Finalist Interviews for Rising Star Awards: Matt McLoughlin,

Posted: 11/16/2022 - 04:02
Finalist Interviews for Rising Star Awards: Matt McLoughlin,
Finalist Interviews for Rising Star Awards: Matt McLoughlin,
Matt has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 20 years. For 15 years, he worked within AstraZeneca (AZ), starting off as a scientist before moving to R&D Procurement to support sourcing of pre-clinical services.Joining in 2016, he created COMPLi®, an industry wide solution to address the challenges of sourcing regulated services.


1) How did you get into this field? Was it purposeful or by accident? 

I started my career as a geneticist for AstraZeneca at 18, so I would say that the first half of my career was not at all aligned with procurement and sourcing. However, as that role developed, I received more exposure to it and realized I found it more rewarding than bench science.  In 2013, I made the conscious effort of applying for an internal procurement role, and with my scientific experience I was welcomed with open arms.  I spent three years in a pure procurement role and loved every minute of it and began to study towards my CIPS.  In 2016, I took the opportunity to join one of my then suppliers because I truly believed in what they were doing, their vision and their culture.  Now I work with most of the world’s top 30 biopharma, 100+ biotechs and over 4000 suppliers within our marketplace and support the development of new medicines, and I’ve never looked back. 


2) In what ways do you hope to influence or transform the industry? 

I am in the unique position to say that I believe I already have transformed the pharmaceutical industry.  Obviously, to do that I needed the help of my amazing colleagues at, as they gave me the opportunity and confidence to take an idea I had at AstraZeneca and apply it across the entire pharma space.  That idea became known as our COMPLi® tool, and it has now supported the sourcing of hundreds of millions of dollars of research by embedding compliance at the heart of the outsourcing process with no negative effects.  Moving forward, I want to grow COMPLi and in the pharmaceutical industry so that all sourcing can be done in 100% compliance of a company’s internal policies and procedures while delivering the value procurement brings through cost effective sourcing to save time, money and resources.  Within our company, we have the very lofty goal of helping to cure all diseases by 2050, and the work I and my fellow teams do is critical to us achieving that.   


3) Who are the mentors or role models who have guided you in your career?  

Across my career I have been fortunate to work with some wonderful colleagues and persons.  For me there are a number of people who have stood out and helped me get to where I am today.  The first would be my mother; at 18 when I decided I didn’t want to go to university, she was the one who charged me rent to live at home, meaning I had to get a job, which took me to AstraZeneca!  Once there my first ever line manager, Suzanne Jenkins, taught me lessons on how to help someone grow that I still utilize today when working with my team.  I worked side by side a phenomenal scientist, Caroline Dukes, for 13 years.  She taught me everything about working in a scientific lab and the importance of quality supporting your colleagues.  I still miss looking up from my desk and not seeing her face and having the laughs we used to have.

Once I moved into procurement then there are three people who truly stand out and have enabled me to succeed.  The first was my line manager and now teammate, Tom Dexter.  He took a raw scientist with a bit of potential and taught me what procurement meant and had the faith to let me make mistakes and learn.  His guidance was phenomenal, and I can’t speak highly enough about him – he could easily be the Sourcing Star.  Next is my General Counsel, Sarah Harkcom, who over the past 10 years singlehandedly taught me everything I know about legal and helped me grow into a more rounded procurement professional.  Lastly is my current manager and COO and President, Dan Kagan, who, like Tom saw potential and brought me into the company and allowed me flourish.  Writing this down makes me appreciate how lucky I have been to work with some fantastic individuals over the past 22+ years. 


4) What is something you wish more people knew about the sourcing and procurement industry? 

I think for me I would love people to realize that a lot of procurement is just common sense and that everyone is a procurement professional in some capacity.  When I speak to stakeholders, it is not uncommon for them to believe it is this very complicated process or is designed to stop them from doing what they want to do. When I come up against that, I tend to use real life examples to get them to understand and appreciate what we are trying to achieve.  For example, when someone is buying a car or booking an expensive holiday, they don’t normally purchase the first thing they see – they do their research, look at the options (price, availability, etc.) and then make a decision.  That’s what we do in procurement but usually for bigger sums and with someone else’s money!  Once they understand that I think it breaks down the barriers and gets them to see us as a benefit vs. a nuisance or a roadblock.

5) Looking ahead, what trends do you think will emerge in the sourcing and procurement space? 

I think the next 10 years will continue the trend of digital transformation.  The old ways of procurement in a lot of industries are exactly that – old ways.  Successful companies in the future will embrace technologies, such as, to enable their procurement professionals to re-write their category strategies and extract new and enhanced benefits.  Why would we spend months putting in place MSAs when we can utilize an online marketplace with pre-negotiated contracts? Why develop complex third-party risk management processes when you can collaborate with peers and use one process for the industry? Why utilize tools for RFPs that everyone hates when new solutions are available that addresses all the issues and makes the process more enjoyable for the suppliers and the customers?  All of these things are still happening today, which no longer need to, and I believe it is because it’s due to the classical “well this is how we’ve always done it” mindset.  For me, the new breed of procurement professionals need to not be constrained by the limitations of the past, as a lot of those have been solved with new technologies that still adhere to the principles of sound procurement practices but do so in a different, more agile, more cost effective, more transparent manner.


6) What advice do you have for those who are considering a career in sourcing or procurement? 

Put simply - do not be put off by the name or the fancy terms that are used or think you can’t do it.  I truly believe everyone is a procurement professional in their personal lives so why not utilize those skills as part of your professional life? Procurement can give you exposure to the entire business internally and externally, it can present you new challenges every day, there is huge opportunity to grow and develop and you will meet some fantastic people along the way.  For me it’s been a fantastic career, and there isn’t a single day where I regret leaving bench science so take the plunge – you will be surprised by what you find. 


About The Author

Future of Sourcing Awards's picture

The 2023 Future of Sourcing Awards recognizes organizations and individuals that show innovation, leadership and transformation in categories that are critical to the sourcing industry. The Awards will take place on October 18, 2023, the capstone evening at the SIG Global Executive Summit. Attendees will enjoy dinner, networking and an awards ceremony that brings together some of the brightest minds to create a truly remarkable experience.