Colin Maund, Hellios supremo, on the future of Supplier Information Management

We featured Hellios last week, the new Supplier Information Management firm which Colin Maund has founded. Maund was one of the driving forces behind Achilles, the highly successful supplier information firm, and was latterly their CEO and then Chairman, but stood down last year.

My US Spend Matters colleague Jason Busch was over last week, and we managed to catch up with Maund in London for a chat, a cup of tea, and (in my case) a full English breakfast...

So when you decided to step down from Achilles, weren’t you just tempted to retire and spend more time skiing, abseiling down the Shard and so on?

Not really – I felt I was a bit young to stop altogether, and I still enjoy working . I’ve also tried the non-executive route and whilst I enjoy my work with Outward Bound, it feels a bit early to be completely hands off and that step removed from the real decisions.  I did even consider doing a PhD - maybe one day!

You’ve chosen to remain in the Supplier Information Management (SIM )field – why’s that? Weren’t you tempted to try something different?

Well, it’s what I know best having worked in that area for 20 years and again, I’ve always enjoyed working in the field, and there are still lots of exciting areas emerging. That was the logic really.  And it still seems to me that there is so much potential to help organisations and make a difference – supplier management is hitting the headlines even this week with horsemeat stories, and the issues Boeing have had with the new Dreamliner.  As this interest in supplier management grows, it seems to me there’s room in the market for more suppliers to offer useful services  - I really believe that good supplier management helps buyers, consumers and the good supplier, who is often facing unfair competition from an unethical minority.

What sort of areas then do you see as particularly exciting and interesting?

One aspect that has been great about being in the SIM field is how the priorities and areas of interest keep changing. Once it was health and safety at the top of the priority list – that’s still important of course – but then we got into issues around support for small or minority firms. Environmental  issues were important for a while, and there is still a lot to be done there,  but now we’re seeing new areas, including conflict minerals in the US for instance, getting a very high profile.

And the sad events in Algeria and elsewhere are going to bring terrorism right up the risk agenda for firms. For example, how do you know your sub-contractor, or even the sub-contractor to the sub-contractor, has proper checks on staff they employ and who may end up on your premises?

That’s interesting – you think it’s going to be a real issue?

I do. For instance, think of the care firms take when appointing their own staff – particularly if they’re recruiting in sensitive countries. Then they allow suppliers, and their staff, access to sensitive sites, without taking the same precautions or making the same checks they probably do for internal people. That’s got to be illogical.  And there are also other emerging issues around contractors given access to sensitive data for instance. Those issues will be important internally, but how you manage your suppliers will also be key. And end users are going to want to see what due diligence has been carried out.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the interview with Colin Maund tomorrow!

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