Rising Stars of Sourcing: Harry Kenning

Posted: 06/19/2019 - 00:11
Tell us about your career path and how you got into this field – was it purposeful or by accident? 
Definitely by accident! After graduating from college, I quickly jumped into a profession that most of my peers sought after…investment banking – equity capital markets. It seemed like the right decision at the time as I was a “natural salesman,” the money was good and who wouldn’t want to live in San Francisco? Unfortunately, given the changing times (I started in 2008 right before the recession), the limited value our division was bringing to my company, and being thousands of miles away from my family, I knew I needed a shift. So, I left my position in pursuit of a new value driven career.  
Coming home, my father told me that I needed to consider working for an “operating business that is tied to revenue delivery” if I wanted a sustainable career in a value driven environment. It was the best advice I have ever received, and it put me on the path to consider a position at Beeline, which was (and still remains) a growing software company in my hometown, Jacksonville FL. They were looking to build a new team focused on client relationships. As soon as I met the employees, experienced the culture and heard the vision of the company, I was hooked! Beeline is a Vendor Management Software (VMS) solution and is leading the way for large enterprises to source, manage and optimize their use of non-full time employees. 
It has been close to 8 years that I have been at the forefront of helping Fortune 2000 companies deploy, stabilize, optimize and change the way the world looks at sourcing talent and the company has changed radically into a strategic partner to our clients.  
If you didn’t work in sourcing, what career path would you have chosen? 
I think that if I hadn’t found my way to Beeline, I would have likely tried to pursue a career within a Private Equity or Venture Capital firm. I have always been fascinated by emerging companies since a very young age, as I watched my father grow, nurture, and develop his own software company. I think it would have been a great opportunity to work for a company where their complete focus is helping to provide knowledge, financing, operational efficiencies and overall guidance to businesses that have the potential to disrupt an industry.  
It is almost serendipitous that I have had the privilege to watch Beeline go through two private equity acquisitions and come through those sales as an even more focused and polished organization. I guess it is true that as a millennial we love and embrace change, but I think it is only when we gain value and carry those experiences forward that change is for the better.   
What do you feel sets you apart as a rising star of sourcing? 
Honestly, and this might sound cliché, but I see rising stars every day in Beeline, our partners and clients. While I am not sure if this sets me apart, there are a few things I see consistently within these individuals and myself: 
  • Critical thinking – we tend to think different and big! It is not enough to rest on the successes of yesterday, or even today. We have to think about what it will take to set ourselves and our clients up for success in the future. How will we solve for the challenges that are only beginning to peek their head in our industry? If you are not willing to push for those conversations internally and externally, then you are doing a disservice to yourself and to everyone around you.  
  • Passion and compassion – we usually take our commitments, conversations, relationships, etc. personally. But in doing so, you need to develop compassion for the teams, clients and co-workers that help you achieve your overall success. If you don’t put yourself in their shoes and do everything you can to make them successful, then you have already failed. I love one of Beeline’s core principles, which is “Customer First.” If you use our CEO’s definition of customer, “anyone who isn’t me,” then you will understand how this principle applies to everyone surrounding you.  
  • Context and transparency – I have heard a saying that “context is worth 50 IQ points” and I believe it! It is critical to ensure that your messaging is concise, value-driven and consumable. However, no engagement, regardless of the added context, is valuable without transparency. I always strive to let people know where I stand and what I am trying to accomplish with each and every engagement.      
Do you have any mentors who have helped you in your career? 
I think you can pick up though my earlier remarks that my biggest mentor has been my father. We joke that I earned my MBA at the dinner table, but in many ways, it is a very true statement. My father has been through many success and failures in his life, but over the past 25 years he founded, nurtured, invested and grew a software company to be very successful with over 200 employees. He has constantly tried to shed light on his experiences with me, helped me with my questions or concerns and been a rock as I have worked to develop my own career. He has sacrificed much of the past 35 years to provide an amazing life for our family, but has also been able to build a company from the ground up into a thriving business. He is not only my biggest mentor and fan, but he is also my hero.   
What professionally motivates you and gives you drive? 
Engagement and growth – There is no better feeling than coming together with a group of people (peers, clients and partners), implementing a strategic plan of action, and seeing that goal achieved. Yes, there will ALWAYS be bumps in the road, challenges, difficult conversations and sometimes scars, but all of these things are what help you grow professionally and personally. I relish being part of a challenging or difficult situation because I see the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and watch something that looked impossible become a reality!  
What do you think will be the big trends in sourcing and procurement this year? 
Consolidation and increased automation of an enterprise’s current supply chain. Clients and vendors alike strive to improve operational efficiencies, which reduces costs and increases value to their stakeholders. We need to support consolidation of systems and ensure there is communications between those systems so that automation can be more robust. From the vendor perspective, Beeline strives to be a preferred vendor to manage your non-full time employee (FTE) sourcing, but we recognize that it is vital for us to communicate and integrate with a client’s other critical supply chain systems. We have a ‘Bring Your Own Software’ approach where we integrate with the tools and systems that our clients choose. We don’t dictate but empower their success by integrating with systems of their choice.       
Similarly, what or who are the disruptors you think will have the biggest impact on the industry? 
  • Talent, Talent, Talent! People can NOT be sourced like goods and do not belong in catalogues or alongside pencils. People should be treated as the humans they are. With the increasing skills gap that every enterprise is facing and the changing mix of the workforce to more contingent labor, clients need to be putting processes, solutions and services in place to support this market shift. These concerns will continue to grow in the coming years and if clients are not taking the steps now to account for this change, then they will be at a severe disadvantage when trying to source talent in the future (or they will be paying significantly more)!
  • AI and machine learning tools: clients have a LOT of data that can be leveraged to provide valuable insights during their sourcing processes and can support automation, optimization and efficiencies. They need tools which can enable these overall objectives in a consumable manner. AI and machine learning solutions will be able to deliver these insights and I can’t wait to see how they impact our industry.   
What advice do you have for those who are new to the profession or considering entering the industry? 
Patience is key! Most of the time it is hard to see the forest through the trees. If you are patient, continue to work hard, and are always striving to learn more, you will come to find out that supporting an enterprise’s supply chain management (either on the client or vendor side) is mission critical to the success of that company’s goals. Times are changing and we need big ideas to help push the industry forward so we don’t fall behind. It’s a great time to be in our industry and I feel honored to be a part of it all.  

About The Author

Harry Kenning's picture

Harry Kenning was raised in Jacksonville FL and went to school at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with concentrations in Management and Legal Studies. He has worked at Beeline for almost 8 years all within the Client Relationship Management (CRM) team and has recently been promoted to a Senior CRM within the organization. As a Senior CRM, he manages to the strategic and executive relationships for a portfolio of Beeline’s largest global accounts. Responsibilities include the development of strategic account plans, client stratification and retention, and organic growth of the accounts through product, geographical, and business unit expansion. Harry Kenning currently reside in Jacksonville FL and his hobbies include food, wine, golf, the arts, and traveling.