Breault and Rashed to Headline eWorld – Only a Month Away!

Seems like summer has just got going in the UK, but autumn is coming soon. We can tell, because we’re now only a month or so away from the eWorld event at London’s QE2 Conference Centre. With the predictability of the falling leaves, the traditional cries of “does anyone know which floor the Victoria room’s on?” will ring out across the streets of Westminster again.

Once you work out the room locations, it is a key event for the procurement professional, and over recent years has really strengthened its conference programme, moving from an event that was primarily an exhibition with some workshops and presentations on the side, to an extensive and impressive conference programme that absolutely stands up in its own right. And eWorld is free to practitioners – another strong point in his favour.

It is also still the best opportunity to see a good range of solution providers to the procurement industry exhibiting together in one place. On the provider side, we always find it a good way of meeting both old friends and some new faces for Spend Matters.

So on September 27th there will be around 30 different conference sessions, workshops and panel discussions - indeed I’m chairing one of those, but we’ll come back to that another day. One real highlight this year is the keynote from Giles Breault (pictured above) and Sammy Rashed of the Beyond Group, and I’m genuinely excited about their session.

Breault was CPO at the pharma company Novartis and Rashed worked in a variety of senior roles at the same firm – not just in procurement. They are two of the smartest and most forward-thinking people I know in the procurement world, and since they set up the Beyond Group they have been doing ground-breaking work with firms to help take procurement functions and people out of traditional mindsets and spheres of influence and become truly more valuable to their organisations. We got the chance to ask them a few questions about their eWorld session – here they are, along with their answers.

Q: Your keynote is billed as featuring your “ground-breaking research into how procurement teams see themselves”. Can you just say a little more about that research?

"It was a survey conducted under the auspices of the European Business School, Institute for Supply Chain Management and subsequently published by them in an article titled “Beyond Procurement; Options for Procurement to drive company wide productivity” (Authors: Kaeser, Rashed, Breault, Henke). The survey was an on-line survey that was backed up with dozens of focus groups conducted with responding companies to ensure accuracy and consistency of recorded data.

In principle it asked the question, ‘In what strategic direction are large and medium-sized European firms directing their procurement resources to drive enhanced value from spending now and in the future”.  When the work was initiated, it was the first study of its kind to broadly evaluate what form purchasing teams they themselves intended to evolve to".

Q; You’re going to look at the future capabilities needed by professionals according to the eWorld programme. But do you see a good future for procurement, or do you think technology or other factors put us at threat? Do we need different capabilities compared to today to survive the future challenges?

"We see a strong future for procurement, but not in the form it is today.  Technology is not only threatening the function as it is normally mandated today, but in our mind will obviate much of the work that is now done by procurement teams.  We see procurement evolving along two distinct directions: the orchestrator of externally sourced innovation and the master of the collaborative search for new value.

It is absolutely required that procurement teams develop new capabilities.  Our most recent Procurement Think Tank investigated some of these new required capabilities, they are: Business Partnering skills (know your client), Connecting skills (know your market), Alliance Management skills (manage your suppliers like a partner)".

Q: If you could give one bit of advice to a young person coming into procurement, in terms of gaining capability or experience, what would that be?

"Rely less on traditional procurement skills like negotiations, RFQ management, category management, and compliance.  While these are important, they are being supplanted by technology or are less consequential to the business in today's world; focus on what propels your business forward and seek to bring value to those issues.

Organisations are complex structures.  People who have developed intrapreneurial skills (demonstrate leadership agility, can operate like they are their own CEO, have a propensity for action, the ability to understand the underlying ‘why’ to achieve goals, etc.) will be highly prized for their ability to navigate complex structures, politics and still be able to make a substantial contribution to the team".


Thanks to Breault and Rashed – and you can sign up for eWorld here.

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