The Big Interview with Andy Horne

Andy talks to Procurement Heads about his Procurement background, current trends in Procurement, day-to-day life and what he considers the essential skills for a Head of Procurement.

What success are you most proud of so far in your career?

I consider myself to have been fortunate in my career. It has been diverse, challenging and rewarding.

So which success do I pick?

I worked in loss adjusting for around 10 years and during that time was part of an emergency response team whose purpose was to mobilise in case of major events: fires, floods, storms, tornados etc.

We were there for the customers; the policy-holders essentially, to hold their hand, explain the process and give them the right level of assurance that everything was going to be okay. There were plenty of good examples to take pride in from my role within this.

My career at RSA was quite diverse as I went on from loss adjusting to surveying and then after that, I undertook roles in procurement, specialising in SRM and, in the final stages, as an executive assistant leading Change Transformation.

After 22 years, I had never worked anywhere else and it felt like the right time to challenge myself outside of RSA, exploring other organisational supply chains. It was this leap of faith that made me join KPMG. I was entering a new environment where no one knew my name.

Naturally, I knew I was going to be challenged and stretched in that new role. Within my first year, we had proven tangible success that I am very proud of.

We were shortlisted for two CIPS awards, one for the training programme that I provided for the supply managers and the second for KPMG’s Sustainable Procurement Programme.

That programme also won sustainable supply chain of the year, in the same year, at EDIES annual awards. For me that was external validation that what we were doing was on the right path and from a personal perspective, it was a moment of pride.

What do you both love and find challenging in your role?

I love the diversity, every day is different with different challenges.

I can go from a meeting discussing HR, to another discussing IT, then budget, teams and so on.

I relish the fact that the supply chain is the enabler for the business to grow, transform and adapt which is imperative in the ever-changing world of technological advances. But quite often we forget that we are also the ones to protect, provide assurance and mitigate risk.

Supply chains are facing ever-changing and increasing challenges.

The need for transparency sounds obvious but it’s all far from easy and I get great satisfaction in tackling the challenge that this brings.

The most challenging though has got to be time.

Genuinely, there are not enough hours in the day. 

We want to deliver so much but we are inhibited by time and clearly, part of my role is prioritising and focusing on what matters the most – where we can add the most value. We always want to do more and there is always a requirement to do more!

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

I am an early bird. I set my alarm at 4.40 am (yes I am a little mad) but I do like to start the day off with a run or some kind of workout, all of which is a work in progress as I have a penchant for good food and the odd beer.

My workout makes me feel energised and positive – it’s a great way to start the day and I try to do it most days.

I also try to do my bit at home; I’m married with 3 children and my youngest is only 5, so my little bit before work is tidying the kitchen and making lunches for anyone who needs them.

I head off to the train at 6.30 am and get to my desk at 8.15/8.30 am.

The train gives me time to read the news and catch up on emails from the previous day. This travel time enables me to differentiate between home and work life.

A typical day at work is varied. I love the sheer variety and the challenges each of the business functions face, the desire they have to enhance and improve and the role we play in being the enabler.

I spend time with my team to support and be there for them in any way needed. I do have days when I have back-to-back meetings but I try and keep time for the team where I can.

Having a team that is split across two sites can be quite difficult so I will spend a fair amount of time in our offices in Gloucester where half the team are based.

What trends have you observed within Procurement recently?

Typically, the demand for speed is from an IT perspective.

What’s going on in the digital space and the interest in big data are the key trends. Predictive analytics and robotics are coming to the forefront due to advances in technology. 

A good example is security around the cloud – only a few years ago everyone was saying the cloud was too risky and it would never work. How does the saying go… “adapt or die”?

In today’s society, we have smart technology all around us and it’s imperative that we embrace it.

What I am really passionate about is the sustainable agenda.

Within EDF Energy, this is a real area of focus for us but I am seeing it is far more widespread than ever before. Previously it has always been seen as a nice to have and something that was done on the side of the desk but now it’s rightly an imperative.

Ethical sourcing makes good business and economic sense and people are realising it doesn’t actually have to cost more to do the right thing and buy ethically and responsibly.

Furthermore, there is a far greater need for real transparency in our supply chains now, right down the tiers. The introduction of the Modern Slavery Act is a great example of why this is so important.

The fact that slavery can really exist in today’s society is sad to acknowledge but it is a reality and as responsible corporate citizens we need to do all that we can to ensure that it is eradicated.

Effective Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) in place can help provide this assurance, drive value creation, enable innovation and so much more.

This is why, overall, I’d say that more organisations are recognising the positive impact and influence that the supply chain can and does bring with the right governance and framework around it.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t try to be someone you’re not.

Be yourself and be proud of who you are.

I am a huge believer in ensuring someone can bring their whole self to work, a key strand within diversity and inclusion.

If I look at when I first started out in my younger years, I see that I tried to be somebody else.

It just didn’t work and it wasn’t real for me.

I was trying to please managers and peers by wanting to say the right thing and trying to preempt what they wanted to hear rather than giving a true answer.

I realise now this was never the right approach, for the business as much for myself.

So genuinely for me, it’s: be yourself, be proud of who you are and don’t be afraid to make mistakes but do make sure you learn from them. Maybe because I am a little bit older I can say this, as I’ve made many!

Andy’s essential skills for a Head of Supply Chain Shared Goods and Services:

  1.  Broad shoulders and resilience. It is a given that there are going to be moments when there are challenging and difficult situations.
  2.  People skills, particularly focusing on stakeholder and relationship management. Within that, being a good communicator and a team player is essential.
  3. Negotiation skills, internally and externally. Without question, you have to be strong here and it’s all linked to communication.
  4. Flexibility/adaptability – being able to go from one category to another within that one day and prioritise.
  5. Highly numerate, numbers are always going to be a focus.

Our Big Interview Series features Procurement Professionals.

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:

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