It was an awkward moment, listening to a well-respected UK news broadcaster confused about the meaning of procurement.
It happened last month during a BBC radio interview heard by millions around the world on the start of the tender process for contracts associated with the HS2 rail link. The announcement was made while chancellor George Osborne was on a visit to China where the UK was trying to attract interest from suppliers in the high-speed rail link because of existing expertise in the field. The contracts are open to all and the project is funded by the taxpayer but that appeared difficult to grasp.
“Could HS2 go ahead without Chinese money?” came the question. “Has anybody else got the money to do this?”
High Speed Two CEO Simon Kirby tried to explain: “Just to be clear the chancellor has announced the start of procurement for HS2 in China. The start of £11.8 billion of contracts.”
“Sorry, was I not clear? I’m still not clear about what the clarification is?” came the reply and so it went on.
For those of us absorbed in this profession it was depressing. Would there be this lack of understanding over the use of a reference to recruitment and HR, advertising and marketing? I think not.
It only serves to highlight the importance of the excellent work done by this year’s CIPS Supply Management Award winners from the UK, Africa and Australasia who are all featured in this issue. Companies like overall UK winner National Grid, who not only did a brilliant job in their own department but were able to capture the attention and imagination of the wider business. Individuals too, like UK professional of the year Alan Hartley whose then boss said procurement had led the way in changing the culture of the business.
Being brilliant isn’t enough (sorry). It is incumbent on all of us to shout about such successes, to be bold enough to raise your voice and enter awards, to find a way of telling your story in a meaningful way so those outside of this profession can not only understand it, but care about it too.