From military manoeuvres to making bank notes

posted by Lucy Morrison
7 October 2016

CIPS young professional of the year LUCY MORRISON provides some insight into her experiences of dealing with risk and working under pressure...

Risk is inevitable in business. There is no way to completely eradicate it, but it can be managed. Views on risk management have changed over the years from being reactive and assigned little importance, to today where companies proactively build strategies to avoid, mitigate and treat risks.

I have been no stranger to it; I was in the Royal Navy for more than six years as a supply chain logistician. I provided vital support to helicopter squadrons in Afghanistan, gave aid to British citizens in the Beirut and Lebanon conflict and spent six months as a Phalanx gun operator on a military base in Iraq. All of these helped me deal with high-pressure environments and enabled me to develop ways to keep calm when things aren’t going to plan.

When I left the Royal Navy, I was lucky enough to be offered the role of assistant buyer in the packaging and engineering section at Innovia Films. During my 18 months in that role I developed my supply chain skills and built up knowledge of negotiations, contract and risk management. In September 2013 I was appointed category leader for orientated polypropylene (OPP). This category accounts for around 70% of turnover, with an annual spend of over €100m and is responsible for a key stage in the supply chain helping to deliver the next generation of £5 and £10 polymer banknotes. It was a huge challenge but I was ready and took it with both hands.

During 2015 an unprecedented 76 forces majeures were declared in the European polymer supply chain, creating severe shortages. The industry had never experienced anything like it. However, by working with suppliers, production and planning, all three of our production sites kept running and we even satisfied extra business. Key to this success was some of the work I had carried out in previous years to reduce risk, as well as by opening communication between procurement, internal departments and suppliers.

After the polymer crisis of 2015 I decided we needed to further mitigate the supply risk. We increased sourcing globally and implemented projects to approve other forms of polymer to reduce our reliance on Europe.

I am now implementing business continuity assessments on all our strategic suppliers, analysing all risks. It’s important to understand what past risks have been mitigated, where investments are being made, what new risks have been identified and any treatment plans. This information will help the business to target risks before they become an immediate danger and give essential time to prepare.

My hard work earned me the accolade of ‘CIPS young procurement and supply chain management professional of the year’. It was an honour to be shortlisted, but to win was truly amazing. I really want to use this prestigious title to give back to the profession that has given so much to me. I plan to promote procurement to young people and help develop the profession to cope with the world’s ever-changing landscape.

Tips for dealing with risk:

• Don’t panic. It gets you nowhere and makes it almost impossible to think straight. Review the situation, all the contributing factors and options available. Take time to get key people from other departments involved, their experience can be invaluable.

• Learn from experience. Whether it is from your own or others use it to your advantage. Reviewing a crisis after it’s happened is almost as important as getting through the crisis itself. Take the time to consider your processes and procedures. Making improvements could be the difference between your company succeeding or failing.

• Reassess risks. This is incredibly important, don’t just do it once a quarter and forget about it. Anytime there is an instance that raises a concern with a supplier, review the risk rating.

• Knock-on effect. Ensure you’re not sucked into concentrating on one risk alone, risks tend to be interlinked or have a knock-on effect. Try to think a few moves ahead.

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