‘If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing’
Steve Brown is a highly respected procurement leader who has formed and subsequently led a procurement function of over 20 people within a complex multibillion dollar FMCG environment. He is recognised within the industry for having an outstanding balance in delivering results with a focus on relationship management and driving winning outcomes across commercial, social and environmental imperatives. Steve shared with The Source his views on a number of key talking points in today’s procurement profession.
Being well recognised as a great developer of people, why is this important to you and what is your approach?
I believe it is vital for any procurement leader to find ways of differentiating their organisation to ensure they are considered as an employer of choice. The talent pool is limited and not sustainable for an organisation to differentiate themselves purely on remuneration. As a result, investing in the development of people is essential in attracting and retaining your most important assets. Improved retention rates increase your internal brand equity and, in turn, help to build stakeholder confidence.
My approach is to constantly encourage team members to challenge and improve themselves through personal development, this is a very rewarding part of a leadership role.
In your opinion, what are the main issues effecting today’s procurement profession?
The talent shortage in this profession is a major issue and more needs to be done to address this problem. At a grass roots level, the quality of education on offer is poor and is still far behind our counterparts in the UK and US. In the long term, greater emphasis on defining educational paths for procurement can help bolster the talent pool and alleviate the talent shortage and offer a more structured route into the profession.
Another prominent issue is procurement’s identity at board level. In my opinion it is far from where it should be. Given the current economic conditions, organisations are less inclined to take risks. As a result, organisations continually revert to back to what that know, and that is having an organisation that is run by a CFO.
5 tips for a procurement professional moving to a senior leadership role?
• Be authentic and transparent- It is important to be genuine. The procurement market is small and very connected and it is important for people to know what you stand for. Carefully select your core values and don’t compromise them, even when you are under pressure.
• Be time conscious- Spend your time at work wisely and ensure you are always adding value to your organisation, not contributing to cost.
• Continuously improve yourself- find ways of further developing knowledge and skills.
• Be a confident communicator- honing in on your communication skills is a critical success factor in any role.
• Know your numbers- demonstrate that you understand how your function adds value to an organisation.