Sigi Osagie – Author and Procurement Provocateur (part 2)

Here is part 2 of our Procurement Provocateurs interview with Sigi Osagie (part 1 was here). His book Procurement Mojo - Strengthening the Function and Raising its Profile” has recently been published (and will be reviewed shortly here as well).


What advice would you give a young procurement professional?

Well, first of all, I will say that you should take what I say with a pinch of salt! Any advice, wherever it comes from, is not applicable to everyone. So let things percolate in your brain. Try things out, form your own opinions. But here are my thoughts - five points.

  • Be clear on your own career goals - if you don't know where you are heading, you could end up in Brighton when you wanted to be in London. Have a clear sense of direction.
  • Embrace the principles of effectiveness. You must understand what needs doing to get from a to b. That concept of effectiveness is at the core of my book too.
  • Learn new skills, relevant to your goals, seek out opportunities, and be proactive - don't wait for things to happen to you.
  • Invest in yourself - most people spend more money on their Sky TV subscription than they do on their own career development! Think about how important that development is to your future - it is worth investing in it.
  • You have to believe in yourself - without being arrogant, you must know that you have what it takes to succeed. And don’t let anyone tell you different; not even yourself.

Why should organisations care about procurement?

Procurement people and the function have a big role to play in making sure the organisation cares. Procurement PR I call it, having ambassadors who can represent procurement. You might have a good product but if nobody knows about it... Relating procurement to the strategic objectives of the business is vital. When I worked at BAA we were going through big corporate changes, so I used the language of EBITDA and profitability in my communications, talking about what the business was concerned with. Of course, more and more of the value chain lies outside the organisation now in most firms, there is more outsourcing, so procurement is now often the biggest impact on a firm's profitability. That should make people care!

Where is procurement going?

We are seeing broader business thinking in procurement. Apple is an example, getting a robust and aligned supply chain that is core to their success. If you consider successful businesses today, they tend to have enhanced and advanced procurement practices. The recession helped in some ways, putting the focus on procurement and the contribution to the bottom line, but there are also the growing issues of reputational risk, ethics and CSR which have also increased procurement's importance. I believe the trend will continue, globalisation keeps shrinking the world, technology changes faster - all factors that help procurement to show its value. The procurement profession has come a long way but not all procurement functions will shine. The ones that do will take the right actions and focus on effectiveness. They will invest in talent, help their people sharpen their skills, and they will make sure they are organisationally savvy. Others will struggle. -------------- Thanks to Sigi Osagie for his insights and thoughts - his book Procurement Mojo is now available. It looks very good at first sight, but look out for our full review shortly, and thanks to him for sparing the time for our conversation.

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