Down the Procurement Patch with CIPS, Proactis, blur Group and Glen Campbell

Not a very social week this week really and when I did go out I forgot to take a picture! So here are the blackberries I picked from my secret location this week, around 5 lbs or 2.5 kilos picked in one hour. It is a 2 mile walk from the nearest car park which is why not many people go there – but nobody seems to pick blackberries these days in any case. It was a big thing in my youth near Durham, whole families vying to find the best bushes on the old unused colliery railway line. It looks like this year might be the best in the 5 or 6 years I’ve been picking here, maybe the hot June then a wet July has been perfect for the berries – an amazing crop anyway. And lovely in a crumble with a few apples.


We all know how important diversity is today. For some years, the procurement profession has seen fairly equal male / female split amongst its new MCIPS members. Indeed, I remember the year I handed out the certificates to new graduates (2003?) and the balance was almost exactly 50:50. So I was shocked to realise the blatant bias in the make-up of the CIPS Global Board of Trustees. How can we be happy when there is a clear over-representation of one sex? Yes, there are currently 9 women on the Board and only 6 men! It’s just not acceptable, and we demand that one and half women are fired immediately and replaced by blokes.

Actually, joking aside, CIPS should be very happy, indeed proud, that it has got to this point, and without any great “positive discrimination” policies or efforts as far as I am aware. It’s just sort of happened, and is all the better for that. But isn’t it about time we had another female President? It’s been five years now since the most recent of our (only) 4 female CIPS leaders, with only 2 in the last ten years...


Congratulations to Proactis and Perfect Commerce who announced that the acquisition / merger we reported on here has gone through. “We will continue to build, maintain and operate one of the world’s largest, most robust business networks.  That network will be the backbone and primary integration point for all our solutions – it will be a common element for all buyer and seller customers”.  We’ll have more from the new Proactis shortly.


On a less happy CIPS connected note – according to the FT, the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO)  is now investigating the payments made by Rio Tinto in 2011 to a consultant working on an iron ore project in Guinea. Some have suggested this was a back-door way of bribing the country’s leader to award the firm mining rights. This was already being investigated in Australia, following the firm reporting itself to the authorities last November, but now the SFO is getting involved too, somewhat belatedly. That might bring additional pressure on to Sam Walsh, ex Rio Tinto CEO and now CIPS President, who is caught up in the affair. We suggested here that he should think hard about whether to stand down from that CIPS role, although it is hard to see that the accusations have damaged him or CIPS significantly in subsequent months. But a UK investigation, closer to CIPS’ home, as it were, might lead to renewed questions.


We’ve followed the mixed fortunes of services procurement platform provider blur Group over the last few years as the shares boomed and then collapsed, and the firm almost went under a couple of months ago. But new investment has been found, enough for 12 months of running costs probably, and finally, the Board has kicked out founder Philip Letts, whose nonsense about the firm, with its minimal revenues, being the “Amazon for business services” did nothing for its credibility. He sold shares worth millions as the share price peaked and put nothing backed as it dropped from 800p to 3p! Laurence Cook is the new CEO and has a pretty sensible cv – I wonder whether he might want to talk to us (Letts never did). We still have doubts about the business model for the services buying platform, but we remain open minded.


Glen Campbell died this week, aged 81. He was an effortless singer, and a brilliant interpreter of Jimmy Webb’s songs like by the By The Time I Get To Phoenix and Wichita Lineman – his were truly great performances of those classics.  He was an in-demand session musician before he became a star himself, and it was only recently, to my shame, that I discovered why; basically, he was just one of the best guitarists ever. If that sounds like a bit of an exaggeration, just listen to this. Not my favourite type of music – bit too jazz really – but the guitar solo which starts after 30 seconds or so is just mind-blowing. No fancy electronics either, just a man and a guitar. Look up some of his other guitar work on YouTube – just brilliant.

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  1. Steve Pannell:

    Apparently Glen and Alice Cooper were really close friends. There is a lovely interview with Alice Cooper on YouTube (11 minutes long) where he talks about his friendship with Glen. Well worth a look. Also there is also a video of a Live TV programme involving him and some of the Country Greats where he plays a guitar solo in ‘Gentle on my mind’. It clearly blew everyone away. Even if you didn’t like his style of music you can’t help but be impressed by his amazing expertise on guitar.

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