1) How did you get into this field? Was it purposeful or by accident?
Interestingly, it was both purposeful and accidental. The accidental side is that my first internship was with a CIO of a publicly traded engineering firm. The CIO, a family friend, hired me that summer to help him complete post-acquisition cost reduction efforts. They had acquired 50+ small engineering firms and the CIO had a proliferation of contracts, a fragmented supply base, and no visibility into his spend. I spent the summer rolling out managed print contracts, renegotiating telecom contracts, establishing new IT asset procurement processes, amongst many others. After that summer, I set a purposeful goal of focusing my career on cost reduction and procurement problem solving. Luckily, the company needed help, so it allowed me to work for 3+ years on sourcing projects and I fell in love with the impact cost reduction can have for an organization.
2) In what ways do you hope to influence or transform the industry?
When I shifted from the corporate side of sourcing to consulting, it was done with an intent to change the way sourcing organizations deliver value and increase the role sourcing has within companies. I’ve long been a believer that sourcing leaders should have a seat at the executive table even when driving topline strategy. Through my career, I’ve continued to elevate the role of CPOs and sourcing leaders and continued to challenge organizations to focus on strategic value-added efforts as opposed to the legacy transactional based focus of years past. As I continue moving forward in my career, my goal is to position sourcing as both a cost savings and revenue generating enabler – a critical dual role to support the execution of corporate strategy. The trendy words of today’s organization – agile, nimble, digital – all need someone to execute them. The best person for that execution is a procurement leader.
3) Who are the mentors or role models who have guided you in your career?
As my career progressed, I have had many mentors who have helped me find the right path for my career make the right career decisions. Early in my career, my mentor and role model was the CIO of my first internship. He provided me with insights into how business operates and most importantly, the role sourcing, cost management, and cost strategy can play in driving the bottom of line of publicly traded organizations. Moving on in my career, as I joined AArete, the leadership of AArete – our CEO and our west coast Managing Director – provided me with opportunities to demonstrate my capabilities while also being a sounding board to help ensure I stayed focused on delivering the best we could for our clients. One key aspect that all my mentors and role models have taught me is to put people first – lead, train, and mentor others – while also keeping an eye on value creation. If you can surround yourself with great people committed to value creation, you’ll always be called upon to help move an organization forward.
4) What is something you wish more people knew about the sourcing and procurement industry?
Most people know a fair amount about sourcing and procurement, but one perspective has always stuck well with me – ten dollars of revenue improvement creates one dollar of profit, but one dollar of cost savings creates one dollar of profit. At times, the ability of sourcing and procurement to hit the bottom line is under-appreciated. But the value to drive profit for an organization is easily attainable.
5) Looking ahead, what trends do you think will emerge in the sourcing and procurement space?
As with many aspects of business, technology and automation will continue to have an expanded role in sourcing and procurement. Self-service platforms already exist, and we know we are seeing bots that can negotiate common terms. Over the next 3-5 years, we will continue to see the digital evolution of sourcing including mobile technologies, automation, and bots. For key sourcing leaders, we will continue to see the rise of collaboration tools between key stakeholders and procurement team members and the push to make decisions grounded in data and market intelligence. Sourcing is a fast-moving department, and the best companies will keep their leaders on the forefront of technologies, processes, and policies.
6) What advice do you have for those who are considering a career in sourcing or procurement?
Procurement/sourcing is a great career, and its importance continues to grow at every company we support. The role of procurement has evolved and the move to more strategic delivery and value creation is changing the importance in an organization. What makes procurement and sourcing interesting is that you end up becoming a jack of all trades. In my career, I have learned about common indirect categories – office supplies, laptops, software – to complete niche categories – research animals, utilities, medical benefits, etc. Being able to bridge across an organization, you get to learn something new every day and that is what makes sourcing such an amazing career. When I meet with procurement and sourcing folks, I routinely share that the career path is blossoming and over the next 10-20 years, sourcing leaders will continue to gain a more vital role in successful driving corporate strategy.