Procurement boss at General Motors Holden: 'Always focus on what you can control'

Jaydeep Solanki, head of global purchasing and supply chain at General Motors Holden, gives his views on the challenges facing procurement ahead of the CIPS Australasia Conference.

Solanki (pictured), who leads a team of more than 100 responsible for a annual spend of $1.3bn, will be discussing the latest innovations in stakeholder engagement at the conference on 27-28 July in Melbourne.

1. What are the biggest procurement challenges facing Australasia in 2016?

The uncharacteristically uncertain global economic climate is the biggest challenge for Australasian businesses with long-term global procurement contracts. The large swings in foreign exchange and major commodity prices have forced many businesses to recalibrate their global sourcing footprint. Lately the growing public support for politicians with a nationalistic socioeconomic agenda (instead of global trade) in the USA, UK and Europe is a worrying trend for many companies with well-established long term global supply chains.

2. What is the hardest part of your job?

Unexpected disruption in our supply chain is always difficult to manage, since it happens without any warning. It could be a natural disaster, major accident, terrorism-driven disruption or a simple malfunction in one stage of the supply chain we did not expect to happen. This type of surprise pushes our team to develop alternate plans at lightning speed, pumps up adrenaline and sometimes builds up lot of stress as we deal with unknown/uncharted territories.

3. What is the best piece of advice you've received?

“Always focus on what you can control and don’t worry about things you can’t control” is the best advice from one of my mentors. I always remind my team to follow this as we manage our global purchasing and supply chain, comprising of almost 700 suppliers in 38 countries around the world. 

4. If you had one recommendation for modernising and making relationships with stakeholders more exciting what would it be?

 Be there to support your stakeholders when they need you and bring them along on your journey. Familiarise them with your plan and challenges to achieve your shared goals. That is the simple and most effective way to engage stakeholders. It’s not rocket science, it is relationship management 101 that has been effective for centuries.

5. What does it mean to be “a leader in procurement”,  and how can procurement leaders advance in their profession?

You need to have a vision about how procurement can add value to the business bottom line beyond cost savings and be able to clearly articulate to each and every person in an organisation. The procurement function alone cannot change or improve business, so it is very important for a leader in procurement to become a valuable member of the leadership team, shaping the future of an organisation. 

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