Down the Procurement Pub with Pigs, Presidents Club, Leslie Campbell and Mark E Smith

I had a most enjoyable early evening beer or two with an old friend yesterday, before the volume in the Telegraph Fullers pub off Moorgate hit critical deafness point (so much for “dry January”, post Xmas downturns, etc).  He has been working on a major public sector contract, not super top secret but confidential enough that he did not want to be named / pictured … Anyway, he reckons he has saved the public purse tens of millions by a) getting a supplier to do what the contract said they would do and b) well, that’s pretty much it really! A lack of contract management discipline over many years, apparently, and either a bit depressing that this still happens or a positive sign that matters can be turned around somewhat. He’s not on a percentage of savings though, sadly for him.

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Pig World, the “voice of the British Pig industry” tells us that National Pig Association chairman Richard Lister met MP Kevin Hollinrake, who works for agriculture Minister Michael Gove, and talked about championing British pigs in a the post-Brexit world.  “I said the pig industry had always felt let down by the Public Procurement Regulation (PPR) in the way it was written to enable Departments to buy on cost rather than to British standards. That needs to change if the Government is realistic about using Brexit to highlight and build on our high production standards,” said Lister.  This is indicative of the way all sorts of special interest groups think that public procurement can help them once the UK leaves the EU. We’ll have to see …

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And with no linkage at all to pigs, the trouble around the all-male Presidents Club dinner in London made me gasp – mainly at the fact that there still are such events. I have NEVER been to an all-male business dinner and I would in all honesty rather go to the dentists or shopping in Primark. The couple of times I have accidentally ended up on an all-male table at a CIPS dinner or similar (yes, it has happened) it has been a pretty dull evening compared to my “most fun” dinners. No offence to my male friends, but it is diverse people, with different views, experiences and ideas that makes an evening of conversation fun, and a bunch of middle aged, white, male procurement folk is I’m afraid not the most exciting way to spend the evening – for me anyway. So I just do not get the mentality - and I can just imagine how I would hate my daughter to have been any part of that ill-judged evening.

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On a somewhat connected note, our colleagues at Spend Matters US are running an interview with Leslie Campbell, a (female) ex CPO who is now on the Coupa Board of Directors. There’s some good stuff from her both around procurement tech and thoughts on diversity – “I think the most innovative leaders will look beyond traditional procurement roles to find talent and skills in unusual places, and then port that talent into the procurement disciplines. Building a truly diverse organization takes a concerted effort, both in the initial recruiting process and in the melding and ongoing management of a team with multidimensional dynamics”.  Read more here and here .

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I was a regular evening DJ in Cambridge University Radio’s inaugural year of 1978 when we had a listening audience of – well, no-one really. We didn’t have a proper broadcasting licence initially, so only people within about 50 yards of the studio, in a basement room in Churchill College, could hear us. I featured pretty much the sort of punk and related stuff John Peel played plus some pop and rock (Bowie, Warren Zevon etc) that might have been a bit tame for Mr Peel. My theme tune was The Pretenders “Stop Your Sobbing", which will greet the mourners at my funeral one day, and I loved this Fall track (below) and played it every week I was on.

I never got into The Fall in the way their real fans did, and this is one of their more accessible (yet still chaotic) songs, but I always appreciated Mark E Smith as some sort of crazy genius, even if I wouldn’t often choose to listen to the band. But sad news this week – he was only 60, so R.I.P. Mr Smith, and if you listen to the final verse of this, let’s hope his gravestone will indeed read “Bingo Masters Break Out”.

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