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Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Quick Q&A with Jordan Sampietro

Jordan Sampietro - CEO Sustainable Procurement Strategies, CaliforniaJordan is Founder and CEO of green strategic procurement consultancy Sustainable Procurement Strategies based in Silicon Valley, California, which advises clients on a full spectrum of CSR and green issues in their global supply and procurement operations. He has over 20 years in international procurement and supply management.

What are your main sources of inspiration?

Curious, smart, and focused people who see the world as a place of unlimited possibility.

Mike Lewis (University of Bath) proclaiming that procurement leaders are highly skilled generalists and a perfect fit for Chief Executive leadership. There should be more of us in the top spots.

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing at the moment?

I see companies that seem completely paralyzed, unable to make important strategic decisions and smart, swift changes which will directly link to their very survival in the following year.

Sustainable procurement can add immediate and sustained value especially in the current economic setting, yet is sometimes seen as an optional effort by many companies. Yes, you heard that right, green and responsible procurement methods can save your company.

What initiatives are you seeing for using green products in the supply chain?

It’s obvious that there seems to be two main emerging product trends. One trend is a wholesale re-positioning of many products to tout their green-ness with sustainability as a way to sell, but some green claims are very thin.

The more wonderful second trend is a genuine move towards sustainable cradle-to-cradle product design and the incorporation of sustainable practices that include all facets of CSR such as good labour practices, recycled content and organic farming. As positive as this effort is, we are still not moving fast enough to confront climate change.

What has President Obama’s election done for green procurement policies?

There’s a lot of general excitement around green business and sustainability. After a reasonable period of patience I think we can expect very strong progress in sustainable and green supply chain.

What makes for good CSR? And bad?

Good CSR must meet both social and organisational goals. Bad CSR is the opposite where strategy and alignment are absent, and CSR efforts looks like burning money through wasting talent and resources. Make sure your strategic initiatives are completely aligned.

What are your favourite business books?

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins – Massive research project identifies rare traits of the very few highest performing companies.

“The Entrepreneurs Manual” by Richard M. White – Silicon Valley’s Old Testament with painstaking strategy and planning blueprint – very entertaining to read as well.

“Self-Help” by Samuel Smiles – Hardscrabble British entrepreneurs during Industrial Revolution celebrates true solid character

“How To Manage a Turnaround” by Stanley J Goodman – Management excellence.

“The Seven Mysteries of Life” by Guy Murchie – Not a business book but a lifelong work of art that connects everything via science. At it’s root business is an organic process.

What might you ask a fellow Supply Chain professional here?

What keeps you from volunteering at least one hour a month to a professional organisation, cause, or charity that you believe in?

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Change Management: the most valuable skills in a recession?

You might think that change managers with good soft skills would be valued highly. In a shrinking economy, companies that are efficient and adapt to changing circumstances have the best chance of survival. Many will downsize or introduce new working methods, and some will continue to invest, introducing new technology and working practices to drive efficiencies. They also may outsource or off shore, but either way change is inevitable within the business and the way it is managed critical to its success.

Some companies will recruit external managers to implement their change programmes; others will recruit from within. When deciding who to entrust with managing the business change employers always look at track record but I have seen a shift in attitude towards the value placed on soft skills when recruiting.

A year ago advertisements were very clearly highlighting the need for soft skills. The technical skills needed for the job were given, but experience of delivering communications programmes and having excellent stakeholder management skills were desired differentiators for candidates. Now that is changing. Advertisers home in on the ‘doing’ traits, the deliverable, requiring ‘demonstrable experience’ sometimes going so far as stipulating the number of projects, their currency, and requiring similarity of industry/company type.

Perhaps this is because project timescales have shortened, or costs squeezed so the nice to haves are left behind. As Gerald Price of Change Track says ‘Companies are not averse to bringing in new people but they expect them to come equipped with real life experience and the ability to quickly assess how to achieve the required goal and thereafter to provide the skills and determination to actually deliver what they say’.

Perhaps other factors are at work. Everyone is taking a precautionary approach. With a larger pool of candidates, employers are expecting the successful applicant to fulfil over 95% of their requirements in their skills/experience matrix whereas they would have previously expected a 70% match. This means the job requirements become more stringent, to help filter the candidates and reduce the workload through the selection process.

The focus moves to the ‘what’ rather than the ‘how’, and the ‘been there, done it’ experience. Making the candidates tick more boxes to succeed reduces the chances of a wild card succeeding and often leads to a more transactional style of working, but this is already being factored into corporate behaviour before the recruitment process starts. After all when jobs are on the line people are more willing to tolerate a more direct approach and employers welcome candidates who take the hard tack.

Gone are the benign metaphors for business as an orchestra or as a team sport. The new metaphor for business is boxing. Harvard Business Review (Mar 09) reflects the need for employees to be able to absorb blows and matches agility against absorption like the Ali Foreman fight. Quoting Lucy Kellaway of the FT: ‘soft is out, and hard is in’.

Our thanks to Heather Northey of N:management

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Community Building

As a busy consultancy we’re in touch with a lot of people every day. Through our clients and candidates we’re able to see at first hand the day to day runnings of the Supply Chain community and how it relates to worldwide events and trading conditions.

But keeping on top of everything isn’t easy. What with time demands and the sheer barrage of information to process, it can be hard to keep a proper perspective on what’s most useful in our working lives.

This new blog gives us the chance to add a focus point for sharing stories and ideas, discussing events and focusing on more of the upsides of working in the Supply Chain sector.

It’s a chance for you to join in with your thoughts and experiences as well as shaping the dialogue by telling us more of what you’d like to see featured here. 

And it’s a chance for us all to connect together a little more.  

We hope to see you back here soon!

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  • Recent comments
    • Eucharia Ogochukwu Udeh on Quick Q&A with Gavin Herman

    • Dear Gavin, Am very delighted to read you. I am writing from Nigeria. I am a supply chain professional with strong experience in Procurement. Good supplier mgt is a relationship thing between the supplier and the customer. Putting the relationship guideline in place and conforming with it. Respecting the contract provisions. Nurture the relationship with the understanding of each others processes and attributable challenges. Supplier management must have a human face. Avoid being too mechanical. The benefit is huge: Your quality is maintained Steady supply Credit facilities Speed to market is improved Improved innovation Lower TCO Happy customers Good brand image Etc It will hit your bottom line It will show in the COS Increased volume of sales Measurement: COS before and after innovation KPI impact before and after implementation and corrective measure Etc I will like get get your feedback on my suggestions. Thank you. Best regards, Eucharia
    • Juergen Michael Becker on Dealing with nerves at interviews

    • in this southeast-asian environment, people have developed a technique of re-routing this nervousness or excess energy through one of the legs onto the floor. hardly visible to the counterpart in the discussion, this is done by a fast vibration (up and down movement) of the leg with only the toes as the connecting point to the ground. it seems to work wonders in any stress situation like job interview, negtiation or critique discussion, especially in the chinese business community.
    • Jeremy Walker on Community Building

    • Looking forward to being around!
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