Hitachi Zosen Inova CPO on taking a lead

CPOs share their views on procurement's biggest issues

Douglas Else-Jack is head of supply management at energy-from-waste company Hitachi Zosen Inova AG. As part of a series of CPO interviews being carried out by the CIPS Switzerland branch and published on SM, Else-Jack shares his thoughts on the value procurement can have and how to get ahead.

Lead the march

When Else-Jack joined Hitachi Zosen Inova in 2012, he found a “tactical sourcing organisation with very low level of trust and confidence in its capabilities to create value for the internal stakeholders”. Things couldn’t be more different now, with category management, P2P integration and in-house software for ERFx rolled out across the company, as well as a clear direction and strategy.

What has been key is procurement taking a lead in important areas. “Procurement pushed for the environmental agenda few years earlier before our company developed any kind of the sustainability policy,” he says, by way of example. “We started working with our value stream partners focusing on CO2 emissions going down their food chain.”

The same thinking applies to AI, which Else-Jack believes is as an opportunity, not a threat. “We have to make sure we are deeply involved in the AI design and not leave the matter to the IT/consultancy crowd, otherwise we’ll get low quality processes and systems,” he adds.

Learn to sell

Procurement is as much about selling as it about buying. As the function has evolved from “buying things to delivering complex solutions”, mindsets have shifted from that of “buyers” into “strong sales individuals”, Else-Jack believes.

“We have to work internally and externally to pitch our ideas and get innovative solutions,” he says. “Many of my team are being requested to work on different assignments by our end users or partners…because the great work they are doing that proves their competences, selling the solutions and creating strong networks that enable performance.” 

Don’t lose the big picture

Else-Jack’s one piece of advice for aspiring procurement leaders is to keep moving and always “keep the big picture in mind”. “It is very easy to get short-term focused and lose the view of horizon,” he adds. “Do not limit yourself, keep things simple and ensure there is transparency.”

To think bigger picture, procurement professionals need to focus more on “real value creation”, acquiring the skills they need to “transform the role into true value chain orchestrator capable driving ecosystem engineering with tangible benefits for all its participants”. 

This CPO interview is part of a series from Swiss-based global procurement leaders, carried out by CIPS Switzerland. Switzerland is home to some of the most successful multi-national companies and NGOs. CIPS Switzerland offers best practice events, workshops and networking opportunities.

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