Getting to a global procurement function with Fujitsu at eworld 2021

Fujitsu at eworld Pixabay

We are delighted that eworld Procurement & Supply is returning this March, marking the first-ever virtual eworld. The last time we were there was just before the first Covid lockdown in London. Being online means the event can not only offer the same range of sessions and calibre of presenters, panellists and sponsors that previous events enjoyed, but enhance the delegate experience through a new and multi-faceted platform. The developers at eworld say that the “sophisticated digital platform will bring together a wide variety of strategic keynotes, end-user case studies, product briefings and live Q&A sessions, while simultaneously facilitating live peer-to-peer discussions and in-depth supplier interactions throughout the day.” And that the “online portal and integrated registration system will deliver a seamless user experience on the day and provide ongoing access to key elements for all registered users, enabling them to revisit specific sessions at a later date and/or to catch up on anything they may have missed.”

eworld has always been the forum for a wide choice of themes, discussions and showcases to help procurement, finance and supply chain professionals face their most current challenges. So it looks like this year will be no exception. As usual it will be packed with topical subjects like: emerging from the global lockdown and what is next for procurement (trends, forecasts and predictions); contingency planning and business continuity; being ready for the new mobile and remote working norm; evaluating, selecting and implementing new technologies; purchasing with purpose; all the way to facing Brexit.

It has a lot to offer for procurement and supply professionals wanting to learn more about how to improve their procurement strategies, what’s new in best practice and innovation, and to learn how their peers in other firms are coping with similar challenges and gain implementable ideas.

The opening keynote will be doing just that.

Dr. Clive Rees, Vice President, International Chief Procurement Officer at Fujitsu, will be talking at eworld about his experience of moving towards a global procurement function in “The Good, the Bad and the Global.”

Clive has responsibility for all indirect spend at Fujitsu globally. In a career spanning more than 35 years in the procurement sector, he has worked across various industries, negotiated large outsourcing and off-shoring deals, and set procurement strategy across continents. So it will be fascinating to hear his experience of journeying through a procurement transformation from disparate country purchasing departments to a category- and country-focused global team to garner greater value from the supplier base and deliver greater savings to the stakeholder.

Building global procurement strategies — key learnings

“Global contract practice isn’t the be-all and end-all for every firm,” Clive tells us in a precursor to his presentation, “but for many large firms, it makes good business sense to leverage the strengths that can come from it. At Fujitsu we evaluated the benefits and five years ago created regional teams out of what were country-based teams to cover Europe, Asia, the Americas and Oceania. We went on to create an international CPO role to oversee those regions, reporting into Japan. At the same time we standardised all our processes in our approach to suppliers and partners and have made good progress in commercially joining up our global contracts where appropriate — and that made good business sense for us.”

A key learning from this operation was that “you should never underestimate the complexity of trying to join things up globally.”

So he will be explaining the challenges he faced and how he overcame them, including how to solve the problem of stakeholders who push back, usually to protect regional incentives. Here he will re-iterate the importance of putting in place a structured mechanism for engaging with stakeholders internally, which involves not just listening to them but properly understanding their requirements, rather than making assumptions.

That will lead on to how they introduced various award-winning L&D courses for all their procurement people. A ‘Passport to Procure’ covered client engagement, commercial negotiation and personal development skills. All were translated regionally and rolled out globally. He’ll tell us more about that too.

Fujitsu at eworld and the responsible procurement charter

Clive will also get more deeply into how they have become increasingly active with their responsible procurement charter, because, he says, “it’s the right thing to do, and it helps retain business.” So he will explain how Fujitsu has embraced that within the supply base and internal teams, and faced the “realisation that responsibility carries different nuances in different places."

"For example,” he says, “legislation, government perspectives and societal expectations vary from country to country. It’s a mistake to think that one size fits all.” So he’ll delve further into insights gathered from those experiences, alongside overcoming the challenge of creating regional category strategies while retaining a centre-led focus. That last point is clearly a significant one. He explains how they hold regular high-level strategy meetings where all the important themes that flow into the regional strategies — like cost reduction and third-party engagement, risk management, people development and digital innovation, to name a few — are put on the table to be aligned globally.

We’re interested to hear more on that and Fujitsu at eworld. And we’re sure that eworld delegates will get valuable, first-hand insight from Clive’s keynote; it’s also a chance to ask questions of someone who has, many times, navigated the storms that come procurement’s way — from one crisis to the next.

“We’re all basically in the same boat,” he says, “so it’s good to learn from others about the issues they face — you can always learn something from somebody at eworld.”

eworld is free to attend on March 4th. Besides Fujitsu at eworld, the full programme is here, and you can register here.

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