Josh Edwards, Senior Consultant at Procurement Heads interviews Gary Charlton, Head of Procurement at Haymarket Media Group. Gary talks to us about his Procurement role within Haymarket, the essential skills and characteristics that he feels are key to Procurement professionals, along with top tips and advice to those considering, or in the early stages of a Procurement role.
How did you get into Procurement?
I managed Haymarket Media Group’s production operations, and a large part of the role included tendering and negotiating contracts, and supplier and project management. As our business strategy changed we began to focus on Procurement processes across all the different areas of the business – including digital, live events and support services. I supported internal departments with this change, which included implementing a supplier management system and wider use of competitive processes. I then developed a group wide Procurement strategy and policy and moved away from operations to a full-time group Procurement role. It was alongside this role that I studied for MCIPS.
What success are you most proud of in your career to date?
Integrity is one of Haymarket’s core values, so I was really proud that we were the first large UK media company to produce a Modern Slavery statement. To produce the statement, we worked hard to develop a strategy that was easy for user departments to understand and follow, and that wasn’t unnecessarily onerous on our supply chain. Haymarket has won a number of industry awards for sustainability, so I was very proud to have contributed to the sustainability approach and strategy!
Less specifically, I’m always very proud of the benefits that Procurement brings to user departments and the wider business – better contracts, better prices, better process, mitigated risk and greater transparency. Sometimes the benefits might be significant; sometimes less so, but there is always a benefit.
What do you love about your role?
I love the diversity of challenges that the Procurement role brings and the fact that we are in contact with so many different teams and suppliers. I love the pace of change that is inherent in any modern media organisation. There are always new projects, new technologies and new priorities. It’s a great feeling to deliver a successful outcome to a department.
Are there any aspects of the Head of Procurement role that can be challenging?
Sometimes stakeholder management is a challenge, as groups typically have different procurement priorities and ideas on how their category should be approached.
What does your typical day at work look like for you?
I’m typically in the office very early and start by reviewing where the Procurement team is with different projects, RFPs, tenders, and contract negotiations and seeing what tasks need attending to. We work closely with user departments to ensure we keep on top of upcoming changes and make sure there is plenty of time to collate requirements. The pace of new technology that is coming in to the market is ferocious, so as a business and a department we need to be able to react to this quickly while still being able to manage the process and outcomes. It’s important that we’re able to differentiate between what can be trialled, what can be used quickly and what needs a more diligent process. A small piece of software can have a big impact on how we operate as a business. Of course, like everyone, I also juggle hundreds of emails and attend numerous internal and supplier meetings. I try to get home at a fairly decent time at the end of the day to spend some time with my family.
Have you observed any trends within Procurement recently?
The pace of change being driven by digital is, if anything, accelerating. This brings other considerations in to play such as security, including the capture and use of personal data. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), if it hasn’t already, will affect most industries. Sustainability, including environmental and corporate responsibility is now really impacting how organisations do business and the way they are viewed by consumers. I expect platitudes to be enforced with real legislation, such as the Modern Slavery Act, which is how it should be. I assume that legislation on the use of single use plastics will be introduced in the future. These are all areas that procurement is ideally situated to support the business.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t worry so much and enjoy yourself more! Don’t be scared to ask more questions, I think when you are younger you can be afraid of asking too many questions. As you become more confident and you work in a collaborative environment this becomes less of an issue.
What key skills or personality traits would you consider essential for anyone hoping to be a Head of Procurement?
- Enjoy sharing knowledge and seeing others develop – that’s a key skill for any leadership role
- Show willingness to collaborate and understand the wider goals of the teams you are buying for, as well as the organisation you work for
- Bring an open mind to your approach, both with internal customers and suppliers
Our Big Interview Series features Procurement Professionals throughout London and the Home Counties. 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 on 01962 869838 or drop us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Josh Edwards, Senior Consultant at Procurement Heads