In February 2015, I attended the 8th Annual ProcureCon Indirect East conference in Orlando, FL. This conference is hosted globally. There are two main events in the US and one in Europe. The conference was well attended with approximately 300 procurement professionals (+100 exhibitors).
I was able to network with a number of procurement leaders from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, RJ Reynolds, Cox Communications, Southern Wine, Amway, Eastman Chemical, Diebold, American Cancer Society, Home Depot and Godiva Chocolate. The common topics of conversation were around stakeholder management, talent development, general strategy and of course … Vietnam (your truly).
There were some exclusive events for the “CPO Network”. The group consists of approximately 30 CPOs from companies with at least $1B in revenue.
The list of CPO Network presentations/roundtable topics were:
- Becoming a Better CPO (Alan Rice)
- Mitigating Supply Disruption (Larry Wood)
- Convert Data Into Intelligence (Carol Danoff)
- Making the Next CPO (Elisabeth Schlag Lawrence).
The discussion was thoughtful and it was good to hear from my peers about some of the challenges they faced. It is noteworthy that many challenges/issues facing a Procurement group are not industry-specific but can be found across many different industries e.g. Hi Tech, Financial Services, Manufacturing, Consumer/Retail etc.
I have to admit one of my favorite events was a wine tasting hosted by Omni’s sommelier. We tasted South American wines starting with a Brut (sparkling) and ending with a strong full-body Cabernet Sauvignon. I sat next to Ken (Amway) and somehow the bottles got stuck between the two of us. In particular the bottles of Malbec from Mendoza were delicious.
I made two presentations at the conference.
Presentation 1: Overcoming Talent Shortages To Build Your Optimal Team (60 min) had 30-40 attendees. The group’s level of procurement experiences went the full spectrum from associate to CPO level. The age range was from millennial to the baby-boomers. The session was very interactive with lots of input from the audience. I took the group through the skill inventory and experience assessment (to determine what they need), discussed where can they acquire these skills (e.g. schools, competitors, line of business), shared how would they can sell their group to candidates (e.g. career, compensation, non-comp benefits, flexibility) and finally discussed employee retention methods (e.g. continuous development, career path, exposure). The group focused on the needs of the Millennial Generation which we believe is the next group to develop to fill our slots.
Presentation 2: How To Build A Successful Strategic Sourcing Organization From The Ground Up In Turbulent Times (30 min) with 100-120 attendees. I structured the entire presentation around questions posed to the audience. Point of fact, my whole PPT presentation consisted of exactly eight questions.
- Strategic questions:
- What sourcing solution does your company need?
- How can you fund your solution?
- Operational questions:
- How will you build the perfect team?
- What services will you offer?
- How will you engage your customers?
- Tactical questions:
- How will you track savings or get recognition?
- Do you need an eProcurement solution?
- How can you be more strategic and proactive?
The second presentation went really well. Afterwards, at least 20 people surrounded me to ask follow up questions or discuss some of the points in details.
Overall, the conference was a good networking opportunity for me. I was able to make some good contacts as well as share a more “progressive” approach to Procurement with a broader audience. I also was able to tell the Vietnam offshore story to a couple of CPOs which resulted in two follow-up presentations for a Vietnamese offshore provider.