“The ability to use analytical skills, alongside my competitive nature, means I’ve never looked back” ©John Gasser/BAE Systems Ltd
“The ability to use analytical skills, alongside my competitive nature, means I’ve never looked back” ©John Gasser/BAE Systems Ltd

This is who I am: Steven Mills, BAE Systems

26 July 2019

The procurement and supply chain director of BAE Systems maritime services talks to SM

How did you get into procurement?
I joined from school as a buyer on an apprentice scheme, and took a job with training for professional exams. I began in construction and was hooked from the start. The ability to use analytical skills alongside my competitive nature means I’ve never looked back. 

For you, was it engineering or procurement?
Procurement all the way – but a strong engineering understanding is critical. A change in a resistor on a printed circuit board could mean a product safety requalification on a radar system, or counterfeit materials in the supply chain could mean a life support system doesn’t operate as it should. An understanding of the impact helps ensure a right-first-time quality culture among my teams.

What does an average day look like for you?
Is there one? This week has been split around business strategy planning and executive recruitment, alongside supporting some of our STEM ambassadors in engaging with local schools.

The best part of my job is…
…the possibilities. We have such a wide reach. My work covers the most modern of warships (HMS Queen Elizabeth) and some of the oldest, including Admiral Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory, built between 1759 and 1765.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
“If opportunities don’t come your way, create them.” You may not always be in the position to control an outcome but you can influence it. My advice for junior procurement professionals would be: deliver and deliver well. And get yourself a mentor.

What’s the biggest thing that’s gone wrong at work?
Early on, saying ‘yes’ to too much. Now I choose which tasks play to my department’s strengths. 

The future of procurement is....
…changing. Procurement will need to continue financial control and contract management but also become the custodian of sustainable business models.

If you were marooned on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
Factor 50 sunscreen, a large beach towel and my wife. Failing that, Bear Grylls.

What is at the top of your bucket list?
The Northern Lights at Lyngen fjord, Norway.

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