Speaking truth to power

11 October 2013
Whistle-blower Paul Moore’s speech to the CIPS Annual Conference proved extremely popular among delegates. The audience found his insights into the world of financial risk fascinating, as the man was proved right about the risks banks were taking in the run-up to the 2008 collapse. Perhaps the vision of a single man taking on the might of an organisation as vast as HBOS struck a chord with buyers, as they grapple with the challenges of persuading departments of the value of structured procurement. The odds were stacked against Moore. The orthodoxy was that there was no problem with banks’ lending policies and no-one wanted to hear about risks. Such a situation may sound oddly familiar to purchasers up and down the country, who in their work must inform departments that the way they are spending is perhaps not optimal, that there are risks in not doing things in an organised fashion. Moore’s revelations were a highlight out of a day of highlights, with delegates particularly impressed by the passion of Nick Baker from Skanska, who spoke from the heart about the importance of sustainability, and Paul Guile, who got buyers directly engaged with the threats posed by fraud. CIPS economist John Glen’s assessment of the economy was accessible and enlightening in equal measure, while CIPS president Paula Gildert brought energy to the proceedings. Time and again we hear about “cultural challenges” in instituting new procurement procedures and the hard work involved in getting board level support. This poses the question: “Are purchasing professionals, in their own way, whistle-blowers, saying the difficult things people don’t want to hear?”
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