Andrew spoke to Procurement Heads about his career and what a typical day looks like for him.
How did you get into Procurement?
I didn’t go straight into university after I left school, I did my A-levels and then went straight into work. One of my first jobs was in sales for an airline! From my position in sales, I always thought it seemed an interesting job to be in Procurement… they’ve got all the power!
They make all the decisions, they do everything – it must be really exciting! So I decided to move into Procurement, and went to university to study for an economics degree.
Once graduated, I started applying for Procurement jobs and my career took off from there. I reckon I’m one of the few people who made an active decision to get into Procurement and it’s been a good choice that I’ve really enjoyed. It has its challenges, as you know, but it has mainly been a very good career.
Something I believe to be true of the Procurement world is that those professionals who have the most to offer and are the most respected, are the ones to have been at it since the very beginning. They are the ones whose processes and engagement models have moved up the maturity scale and who make procurement work for their organisations, rather than deliver a one size fits all approach.
What does your typical day at work look like?
When you’re a CPO, your job consists of a mix of strategy, senior management relationships, input into change, and delivering large scale business process change and system change. At my level, I don’t do deals that much anymore, and I miss that.
I feel like I don’t get that involved, but my team would probably say I still get too involved in deals on a day-to-day basis!
Each day is different.
Today for example I’m seeing you for the Procurement Big Interview, I’ve got a meeting with a CTO and technology management board this afternoon and I’m also meeting one of our key suppliers who we’ve just given quite a lot of business to, ensuring the relationship is set up to succeed. It’s all at the top level – I’m overseeing everything to ensure we’re moving in the right direction.
Something I’m looking forward to at the moment is getting stuck into writing the next part of the ITV strategy. We have a new CEO who is bringing change to the business, with a positive emphasis on cost savings, which will hugely impact my role in Procurement and especially my wider business efficiency portfolio.
What do you love about Procurement?
I love that we do more than just RFP processes in the ITV team. We are at the sharp end of the business decision-making process and we get involved with things like budgets; both setting them and helping people deliver on them.
My team is constantly asked to deliver value for the business and our mantra is about delivering the business objectives. I love that we make a difference.
In my procurement team, we have really high engagement and a low level of attrition. People don’t tend to leave and I think the main reason for that is how our work directly affects the success of ITV. Ultimately, that’s what people come to work for – they want to see that direct link between what they’re doing day to day and the impact it has on the overall business. It’s really important, I think, to see they make change happen.
A successful procurement team should be directly linked to the success of the business.
Are there any aspects of Procurement that you find challenging?
Definitely the brand.
Not necessarily at ITV because I’ve spent 10 years trying to make us into a commercial team with a commercial strategy that delivers commercial benefits to ITV.
But I think that within Procurement generally, there are some hugely powerful procurement leaders and great teams trying to change the way Procurement is viewed on a global basis. You say the word Procurement, and the vast majority of people think – cost-cutting.
As an industry, and as our brand, we’re still in the process of establishing ourselves and being seen as a function that positively impacts the business, not just cutting costs. It’s about sourcing better and faster and making the right commercial decisions to benefit the business.
Can you tell us about your biggest achievements in your Procurement career?
Turning around ITV procurement. When I accepted this job, I was told by the CFO who appointed me that if I wasn’t successful within one year, he’d get rid of the Procurement team. 8 years later, we’re thriving.
I believe that prior to me, ITV had a succession of CPOs who tried to deliver a cookie cutter approach to procurement, one of the first things I did upon joining was to understand the ITV culture to ensure my approach would be successful.
Once I’d transformed the function into an integral part of the business, I didn’t want to move on. I wanted to stay and make sure it was embedded properly and could deliver.
We’ve since widened our scope and built on our offering, we’ve incorporated different areas and are in control of software licensing.
A couple of years ago when ITV went through a cost saving programme, we were right at the spearhead, not just focusing on third party costs but on business efficiency. At the moment, we’re looking at global acquisitions and how Procurement is involved. I’m really proud that I’ve taken ITV Procurement much more front and centre of the business than it used to be.
If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Be more ballsy and don’t be shy to take advantage of things sometimes. It took me a little while to learn that in my younger career.
Do you have any innovative ways of working that you find effective in Procurement?
We use the Colour Works Insights Discovery Profile a lot here at ITV, mainly to manage stakeholders but also as an internal exercise. We think about where each person sits on the colour model (red is bold, confident and assertive, green is amiable, patient and caring, yellow is social, dynamic and creative and blue is cautious, analytical and precise) and how they’ll likely react to different situations.
In procurement, sometimes, we’re guilty of over promoting reds because they look great in interview, but we could do with some different thinking – some of the blues and greens. These people are just as bright as the reds, more introverted, but can do a really great job with a very different approach.
If you are in Procurement you do have to be a bit ballsy, which is why the reds appeal strongest, but I’m trying to look outside the box using The Colour Works model.
What has been the best lesson you’ve learnt in Procurement?
Two things spring to mind, one earlier in my career and one later. During my very first Procurement role, my boss and I were headed to a negotiation with a supplier I was managing, and I was really nervous. All I could think was – what am I going to say, what am I going to do?
I was trying to over plan every situation in my head and my boss said to me; “Andrew, if in doubt; just say no. You can always say yes later!
At the worst, you may look a little foolish but nothing bad is going to happen, you aren’t going to agree to something that we can’t follow through on!” and although that goes against my want for more considered, intelligent thinkers who understand categories in Procurement, it is a good piece of advice! In fact, I often tell this to my own employees who are young in their careers and experiencing their first negotiations.
The later lesson came only a few years ago from a CEO of one of the big Procurement consultancies. We discussed how many Procurement professionals don’t see themselves in the bigger picture in terms of the business. It was a turning point for me – I have a great team that runs well with good processes, the right technology and genuinely really great people – so I started thinking about how we could take the next step.
I decided that it was time to view ourselves in the wider context from a business point of view. When we looked at this through a difference lens, we could see more opportunities where we could add value in commercial terms, and how we could change the business.
Recently we’ve managed acquisitions in US, Germany, Holland, France and the Nordics and were heavily involved with assimilating those companies in the back office. We didn’t look at it from simply a cost cutting point of view, instead we tried to identify what we do differently and how we could improve those businesses. It goes beyond the true responsibility of Procurement, but it’s all part of thinking in the bigger picture.
Who has had the most influence over your Procurement career?
The CFO here, Ian Griffiths. He gave me the license to make change. He wanted me to make the Procurement function work, and he set me up for success. While there was initially pressure in terms of responsibility, he has always supported me and over the last 8 years has backed the decisions I’ve made and acted as my mentor. The success I’ve had here is no doubt due to that support and leadership that Ian has given me.
Is work/life balance important to you? And if so, how do you achieve it?
Yes! I think it’s the most important thing. A lot of companies talk about it, they need to nowadays to attract millennials, but it’s more than just having a process for flexible working and all the generic things that go along with it.
Don’t get me wrong – they are important, but it’s about giving your team the freedom to manage the way they work. They should know they can leave early one day to be home for a child’s birthday. I do the same myself. I think it’s one of the reasons we have such low attrition – getting the right balance between working hard and delivering but knowing that people have a life outside of ITV.
Get to know Andrew
I’m a keen cyclist, and I enjoy running. I ran the Thorpe Park half marathon this year, and I always do the Cabbage Patch 10 Mile near where I live.
My friends and I do yearly cycling tours – last year we went to Paris, one year we did coast-to-coast in the UK, we’ve done Newcastle to Edinburgh and this year we’re doing a tour around Belgium. It’s not all serious though – there’s plenty of post cycling socialising and the occasional beer involved!
Our Big Interview Series features Procurement Professionals throughout London, Hampshire & Dorset, Surrey & Sussex, Berkshire, Oxfordshire & Wiltshire.
It’s an opportunity to shed some light on the specialist world of Procurement and those who work within it. If you’d like to feature in our next Big Interview, contact us at 01962 869838 or drop us an email: email@example.com