Apple procurement boss on success

20 February 2013
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20 February 2013 | Rebecca Ellinor

Successful people “do the work, and then do a lot more,” according to Adrian Turner, Apple’s head of corporate procurement covering Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa.

He was one of a number of speakers at a CIPS Ministry of Defence Special Interest Group’s ‘Celebrating Success’ conference in Hampshire yesterday.

Turner said success is a variable concept often not defined by the individuals trying to achieve it. It is neither fair nor consistent and in some cases is constantly changing. Referring to the words of writer Rudyard Kipling, he said success should, like failure, be treated as an imposter.

“The business world is not fair,” he said. “There are casualties when it comes to success, not everyone makes the grade.”

Apple makes billions in cash every quarter, has no debt and is selling more than ever before, but it is the market that determines the value of its shares, which have seen a decline in the past year, he said. “We’ve got some incredible measures of commercial success within the business and yet the market says ‘don’t like that and we’re going to penalise your share price as a result’. That’s not fair.”

Examining what makes successful individuals, Turner said: “They don’t stop but keep trying to achieve the next goal, they’re never too proud to admit they’re wrong, they seek to step out from the crowds and they can sell.”

Success in procurement, he said, is about hiring the right people, so “hire people who make you look good". “When I hire people I tell them that’s their challenge because I can’t do it on my own.”

He said when he recruits senior managers he looks for individuals who have aptitude, attitude and analytical ability who can translate that into actions that drive value. “It’s about their ability to influence and change hearts and minds.”

Turner added that many successful procurement professionals are courageous because they are trying to bring about change and change isn’t easy to make.

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