"When I moved to the UAE, I didn't know anyone, so each week I would do something outside my comfort zone." Louise Mitchell. ©Wise Monkeys Productions
"When I moved to the UAE, I didn't know anyone, so each week I would do something outside my comfort zone." Louise Mitchell. ©Wise Monkeys Productions

This is who I am: Louise Mitchell

PepsiCo's procurement director, capability & productivity AMEA, talks to SM about her experiences in the profession 

How I got into procurement...
My first job was in admin in procurement at a small manufacturing company called Buko – they made shopping trolleys and baskets. I then moved to Sun Microsystems as a buyer. There, the world became a smaller place as I started to work globally. I had to develop cultural sensitivity, curiosity and openness.

My top tips for an overseas posting...
Choose the right employer – one who will offer support in setting up a new home, visas, banking etc. Embrace the change. You have chosen a new way of living and working, so be open and turn negatives into a learning experience. Be realistic. You will experience emotional extremes, one minute enjoying your new environment, the next feeling homesick. Try to see the best in the opportunity you’ve been given. I’m here by choice and I remind myself of that. Most of all – be patient. That’s my biggest challenge.

To embed yourself into a new culture...
When I moved to the UAE I didn’t know anyone, so each week I would take on a personal challenge and do something outside my comfort zone. To meet people and try new experiences, I had to become more socially adaptive. Soon my social circle grew and I was doing activities that I’d always dreamed of.

The best advice I ever received...
Always stay true to yourself and don’t try to be someone you are not. I have had to stand up for my own values, holding onto my personal integrity. Being true to myself has made me more confident.

My advice to others....
Never stop learning. It helps your career and enriches your personal life by keeping your mind active.

The future of procurement is....
Automation. At least 75% of what we do will be replaced by automation within the next five years. We will need to be much more innovative, agile and creative. Procurement will be more strategy-oriented, requiring more collaboration. Many of these changes will be technology-driven, and we can see the inception of these transformative trends already.

What I would take to a desert island....
Music to relax me. Sketch pad and pencils – I sketch dress designs and visit countries with beautiful material shops. And a bottle of gin – you can take the girl out of Scotland but never Scotland out of the girl.

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