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Procurement in Practice recap — More CPOs share their visions and learnings

11/29/2021 By

For some time we have been conducting monthly feature-length interviews with CPOs and heads of procurement and supply to capture their everyday lives, their challenges, visions, problems and solutions.

We’ve talked to procurement leads from sectors as diverse as Eastern European public sector rail, US third-sector humanitarian organizations, UK academic press, to large and well-known private corporations from various industries all over the world. Their stories differ in many ways — about their professional journey, their transformation and ESG efforts, their talent or supply issues, their role and relationships, and so on — but they all have something in common. Each one is not only delighted, but feels it imperative, that they share their experiences with other procurement professionals to learn from each other.

Read part 1: Procurement in Practice recap: Being the CPO — The view from the top to hear from Tom Nash of The American Red Cross, Thomas Udesen of Bayer and Sergii Dovgalenko of Ukrainian Railways.

Read part 2: Procurement in Practice recap: Being the CPO — The view from the top to hear from Norbert Dean of Carnival Cruise Line, Peter Tasev of Deutsche Telekom Services Europe and Simon Crump, latterly of Cambridge University Press and now SGC Publishing Consultants Ltd.

Today let’s highlight our most recent explorations:

Cyril Pourrat is Head of BT Sourced and BT Group CPO

Pourrat’s story is an unusual but very interesting one in the world of procurement, and it may well set a future path for other CPOs as the role of procurement grows and redefines itself in large organizations.

BT is one of the world’s leading communications companies, serving customers in over 180 countries and employing 99,700 full-time-equivalent members of staff. In early 2021 BT created a new, standalone procurement company, BT Sourced, as a separate entity to manage BT’s entire multi-billion-pound global sourcing operation. With Pourrat at the helm of that, he explains how he is carving out an organization to transform procurement from a very traditional operation at BT to a nimble organization that can manage and respond quickly to major changes in the market.

He has control of about €14.8bn (£13bn) at time of writing, a large part of which is on fiber cables and infrastructure to help them roll out full fiber, 4G and 5G services across the UK. As head of this organization, he is performing duties similar to that of a CEO, steering BT Sourced toward the future while leveraging data and automation to increase productivity, uncover new efficiencies and drive collaboration across a complex global footprint.

Read about his digital priorities, his team capability building and generally how he is rethinking procurement for BT.

Procurement in Practice: BT Sourced — Redefining procurement and the CPO for the 21st century

If you are doing a tech selection for your procurement organization, you can get a shortlist fast with TechMatchSM

Mark Smith is Procurement Vice President, Digital & Talent Supply at integrated energy firm bp plc

Smith is a strategy and transformation expert with an impressive background in business enhancement at Shell, Accenture, Babcock International and of course, bp. He believes that talent will reshape the future role and perception of procurement into what will be a more self-serve and business-enabling process.

“I’ve always been interested in the architecture of procurement,” he says, “where the function is going and how we bring the right mix of technology, people and mindsets together to make the best possible contribution to the business that procurement can make.

“I truly believe in the role of procurement in furthering the organization’s ambition of becoming a net zero company by 2050 or sooner, and that has to start with understanding its commercial goals. My practical role is to oversee how we place billions of dollars of spend sensibly in the marketplace. But I always encourage my team to remember that in our day-to-day roles, it’s not wholly about procurement, it’s about procurement being an enabler for the business, and that should be our starting point.”

Read in the part 1 why he believes the future lies in self-serve to “create access to supply in as frictionless a way as possible, so that procurement can step back and start to look at how we can smartly architect better outcomes for the business and create more holistic value.”

And in part 2 read how he believes that can be accomplished: “A crucial step towards the digital self-serve future, is to add content to your spend management platform (you can compare providers here)  to get the best possible performance out of it … because your spend management system is the gateway to enable all the dynamic marketplaces you want.”

Procurement in Practice — bp exec focuses on ‘smartly architecting better outcomes for the business and creating more holistic value’ (Part 1)


Procurement in Practice — bp exec says ‘guided buying is the Holy Grail to make self-serve work’ (Part 2)

Greg Tennyson is SVP, Strategy and Procurement at Fairmarkit

In an unusual twist to our series, we talked to a procurement strategist within one of the solution providers we cover in our research rather than to a customer of the procurement solutions market. But Greg Tennyson is different, he is SVP, Strategy and Procurement at intelligent sourcing platform provider Fairmarkit, but hails from a standout career as CPO with both Salesforce and Oracle and most recently with VSP Global. This diversion in his career to a near start-up makes for interesting reading, as does his huge amount of experience as mentor to procurement organizations and peers. Tennyson has been on both sides of the deal in his career, which makes him a perfect Procurement in Practice candidate.

Having spent the early part of his career on the buy-side, coming into the commercial side has been “an enlightenment,” he says. “I learnt the deal structure, and how the deal gets done, now I’m learning how to prospect, qualify and close those deals. And I wish I had done that earlier in my career, because I believe it can make you a more effective CPO.”

He has and abundance of advice for new or would-be CPOs, but we liked this snippet:

“I have a philosophy founded way back in my career journey,” he said. “When I joined VSP, like everyone in a new senior management role, I wanted to make some quick successes, and I thought that meant being a bit more aggressive. Fortunately, I had a great president who cautioned me not to be overly assertive if I wanted to make traction, but to spend time first watching, listening and learning.

“So first and foremost, to any CPO walking into a new role, I would strongly recommend they listen and learn before trying to lead —and understand the vision and values of the company to align your approach in order to be effective.”

Read Procurement in Practice: Fairmarkit CPO says keep listening, keep learning to win your team’s hearts and minds to find out more.


And yes, we do recognize that not one of CPOs in our series is female! We’ll be remedying that. In the meantime read our great series on Women in Procurement.


CPO - Chief Procurement Officer