How did you get into this field – was it purposeful or by accident?
It was by accident.
I studied engineering and entered the industry as a Quality Assurance (QA) engineer. I worked as an engineer for a couple of year before I realized I wanted to be more directly involved in solving user problems and overall product development and delivery. I decided to transition from my role as a QA engineer for the sourcing and contract management solutions to a product manager role for supplier risk solutions. Four years later, I now lead the product management team for Supplier Risk and Sustainability solutions.
In what ways do you hope to influence or transform the industry?
We recently built a third-party risk management system that introduces a risk control framework to identify, assess and mitigate risk in trading partner engagements. We still have some work to do there, but I can already see how it’s bringing a transformational change in our customers’ risk practices and more transparency across categories and departments.
The other area where I hope to transform the industry is sustainable procurement. I would like to build solutions that bring social and environment sustainability to the core of procurement.
Who are the mentors or role models who have guided you in your career?
Padmini Ranganathan has been my mentor for some years now and has helped me navigate my professional journey. She is a visionary and has helped me realize what I am capable of achieving regardless of the challenges.
Looking ahead, what trends do you think will emerge in the sourcing and procurement space?
I see two important trends emerging: sustainable procurement and intelligent spend management.
A. Sustainable procurement
Earlier this year SAP Ariba conducted a multi-country consumer study with Reputation Institute (of the global 100) covering 10,000 consumers:
- On average, 53% of millennials would be willing to pay more for brands that build more visibility into their purchasing practices.
- In emerging markets, 80% of consumers would be willing to pay a premium for products from an industry that actively works to reduce its environmental footprint.
- 52% of consumers (and 67% of millennials) prefer buying from companies that are open and transparent in their operations.
This and other studies like it demonstrate that being sustainable can be profitable in long run. We already see the shift happening.
At SAP Ariba, we are working with several partners who have valuable data that once embedded into a procurement system can help procurement professionals make better, more informed decisions.
B. Intelligent Spend Management
Intelligent spend management is about managing all categories of spend from a single platform, automating repetitive processes and infusing the process with intelligence that delivers actionable insights.
What is something you wish more people knew about the sourcing and procurement industry?
We know consumers vote with their dollars and increasingly people are making more socially conscious purchase decisions. But even before consumers make those decisions, it’s the sourcing and procurement professionals who decide on who, where, what, how to buy the materials that go into the products consumers buy. To effect real and sustainable change, start with the sourcing and procurement industry. While cost cutting may be what these professional are most well-known for, understand that these professionals are making decisions every day that impact people and the planet.
What advice do you have for those who are considering a career in sourcing or procurement?
I would suggest networking with like-minded people and finding the opportunities that excite you. Say yes often and bring your passion to every project – no matter how small it may seem.