I always thought that the key role of a CEO was self-evident; maximise revenue and minimise costs. Get that bit right and the rest of the job is easy – even enjoyable. With a solid platform of profitability in place, the captains of industry can throw money at staff engagement, corporate social responsibility, marketing, research and development and other critical business functions. Get it wrong and it’s all over – golden handshakes all round.
And yet we have experienced a procession of supposedly smart industry leaders at our CIPSA conferences throwing the gauntlet to their procurement audiences to “prove to me the value of your roles”. My immediate reaction is to question their competency for the top job. No-one questions the value of Legal or Finance but the sad truth is that there have been many recent examples of Australian CEO’s dismembering their entire Procurement functions to ‘save costs’.
The recent CIPSA conference in Melbourne got it absolutely right when it implored its delegates to ‘raise your voice; raise your game.’ As a profession dedicated to one half of the profitability equation, we need to shout this message from the roof tops to the top dogs in our company kennels.
The problem of course is brand. We are still seen by most executives as ‘back office’, ‘administration’ and ‘overhead’ to be dispensed with when times are tough. I have spent my entire thirty year career attempting to improve procurement’s brand. I have entered and won awards on behalf of my paymasters. I have held six highly successful supplier trivia nights raising a collective total of $100,000 to the charities favoured by members of my board of directors. I have held three ‘Supplier of the Year Award’ events attended by top executives that put the Oscars to shame. I have also organised Supplier Expos in each major office location to bring the fun of the Royal Easter show to the employee’s own conference rooms. All this while delivering a boost to the bottom line that put the sales team to shame.
But despite all this exciting brand promotion, I still see the C-Suite’s eyes glaze over when I suggest we catch up for a coffee to discuss how Procurement can work with them on an exciting new category strategy for 2016.
Well I have finally cracked the thorny issue of brand management and created a new Procurement hero. He’s the new James Bond and he has already saved the world… twice. Meet Sam Jardine, the Procurement Manager at the centre of my two novels ‘The Sleepwalker Legacy’ and ‘The Nocnista Agenda’. Move over John Grisham and Ian Fleming; you’re so twentieth century.
Sam uses his powers of negotiation to thwart the welter of global conspiracies and evil corporate villains that threaten the world while adding a touch of glamour to his chosen profession. Sam exists in an exciting new world where CEO’s that question the value of procurement usually meet with a gruesome but wholly deserved sticky end.
Procurement is about to get sexy.
If you have not read the books, please feel free to check them out on Amazon.com:
Both books are available from Amazon as a paperback or Kindle e-book version.