At the end of a year when all our plans fell through, the Big Ideas Summit sets the tone, agenda and cements the possibilities for 2021. Here’s how.
Back in 2010, when you were making your ten year plan, what did you say your end game was? Multiple promotions? An overseas secondment? Perhaps a holiday home? Whatever you put on your plan, we’re pretty sure it didn’t include a pandemic, and we’re almost 100% sure that if asked if the last decade prepared you for this, you’d say a loud and clear no.
But that’s exactly why our Big Ideas Summit is more important than ever. Back in February, we knew that COVID-19 would represent a watershed moment for procurement professionals everywhere when 94% of the world’s supply chains were interrupted. And what we predicted (if you could even call it that!) has come true: procurement and supply chain management has irrevocably changed, and so has our world. This year’s Big Ideas Summit is dedicated to that very transformation, so here’s four reasons you simply can’t miss it:
We’ll learn to think the unthinkable
The global pandemic has been described as ‘unthinkable’ by many, but the truth is that world leaders had, in fact, planned for a pandemic, even if their response in reality was a little different. So this begs the question, was COVID really as unthinkable as we all initially thought?
While the jury is out on the answer to that, it’s clear that we’re living in increasingly uncertain and volatile times which require a vastly different set of skills than before. One person that knows this better than anyone is Nik Gowing, TV presenter and journalist. He recently completed an in-depth study into global leadership, and he has some truly fascinating insights into what attributes are now required to lead businesses into the future.
We’ll decipher today’s risk landscape
This year, new risks have emerged so fast that many of us have barely been able to update our management plan before we’ve had to throw it out the window and start again. In 2020 (and likely, in the years to come), risk management is going to look vastly different to what it does today.
At this year’s Big Ideas, we’ll hear from prominent CEO Dawn Tiura on how we should approach risk, especially from a third-party relationship perspective.
We’ll ask the important questions about business continuity
When it comes to global business, we always thought where there was a will, there was a way. And thankfully, in the face of harsh lockdowns and enormous supply chain disruptions, many of the world’s industries have found a way to continue in some form, even if everything is done virtually.
For businesses like this, how does business continuity work? And does it even apply? One thing that the inspirational Kelly Barner, MD of Buyer’s Meeting Point, knows is that you need to be prepared for surprises. We’ll delve into exactly how we can all do that from a business continuity perspective plus much more.
We’ll discuss how we can all protect our careers
While many of our colleagues may have been furloughed or laid off altogether, procurement and supply chain professionals have fared increasingly well career-wise throughout the pandemic. But while we may still have our jobs, how are our careers going in this increasingly uncertain landscape? It’s fair to say that while there may have been many opportunities, there may also have been various reasons why we couldn’t or didn’t take them.
But in good news, 2020 isn’t finished yet. There is ample time to analyse the year that has been, and decide how to best protect – and grow – your career. We’ll discuss this at length in a panel at Big Ideas with four of the globe’s best procurement and supply chain recruiters. The catch phrase of the year is staying apart keeps us together. Now, it’s time to get together for real (virtually!), learn from those who have managed best, and plan for whatever 2021 may hold. Join us at The Big Ideas Summit here.
2020 has been a year like no other. Which of course means we need an update in our go-to career tips…
Unfortunately, careers often look better with hindsight. If only I hadn’t taken that role, we often think, or perhaps, I could be better off if only I’d learnt to better negotiate my salary.
Fortunately for you though, those types of concerns or regrets might not be something you have to worry about after you read this article. We all need some good news right now, so to bring you five of the most life-changing career tips of 2020, we chatted to one of the most-experienced supply chains recruiters in the world, Tim Moore. As the President and Owner of Tim Moore and Associates, has single-handedly placed thousands of high-ranking supply chain executives into roles all over North America for the best part of almost three decades.
He sat down with us to share ‘something money simply can’t buy’- hindsight.
Tip 1: Stand out – you may soon have some competition
When it comes to global supply chains, it’s fair to say that the coronavirus pandemic has changed absolutely everything. From food to medical supplies, the crisis has caused all of us to consider just about every element of what we do, from how we manage suppliersto what technology we use and why.
It has also brought significant awareness to the importance of a resilient, secure and reliable supply chain. This, in turn, says Tim Moore, has led to an increased interest in completing your supply chain qualifications:
‘Thanks to COVID-19 and the awareness of Supply Chains there will be a long overdue “spike” in the number of new students enrolling in supply chain courses.’
‘Fortunately, I think there are now many degree programs ready to cater to this boom and help rectify today’s shortages of supply chain talent.’
Is an increased interest in a supply chain as a career going to pose a threat to today’s seasoned supply chain professionals? Not really, says Tim, but if you are at a more junior level, standing out when applying for jobs will become more important than ever.
Fortunately though, more qualified junior talent in supply chain will be of great support to teams this year who have a lot to grapple with throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Tip 2: Your profession has skyrocketed in importance and awareness – make the most of it
Prior to writing this, we Googled whether there was such a thing as the ‘Year of the Supply Chain’ (sort of like the Chinese Zodiac “Years Of”). Sadly, there wasn’t.
But if there was, undoubtedly it would be 2020.
At no time in history has supply chain management been as crucial and all-defining as it has been this year. Suddenly, procurement and supply chain has gone from an overlooked ‘function’ to the crucial heart of the organisation. If ever you wanted to be strategic, get noticed and truly ‘take a seat at the executive table,’ now is the time to do so, says Tim. But you have to be strategic and proactive.
He truly believes that this year will be career-defining for many supply chain professionals who step up and take the initiative:
‘There has never been a time since the second world war, when the supply chain profession, and the techniques they bring, have been so important and visible to the senior executive within the firms that employ them.’
‘Every supply professional has learned lessons about the vulnerability of their particular supply chain(s) – and should be proactive taking steps to reduce the risk of disruption in the future.’
‘You can’t afford to wait and gamble that it won’t happen again…it will.’
Tip 3: Salary surveys may give good insights – but be careful how you use them
With the supply chain profession being elevated in importance, and businesses (hopefully) edging towards recovery as the year continues, opportunities may increase for people in the hunt for a better salary. But Tim cautions everyone to be very careful when it comes to the old ‘grass is greener’ salary argument.
Tim has seen many supply chain professionals become disgruntled because they believe they are being underpaid. Yet the places they get their information may not be what they seem:
‘I’ve heard some people say that “money talks” and they’ll crack open an industry salary survey to try and determine whether they’re ahead or behind others in terms of the salary curve.’
‘The thing is, those surveys can be almost impossible to fully interpret, and are often misleading to the casual reviewer.’
Especially this year, Tim says, salary survey results may not be able to tell you much as many companies are freezing pay levels and asking employees to take pay cuts. The ‘greener grass’ may in fact not be green at all when it comes to pay.
Yet should you still use these salary surveys as leverage in your own pay discussions? Tim says:
‘In any salary discussion, it’s important to know what your range should be, based on firms of the same size, in the same industry and of the same profit level. But really, it’s hard to glean this information from a survey so likewise, hard to use this as leverage.’
‘Pay discussions should be based more on your achievements and your tenure with the firm, whether the firm has been profitable and frankly, whether or not there has been recent layoffs or downsizing.’
Tim cautions, though, that now might not be the right time to ask for a salary increase:
‘In some cases, people should be happy to have a job, let alone be seen as gouging their employer for demands for a salary increase.’
Tip 4: Consider the big picture – and put your negotiation skills to good use
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on economies, lives and jobs losses, and that means that inevitably, some supply chain professionals might find themselves without work this year. This is a terrible outcome, of course, but when the market picks up Tim does genuinely believe there will be more opportunities than ever.
But when and if we all decide to accept an offer of employment, Tim believes that we should consider the ‘big picture’ of what an employer is offering; as it will be more important than ever before:
‘When considering a new opportunity, of course look at the salary range, and compare this to your competitors and your industry at large.’
‘But remember, as your supply chain training has taught you – salary, like price, is only one element to consider. Think long and hard about other benefits, for example: educational reimbursement, membership in your local supply chain association, bonuses if any, (and how frequently they’re paid), stock options, and healthcare and dental coverage.’
‘Post-COVID, increased benefits may be easier to achieve than a dramatic salary increase..’
When it comes to negotiating your package, however, Tim believes that supply chain professionals need to remember their training:
‘I’ve always maintained that you never get paid what you’re worth, but you ALWAYS get paid on how you negotiate and how well you have interviewed.’
‘It’s surprising that so many supply chain professionals go blank and completely forget their negotiation training when presented with a job offer. After you feel confident that you’ve checked all of the boxes and know you’re the right fit, just like with negotiating with vendors, you can always ask for: 1. Time to consider it further, 2. For the offer to be put in writing, and for those adventurous 3. “Is that the best you can do?”’
With the final request, Tim says, if you execute it politely and professionally, you may be able to leverage up your offer.
Tip 5: Ask the hard questions
With unemployment approaching an all time high, many of us may be forced into a ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ type situation, where we simply take the first job we can get. But nonetheless, Tim says, you should research the company you plan to join, because if you do end up having to leave after a short amount of time, it may not look great on your resume.
In order to research the company you plan to join, Tim recommends the following:
‘Find out about everything. Look up the organisation’s products and services, read their financial reports, look at their social media accounts. Make sure you take detailed notes in all of your interviews, and don’t be afraid to ask why they’re interested in you and how you might fit exactly within the role in their eyes.’
‘But more than that, ask some harder questions. Ask WHY the position is available, and what happened to the previous individual in the role? Enquire as to how long they were in that role? You’d be amazed at what you can uncover!’
There’s very few professions that will be able to claim that 2020 was a great career year. But for many of us in supply chain and procurement, we might just be able to surprise ourselves.
Will you negotiate harder for your salary increase or greater benefits this year? Or are you concerned about competition? Let us know in the comments below.
Join Procurious to connect with 40,000 other ambitious procurement professionals and get free access to networking, industry news, training and much more.
We have assembled a panel of experienced senior leaders from different industries and different parts of the world – Lara Naqushbandi (Google), Christina Morrow (Ricoh USA) and Imelda Walsh (The Source) – to offer career advice.
And they have plenty of great insights to share with you.
Plan to succeed
Top of their list of recommendations is to have a plan.
Some people like a fully worked-out, detailed action plan. Others prefer a few tasks on a to-do list.
Either way, you’ll benefit from having made a plan. It’s a good place to start to identify the things you need to do.
And – as Imelda points out – you’re much more likely to succeed when that plan is written down.
But once you’ve made the plan don’t feel tied to it. Don’t feel you always need to stick to the programme.
Because sometimes doing that can stop you considering potential new roles that could be a great fit for you.
Take Christina’s advice and ask yourself how you would define professional success. Use that as your guide to consider whether to stick to or deviate from your plan when a new opportunity arises.
Ask what’s important now
Although the financial side of work is an important consideration, the panel members stress the drawbacks of being blindsided by the money associated with a role.
‘Look at the whole package, not just the pay cheque,’ Lara advises.
In her experience getting the balance right between work and home life is something that everyone should consider before taking on a new role.
Having a passion for what you do is something all our panel members cited as important. Imelda reports that she’s been most successful when she has a role that focuses on her passion.
Christina has always taken time out regularly to reflect on what she enjoys doing so that she’s clear on what she might want from any prospective new position.
Be open to taking risks.
This may involve deviating from your plan or exploring options to try something new.
Lara is a great believer in having an openness to risk. Going off the beaten path can often bring great benefits when thinking about the next step in a career. That’s an approach that has definitely worked for her.
But taking a step up can present new challenges and in Christina’s experience, there is always something from a previous role that you can use to build on for the next.
So don’t stay too long in one job and get bored is her advice. Take a risk and try something out of your comfort zone.
The soft skills we use every day in procurement and supply chain – like leadership, negotiation and collaboration – are just what are needed for the challenges of a new role.
Hone your network
Having a network is a great resource you can use for securing a new role.
Imelda sees many candidates who have used a mentor to help them develop and grow, achieving great success.
And mentors can help you think about how to adjust to a culture and brief that a new job can bring.
Moving between different companies can mean adjusting to completely new working environments and procedures – and even sometimes changing continents.
Lara has found she’s had to adapt her style to accommodate each company’s culture and management style.
Why not listen in to our webinar to find out more from our panel about how you can create your path to the top by: Planning your route Asking what’s important Taking risks Making the most of your network.
Register for our upcoming (free) webinar here and start 2020 out with a bang!
Many mention salary as a reason to look elsewhere. So, what possibly could go wrong when you chase the money?
When Tom* was headhunted for a procurement specialist role at a major energy supplier, his eyes lit up. It was literally his dream job – and at a salary $30,000 higher than he was being paid.
What could possibly go wrong?
Tom resigned immediately and started planning the lavish holiday on which he’d now be able to take his family.
Yet less than 6 months later Tom found himself in my office, miserable.
It turned out that what had seemed like a lucrative move was anything but.
The long hours and high stress of his new role – combined with a tyrannical and workaholic boss – had made the situation untenable.
‘I’ve learnt the hard way,’ Tom told me, ‘that it’s not all about money.’
As general manager of The Source, I meet hundreds of talented procurement professionals every year.
Like Tom, many mention salary as one of the reasons they want to look elsewhere.
But I often tell candidates that money shouldn’t be the only reason for choosing a job. And in many cases it shouldn’t be an influencing factor at all.
Flexibility and well-being are key
Workplace satisfaction research conducted over the last decade tells us that, contrary to popular belief, salary isn’t one of the driving factors when it comes to happiness at work.
In fact, salary comes close to last on the list.
What makes us truly happy at work is, in fact, a combination of permanent workplace flexibility, a commitment to health and well-being and the feeling that we’re doing meaningful and interesting work.
We also need to feel respected at work.
We need and want our leaders to notice and listen to us.
And, to an extent, we want them to praise us for our efforts.
In Tom’s situation, he had ended up with none of these.
He wasn’t getting any respect. In fact, his new manager often berated him in front of other colleagues.
He also had little flexibility.
Despite the fact that the organisation had a strong policy on workplace flexibility, Tom’s workaholic manager made him feel like he could never take advantage of it.
Finally, the lack of flexibility, high expectations and poor management had a knock-on effect on Tom’s health and well-being.
He was stressed and tired all the time – and struggled to stay motivated.
Again, the organisation had a policy on employee well-being. But that hardly mattered to Tom, whose entire experience was being dictated by a manager he hated.
People leave their bosses, not their jobs
After talking to me about his situation, Tom quickly came to another realisation about his poor career move.
And this time it wasn’t about salary.
When you look at the drivers of workplace satisfaction, almost all can be achieved – or derailed – by your leader.
This is something that’s enshrined in fact: 75% of all people leave their bosses, not their jobs.
So if you think about it like that, risking leaving a good boss for the unknown can make the salary gain pale in comparison.
Sure, that extra money might get you a great holiday, help you pay off your debt or buy you the car you’ve always wanted, but what are you giving up in return?
Your job is a 40-hour-a-week, 48-week-per-year reality, and your career – which a manager can also make or break – is a lifelong endeavour.
After a few months of searching, we eventually placed Tom in a new role, with a leader I know will give him the career experience he wants and deserves.
But for all of you thinking of your next move this year, let this be a cautionary tale.
How much does salary really mean? And how much emphasis should you place on that against working for someone who holds the key to your workplace happiness?
I’d love to hear your experiences – please share them in the comments section below.
Interested in some more career advice? Whether you want to move up in your career, change industries, or even need some extra motivation for the new year (and new decade!), start 2020 off with a bang in our upcoming webinar – Don’t Quit Your Day Job. Register here.
Tony Megally is the General Manager of The Source, Australia’s leading procurement recruitment and executive search firm. If you’re looking to hire in the procurement space, or alternatively, you’d like to have a confidential chat about your next role, please contact Tony on +613 9650 6665 or via email on [email protected]
It’s the time of year where the office gets really quiet. So how are you going to use this quiet time productively?
We’ve all now started the long wind down towards Christmas. People are tired and losing focus and everyone is trying to spend as little time in the office as possible. But this is the perfect time to think about you want to achieve in 2020. I know my first priority is to get out the calendar and pencil in my proposed vacation days!
Seriously though, what do you need to do to get where you want to be by the end of next year? It may be expanding or updating your current skills, actual re-training for a new role or adding to your formal education.
Whatever it is, start planning it now.
Update Your CV
Even if you are content in your current role, updating your CV is not a waste of time. Mergers and acquisitions often result in reduced office headcount, strategy changes may mean that your project is canned or your department is closed. No job is really secure.
Spending a couple of hours over the holidays on your CV will pay off later, even if you are only looking for an internal promotion.
to take out:
1. Check for obsolete words and phrases. Remember Windows Vista and Word Perfect and MS-DOS? Neither do new employers! Clear out any references to old technologies which date your skills.
2. Your high school results are irrelevant for anyone over 21. Many companies are claiming that they do not consider university education important either, but we are not there yet. Include your tertiary qualifications (provided you did successfully complete them). If you graduated in the 80’s it doesn’t matter, you don’t have to give dates. If you dropped out, don’t mention it.
3. Any early work experience or entry-level jobs from more than 10 years ago are of no interest. Ageism is alive and well in recruitment, take steps to make your CV age-neutral as far as possible. If a role needs you to show 10 years’ experience, only do that.
What to put in:
Design your CV for the role that you are seeking. Highlight projects that directly relate to the skills in the job listing you’re targeting. Respond to what exactly is asked for.
One concise page is better than two with padding. Recruiters and hiring managers have short attention spans. Too much information is a turn-off.
Update your list of skills. Add new bullet points for technical skills acquired since the last CV update, especially focus on those in short supply. Highlight your achievements in team-leading and collaboration, especially if you aspire to a management role.
Add in any reference sites where published work can be found including informative articles and blogs.
Your Online Media Presence
Despite the downsides of having a personal presence online, it is still a benefit to have a professional profile there. You can’t hide from social media so pick a favourite and use it wisely.
LinkedIn is the most useful tool for business professionals. With more than 20 million companies listed on LinkedIn and 14 million open jobs, it’s no surprise to find out that 90 per cent of recruiters regularly use it.
There are plenty of places where you can express your personal opinions on politics, religion or details of your pets, etc. LinkedIn is not one of them. When updating an online profile, make sure that the content aligns exactly with your CV. Astute hiring managers will pick up any anomalies.
Sad to say, but recruiters also scour Facebook and Twitter looking for “background”, so review your content there too, even if you are not actively job hunting. The safest place on-line is having your own website (where you have full control of the content).
Getting an Interview
If you are actively looking for a change,
think about your cover letter. This is
your opportunity to showcase and
what you can offer, in your own words.
It can also highlight what you want which saves wasted time on both
sides. A good cover letter will get you the interview.
says “I got rid of any reference older
than 10 years, but what got me lots of interviews was the T-form cover letter.
I put a two-column table in my one-page Word doc cover letter where their main
job requirements are placed in the left column and how I have met or exceeded
them on the right side. This provides a fast screen for the HR or recruiter and
in most cases, I ended up with a face to face interview after the initial phone
Fortunately, the need for procurement skills will not decline, but the requirements are definitely changing. Employers are looking for those with new skills such as understanding how to manage big data in the cloud, how you can contribute to sustainability and the triple bottom line. Will you be ready?
New Year, New You. New Job? Don’t wait until 2020 to start your search or you might struggle to stand out from the crowd.
More than half of us are planning to change jobs in 2020. So, don’t wait until January to start your job search – there will be far too much competition. Instead follow these steps to get ahead on a new you for the New Year.
Looking for a new job takes time. In fact, an average of 40 days
from submitting a CV to being offered a new role.
Factor in searching for a suitable job before you even send off
your application and then the wait while you work out your notice (generally at
least one month) and it could be a nearly Easter by the time you move jobs.
So why not start preparing for your search now?
The Market – The Crowd
It could pay off. More than half of the 16,000 UK employees surveyed by Totaljobs and Universum say they are planning on moving jobs in the new year, so January will see a huge surge in the number of candidates on the market.
To put it into context, that could be half your workplace
actively scouring job sites and that means an awful lot of competition for the
“If you also factor in Christmas bank holidays then the optimum time to start applying for jobs is mid-November,” says Nick Kirk, UK MD of recruiters Michael Page who warns: “Securing a new job can be a lengthy process, with applicants and employers needing to be sure the right person is being offered the right role.”
Where Competition is Highest
The professionals who are least satisfied in their current position and most likely to want to move jobs work in logistics, media and e-commerce so anyone working in these sectors is likely to see tough competition from colleagues who are also looking for a new role.
In contrast, auditing and accounting and legal and law professionals are the least likely to leave their jobs, because those usually have higher salaries and a lot of opportunities to up-skill. For example, an accountant could become a CPA just by passing an exam and completing the licensing process.
However, much depends on your employer. If you have any concerns about the future of your organisation you will not be alone – so start your job search sooner rather than later.
Preparation is Key to Success
Although around half of us are expecting to look for a new role,
only one in ten expect to be successful.
So how can you boost your chances? Nick Kirk has the following
1. Be clear about your reasons for leaving
Are you sure you want to leave your job, or are you feeling
pressured to start afresh in the new year? Establish the reasons why you want
to leave your current job and, if you can, speak to your manager about your
concerns. Once you’ve had these frank conversations and are certain that moving
on is the right decision, you will be able to make smart decisions about your
Often it is not the money that’s a problem – in fact, two thirds
of British workers would stay in a job they enjoyed rather than move for more
For those intent on shifting jobs, the biggest drivers are career progression (30 per cent), professional training and development (32 per cent) and the feeling that their current roles and responsibilities are unlikely to grow (25 per cent). These can be relatively easy to address.
For example, your manager may not be aware that you
want a promotion or more training and may find these requests easier to
accommodate than a pay rise – after all, if you demand a substantial salary
hike everyone will want one, whereas a career development plan is tailored to
the individual and it can also benefit the organisation in terms of improved
2. Think about where you want to work next
Candidates and employers are now placing more value on workplace
environment and ensuring the right team culture when hiring. It’s crucial
to be sure that you know what kind of role, company, and working environment
you are looking for in your next position before you start your job hunt. If
you find an environment and culture that matches well with your personal
values, you are more likely to be happier at work.
One of the key requirements is flexibility – often employees are
prepared to sacrifice salary for the option of working a condensed week
(cramming 5 days into 4), the option to work at home one day a week or an early
3. Keep an open mind
Adopt a positive and flexible attitude to your job search.
Listen to what opportunities are in the market and remain open-minded to
different companies and locations.
In keeping your mind open, you may be presented with
opportunities which may be worth changing location or industry for – a real new
Also by narrowing your requirements, you are limiting your
choice which means you could be languishing in a job you hate for too long.
Today we have less of a career ladder (organisational structures are flatter)
so it may be hard to move for a promotion, but that does not mean you cannot
find a more rewarding role with a sideways shift.
4. Update your LinkedIn profile and CV
Your LinkedIn profile and CV are your gateway to a future
position. Most employers will cross reference the information before deciding
on whether to progress your application, so ensure both are sharp and accurate
to avoid your application being discarded at the first hurdle.
Also make sure that all your job applications are tailored to
So start with a tailored personal statement to your prospective
new employer, highlight your key skills, use a spell checker and whatever you
do, don’t lie.
Employers are struggling to find the right candidates, so
increasingly accept that they will have to find a good fit rather than the
perfect fit so you don’t need to tick every box.
5. Prepare for your interview
This may be a busy time of year, but an interview is the time to
make a great first impression on a potential employer. Do your homework on the
company – look at its latest news, work or any award wins. Have an
understanding of where you can fit into the organisation and its culture.
Anticipate possible questions and rehearse your answers too, as this will help
you to deliver seamlessly on the day.
100 days of being a CPO….What’s on your to-do list, where do you start and how do you develop your action plan to transform the procurement team?
You’re hired! After the jubilation of accepting a job wears off and you’re successfully on-boarded to your new company, you learn you have 100 days to develop a plan. This plan that will begin a journey of procurement transformation that surpasses the expectations you shared during the new hire process. The opportunity is ‘greenfield’: building out a procurement function where one didn’t previously exist or where the function never took hold for one reason or another.
You’ve been appointed CPO. You have 100 days to develop a plan. What’s first?
There are various approaches to transformation and the key is to find the right one for your project. The approach I will share is based on my personal experiences building out the procurement function (source-to-settle) at a Fortune 50 company, at a hyper-growth entrepreneurial company, and (most recently) at an established, well-diversified healthcare company.
First course of business – assess the current state if you didn’t do so during the interview process. Have a conversation with anyone willing to engage starting with your new team, executive leadership, and cross-functional stakeholders. You need to understand your inherited brand firsthand – including the perspectives and opinions of your inherited procurement function. These discussions are important on several fronts because they:
Baseline the present-day function and capture a snapshot of where you started your journey. This will be key as you look in the rearview mirror to see how far you’ve come;
Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats across the categories of people, process, and technology;
Provide key insights on brand perceptions and the history behind them;
Help identify advocates, influencers, and distractors; and
Finally, provide insights to what ‘should’ be next and offer a semblance of preferred timing
I recommend partnering with a change management guru and a project manager to articulate the business requirements that will form your vision, set a definition of success, and develop a communication strategy and cadence. Do not underestimate impact of change and the new behaviors that are required to effect better business outcomes.
At my current company, we took a slightly different approach to transformation based on our unique combination of vision, culture, and employee demographics. Early on we reached out to Marketing to create a ‘drip campaign’ comprised of video vignettes, campus signage, and direct outreach. The whole effort centered on our mascot – Moolah, a big fury, purple creature that was accompanied by a tag line – ‘Spend It Like It’s Yours’ (loosely based on the acronym ‘SILIY’ – pronounced silly).
The objective was to have fun with the initiative, which is one of our values. The result was celebrity status for Moolah and greater acceptance of the initiative. Frankly, it was fun to see employees taking selfies of Moolah at all-hands-on-deck meetings.
Included below is a checklist based on my experiences to help develop your plan. Again, model or pivot based on what you observe in front of you and the expectations of procurement. There is no absolutely right answer.
‘Why’ is the initiative being undertaken and why now
‘Who’ – who is the advocate and what role to they play and their plans to stay active
‘What’ is the motivation, business reasons for the initiative
‘When’ – expected timing – launch for the initiative and drivers
‘Where’ what is the geographical, business reach for the initiative, i.e., domestic only, certain BUs only, etc.
‘WIFT/M’ – beneficiaries?
Vision, Mission and Values
Story – market, penetration, success, competitors, …
Existing function and talent
Who plays the role today within the business
Partner with HR to run a title & role search across the company
Ask the pre-existing talent to provide their CVs and interview them
Needs of the organization from the perspective of the business
Brand (good, indifferent and what needs to change)
Successes and failures
Identify partners and executive support to advocate for the initiative
Subset – players
Active vocal participants (supporters)
Points of dissension (naysayers)
Bandwagoneers – those on the sidelines waiting for results and uncommitted in the interim
Performance to date
Skills and gaps
Investments to date
HIPOs (High Potential Employees)
Investments and jettisons
Does one exist?
Are there accountabilities?
Document signing authority
What do you have?
To what extent is it implemented?
What is next and why?
Buying behaviors of customer
Willingness for change
Other Shared Services Centers
Initiative governance structure
Agree roles/oversight for initiative, for example:
Advocates within the business
Other key constituents
Change Management strategy, approach, methodology
Partner with Marketing on drip campaign (pre-planned, gradually released communications)
Change management leader
Business case to effectuate a different outcome
Executive summary – overview of the initiative
Detailed description of the initiative
Why – what is it in for them/me – market analysis
Necessary executive support
Gain support for initiative
Celebrate your successes
Appreciate that procurement transformation is a journey with a starting point that is unlikely to ever end. You iterate, detour, and adapt to meet the needs of the organization. Investment is required in the three buckets of people, process, and technology – and most importantly, the leadership team – to stay relevant.
You will encounter setbacks, and your ability to recover will test the team. How they (and you) respond will determine the overall success of the initiative. Most importantly – have fun if you are fortunate enough to have that as a key value at your company.
It doesn’t matter what technology your organisation adopts, or what digital transformation you endure; procurement relationships will always be essential for success.
At the Big Ideas Summit 2017, we once again challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement. Chris Cliffe discussed why relationships really matter.
The world around us is changing. You can’t turn anywhere these days without hearing the phrase ‘Digital Transformation’. Everyone’s writing about technology and the race to automate and use augmented intelligence in business. IBM’s ‘Watson’ is soon expected to be in regular use within procurement teams across the globe. But, the reality is that the vast majority of organisations, be they Private, Public or Not-for-Profit Sectors, are only at the start of this adventure.
Of course, it is crucial that our organisations do focus on adopting technology. The role of the CIO, for example, is at least equally important to that of the CPO. Yet the technology focus cannot be at the expense of the human focus.
Relationships really matter.
In fact, in the next decade or so, relationships will increasingly be the differentiator as ‘process’ and ‘transactions’ become automated and ‘value adding’ activities become the sole human focus.
Buyer Supplier Relationships
It might seem anobvious place to start but buyer supplier relationships are so often overlooked. I think we can, in the main, agree that a ‘tender’ process in itself delivers zero value. Value for Money can only be obtained from good performance of the resulting contract. If we put ‘procurement’ theory to one side for a moment and look at ITIL Service Management, it clearly states that “good people can make a bad contract work, equally, bad people can make a great contract fail”.
Having the right relationships, between the right people, on both sides of a contract is how you get best value. Investing time and effort into building, nurturing and maintaining good relationships between buyer and supplier teams will facilitate far more value from contracts. It doesn’t pay to let and forget!
Let’s assume a big problem happened last week.
Scenario 1: You call your account manager to complain, having not spoken to them in months, because ‘someone’ messed up.
Scenario 2: You call your account manager that you spoke to recently. You know they’ve just returned from their first family holiday in five years. They’ve had an awful couple of years for various personal reasons and, in fact, they’d even booked a restaurant you recommended. Whilst they were away, a junior member of their team was covering and they may have dropped the ball.
In both scenarios, the same issue has arisen and it needs fixing. But I suspect the majority of us will approach those two calls differently and outcomes from these calls may also be different. Think about whether you could start both calls with the phrase, “How can I help you fix this problem?”
Stakeholders: An increasingly over used, catch-all term to dehumanise people who we go to work with day in, day out. Investing time and effort into establishing relationships with the key individuals within our businesses will pay you back in spades. Ask questions. Be interested. Get under the skin of the challenges your colleagues face. Don’t be constrained by the perception of silo’s.
We must always remember why we do what we do. The purpose of Procurement is not to further the cause of procurement. Of course, a very happy side effect of an effective, modern, highly engaged and enabling procurement team is that the reputation of the profession will increase to everyone’s benefit, but that cannot be the motivation. The role of Procurement is simple. It exists to facilitate and enable the organisation(s) it supports in achieving its vision, mission and goals.
In human terms, we are there to help our colleagues enjoy work through enabling their success and in achieving their objectives. This is a differentiator between good and bad procurement in my mind. Establishing relationships with stakeholders based on a genuine interest in understanding their challenges and seeking to support them overcome obstacles proactively, will lead to game-changing relationships rather than relationships based on reactively promoting procurement process, policy and procedures.
Career Development and Credibility
Relationships really matter for professional development, career development and credibility. Take a look at the Deloitte CPO Survey 2017, or any recent recruitment agency survey. There will always be analysis pointing out how the procurement profession is dogged by a lack of soft skills and how there’s a real talent shortage with regards to interpersonal capabilities. I believe we all need to take responsibility for learning and development; it is up to individuals to own the preparation for longer term career aspirations.
Relationships really matter with those in your network. The aim isn’t to collect as many LinkedIn connections as you can, but it is to connect to as many people as you can. Connect in this sense means to talk, ask, listen, learn, impart knowledge and most importantly follow up on conversations. Being market aware and having your finger on the pulse is an incredibly important part of being a credible professional in terms of managing contracts and suppliers and with developing productive relationships with colleagues.
Investing time and effort into building, nurturing and maintaining productive relationships really matters.
Fancy titles, and a big pay cheque isn’t where the action is. You’re going to have to offer something with more meaning if you want to get Millennial superstars on your team.
Kenny Cheung, Chief of Procurement at The World Bank Group, talks about his early career, the importance of setting boundaries, and the skills procurement professionals will require in the future.
Kenny also draws on his experience working for some of the biggest names in Finance, across two continents, about why Millennials care more for the deeper meaning in their job, rather than the big salary or fancy title.
1. What were your first 3 jobs?
Retail Project Engineer at ExxonMobil;
Strategic Sourcing Consultant at ExxonMobil; and
Senior Category Manager at National Australia Bank.
2. What’s one thing you know now, that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
The importance of setting boundaries personally and professionally. Boundaries are important for getting your priorities right, help manage expectations of others whilst ensuring you don’t get yourselves (and your teams) burned out.
In my pursuit of achievements, I realised I could accomplish more “quality” goals than “quantity” goals, if boundaries were set earlier in my career.
3. How can CPOs attract and retain Millennials?
CPOs ought to understand how to build broader purpose into their team’s mission, as well as the design of individual roles within their teams.
Millennials look for more than a famous brand, an impressive title or a good salary. They look for meaning in their roles, far deeper and holistic than previous generations.
4. What key skills are critical for procurement in the next 5 years?
Emotional Intelligence, Energy Management, Influencing, Networking, and Innovation.
5. How valuable have mentors been in your career?
Extremely. They provide me with some invaluable golden rules of career management as well as work-life integration fundamentals.
Build your personal workout plan, and get fit to meet procurement leaders’ needs! Take a step toward your next promotion by registering for Career Boot Camp today.
Is your career in the grips of a scary, old-world CPO? How do you recognise if your boss is one, and what can you do about it?
Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
– Lewis Carroll, 1871
You’ll know a scary, old-world CPO when you see one.
I had almost forgotten about them until I found myself in a meeting with one last week. Somehow in recent times I have escaped the horror of hearing such old-world, closed network thinking like:
“I don’t want my team on social media, someone may poach them”
“We’re too busy working to be looking at what’s happening in the rest of the world”
“We know our business best”
“What if my team spends all day on social media?”
To the team at Procurious, these comments are like blasphemy. We’re on a mission to change the face of procurement, and give the images associated with the profession a makeover. We want to replace the old brown cardigan-clad stereotype, with fresh images of procurement as the “smartest guys in the room”.
My meeting with this archetypal nemesis reminded me of all the reasons why we founded Procurious. It gave me increased motivation to continue our mission, and gave rise to an overwhelming urge to protect all the amazing rising stars in procurement from the soul-crushing dictatorship of a scary, old-world CPO.
The Old-World CPO
Let’s face it, if your personal characteristics and actions portray an image that you’re living in the past, the chances are good you are. People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.
As such, we want to reward the great bosses, those leading by example, keeping their teams energised, investing in individuals’ careers, and continuously pushing procurement to excel.
What are the tell-tale signs of a scary, old-world CPO? The next time you’re going for an interview, or looking at your current boss, don’t fall for the flashy suit, big title, or even the big brand name they represent.
If the person opposite you falls into one of these categories, the chances are your career development will come to a screeching halt under such a draconian regime.
The (Digitally) Invisible Man…or Woman
Check whether this CPO has any sort of online presence. Tell-tale signs of invisibility include profiles with no photos, or inappropriate photos, scant, or no, information, and no visible mentions in a Google search.
There may have been a freak internet-cleansing event, wiping out all references to this person, but the reality is that they probably haven’t spoken at any events, written anything interesting, taken the time or effort to understand social media, or understand the fact that you will be researching them online.
Also, beware those CPOs who have fewer than 500 connections in their network. Some CPOs do make the case of quality vs quantity. But, if you’re working in a large company, have a large team, and work with an extensive supply base, shouldn’t 500 quality connections be expected?
You (and the majority of your peers) want to work for someone who is an influencer. You want a leader with a wide range of connection they can introduce you to, and broaden your horizons. Working with someone with a limited network can be a road to nowhere for your career prospects.
Robinson Crusoe – the Loner
This CPO really is an island.
They don’t believe in networking, collaborating, or outside knowledge flow, and believe information is for their own personal advantage to build their power base. The Robinson Crusoe profile can physically manifest itself as an executive sitting in a corner by themselves, with their back to the team.
This information block exists not only within their psyche, but extends to the procurement team itself. This old-world CPO has particularly old-world views, and creates a knowledge hierarchy, where they take all the great (and politically advantageous) ideas as their own.
Another problem with this approach is that it encourages working in a closed network as part of the norm. These scary old world CPOs end up staying in the same profession, peer group, company, or industry, invariably associating with people they already know. This peer group continues to reinforce their outdated approach to management, and their thinking is never challenged.
The new world CPO is collaborative, a “true influencer” and shares their knowledge freely and widely.
My view is that a CPO’s main job is to not only drive change and innovation (and make a couple of deals on the side), but to give their team the opportunity to access tools and discuss ideas with other professionals, thought leaders and experts from around the globe.
Yet I still see CPOs encouraging teams to work in isolation, unaware that there is whole universe of knowledge to help them grow and excel in their jobs.
The Devil Wears Prada – The Career Crusher
Their desk calendar reads 2016, but their attitude towards employees is stuck in the 1950s.
Yes, your boss should have an overall plan for how their team is delivering against the overall business strategy. But they should also have a plan for you – both for what you need to deliver, and how you need to develop in the future.
They should be committed to diversity and promoting young talent, to making sure their team reflects this commitment and is generating opportunities for the next generation of talent.
The best CPOs are obsessed with finding the best people and helping them develop. They send their people out to be trained in the skills they need, expose them to new opportunities, and build peer networks that will develop leadership skills.
The worst CPOs keep their category managers locked away from the rest of the world in fear that their people will be poached. A great CPO doesn’t need to worry about this. They know that they have developed a great employee value proposition that keeps their team engaged and retained.
Let’s not be too hard on these talented Heads of Procurement. They can’t all be cut from the same cloth.
Why not get on the front foot and try and initiate some reverse mentoring. With a few polite, and well-placed pointers, I am sure you could help turn your scary, old-world CPO into a procurement rock star.
Sharing your skills and knowledge could help your CPO become increasingly tech savvy and an advocate for technology, including social media, for procurement. And just in case you need some more points, you can find a 5-point checklist on being a great procurement boss right here.
We look forward to seeing you both on Procurious soon!