David Cameron To Speak at ISM Conference – An Expensive Gimmick?

The US Institute of Supply Management has booked the ex-Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, as the keynote speaker for their 2017 conference in Orlando in May 2017. That comes as reports suggest Cameron earns £120,000 for a one-hour speech. According to the conference website:

Cameron will speak to ISM2017 conference attendees about his experience navigating geopolitical and public policy issues, many of which impact the global supply chain. He will also address a range of events in Europe and worldwide, and what they could mean to you”.

We hope that proves to be good value for ISM, because Cameron knows no more than I do about “how geopolitical events will impact the global supply chain”. Probably less in fact as he showed little interest in these matters whilst in power and I don’t suppose he has ever really thought about this topic,. But no doubt he will sit down with his speechwriter next April and say “what on earth do I present to these ISM people”?

Global uncertainty, terrorism, the politically disaffected getting revenge on the ruling class, all leading to currency shocks or political risk for buyers … you could write it now. But let’s suggest a few questions that a delegate next May might want to ask Cameron, all with some sort of procurement angle. I'd love you to ask:

  • Why did you fail so completely in your negotiations with Angela Merkel and therefore have nothing to present last spring to the British people on tightening up the UK’s borders – even a small concession might well have swung the referendum the other way?
  • Have you ever had any negotiation training – do you know what a BATNA is, and do you think you had a good one when you went into that negotiation?
  • How did you allow your Health Secretary to introduce a new “purchaser / provider” commissioning model to the Health Service in 2012 – a model that has proved to be a disaster and is now taking years to unwind, as the health service performance declines steadily.
  • Do you regret calling public sector procurement people enemies of enterprise in a speech in 2011? (See here and here).

That should keep him on his toes during the Q&A anyway! He is a good speaker, as you would expect, but personally, if I was an ISM member, I would consider it a huge waste of my money if he has cost anywhere near the rumoured sum. Perhaps he will boost the attendance significantly; but I really can’t see the point personally.

Actually, perhaps we will throw in one non-procurement question. Try this.

  • British gamblers lost £12.6 billion last year thanks to the growth in fixed-odds betting terminals (on which gamblers can lose hundreds of pounds in minutes) and the boom in on-line sports betting (constantly advertised during televised sports events). Do you feel morally comfortable as a Christian about how gambling in the UK grew so dramatically during your time in power?

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Voices (5)

  1. Jason Busch:

    Oh come on … this should be a fun speech. I’m excited for it. I’d rather see him than Bill — unless Bill brought along his entourage of hotties …

  2. Dave:

    Are you his speech writer ?

  3. Tanuj Goyal:

    Probably a welcome change. Many procurement, sourcing, and contract management conferences tend to be completely focused on domain as against leading marketing conferences such as HubSpot’s Inbound and Salesforce’s Dreamforce which also host some interesting diverse sessions. It remains to be seen how it will turn out but I am sure the procurement corporate leadership can learn a few things from somebody having as rich an experience as David Cameron’s.

    1. A bitter "Remoaner":

      Sorry, Tanuj, but exactly what would I look to learn from a politician who singularly failed in the biggest negotiation and stakeholder management exercise of his career, took little or no interest in public procurement during his time in office (or even, as Peter points out, directly undermined the activities of procurement professionals) and exhibited no understanding of the needs and desires of the general population in the country he was supposed to be leading? The weakness of his leadership of even his own party led us into a referendum that featured low on the priority of voters and has thrown the country into divisive turmoil. Unless he were going to speak on what he has gleaned from his failures and how he would have done things differently had he had his time again, I don’t think we have much to learn from this “rich experience”.

      1. bitter and twisted:

        And, if the theme is ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory – lessons learned”, I can think of someone more apposite for a US audience.

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