"The difference between private and public sector is quite small," says Marco Salzedo ©Peter Spinney
"The difference between private and public sector is quite small," says Marco Salzedo ©Peter Spinney

This is who I am: Marco Salzedo

The Government Commercial Function's director of commercial & contract management capability, Marco Salzedo, talks to SM

How I got into procurement…
I started in sales. I realised that if I could buy the consumables better I would improve margin, and switched from selling to buying. I spent more than 15 years in leadership roles in telecoms, including at BT.

How I got my current role…
I was asked if I fancied the challenge of improving procurement capability across 4,500 people in central government. I couldn’t say no…

The difference between private and public sector…
Is quite small. The challenges facing commercial professionals are similar: how do you ensure value for money? How do you make sure procurement is in the room at the start? For public procurement, the governance structure is tighter and more open to public scrutiny. In some cases government is the only “buyer”, which brings an interesting dynamic. If you are successful in one sector, you can be in the other. 

My current top challenges…
Helping upskill our procurement professionals to be commercially fit for the future, enabling them to add value in discussions with stakeholders on new technologies like AI and robotics. And making government a more attractive place to work that means we can continue to attract talented people.

The best advice I ever received…
When you are considering a promotion or a change, think about how that change will give you the skills and experience you need for the role after this one.

My advice to junior procurement professionals…
Grab every opportunity to experience different categories early on, before deciding to specialise.

Why consider a move to the public sector…
The breadth of what government buys is enormous. If you want to work in an environment which is complex and big, but where you can make a difference beyond savings, government commercial is the place to be. 

The biggest mistake I have made…
I turned down a sideways move and missed the chance to gain new experience. I saw my peers move on, while I didn’t. Now I always look at the big picture.

What I would take to a desert island…
Spotify, my Kindle, and an SM subscription, so I can keep up to date.

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