Thoughts from the powder room……

We have something a little different for you , starting today. "Thoughts from the powder room" comes from a senior, female procurement practitioner, who, for reasons that may become obvious, wishes to remain anonymous. She'll be writing regularly, giving us perhaps a slightly different perspective on life as a woman in the procurement fast lane....

We were once again at full compliment for last month’s ‘Deals in Heels’ quarterly Network meeting now that Zara was back from her sabbatical.  (It may not be on the golf course, like the typical chaps’ networking event, but it’s fun anyway).

Anyway, Zara’s husband Richard, having received a golden goodbye from one of the big 4 consultancies last year, had embarked upon a series of international speaking engagements and visits to Michelin starred restaurants, so Zara had joined him and seized the opportunity to complete her MBA.

Ginny was on the ball as always and so gave Zara, who is ex public sector herself,  a 2-minute update on Public Sector Procurement changes including the continuing trend for appointing ex-industry players into the senior CPO positions.  Zara thought that the commercial decision making which these new Private Sector peers were able to bring, coupled with the experience of the existing teams, should make for a really good partnership.  I nodded and added that perhaps this partnership would lead to better commercial handling of suppliers and improved procurement performance management across the Sector.  That said, we did wonder how the expectations of Government could be delivered by what is clearly still a developing capability.  And Laura, who has little time for the public sector, said that “the new guys all go native within months anyway”!

As our host ushered us into the Boardroom, Charlie, who is due to start her maternity leave soon, mentioned that she’d found her latest revenue generating project - breadcrumbs!  We all looked puzzled. Well, whispered Charlie, “as I have to make so many crustless sandwiches every week for the cricket club matches” (Charlie’s husband Lawrence is a keen cricketer and Charlie enjoys taking part as she says it’s excellent for networking), “I’ve started to make the ‘rejected’ crusts into herby breadcrumbs and I sell them at the matches - ‘Charlie’s Cricket Crusts' at £5 per pot”.  Brilliant!

So as we took our seats and settled down to discuss the finer points of procurement, I wondered whether this type of entrepreneurship might be helpful in accelerating Public Sector Procurement capability - and why it was that so few senior public sector procurement positions were currently held by women... even after all these years...

"Thoughts from the Powder Room" is written by a (female) senior procurement practitioner

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