Who Needs Vegas? MetLife's Roy Anderson Dazzles and Entertains

For those who've not seen Roy Anderson speak, you should make the point of attending an event and seeking him out. He combines the speed and timing of a stand-up comic with the passion and anecdotes of a storied General recently returned from battle. For those who are wondering who Anderson is -- after all, the financial services and insurance procurement worlds are somewhat isolated -- he's MetLife's VP of Procurement, Travel and Publishing. But he is most certainly deserving of a CPO title, given the transformation he's overseen inside his firm.

Ariba gave Anderson a much deserved keynote slot on the first day of LIVE. And in it, he used his time to inspire and entertain. He talked about the need for optimism in challenging environments, quoting a famous quip from a politician that "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country". And he danced around some of the challenges of fostering a creative environment to transform a procurement culture.

After all, innovation and creativity are "inefficient, undisciplined, confusing and filled with contradiction." But he urged his often chuckling and intently listening audience to "turn turmoil and turn it into collaboration ... this is how you create massive change ... turn it into passion." And if you're not passionate, there's still a job for you. "Go into the legal department," Anderson quipped.

In terms the transformation Anderson led at MetLife, the organization he inherited looked like a classic, transactionally-oriented procurement organization of the old (in my view, this is the kind of old-school procurement organization of old that would advertise its CPM certifications on business cards to prove their quality). In 2001, he had 70 buyers each handling about $400 million in spend. Today, he has 15 buyers doing the same job (all of whom who eventually be in India). By offshoring and reducing the cost of transaction-focused resources, he's been able to upgrade his core, strategic team (and along the way, he's also had the opportunity to make it on the Don Imus show, but that's a story for another day).

When Anderson began his transformation in 2001, he started with recruiting and developing the right staff and focusing on catalog automation. Next he turned his attention to financial policies, training (suppliers, customers, staff), and gaining the "right seat on the bus" from an organizational perspective. After this came a strategic phase, focusing on critical thinking, reporting, actionable data, e-sourcing, sourcing plans, and leveraging corporate spend.

After this Anderson drove his organization towards self-service, driving demand management, value scores, focusing procurement on the business process as well as customer, supplier and buyer centric reporting and driving better demand management practices. And in 2007 and beyond, the team will tackle globalization (single process, spend visibility, developing collaborative opportunities (which one presumes is with his customers, the business, and his supply base), focusing on process efficiency, and BPO.

So what were Anderson's sage words of parting advice? "Simplify first, eliminate second, and automate third". Oh yeah, and I did I mention bringing passion to the table along the way?

Jason Busch

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