SABMiller – recruiting for a truly global procurement organisation

Chris Taylor is an example of a new breed of procurement recruitment managers who are playing a truly significant and strategic role in developing their organisations’ procurement capability and capacity.  With a previous career as a "head-hunter" no less, for the last few years he has been in-house with SABMiller, producer of iconic drinks brands such as Peroni, Miller, Coors and Grolsch. He's been building a global procurement team, and has recruited "over 100 professionals" for Trinity Procurement (as the procurement operation is called) in that time.

Taylor is one of the speakers at the Procurement Talent conference on March 6th in London, which I’m chairing, and based on my half an hour chatting to him the other day, his presentation will be interesting and stimulating.

SABMiller have annual revenues of $31 billion, so as you might imagine, the procurement team are spending significant billions of dollars / pounds /Euros annually. Their wholly-owned global procurement organisation , named Trinity Procurement to give it a clear legal and business identity, is responsible for over $5 billion annual spend and includes a central team in Zug, Switzerland, as well as procurement offices in South Africa, Melbourne, Australia and Latin America   - and, rather less glamorously,  even a handful of category managers in Woking, Surrey!

My conversation with Taylor covered a fair bit of ground, but let's focus on two points, which he also plans to cover at the event. The first concerned career planning and experience for aspiring procurement leaders.  SABMiller are large enough to offer a procurement professional  a career from data analyst – the level at which many new starters join – right through to category managers, senior team leaders and up to CPO level.  But there are some requirements for progression.

"For someone who wants to be a senior category leader or even more senior positions, it is essential that they have worked in different regions. Someone who has only worked in Europe for instance just would not be credible - or equipped - for a top global job these days" he says. So there's  something to bear in mind for young professionals, certainly if you're aspiring to the top in major private sector firms.

And for the very top jobs, experience outside the procurement function is also a positive.

“We’ve had people moving into the logistics and supply chain area, for instance, or if they’re technical or Capex buyers, a stint in plant management may be an option”.

But he recognises there is a tension between the organisation wanting to get the most out of deep specialists, in their core roles, so that has to be balanced against the personal benefits staff can gain from a rotation.

The second issue concerned a key point for those interviewing potential recruits in a global environment. I admit that wasn't something I'd particularly thought about.

"We've learnt that we have to be culturally sensitive when we interview. For instance, British and Americans are very quick to tell you about their personal achievements - to the point of exaggeration at times. Whereas the Germans and Swiss tend to stress their work with the team and be less focused on their individual or personal achievement."

Interesting - I guess we all know someone who at interview has turned a two week holiday getting stoned in Morocco, into a detailed review of low-cost sourcing options in an emerging North African offshore supply location...  well, apparently, candidates from some countries are less likely to engage in that behaviour than others!

Anyway, Taylor has a wealth of useful and interesting experience that he communicates in a very engaging manner - I think he'll be well worth hearing at the event on March 6th.

And remember our special offer for Spend Matters readers - to book and access, on the conference homepage scroll down to the ‘Buy Tickets’ box and click the yellow button in the bottom left hand corner titled ‘Click here to enter a promotion code’.  Add the discount code – SpendMatters – in the box and click OK. The discounted Spend Matters reader rate of £350 will appear in the registration box. Complete the booking. See you there!

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