomes

Tips for those coming from a High context culture and working with a Low context culture:

1) Be direct and straightforward in your communication

2) Do not be offended by the directness of responses.

Dimension Nine: Femininity – Masculinity

In feminine cultures, there tends to be more of an appreciation of values around cooperation, communication, teamwork, and collaboration. In feminine cultures, males and females will often do all sorts of similar jobs and gender roles are less clearly defined.

When discussing Femininity – Masculinity in terms of the cultural mirror continuum, we refer to the attributes that are most prevalent and valued within a culture.

Some examples of countries with feminine cultures are Denmark and Sweden.

In masculine cultures, there’s a far greater emphasis on competition, being assertive and ambitious and having a strong point of view. In masculine cultures gender roles are highly differentiated. Some examples of countries with masculine culture are Japan, Venezuela and Hungary.

Tips for people coming from feminine cultures when working with Masculine cultures:

1) Be assertive and convey your point of view

2) Be concise and rational in your discussions

Tips for people coming from Masculine cultures working with Feminine cultures:

1) Avoid being overly aggressive

2) Be willing to compromise

In order to be more effective when working across culture we need to be culturally intelligent and develop a repertoire to be able to manage situations in which culture can influence the outcomes. Regardless of where you sit on each element of the continuum it is essential to have the agility to adapt yourself.

Why You Need To Hyper-Specialise

The days of the generalist are over. Today, the most influential people in your organisation are those with the ability to hyper-specialise.

By StockEU / Shutterstock

When I first started working in the world of influence and influencers, it was possible to own a massive space; whether it was leadership, real estate, finance, money or health. There were very few “gurus” who had access to a platform from to talk about their wide area of expertise.

Today, however, everybody has a platform. The internet is crowded with blogs, podcasts, Youtube channels and social media influencers, with the result that there’s way too much noise to own a huge space anymore. Now, the future belongs to micro-influencers; micro-authorities who hyper-specialise.

When stakeholders need help from a procurement professional, they need to be able to find you fast. They want to know – straight away – whether the space that you own aligns exactly with their situation and needs. An IT professional, for example, doesn’t want advice from a procurement generalist. They want to talk to an IT purchasing specialist – someone who understands the challenges involved and is well-known as an expert in that space.

Do you own your space on Google?

When was the last time you Googled yourself? Take a minute to do so now. What did you find out – do the search results make it clear what space you own?

According to Harvard University, over 50% of decisions are now made before we ever making contact i.e via what I would call “Google stalking”. When you first make contact with a talent prospect, a supplier or a potential consultant, one of the first things they will do (I guarantee it) is Google stalk you. If what they find is irrelevant, not specific to their needs or if they can’t find it fast enough, then you’ve lost that race.

To become an influencer, you have to own your space – but you can’t own a space unless you are clear on what space it is that you want to own.

Influence Intersections

But how do you find out the niche that you want to own? How do you discover the hyper-specialisation that will set you apart from everybody else?

Let me introduce a concept that I call Influence Intersections. Picture a Venn diagram: the first of the two circles is a world in which you have mastery, insights or experience. Then you overlay this with another world where you have mastery, insights or experience. The intersecting space in the middle is the space that only you can own. The space where your expertise will stand out.

Two celebrity influencers who hyper-specialised

Take Jamie Oliver – when he first started out there were many celebrity chefs from six-star hotels and restaurants. Then Jamie came along, and what did he have? He had mastery, experience, and insights into the high-end world of cooking, but he also had personality. The personality he brought to the front was that he understood families and what it’s like to cook for your children on a budget quickly in a healthy way. The place in the middle between those two spaces was a place that only Jamie could own.

Steve Jobs is another famous example. He took the world of engineering and computers and overlayed this with another world he knew – the world of the creative innovator. That space in the middle then became the key Apple needed to dominate the marketplace.  

Why should a procurement professional hyper-specialise?

One word – influence. Procurement professionals are typically frustrated by their lack of influence (or “seat at the table”) within their organisations, but building up your profile and becoming known as the go-to expert in your space will lift your influence and cause others to seek out your advice. Imagine, then, a whole team of hyper-specialised procurement professionals, each one famous in the organisation for owning their space. How influential would that department become?

It’s also a great tool to keep in mind for your next career move. If you begin hyper-specialising today with the aim of becoming known as the guru in your particular space, you might just be in a job interview situation one day where the interviewer says, “I’ve heard of you – your expertise is a perfect fit for this opportunity”.

Remember, the days of the generalist are over. Generalists rarely become voices of authority. In addition to not being renumerated as well as perceived ‘experts’ they also receive less engagement and fewer opportunities. Specialists, on the other hand, receive more credibility, more respect, more opportunities and more influence. 

What are the two worlds you can overlay to find – and own – your space?

Three Technical Terms Procurement Pros Should Stop Using Now

Do these technical procurement terms have a place in today’s organisation?


By pathdoc/ Shutterstock

Technical procurement terms. Whether you love ’em or loathe ’em you’ll probably have experienced definition disagreements and C-suite confusions. And that begs the question, do they have a place in today’s organisation?

For Nick Dobney, Former Global Head of Procurement – Puma Energy, procurement terms is the one thing that really gets under is skin. “There are terms that my C-suite won’t understand, my stakeholders won’t understand and, frankly, in procurement we spend a lot of time debating them as well.”

Nick believes that all the time and effort spent defining and redefining technical procurement terms is distracting procurement professionals away from delivering on behalf of the business. At Big Ideas Zurich last year, he outlined three of the terms causing him the most grief.

1. Tender

“My team know full well to never come to me and talk about tenders,” Nick jokes. He argues that “tender” is such a broad word, open to so much interpretation, that it has actually become meaningless.

“What do you want to do?” he asks. “Are you selecting a supplier? Are you exploring the market? Are you benchmarking your costs? If those are the things you’re doing, let’s say them. Let’s not wrap them up or hide it into the word “tender.”

2. Direct/Indirect

In procurement we constantly talk about direct and indirect spend.

“I’ve been in procurement for 25 years and I’ve never worked in a manufacturing company.” In a manufacturing company it might make total sense to use these terms and easy to understand the difference between direct and indirect spend. But the same can not be said for service companies.

Nick worked for an airline, where the distinction is unclear. “We bought aircraft, we bought fuel, we bought engineering services, we bought food and drink, we bought ticketing systems, we bought call centre operations. What’s direct and indirect?”

“In my world when I talk to the C-suite I need to talk about impacting operating expenditure, capital expenditure or the cost of goods sold.” Whilst it might be ok to reference indirect and direct spend amongst procurement professionals Nick advises not to waste energies trying to explain the terms to the wider business.

3. SRM

Some call it Strategic Relationship Management. Others say Supplier Relationship Management. “I don’t think [a room full of procurement professionals] could come together with a single definition,” says Nick.

“I know I’ve never used the words SRM in conversations with the CEO. The fundament of SRM means getting the best performance I can out of the suppliers I choose. So let’s talk about it as performance. Let’s talk about it as a means by which I get the performance I require in my business from my supply base and from my suppliers.”

Speaking in these accessible terms makes the procurement function accessible to business leaders and that’s what procurement professionals should be striving for. “We want to break those doors down. There’s lots of talk about getting procurement a seat at the top table and the first thing we have to do is make sure these terms we’re talking about – we only use amongst ourselves!”

Impacting the business

“The terms we use with our business leaders has got to be the terms that they understand,” Nick explains. “Can you explain simply and straightforwardly the impact you are having on the business?”

Leaders in your business want to know:

  • Are you taking assets of our balance sheet so we can free up resources to invest in product development?
  • Are you improving our margins?
  • Are you getting a better return on our investments?
  • Are you reducing our net debt?

And as Nick says, “the language we use is fundamental to how we can move away from being seen as a very technical function into being a function that really does contribute to the business.”

Nick Dobney speaking at Big Ideas Zurich 2018


Procurement is Already Awesome – Here’s Why So Many #LOVEPROCUREMENT

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that procurement professionals love what they do. And here’s why….

We have all seen how far Procurement has evolved in recent years. The process has certainly not been easy for some; most of us are still on the journey (after all, transformation isn’t a destination) and others have yet to begin. But one thing is clear, procurement has turned the transformation corner and is speeding forward.

It’s not long ago that procurement departments were shunned and dismissed as merely back office administrators. But a lot has changed and the new terminology used to describe procurement is hardly recognisable; collaborative, innovative, data-driven, agile, change agent, advisor. Much of this due is to the broader realisation that Procurement can add significant value to an organisation. But to me, there is even more to it. I believe that the passion that many procurement professionals have for their work and the fact that many of us love what we do plays a big part.

Over the last year, and before that as an industry analyst, I spent a lot of time listening and talking to procurement professionals and it became apparent that people in this function really do enjoy and love what they do. It may have something to do with the fact that procurement is now exciting and invigorated but regardless, I wanted to investigate further. So, at our annual event we asked real procurement practitioners one question “Why do you love procurement?” and the response was overwhelming and quite frankly, surprising. We received over 120 answers, many of which expressed a great passion and  love for procurement. This was enough evidence for me.

The response was so great that we felt obligated to share a few, in the hope that they:

  • Inspire those in this profession (and maybe others)
  • Show that this is not your parent’s procurement; this is a dynamic, modern and challenging profession
  • Prove that many procurement professionals are excited about their roles, what’s in store for them and the impact they can have on an organisation
  • Drive even more proclamations of procurement love (you can submit your own by clicking on the image below)

I couldn’t help myself, so I threw all the responses into a word cloud tool to highlight some of the most common words used:

Why do you love Procurement?

Above are some of the main words used to describe why people love Procurement but here are some actual responses. To see more please visit this page

My favorite one really captures the dynamic nature of Procurement and the impact:

“It gives me that spiderman feeling- middle of the web with the other players and a superhero when we get the cost out.”

Procurement is about relationship building.

“I do not source goods and services, I source relationships.”

Procurement is fun…

“Involves cost, saving, buying, innovation, suppliers and all the fun in the world.”

Who said Procurement doesn’t care about suppliers?

“I love helping suppliers innovate develop and succeed”

Procurement helps make businesses more agile.

“I’m ready to fully respond and support continuous and radial changes in a business.”

Procurement is an exciting place to be right now. It’s a dynamic function that demands a multitude of skills from the traditional negotiation, relationship management and process skills to the increasingly important sales, communication, analytics, innovative technology and more. Many procurement groups are having to familiarise themselves with emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain and IoT. The rapid innovation in these areas and potential impact means that procurement must keep pace.

Procurement is a gatekeeper to potentially the largest source of innovation any company has – its suppliers. Fostering those relationships, building new ones and becoming the customer of choice is critical in this hyper-competitive age.

All of this makes Procurement fascinating. As such, we will continue gathering these quotes from around the world and hopefully generate more interest and excitement about Procurement.

So, if you #LOVEPROCUREMENT, tell us why.

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.

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!)

 

Not just about Trump’s Tower: Procurement in Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire

Azerbaijan has hit the headlines today with allegations that a Trump Tower hotel project in Baku involved a deal between the Trump family and a “notoriously corrupt” Azerbaijani oligarch with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. 

Trump, towers, and corruption aside,  Procurious recently interviewed one of our own community members, Fidan Amirbekova, about working in procurement in Azerbaijan – a tiny Caucasus state that has suddenly found itself in the international spotlight. 

With its unique cultural heritage, ancient origins and shared border with Iran, the history of the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan makes for fascinating reading. But what’s it like to work in Procurement there? Procurious member Fidan Amirbekova shares why the most important asset in Azerbaijani business is your personal network.

Welcome to the Procurious community, Fidan! Can you tell us a little about your country?

I live and work in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan and a thriving city on the coast of the Caspian Sea. The town’s origins go back to Roman times, with the earliest written evidence of its existence dating from 84AD. Today, it’s an incredible mixture of ancient buildings and modern skyscrapers. The town’s most recognisable buildings these days are the iconic “flame towers” (pictured).

Azerbaijan, also known as the Land of Fire, is the largest of the three South Caucasus states and is bordered by Russia to the north, Georgia to the north-west, Armenia to the west, Turkey to the south-west, Iran to the south, and the Caspian Sea to the east. Our culture has been defined by our location at the cross-roads of Russia and Persia (later Iran), and Azerbaijan has been a part of both empires at different times in its history.

Although the country has a Shiite Muslim majority, Azerbaijan doesn’t have an official religion, and all the major political forces in the country are secularist. The official language is Azerbaijani, although many of us speak Russian and English as well.

What kind of organisation do you work for?

I work in procurement for Bakcell, the leading mobile phone operator in Azerbaijan. The telecommunications sector is one of the biggest and most innovative in the country, and the role of procurement is significant. I’ve worked at Bakcell for almost 13 years now, with six of them in the procurement department. Specifically, I’m responsible for Marketing and Sales procurement and specialise in services purchasing.

As a profession, procurement in Azerbaijan is quite new, but it’s growing rapidly. Most of the large companies (especially the international ones) require procurement specialists in their teams. There is no developed manufacturing chain in the country, so we need to import almost everything.

Are there any challenges involved with moving goods across borders?

Yes, there are sometimes difficulties with moving goods across borders, but experienced professionals can always find a way. Doing business here is about who you know – personal relationships play a very important role in every field in Azerbaijan. You will succeed if you have a large network – it doesn’t matter if your connections are business-related or personal. In my experience, a wide circle of friends and acquaintances solves everything. That includes online social and business networks like LinkedIn – and Procurious!

Do you source anything from Iran? 

There is some trade over the shared border between Azerbaijan and Iran. Personally, I haven’t yet had to source anything from Iran. The two countries have a shared history and there are many Azerbaijanis living in Iran, and vice-versa. We have stronger business and personal relationships with Turkey. Our languages are similar, and Turkish students come to Azerbaijan to study. We import a lot from Turkey, and there are many Turkish companies here, both small and large.

What pathways are offered to get into procurement in Baku and the region?

As I said earlier, procurement is relatively new here, although it’s growing fast. At present, none of our higher education institutions offer courses in procurement. There is, however, a small consulting company which represents CIPS in Azerbaijan and offers training courses and CIPS qualifications. Many procurement professionals here are actively seeking new opportunities and professional development, so having the CIPS qualification is becoming increasingly popular.

Overall, I think procurement has a great future in modern Azerbaijan. Businesses here understand that we can make a great contribution.

Procurious may be an English-language business network, but our community members come from all over the globe. We’re looking for more stories to build a picture of the unique challenges faced by procurement professionals internationally. If you’re interested in sharing your story, please leave a comment below.

How To Convince Hostile Stakeholders To Adopt New Technology

Simona Pop’s Big Idea provides a recipe for convincing even the most unwilling departmental heads to embrace new technology.

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

Deciding to adopt a new technology has historically been a pain in the ass. An expensive, dull, prolonged pain nobody wants to deal with. The problem I have is that those adjectives belong to OLD tech. Putting nimble new technology in the same pile with 90s software is like mixing vodka with milk. It may have worked for the Mad Men of the 50s but it is an unnatural association. (I watched Mad Men until the 5th series then lost interest, by the way.)

Here’s the gist of it: people need to be comfortable with the cost and potential risk of adopting new technology. How do you make them comfortable? By providing “proof of concept” and calculating these costs and potential risks. One simple guideline is the 10X rule: if you can expect a return of 10 times your investment, then it’s worth it.

However, with technology – especially if it spans across different departments – you must take into account that your gains will come from any of several improvements, or a combination of improvements:

  • Cost reduction
  • Efficiency improvement
  • Fraud prevention
  • Admin processing speed
  • Mobilising the workforce
  • Product/service enhancement
  • Competitive environment

Your gains will be the sum total of all factors. If adopting a new technology provides an improvement in one factor but it’s at the expense of another factor, it may not be worth adopting. This tends to limit everything to a financial view though. A far better formula includes non-financial factors, some of which will outweigh the financial ones. You need to also remember that some investments in new technology can require at least a year to show their true value.

Managing risk should also be incorporated into your analysis, but remember that you take a risk whether you adopt a new technology or not. The advantages a new technology provides may not be obvious – until a competitor adopts that technology and makes your competitive disadvantage clear. In that case, adopting a new technology reactively will put you on the back foot. Playing catch-up is never a good business move!

Risk Reduction Recipe

Let’s call it – new tech is the unknown. The unknown is typically scary to humans. And since I am all about the H2H in business, working to remove that fear is key to successful tech adoption.

One sure way to reduce the risk is to go for a taster: a proof-of-concept implementation. Starting small & early allows you to identify problems early when they are far easier and less expensive to correct. It also makes it easy to start over if the proverbial hits the fan.

When rolling out new technology across multiple departments, you’re guaranteed to encounter a mixed bag of responses. From enthusiastic stakeholders who “get it” straight away, to nervous – and sometimes downright hostile – departmental heads who are terrified of change, you’re going to have to manage them all.

Here’s the secret – rather than trying to beat hostile stakeholders into submission with the force of your arguments, ask the willing departments to do the job for you. Carry out a proof of concept with your supporters so you have the evidence required to overcome any objection, and go back to the risk-averse stakeholders with your advocates at your side.

Also keep in mind that both organisational and process changes will be needed when bringing in tech. Procedural changes are very common. The reason why you are looking at that tech is typically to improve current processes you have found lacking. You must be aware that tech is here to improve NOT replicate. Trying to fit clunky processes on efficient technology is not only frustrating but a complete waste of time and resource. Changes to previous processes will need to happen and you will have to expect some resistance to those changes. Again, human nature.

The mark of good technology for me is its accessibility and great user experience across the board (from top to bottom, from left to right). Because you are effecting change (and that’s difficult enough), the very last thing you need is that change to come in the form of clunky, pain in the ass – MS-DOS looking software.

In my quest to empower people through tech, one problem I come across a lot is: “How much resource do I need from our side because we really cannot spare anyone?” This question is proof of a bad reflex left over from dealing with old tech. The type of tech that takes a year just to implement, another year to train for and another to realise it’s not right for you anyway even though it is costing you serious cash. The type of tech that is SO unlike what you know and love in your personal life, it might as well be alien. A vintage alien at that.

Clear communication will help overcome the organisational and process challenges. When people get that you are in fact trying to empower them to work better and easier, they will want to be part of that higher drive.

As Richard Branson says: “Screw it, let’s do it!” Move quickly, find out what works and what doesn’t. Stalling, procrastinating of burying your head in the sand are NOT ways to avoid a pain in the ass.

This article was first published on InstaSupply.

Stay tuned for more Big Ideas from Simona Pop as we lead up to the Big Ideas Summit 2017!

Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017 now!