Our Interview with Amabel Grant – from Burghley to Basware (Part 1)

So here's an interesting career question - how do you get from riding horses over stupidly dangerous cross-country courses for a living, to being a country MD for a significant software and services firm providing eInvoicing, purchase-to-pay and value-added financing solutions? More of that later, but we've given you a big clue as to the first job in the career to date of Amabel Grant, who, following Basware's acquisition of Procserve, has become MD of Basware UK and VP of Network Services for the wider business.

We spoke to her recently, and she explained that her attachment to eProcurement and all things connected started really when having qualified as a quantity surveyor, and working for a small contracting firm, she started writing basic software herself to help the firm in the bidding process. She obviously has an aptitude for the technology, and that led her into a job with publishers EMAP, starting a new business putting information about construction projects on line.

“By then, I’d caught the eProcurement bug, and when I saw a job in OGC I applied and joined,” she explains. For any youngsters reading, the Office of Government Commerce was the organisation within the UK's Finance Ministry that was trying to drive procurement improvement in the public sector.  (A forerunner to Crown Commercial Services in effect). Her role there included leading a feasibility study for eCommerce in government, which in time turned into the "Zanzibar" initiative - an electronic marketplace for government buyers, enabling them to access negotiated contracts and place orders with suppliers.

It was around this time that I first met Amabel, and was struck by her air of calmness, competence and confidence. She was a loss to OGC when she left in 2005 to join consulting firm Hedra, but as she says, “that gave me the unique opportunity to work on the eProcurement strategy for the London Olympics.”

In 2008 she joined Procserve, which was by then the private sector firm that operated the government marketplaces that had started with Zanzibar. That background has given her a deep interest in the field, which is clear when you speak to her.

"I've been passionate about eCommerce in the public sector for years - it has taken some time, but I think we are getting there finally in terms of take-up" she says. She worked as Head of Operations and then COO for Procserve, and following the recent Basware transaction, she has taken on this new senior role, which obviously excites her.

“Bringing Basware and Procserve together gives us the opportunity to complete this virtuous circle, automating the whole buying cycle through to e-invoicing.”  That, she believes, is essential with a new generation of people coming into the workforce, who will expect to replicate at work how they buy in their own lives. So "user experience is key" says Grant.

We moved on to talk about the implications of the acquisition.

"There have been no redundancies and structural integration has been completed - so the Procserve development team now report into the wider Basware R&D function, for instance.” Whilst Basware is a Finnish firm, it has a global reach and the UK connections are strong – for instance, “there are actually two Board level SVPs of the firm who are based in the UK.”

She says that the firm has put a lot of effort into reassuring customers – “continuity of service has been paramount and we've kept customers fully informed through the process – we’ve only had positive reactions really.  The branding changes are going through, and we're excited about the future.”

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow, when we will return to the subject of Grant’s interesting former career!

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