Down the Procurement Pub With CIPS, Laura Forzani, and The Big Moon

This is me and old friend, Alan Thomson, who has spent the last few years teaching negotiating (mainly to sales people) with the Gap Partnership and now is headed off into the wonderful world of working for himself principally as a coach / mentor - he will be excellent.  We had lunch at the lovely and traditional Good Intent pub in Puttenham village in Surrey. Ham, egg and chips and an excellent pint of T.E.A. from the very local Hogsback Brewery.

We ( that's Alan and I, not T.E.A. and me) first met as youngsters at Mars Confectionery, back in the 1980s, then his subsequent career was largely in top sales roles. During that time he developed a healthy dislike of procurement people – surprising we stayed friends really. I’d like to think he has changed his views - well, maybe! I asked him yesterday for the one negotiating tip he would give to procurement people and he said … well actually, what he said was very interesting, so we will save it for an article next week.


Oh no! I’m too late! What a tragedy for CIPS – I was too late seeing the advert for the CIPS Chief Executive role, as applications closed earlier this week. It was a pretty demanding job spec to be honest and one that clearly I didn’t fit, joking aside. CIPS wants a “charismatic business leader, experienced at C-Suite level with the organisational experience to understand the issues facing the procurement function in Corporates and the Public Sector”.  It also asks for “Experience of leading global organisations including subsidiaries”.  It’s all good stuff although the irony is it rules out any CPO from applying and David Noble (the previous CEO, who sadly died earlier this year) would not have met this specification. Yet he proved to be a very effective CEO in most people’s estimation.


Sad news for the public sector, with Laura Forzani (née Langstaff) leaving her role as Procurement Supremo for Orbis, the shared service for Surrey, East Sussex and Brighton Councils to go to KPMG. We spoke to her briefly this week. “After almost 8 years at Surrey County Council I'm moving on, and leaving the Orbis shared procurement service in the very capable hands of an experienced senior team, headed by Ross Duguid, who will be taking the lead as Acting Assistant Director for Procurement. I’m really proud of both the integration journey we’ve been through and the fantastic procurement function at Orbis. But having been offered a really exciting opportunity in the Commercial Management team at KPMG, I’ve decided it is the right time for my next personal challenge.”

We still have hopes that maybe one day Laura will come back to help the public sector and taxpayer further; with that blue-chip private sector experience behind her, perhaps it might be as government’s Chief Commercial Officer one day? I first met her when she won the CIPS Young Purchaser of the Year award in 2006 and she’s continued on that impressive trajectory; we’ll hear more from her I’m sure and we wish her all the best for the new role.


We first tipped The Big Moon here two years ago after seeing them on the Introducing Stage for new bands at Reading Festival (along with about 50 other audience members…), and their excellent album was one of the deserved “surprises” on the Hyundai Mercury Music Prize shortlist announced recently. It’s not a bad list; Big Moon, Blossoms and Glass Animals are all favourites of ours, although if you want a straight-ahead indie album for the list we would have gone for Sundara Karma rather than Blossoms.

Laura Marling should probably be on the list as well, but she is too low-key to ever win it so perhaps not much point including her despite her massive talent.  Sampha is a predictable but deserved nomination; he is a potential winner. Ed Sheeran is included more for commercial success than artistic merit, we suspect, although other members of my family would disagree! Two previous winners make the list; the XX and Alt-J albums are good, if not those artists’ best works (so probably won’t win), then there are a few rap / grime / hiphop artists and a bit of jazz, none of which I can really comment on with any expertise - but Stormzy seems a likely winner, and Kate Tempest would be a decent choice.  Anyway, here is The Big Moon.  They have a real sense of humour too which we like a lot.



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