Buyers more popular than ever, says ISM keynote speaker

26 April 2010

26 April 2010 | Rebecca Ellinor in San Diego

The past 12 months has been the finest year for the purchasing and supply profession, according to Angel Mendez, senior vice-president of customer value chain management at Cisco.

Addressing delegates at the 95th annual Institute for Supply Management conference in San Diego, Mendez said: “We have stood up in our companies and become more popular than ever before. There’s nothing like a very sharp recession followed by a very sharp recovery followed by a whole series of natural disasters.”

He said far from being depressed about having to face difficulties presented by, for example, this month’s volcanic eruption in Iceland and the closure of airspace that followed, he lived for such challenges. He said he wanted staff who had the same attitude: an interest in the impact of globalisation and the ability to both predict such risks and figure out ways to overcome them.

“You’ve got to want it and love it – to come to work every day thinking: ‘I live for this.’ This is what we do.”

Mendez, who was the opening keynote speaker at the event, said economic uncertainty, globalisation and unprecedented competition and choice have all combined to turn what was once an inward-looking profession inside out. Supply chain professionals are now answering to a new authority: the customers on whose satisfaction and loyalty their organisations depend. As such, purchasing and supply chain professionals must design their work around the needs of the customer.

Mendez explained to delegates the principles he had used to transform his department from a supply chain silo to one that covered “customer value chain management”.

Among these principles were: becoming customer-centric; gaining influence with engineering; “loving the inventors and making them love you”; applying lean techniques to everything to remove waste; using technology to enable you know where everything is all of the time and be in two places at once (with tele-conferencing); hiring top talent; managing risk; and applying sustainable procurement.

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