Can a Procurement Professional Learn from the New Indian Prime Minister?

We are delighted to  feature this thought-provoking guest article from Sanyam Khurana of procurement solutions firm GEP. For more interesting thinking on Procurement, visit the GEP Knowledge Bank.

ModiEver since his government won an unprecedented majority in India’s Central government in May 2014, Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister,  is undoubtedly the hero to look up to and learn from. In his past experience as a leader of the State of Gujarat, India, he has drawn mostly praise with little criticism, leading the world to believe that a change for the better is on its way in world’s largest democracy.

However, if one comes to think of Modi as a procurement professional, there could be many learnings and parallels drawn from his life and the way he has conducted himself:

  • Due Diligence – Modi is known to do his research before he makes a public speech or gives an interview. His research is up to date, meticulous and arguments are thought through. If he was a procurement buyer, he would have successfully researched his supply base and market dynamics, understood geo-political situations and prepared/armed himself with relevant information prior to beginning what would result in a successful sourcing process.
  • Strong Negotiator – Modi’s hard fact negotiation and logical argument is unmatched for an Indian PM for decades. As a procurement professional, he would have successfully utilized his due diligence and BATNAs (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) to reach a cohesive, win-win solution for all parties involved.
  • Pro-business attitude – Modi’s good governance model that helps business models succeed and accomplish goals led to growth of FDI or foreign direct investment in the State of Gujarat while he was the leader. His camaraderie with the business stakeholders has been exemplary, especially when he quickly moved the investment of Tata motors, to build the smallest and cheapest car, to Gujarat when they faced rough waters. Using this skill for a procurement professional is important, to learn the requirements of the business and work to achieve them during the sourcing cycle.
  • Time means money – As any procurement person would realize, time means money (saved). Adhering to timelines in a sourcing project not only means accomplishment of tasks but also leads to quicker saved dollars at the end of the day. For Modi’s government, adherence to timelines has been a critical mission, which has helped revitalize the economy in under a year and put it back on the growth path.
  • Teamwork and Collaboration – Modi is known for his collaboration skills, which extend to his peers, seniors or juniors. He has initiated a collaborative approach to working with local and state governments by meeting the heads of these bodies at regular intervals. He ensures that involvement of people and implementation of strategies and policies go hand in hand. A procurement buyer must collaborate with the business and suppliers, meet them often and involve all stakeholders in development and implementation of contracts, policies and eventually savings.

There would be many other attributes of this leader that could influence and help a procurement professional, however, summing up the above few are some of the nuances that I have learned and executed in my daily work life. Be vigilant with the market, have complete analysis, prepare well for meetings with facts, keep an open mind and ear to requirements of business, be amicable yet persuasive, manage time well and collaborate across all parties through the sourcing process.


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