A president’s perspective

21 October 2011
Peter Rushton, CEO, Optimum Business Solutions and CIPS PresidentI’ve just returned from the seventh CIPS Australasia conference held in Melbourne. The theme - ‘risky business’ - was particularly apt for today’s business environment. Once again, it was an outstanding event with 840 attendees enjoying 12 plenary speakers, 25 seminars, 75 exhibitors and six pre-conference workshops. More than 500 people attended the fifth annual Procurement Professional Awards dinner proving without question the region’s passion for endorsing procurement as “the fastest growing profession in business”. For my part, the schedule was busy and varied. On the eve of the conference, I hosted a VIP and fellows’ dinner presenting the first honorary fellowship to Lindsay Tanner [a former Australian cabinet minister of finance]. A particular highlight was presenting our CIPSA Leadership Award to Chris Browne from the New Zealand government who led the procurement team, which purchased the re-building of Christchurch for more than $3 billion (£1.5 billion) in under three weeks! I also delivered two presentations, one offering a practitioner’s perspective on European risk management strategies. To complete my duties, I hosted a lunch, presented at the CIPSA Steering Group and met the team at the new CIPSA offices. It was interesting to note the upbeat mindset of delegates, where the two-speed economy of the region fuelled by commodity exports, means economic growth is relatively strong and the wind chill factor we feel here in Europe and in the US is far less evident. British accents were highly prevalent, reinforcing the fact that UK talent has played a major part in developing the procurement profession within the Australasia region during the past decade. The recruiters I talked to are still very actively targeting UK practitioners and none of the Brits I met had any plans to return home, citing the benefits of work-life balance and climate. Immediately prior to flying out to Australia, I had the pleasure of hosting the CIPS President’s dinner in London where we were entertained on the theme of leadership by the award-winning news broadcaster, novelist and all-round nice guy, Gavin EslerIt was a great night and a chance for me to catch up with some old friends and acknowledge the esteemed gathering of procurement talent who turned out to support the event. In a few days, I’ll be handing over the CIPS presidency to someone who is known to most of you and needs little introduction, David Smith, commercial director at the UK government’s Department for Work and Pensions. David will undoubtedly put his own stamp on matters, perhaps even bringing out his guitar for the annual dinner speech, now that would be fun. I wish him every success in the role.
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