The Big Interview with Quentin Goodwin

An image of Quentin Goodwin, Director - Group Vendor Management at HomeServe.

Procurement Insights | In our latest Big Interview, Will Cooke spoke with Quentin Goodwin, Director – Group Vendor Management at HomeServe.
How did you get into procurement and vendor management? 

Early in my career I worked for a software supplier drafting and negotiating contracts with potential customers. I was approached by a customer and headhunted into my first procurement role. Working with my former colleagues from ‘the other side of the fence’ was an interesting change. 

As we did more outsourcing, I identified a need for a robust and consolidated post-contract management framework. Vendor management as a separate discipline was an emerging idea at the time, so it was interesting work articulating why vendor management was important and value adding. 

What are the challenges that you and your team currently face? 

HomeServe was acquired by Brookfield Asset Management early in 2023, which brought a significant amount of change across the business. As a key interface between supplier and customer, it can be challenging trying to explain to suppliers what’s going on when we don’t always have a complete picture of plans and strategy.

At a time of high global uncertainty – and change in our own organisation, we’re finding that vendors who are willing to be flexible and pragmatic are the most successful. 

Taking a wider view, there’s a trend in the supplier market to raise prices significantly above inflation every year, meaning we have to get more and more creative how we buy and ensure we get true value for money. 

What do you feel strongly about when it comes to procurement and vendor management? 

There’s a perception that procurement only seek to get pricing as low as possible, but as a vendor manager I have had to deal with the consequences of this.

It’s very common to have to renegotiate long-term agreements soon after signing. Having worked across both disciplines, I take a long view and try to avoid this by having sophisticated conversations with vendors about margin, forecasts and revenue expectations ahead of signing contracts. 

It’s important to me to have a holistic relationship view. The pandemic taught us that there are unexpected events when we need vendors to go above and beyond. I’m a firm believer that customers who treat suppliers fairly and approach relationships with transparency will find those suppliers willing to step up when needed. 

What do you look for when you are hiring? 

Diversity, diversity, diversity.

If I recruit people who are similar to me, or with the same experience we limit our breadth of knowledge – and I limit my own ability to continue growing and learning. Being part of a team with differing backgrounds and experience is the best way to ensure we have a rounded approach. 

Requirements for a role can be fulfilled with very different kinds of experience. I have significant leadership experience gained from owning businesses in the leisure sector and managing LGBT+ networks – I would never want that to be discounted or overlooked. 

Put simply – I look for people who can explain why their experience is valuable, not people who can tick boxes. 

Tell us about your biggest achievements in your career? 

I’ve managed some large ($100m+) global contracts with well-known providers during my career, and the relationships were not always plain sailing.

When we’ve had disputes, and had to partially terminate or re-negotiate contracts, I’ve been very successful at settling disputes in a way that both sides feel they’ve been treated fairly, keeping a good working relationship intact. 

Bringing the concept of vendor management to SABMiller at a time when it was an emerging discipline was a great achievement, and ultimately it helped the organisation retain and maximise significant value in the outsourcing arrangements we had put in place. 

One final achievement that I’m immensely proud of is setting up a very high profile LGBT+ network in SABMiller. Under my leadership, the organisation was a major sponsor of Pride in London three years in a row. A big moment for me came when I was invited to Melbourne to speak alongside the State Equality Commissioner at an event.  

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken? 

I’ve invested in a number of small businesses over my lifetime – most notably a gym and a bar – each one has carried a unique risk profile unlike any I’ve encountered working in large corporates. 

What skills do you consider essential to be a procurement and vendor management leader? 

In short – a lot of pragmatism, and an ability to look for facts before reacting to any situation.  

Procurement and vendor management are often driven into a very transactional mindset either by vendors or our own objectives, and it’s important to recognise that short term give and takes build up significant good will over time. Finding ways to increase visibility outside the contractual scope are golden opportunities – I’ve marched with a vendor’s LGBT+ network at Pride, I’ve spoken at vendor events. 

For a senior leader, I’d consider it essential experience to have worked vendor side, and across both vendor management and procurement. I don’t think you can operate fully in one of the three without deep experience of the others. 

What do you like doing in your spare time?  

At the moment I’m taking Spanish lessons, it’s my third language.

I also enjoy playing the piano, I’ve been playing since I was seven so I’ve reached a high standard. I’m trying to mix things up with more modern music at the moment. I also travel a lot, I currently split time between Madrid and London, but I love to explore far off places. 

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be? 

Get involved in diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace – they teach you so many skills that your day job may not. Also, don’t fear coming out at work. 

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself 

I’m a black belt at origami. I find it helps me with concentration, I’m often making birds, boxes, boats, stunt planes – you name it, I can probably find a way to make it. 

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