This October, the Future of Sourcing Awards will celebrate individuals newer to the industry whose thought leadership and expertise have shown promise that is likely to have a lasting impact on the industry. Below, read about Rising Star Finalist Siddharth Ramesh whose specialties include Category Management, specifically in Technology and Services, Contracts Management and Supplier Risk Management.
Rising Star Interview: Siddharth Ramesh
I would say a combination of both – I started off my career as a software engineer in India and wanted to transition to the business side soon enough. I figured an MBA education would provide for that opportunity and came to The Ohio State University to pursue my MBA where I got interested in supply chain and finance. It was during my internship at Dow Chemicals that I identified my strengths in sourcing when I had an opportunity to deliver significant savings on a total cost of acquisition project. After graduating from my MBA program, I landed a role on the technology side to help with Ariba eSourcing implementation for Reed Elsevier following which I had an excellent stint at KPMG within their sourcing and procurement consulting practice. I gained immense experience working on fast-paced projects with clients in diverse industries which set me up for my current role at VSP Global. Here our team is responsible for centralizing procurement across five lines of business and I am enjoying this experience in co-leading this amazing transformation journey.
I think I have been fortunate to already be part of some transformative stories in my procurement and sourcing experience. I enjoy learning new ideas and challenging existing practices to see how we can continually enhance processes, solutions and people engagement. Recently, I have had opportunities to collaborate with suppliers and participate in their customer advisory board discussions, helping innovate and drive changes to the industry. I strongly believe in learning by sharing and have gained immensely in building my knowledge and network by speaking at various supply chain conferences and actively participating in digital publications, podcasts, webinars and industry research.
For people who know me or have followed my career, it should come as no surprise that the path I have etched and followed is heavily influenced by a strong collection of coaches, mentors and advocates. I am a huge introvert and will credit my MBA journey for kickstarting me into reaching out to people with valuable experience and expertise. I have been extremely fortunate to have had great bosses who were mentors as well, right from my first job in software engineering to my various procurement roles. Guidance, critical feedback and perspective from mentors such as Scott Meiser, Femi Obi and Greg Tennyson have been instrumental in helping me navigate life-impacting roadblocks and achieve success in different roles. I also look to my leadership team, my staff and peers from around the company/industry for counsel. It is very interesting to get feedback, not only on work topics but also on many other areas when you open yourself to having honest conversations. In general, I find that people are always willing and ready to help, and I would highly encourage everyone to seek mentors as well as become one.
Procurement has by default gained most attention when it comes to cost reduction efforts. It has been challenging to change the perception of this function as merely negotiations or contract processing. This space has evolved beyond cost savings to a more value-based approach, including risk mitigation, supplier collaboration, analytics and insights, etc. A growing procurement team needs to market its value proposition and establish a brand/identity that stands tall not only within the industry but also amongst teams creating significant and long-lasting impact on the organization. I would encourage recent grads and people embedded in the business such as marketing, IT, etc. to explore opportunities in this space – there are exciting things happening with automation, digitization and global economies.
Continuing from what I said previously, it is inevitable that technology is going to be a huge factor in reshaping the procurement space. There is a lot of chatter and cool concepts around AI, RPA, blockchain, etc. and their impact in this space. Suppliers are already getting a head start on machine learning to help with spend analytics, P2P automation and process optimization. Some of these technologies may be disruptors to the established procurement model and force some challenging conversations on resourcing and outsourcing. I am a strong proponent of cross-training within the team and it is likely that category managers/buyers managing only one category for their sourcing lifetime will evolve into developing expertise and experience across multiple categories. Self-service model for transactional activities will become mainstay with sourcing and procurement taking on more consultative/advisory type roles for internal stakeholders. There will also be increased emphasis on sustainable procurement and customer centricity.
This is a great time to be starting a career in sourcing and procurement. As I said above, exciting things are happening in this field and it is a vast field, ripe with many challenging opportunities for growth and learning. This is a great playing field for self-starters, risk takers and folks that look forward to challenging themselves. There are many industries that are lagging in their procurement maturity and are looking for folks with transferable skillsets to learn the sourcing and procurement disciplines to take their organizations to the next level. Suppliers and solution providers are constantly innovating and working on techniques/activities to help CPO’s and their teams become the trusted advisor for internal stakeholders. Procurement offers great exposure to working on projects with senior leadership, potentially opening cross functional career tracks and provide opportunities to significantly contribute to your organization’s growth and success story.