Sigi Osagie – Author and Procurement Provocateur (part 1)

Sigi Osagie's story is an unusual one for a senior procurement and supply chain executive. He came to England from his native country of Nigeria, and found a job "cleaning floors in Häagen-Dazs" in Leicester Square. He paid his own way through university (in Greenwich) and a degree in Manufacturing Systems Engineering. Finding the "business" elements of the course, around process, logistics and supply chain, more interesting than the more purist engineering elements, he got a job as Materials Manager in a small manufacturing firm, with the task to implement an MRP system.

From there his career blossomed, with Supply Chain Director roles ultimately at Marconi and a string of high-profile interim director level roles, and a blossoming career as a coach and speaker. He's now written his first book, Procurement Mojo – Strengthening the Function and Raising its Profile.”

As he says, "this is not a book for beginners. It is aimed at where most procurement functions are today, established but struggling to step up to the practical challenges that many face -- getting stakeholders on board and achieving change."

We will be reviewing the book soon, but in the meantime, he agreed to be the latest in our series of "Procurement Provocateur" interviewees.

When did you decide procurement was for you?

I started studying production engineering in Nigeria, really because my Father directed me that way. In England, I quickly decided I enjoyed the systems and process side of my degree course most, so when I got my first job, implementing the MRP system, I was confident, I thought I knew it all. But I quickly realised that academic knowledge does not give you credibility with the shop floor! I got demotivated to begin with, but as I learnt more about handling people and those soft issues, I realised that I loved the combination of process and people in procurement and supply chain roles. I am a six sigma black belt, I enjoy the left brain activities, but the soft side of achieving results is just as important to me.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

My boss in that first job, Hugh Humphrey, was very important. He let me get on with it, but when I ran into problems, as I said, he mentored me and helped me connect with people and learn how to influence and work successfully with people. It was a small business and he showed me that it is results that count - I left there with the focus on delivery and people I have kept all my career.

Then Ray Packe at Marconi helped me master organisational savvy in a much larger company. He schooled me in organisational dynamics and how to leverage relationships in large firms to achieve results. But I have also learnt a lot from various books. My favourite is Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist - I still go back to that regularly.

How did you become a successful procurement professional?

I think that ability to balance both sides of the job - the analytical and the people-related - helped me succeed. Determination plays a large part too. I was ambitious and wanted to do well, I had an ambition to be a Supply Chain Director by the time I was 35, and at GE Marconi I made it. So then I felt successful - but I would say that defining "successful" is an interesting question. What do we mean? Is it your bank balance, how big your car is?

I don't now believe that it is. I believe it is about living every day to the fullest and trying to do your best in whatever you do. We only have one life, we have to make the most of it. By my own definition, I have always been successful, because that is what I have always tried to do.


On that philosophical note, we will leave Osagie for now - we'll continue our Procurement Provocateur interview with him tomorrow. And you can buy his book, Procurement Mojo, here.

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First Voice

  1. Nick @ Market Dojo:

    Fantastic title! Reminds me of a tweet we did some years back:

    What a great story of personal development. Will add the book to my Xmas present list.

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