Big Interview | Robert Fitzmaurice  

In this episode of the Big Interview hosted by Rahim, Robert Fitzmaurice explores his career in Procurement and reflects on how the pandemic has shaped the lens in which we view the Procurement Function.

Fireside Chat | Q&A With Robert Fitzmaurice

How did you get into Procurement?

I didn’t plan a career in Procurement but started in property and buying for a discount retailer. It was a sideways move from property development to purchasing goods and services.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the Procurement function in your organisation?

Procurement buys everything the company doesn’t sell. We split our Procurement function into four pillars: packaging, product, business fit-out and store operations, and logistics and supply chain.

What are you passionate about in Procurement?

I enjoy seeing my team adapt to yearly challenges and develop their skills. The dynamic nature of the function keeps it exciting. Corny but that’s the truth!

What are the key focus areas for Procurement now?

Focus on people, adaptability post-COVID, and embracing digital transformation. Sustainability is crucial, and we’re working to reduce our carbon footprint.

What do you look for when hiring for your team?

Fit over function is crucial. Eagerness to learn, love for retail, and alignment with the brand are essential. Relationship-building skills are key in this field.

What is your team doing for sustainable procurement?

Sustainability is a priority, with a focus on challenging the supply base and procuring sustainability where possible. Initiatives include using green energy and creating recyclable products.

Any advice for someone starting a career in procurement?

Be curious, as the function offers a unique and exciting perspective. Always ask questions, challenge the status quo, and strive to influence positive change.

Essential skills for a procurement leader?

Humility, curiosity, and resilience. Acknowledge expertise in others, stay curious to learn, and remain patient during project development.

Who has influenced your procurement career the most?

My father instilled the importance of being tough but fair in negotiations, emphasising mutual satisfaction at the negotiating table.

Best lesson learned in procurement?

Patience is key. Take the time to think, calibrate, and make informed decisions. It helps maintain control and adds gravitas to your responses.

What role did procurement play during the pandemic?

Our Procurement function managed supplier relations, controlled costs, sourced PPE, and ensured stores were safe to reopen. It showcased the value of procurement in navigating challenges.

Major challenges faced during the pandemic?

Besides cost control, ensuring team connectivity in a remote work setup and sourcing PPE were significant challenges. Building and maintaining strong supplier relationships were also crucial.

Impact of COVID on your organisation?

As a bricks-and-mortar retailer, the challenge was getting people back to physical stores. Remote work highlighted the value of interconnectivity, allowing global collaboration.

How do you see the function changing post-COVID?

Procurement is now trusted and seen as a strategic partner in decision-making. The focus is on being proactive and strategic across departments and industries.

What do you enjoy in your spare time?

Travelling is a passion, exploring destinations near and far. Engaging in poorly thought-out DIY projects and homebrewing are also favourite pastimes.

Advice to your younger self?

Take a breath before acting; not everything needs to be at 100 miles an hour. Embrace the concept that “this too shall pass.”

Interesting fact about yourself?

I was part of the lead fight and stunt crew for the movie King Arthur during a college summer.

Personal motto?

“Retail is detail” – emphasising attention to detail, and “Slow is smooth but smooth is fast” – advocating for a well-established foundation for efficiency.

Stay tuned on our LinkedIn Channel for the full podcast landing soon!

Sign-up for job alerts.

By entering your email you agree to receive job alerts and marketing communications from Procurement Heads. No spam. Unsubscribe anytime. See Privacy Policy.

Scroll to Top