Shining a Light on Procurement | Stronger Together NW NHS

Rupert Gaster sits down with Lee Jackson to explore his diverse career in Procurement.

Like Alan Shearer, I am from Newcastle and my father was a sheet metal worker, however that’s where the similarities end. I was the first in my family to gain a degree. Navigating the delicate balance of full-time work, family and studies was rewarding, and without doubt has supported my career journey.

With nearly 30 years working business experience, starting as a buyer for a regional airline in 1994, I have traversed across a diverse range of sectors ranging from heavy engineering and FMCG to Financial Services and the NHS and local government. I love the dynamic nature of Procurement, the ability to be a catalyst for business improvement and the ability to leverage relationships for value.

My focus has consistently gravitated towards change, transformation and innovation challenges, where Procurement has been the at the centre of change and improvement. Procurement’s reach and breadth are ideal for understanding people, business pain points and opportunities and leveraging these for business value.

Could you list your career organisations, considering your diverse sector and region experience, including public and private sectors?

I began my career in the private sector, starting with a regional airline. It was a fast-paced, dynamic environment, where every penny counted, allowing for tangible impact. Later, I transitioned to heavy manufacturing OEM, managing procurement across domestic and international customers. Following on from there, I spent time within the Public Sector including local government and the NHS, supporting a wide and diverse set of challenges and initiatives.

More recently I ventured into Financial Services and lived in Abu Dhabi for seven years. The Middle-East is a diverse, fast-paced region, great for families, with fantastic opportunities to explore outdoor options. The UAE is an extremely innovative and forward-thinking nation, where the implementation of new ideas is welcomed with new concepts and service offerings emerging regularly and rapidly.

Being part of the incredibly active CIPS MENA network provided invaluable support.  In collaboration with Sam Achampong, we launched the CIPS MENA Financial Services Procurement Group, a group that I chaired until my return to the UK in 2021.

This experience broadened my professional and personal horizons. Communicating effectively is now second nature as a result of working in a global, multinational organisation. Being able to successfully land important messages to sixty five nationalities across the company and with 15 nationalities in my team alone, I gained a deeper appreciation that to achieve sustained success, relationships are as crucial as results and the journey as significant as the destination.

These experiences have been invaluable in my role as Managing Director of North West London Procurement Services.

What was the main task given to you by the NHS when you joined as Managing Director of NW London Procurement services?

Upon joining the NHS as Managing Director of NWLPS in November 2021, my initial assignment was to conduct a diagnostic of the Procurement capabilities across the nine partner trusts. The goal was to build and propose a business case for consolidating a shared Procurement service for those nine trusts.

Recognising the immense potential in our staff (approximately 200), a supply base of around 10,000 partners and spending power of around £2 billion, I delivered the diagnostic, formulated the business case and successfully implemented the shared service within 11 months. This involved consolidating the management and operation of seven in-house functions and three outsourced Procurement and Supply functions.

There were quite a mixed range of functions we had to manage. Bringing it all together was an interesting and complex process with various new arrangements and timetabling challenges. Reaching the other side was immensely satisfying.

Can you tell us about your stronger together strategy?

The Stronger Together strategy implemented across North West London aim’s to develop a high performing team, deliver exceptional results, manage performance and enable collaboration.

There are three key areas of the strategy:

  1. Category Focus – we have aligned the team to market categories – IT and Telecoms, Healthcare, Facilities and Professional Services – this forms the foundation of our operating model guides our hiring strategies and shapes our interactions with stakeholders.
  2. Execution – we have a single consolidated procurement team for NWL, we aim to scale all partner spend, utilising a single data partnership and technology platform for Procurement and aiming for a consolidated ERP platform and we are the core Procurement Delivery partner for NWL ICS.
  3. Value Creation – This involves a single online engagement platform and marketplace, Sustainability and Social Value Program and leveraging Supplier capabilities through our SRM Program.

In the first year of operation, we achieved notable milestones;

  • Launching a new operating model, restructured focusing upon category management, strategic sourcing and SRM.
  • Established a Shared Service Board comprising Chief Financial Officers from our partner organisations.
  • Delivered £12.6 million in savings against our target of £9.6 million for 2022/2023, with an on-track projection of £13 million for 2023/24.
  • Welcomed 30 new colleagues significantly reducing our initial vacancy rate of over 24%.
  • Consolidated existing six procurement suites by implementing Atamis procurement suite across all nine partners and launched a new Helpdesk software.
  • Introduced a single platform across our nine partners for spend transparency and benchmarking capabilities through the Adviseinc Platform.
  • Successfully held our inaugural supplier event in partnership with Supplier Day.

Reflecting on your success, how can you describe this journey?

The journey so far has been incredibly rewarding, and our success has been recognised through winning multiple industry awards. I believe this has significantly raised the team’s profile, bolstered our credibility with partners, and nurtured a positive team culture. Importantly, it has also benefited our recruitment efforts by showcasing the exciting projects and fresh approach we’re undertaking, inspiring individuals to want to join and contribute to our initiatives here in NW London.

How are you attracting talent from outside of the NHS, to join your team?

We have a targeted approach to attract talent beyond the traditional routes. Our retained search partner has a blended sector focus, understands our project and value proposition. They excel at effectively translating this for candidates who might not have considered their NHS as a career destination. We also have a joint communications plan with regular market interventions. This includes a bespoke microsite and targeted campaign adverts ensuring consistent and positive messages resonate in the external market.

We have also embedded Business Emotional Intelligence assessments as part of our recruitment process to support the development of our high performing team to build stronger and more productive teams who members positively align to our organisational culture.

What are your future plans?

I believe one of our main objectives for the future is to elevate the strategic impact of procurement, which historically has been approached in a traditional manner. To achieve this, the plans I envision for North West London Procurement Services can be summarised in four key areas:

  1. Developing a high performing procurement team, (attract, develop, motivate and retain top-tier talent within core competency areas).
  2. Delivering exceptional results, (Balanced Scorecard) Our Stronger Together Strategy provides an agreed road map guided by our balanced scorecard framework.
  3. Managing performance (Team and Supplier) and Transparency and performance management aims to ensure operational effectiveness.
  4. Enabling collaboration (Team, Partner, Supplier – ideally all ‘collaborative advantage’) Fostering collaboration across our team, partners and suppliers aiming to leverage collaborative advantage in all aspects of our Procurement activities.

If you are a Procurement professional looking to grow your career in the Public Sector we’d love to hear from you get in touch with the team!

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