Successful Women In Procurement Q&A


To celebrate International Women's Day we have reached out to inspiring and successful women in procurement to ask them to give advice to those new to the industry, give an account of their experiences and career challenges that face women in business.

    Melinda Johnson & Karen Dawson

     

    Image of Melinda Johnson

    Melinda Johnson

    Commercial Director Department of Health and Social Care

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date? 

    Years ago, I recall being the only woman in commercial meetings which felt macho in atmosphere - I used to get a picture in my head of rutting deer! I had to develop ways of being assertive without becoming macho myself, which invariably involved trying to think ahead of the arguments and discussion and come up with something more strategic to contribute, and deliver that in a confident and positive way with a smile. 

    What difficulties do women still face in business? 

    I know many brilliant younger women who simply lack confidence and worry too much - the imposter syndrome is still rife, making women feel they have to know more, work harder, longer hours.  Women in particular, still have to juggle many responsibilities outside of work, as indeed everyone does in modern life. I champion Smart Working – a work culture that focusses on productivity rather than presentism, and empowers people to work in ways, and in places, that enables them to manage all they have to do in life.

     Who has inspired you (male or female)? 

    My line managers have almost all been male and have all inspired me in some way.   I did have one female line manager in my late twenties who encouraged a life-long learning in me, she said that keeping up to date with your CPD gives you confidence, that you should see your job description as the starting point and make your role your own. She said that every bad experience was more valuable in learning terms than a good one, and that the main thing that limits success is your own confidence and ambition.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work? 

    Aside from commercial projects I have delivered and been proud of, I would say stepping outside of my profession for a time and being director of other professions like IT/Digital, Property, Security etc – really stretched me as I had to build credibility with people who had a different technical language. I’d advocate all commercial professionals retain Procurement as their career anchor, but step outside to lead other functions as part of developing leadership skills. Don’t be afraid to try new things, see it as a development opportunity.

    What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard?  

    I love CIPS, it has been my career anchor, my professional family, keeping me confident in my skill set, enabling networking and great life-long friendships. It has provided me with strength, courage, and a pathway to success. I believe, the more you give to the profession, the more you get out of it – and I advocate that all commercial professionals should support and use CIPS. In terms of the profession itself, I value the variety of work involved, it lends itself to all preferences and personalities.

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement? 

    The main advice I would give is to keep thinking - What have I learned this month?  What skills do I need to try to develop?  What could I have done better? – and to keep a note book of such thoughts and ideas - regular personal reflection.  When you do something you are proud of, note the details or keep a record of it so you can remember it all when you come to apply to for a new role. In terms of development, whilst technical skills are important, soft skills, management of change, communications, stakeholder engagement and leadership skills are all equally important to develop as your career progresses.

     What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self? 

    Get a mentor, someone who you can talk with regularly to guide your career choices. Think about how you can raise your personal profile, for example through corporate contributions – getting involved, or leading things that are outside your role. This enables opportunities for wider networking, learning new skills and shows you are ambitious to develop; it will help to get you noticed. Seize opportunities to develop yourself.

     What regular habits do you accredit to your success? 

    Building networks, trying to be generous with my time and expertise; I try to be reliable and positive. I’m outward facing – that is I get out to visit colleagues, stakeholders, suppliers – from which you learn a great deal. Knowing my values and developing and adapting my personal leadership style. I’ve got great mentors, and a fabulous action learning set of diverse friends I’ve met with for years. I’ve done lots of leadership courses – and always learn new skills.

     What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader? 

    A good leader is someone people want to follow and work alongside, rather than someone who simply tells everyone what to do, or has the power to make them do things. I believe good leaders empower people, inspire them and let them know they have confidence in them. Good leaders invest in people and relationships, build credibility and consensus through effective engagement. Successful people surround themselves with a diverse selection of brilliant people. Trust takes investment from the leader, and is easily lost – good leaders know that; they are also great communicators.

     Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?  

    When my late mum gave me her wages to go to FE college and do my qualifications, she said “Promise me 3 things:  work hard, keep learning and don’t let self-doubt stop you from seizing a good opportunity – confidence is 70% of success.”  I’ve tried to live by that.

     


     

    Karen Dawson

    Karen Dawson

    GM Business Improvement and Support

    Business Enablement and Support

    Ministry of Education 

     

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    Finding the right work/life balance. In 2011 myself and my family moved from the UK to Wellington NZ in an effort to get greater balance between work and home life. This was a huge decision but enabled me to have the best of both worlds, and no more 3 hour commutes.

    Who has inspired you (male or female)?

    Naomi Ferguson is the Commissioner and Chief Executive of the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department. Each time I have the opportunity to hear her speak I am inspired by her natural, authentic leadership style. She has lead IRD through a major change journey, which I had the privilege to be a part of.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Winning Procurement Professional of the year 2019 was quite humbling but each role I have worked in has provided something I can be proud of. One highlight would be delivering a new procurement strategy and operating model as part of wider transformation of the corporate services group within the Ministry of Education. This programme was initiated to change the way we deliver our services to the organisation, putting our customers at the heart of everything we do and implementing a new procurement operating model.

    What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    There’s always something to get involved with that can balance work and your own development. Whether it’s mentoring, studying or just networking - getting involved in activities that give you a break from your regular role can really help balance the hard times. It also creates great opportunities to share your challenges with people not directly involved.

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement?

    I would definitely advise people to go for roles that are exciting and challenging rather than chase salary increases. Being part of something that makes a difference will pay back in more ways than salary can. Whatever role you are in, there should be something you can pop in your CV as an achievement at the end of it.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?

    In my earlier career I probably spent too much time trying to be great at everything I did. I have learned to be comfortable with my strengths and ask for help in areas where I am less confident or familiar.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Having a clear development plan or career goal in mind helps me to focus on what I am aiming for.

    What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader?

    I don’t think there is one particular mould or type. Leadership should be authentic and so successful traits are likely to be those strengths you already have.

    Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?

    Keep learning and enjoy what you do

    Kimberley Campbell & Paula Gildert

    Kimberley Campbell

    Kimberley Campbell FCIPS

    Chartered Procurement and Supply Professional
    UK Category Buyer

    HEINEKEN UK Limited

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    I have been lucky in my career that I haven’t really faced a “challenge” as a woman compared to some of the stories shared by my peers and friends who have struggled to climb the career ladder feeling they have been limited due to their gender.   During my career had to work harder than male colleague’s to have the same recognition and it has at times taken longer to build rapport and credibility with senior / executive level males.  But I have turned that in to a positive and this has been one of my main drivers in the success of my career.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    There are still difficulties faced due to inadequate support systems in some industries for women.  Women still face issues due to barriers, bias and in most cases unconscious biases. 

    Frequently an individual’s own self-doubt can be the difficulty they face in a work place due to being more timid and having a fear of failure.  There is nothing wrong with being direct or confident.  Why do we fear failing when we all learn from mistakes?

    Who has inspired  you (male or female)?

    I have met and had influence from a lot of different inspirational people male and female.  During my Procurement career I have had a lot of inspiration from male leaders and if it wasn’t for their leadership, support, coaching and mentoring then I wouldn’t have had the drive and ambition that I do.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Transforming a function to become one of the highest performing teams in Heineken Procurement globally.  This alongside my own career progression from my first role in procurement 15 years ago to what I have achieved in what seems like such a short period of time. (Time flies when you are having fun!)

    What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    The variety and complexity really sparks a passion in me and keeps me going in procurement.  It is a challenging profession but the reward and the opportunities always outweigh the challenge.

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement?

    Be persistent and curious, tackle fear and have an opinion. Share ideas no matter how big or small and never think any idea or question is a stupid one, we only know the answers because someone else has thought of that question too!

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your

    younger self?

    Find a mentor, someone who can really help bring out the best in you and your own self-belief. Mentoring is a great way of achieving your career goals, find a mentor who is suited to you.

    Having self-awareness so I could understand what was making me feel fear or anxious in situations, being self-aware really helps in understanding how to deal with your feelings and emotions in lot of different situations.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    I have an appetite for learning, never stop learning new things.  Networking provides so many opportunities to meet new people from varying backgrounds, industries to share and learn through different experiences and knowledge.  Be a social butterfly, I know this doesn’t always come naturally to many people, but take a step outside your comfort zone, you might even enjoy it!

    What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good

    leader?

    There as so many I could mention, empathy, humility, persuasiveness, entrepreneurial spirit, resilience and strength, someone who creates an environment that breads empowerment and allows their team to really flourish, adaptability, someone who knows how to ask and to listen, really listen.  Oh and optimism!  

    Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?

    “No person has the right to rain on your dreams.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

     

     

    Paula Gilbert

    Paula Gildert

    Vice President

    Head of R&D Procurement

    Takeda

     

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    Managing my own expectations about the different roles I have : daughter/ wife / mother / colleague and work professional. I expect a lot of myself to fulfill these roles well and to be able to make good judgments on priorities and where I spend my time.

    What difficulties do women still face in business? 

    Managing multiple  commitments from the different and important roles we have in and outside the workplace. This is not unique to women, however.  Bias : unconscious or otherwise. The judgements that are made about performance and potential based on the assessors individual experiences and preferences. Inequality in access to development opportunity and promotions remains a key theme for women.

    Who has inspired you (male or female)?

    Mandela : for being the father of reconciliation, building from his own experience and suffering. To hold the office of president and to facilitate beneficial change for a whole country

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Honestly , there are many things that I have been part of that make me feel proud. They all have one thing in common: that they were difficult, required tenacity and commitment and teamwork. They were sweeter for being shared with others.

    What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    Being a leader in Procurement (and supply chain) gives us access to nearly every business challenge there is. This means an infinite number of opportunities to make a difference. That is a privilege and one we earn with our mindset and behaviours, our insights, skills and knowledge and ability to build productive relationships

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement?

    Be good at what you do: learn about your business and its strategy. We are business people who happen to be in procurement.   When you make commitments – honour them.  Nurture curiosity What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?

    • Don’t be over cautious to ask for what you want / need. Be prepared for set-backs – plan for them
    • Always look for the possibility in a situation
    • Build alliances : always remember to value, respect and hear the people around you

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    • Energy and enthusiasm – its infectious and makes people want to work together
    • Delivering on my promises

    What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader?

    • Being clear about the goals and what is being asked
    • A learning mindset for themselves and their teams : a passion to develop capability
    •  Structured and organised – ability to make things happen
    • Empathy and inclusion  : seeing the whole person and able to engage and enroll others in the work

    Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life? ‘

    ‘Leave it better than you found it’ Lee Iacocca former CEO of Chrysler 

    Sharon Smyth & Beverley Tew

    Sharon Smyth FCIPS LLM

    Department of Finance 

    Director  

    Construction and Procurement Delivery  

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    All working parents and staff with caring responsibilities (irrespective of gender) face the daily challenges of juggling work priorities with family life. I have strived to be the best that I can be from a professional perspective, so the biggest challenge for me has not been the pressures of the work, it’s been the emotional side of being a senior leader. Within the last 5 years, two of my senior team have recovered from breast cancer – their diagnosis’s were within months of each other and I kept in touch with them through some of their lowest moments until they were both back to work and fitting fit. Unfortunately there have been other staff in my Division who have experienced other traumatic life events – the majority of these have been woman and I truly admire their resilience and desire to ‘keep going’. It really does show that if you enjoy your work and work in an inclusive, positive environment, work can be a real tonic.    

     

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    I confess that I make my own difficulties by not being able to say ‘no’. I get carried away with taking on business improvement initiatives in addition to my day job, and find that I’m working at night and weekends to keep everything on track. I accept that there needs to be a work-life balance, but I feel really lucky to have a job that I love, so the business improvement work is so rewarding that it doesn’t feel like I’m working.

     

    Who has inspired you (male or female)?

    The current Department of Finance, Permanent Secretary, Sue Gray has been inspirational since she joined our Department in May 2018. Sue has managed to make a real difference in a wide range of areas in such a short period of time. Sue is a very authentic leader who is not afraid to tackle thorny issues which others have put in the ‘too  difficult’ box.

     

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    My biggest professional achievement was to complete a Masters in Public Procurement Law. The Masters was a big commitment in addition to full time work and 3 boys at home; but I was really committed to this continual professional development which helped me gain Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS). My biggest work achievement has been to lead the introduction of the Procurement Graduate Programme which started in September 2019. We now have 11 Graduate Trainees (5 female, 6 male) who have started on their journey to CIPS Membership supported by my Department.   My next challenge is to get the NI Procurement Higher Level Apprenticeship scheme off the ground – nearly there, so watch this space!!

     

    What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    I am so privileged to be working across all Government Departments and their Arms-Length Bodies as this allows me to influence so many areas of work which directly impacts on our citizens and the economy. While times can be tough, it’s the many times my clients email or call to say ‘thank you’ that keeps me going. Knowing that my work supports so many people is enough to get me out of bed in the morning.

     

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement?

    I had to think about this question for a minute as the old cliché would be that ‘women don’t need to be encouraged to buy things’ – and looking across my organisation, we would probably have more women than men. So I think the message would be the same for everyone – procurement is a really rewarding job -the skills and qualifications you achieve are so transferable that the biggest problem will be deciding which employer you want to work for.

     

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your

    younger self?

    If I were to give my younger self some advice if would be to ‘keep going and never give up’. Most of my career I have swam against the tide and I would have been advised by people (who had been there for a long time) to ‘slow down’, ‘don’t bother trying to change that – it’ll never work’ or ‘should you not consider going part time as you have a young family and are travelling a bit to get to work’ …. While I ignored those well-meaning pieces of advice, I would have like to have known that I would receive adequate rewards for challenging the status quo and working as hard as I could for my clients and colleagues.

     

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Respecting everyone’s view and trying to reach common ground where I can. Honouring my commitments. Not sweating the small stuff.

     

    What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good

    leader?

    Men and women will each bring their own strengths and weaknesses to every team – that’s why diversity is so important (to avoid group think!). While technical skills are important in areas such as procurement, these are easier taught than the softer, more intuitive skills. I find that the successful leaders (and the ones that immediately spring to mind) have the softer interpersonal and communication skills in abundance. They are the most passionate about making a difference and bringing good people with them.

     

    Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?

    Be brave, be passionate about what you do and you’ll make a difference.

     

    Beverley Tew

    Beverley Tew

    Vice President, Finance

    Burberry

     

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date? 

    Learning that no challenge is insurmountable. 

     

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Still being a minority voice.

     

    Who has inspired you (male or female)?

    My father, who taught me that the barriers to being successful are only in your head.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Having a broad and interesting career. Single achievements don’t stand out when you reach a certain stage in your career. 

    What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    Making a difference at the heart of the business. 

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement?

    Be clear about what you want to do and never lose sight of that goal but embrace other opportunities that come your way.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?

    Be bolder than you feel comfortable with.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    I am constantly reviewing performance and setting personal and professional goals.  I am also a list fiend!

    What are the character traits of successful women?

     The character traits of successful women are expertise, confidence and resilience.

    Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?

    Let’s do it. 

    Nina Bomberg & Sharron Bird

    Nina Bomberg

    Nina Bomberg

    Global Lead Buyer

    SEG Automotive 

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    Coming to terms with the fact that there are companies that will not value women as much as men - stop trying to change them, but avoid them.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    It still happens that their actions are misinterpreted and they have to justify things that are considered normal for men.

    Who has inspired you (male or female)?

    There is not a single person who has inspired me, it is the many great people I have had the

    honour of working and studying with over the past 15 years.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Building a sourcing department from scratch in a company that did not have one. Establishing

    relationships with the stakeholders, internal and external, that lead to the acceptance of the

    department and delivered a contribution to the bottom line.

    What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    For one you work with people every day, which makes it interesting for me. At the same time,

    every day is different and if one day is hard, it will normally brighten up the next.

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement?

    Be clear about your priorities in your professional and personal life, this way you will always

    have a guide when taking your decisions, big or small.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give

    your younger self?

    Don’t stay for too long with a manager who has no interest in your development.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    I am an advocate of life-long learning and knowledge sharing. New input keeps me on my toes

    and inspires me.

    What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good

    leader?

    You have to listen and be able to learn from your mistakes.

    Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?

    Don’t let other people define your limits!

     

    Sharon Bird

    Sharron Bird

    Director

    Adelaide Procurement Pty Ltd

     

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    The biggest challenge I faced earlier in my career was trying to be one of the boys/men. I started my career in the Royal Airforce and women had to be equal to men, mentally and physically, which wasn't always possible.  I did not understand then the importance of diversity and uniqueness,therefore I spent more time and energy trying to be the same as everyone else.

     

    What difficulties do women still face in business?       

    I think women have difficulties trying to achieve the perfect work-life balance, women tend to want

    to give 100% to their families, 100% to work and everything else in-between and sometimes they are

    hard on themselves when they can't do it all.  I also think some women lose their confidence and

    opportunities when climbing the career ladder when they leave the work place to have children. 

    Who has inspired you (male or female)?

    I am inspired by many different people at different levels in all areas of life.  I think anyone who can

    stand up to what they believe, work hard and smart and can do good for others are inspirational. 

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work? 

    There have been so many, I feel a sense of achievement at the end of every project, large or small.  I

    really enjoy the final steps and final push of any project, I love seeing the deliverables at the end.  I

    felt a real sense of achievement when I saw equipment in operating theatre's in a new hospital,

    knowing that it had the latest technology and the benefits would be around for the next 20 years or

    so.  

     What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard? 

    The profession is so varied and there is always something new and exciting that requires to be

    learned and implemented.  The profession is important in all businesses and it can really make a

    difference in all area's (economic, social, technical etc.).  When times are hard I just know to keep

    going as there is a solution for everything and just to break the impossible and hard tasks down and

    to keep on pushing forward.

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement?

    Align yourself with a mentor (in procurement or supply chain) and an executive sponsor for support, regularly set goals large and small, gain experience and relevant qualifications.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?

    To be comfortable with your own strengths and uniqueness, and to be braver and not to hold yourself back because you're scared of not being able to achieve or deliver (don't be a self-blocker). 

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Being organized, working hard, being a problem solver and following through with promises, using my emotional intelligence to work with others, prioritizing work load and being disciplined with my wellbeing, such as regular exercise healthy eating. 

    What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader?

    Being true to yourself, knowing your strengths and knowing where you need to develop, having set goals and achieving them, networking, taking a calculated risk approach, being assertive when required and being resilient.

    A good leader is someone who develops, supports and empowers their teams, can articulate the vision/objections, is honest, approachable and has high emotional intelligence.

    Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?

     YOLO (you only live once) - be brave, say yes to opportunities that you may be scared to accept, push yourself out of your comfort zone because this is the only way to grow.   

    Nikki Rowbottom & Rachael Legg

    Nikki Rowbottom

    Nikki Rowbottom

    Head of Supply Chain Management

    British Library

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    My first job graduating was in construction, as were the few that followed and I found that working in a male dominated environment meant I had to work so much harder to get the credence I deserved.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    I think everyone experiences the same difficulties to a certain extent. One of the key skills anyone needs to learn in business is confidence; in your own view, skills and experience. I know so many women who don’t speak up in meetings despite having something valuable to add, because they are too shy or don’t think their view or offering is right or they feel intimidated by the job titles in the room. I regularly tell anyone who will listen that no question is a silly one, if you’re thinking it, chances are someone else is too.

    Who has inspired you (male or female)?

    That’s quite a hard one as I’ve worked with some incredible people. I would probably say my parents though. They always encouraged and believed in me and my siblings to go and be whatever we wanted to be. They supported my decision to go to university and encouraged me to get a job to help with the expense of it. That taught me the value of money and gave me a good work ethic.  Dad also gave me a job in his office after my GCSE’s and A-levels so I could see how businesses work and all the different roles and skills that are required. Both Mum & Dad worked hard and balanced family life with their professional careers and that really inspired me to know that you can have it all but you have to work for it and it’s all a huge juggling act. I wouldn’t have had the ambition and drive to succeed that I have and the confidence to balance that against being a working parent without them as role models.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    That’s a difficult one. I’m so proud of some of the significant contracts I’ve placed that were troublesome and difficult to get across the line but I think I would have to say that getting this job, my first ‘Head of’ position, while I was on maternity leave is my biggest achievement. As any working mother will know, your brain turns to mush on maternity leave and is filled with nappies and feeds and all things baby related instead of targets and improvement and tenders. To not only have the confidence to go for such a senior role but also to impress enough to get it while on maternity leave is quite an achievement!

    What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    I love the feeling I get when we’ve placed a contract that has been difficult to make work. We had a major contract recently where we had to change procurement routes half way through from Restricted to a Negotiated tender (under Public Contract Regulations). This was a massive challenge, my colleague and I had to work incredibly hard not only to convince our internal customers that this was the right move for the Library but we then had to prepare at short notice for a significant negotiation exercise against other competing priorities. On the whole, the contract is a huge success and we made a nice fat saving out of it too!

    I also love the feedback I get from customers about my team. It’s not an easy job, despite the traditional thinking that we just shop all day long! So a little compliment like thank you for a project completed, or feedback on the wonderful customer service makes my day.  

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement?

    My advice would be the same to anyone starting in the profession. Know your industry, partner with your customers and learn to be confident, even if you have to fake it (I still do sometimes!) Building relationships is absolutely key to what we do and a good relationship can make getting what you need much easier. A difficult talk is easier to have when you have credibility with that person and that comes from building a really strong relationship with them and having the knowledge to fall back on. Confidence is key to everything in this profession, it is my top skill I look for when I’m interviewing. It gives you resilience which is paramount for dealing with customers who don’t want to listen or try to blame you for everything. Negotiating is all about preparation and confidence, having the guts to sit in front of a supplier and ask for discounts or call them out for poor performance and find a solution. My advice is always to learn those skills and learn your markets and you will get credibility with your customers and suppliers and your once faked confidence will start to come naturally.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?

    That it’s ok to have a bad day. It’s part of being human, you simply cannot operate at the top level consistently all of the time. The number of times I’ve beaten myself up for not feeling like I’ve been at my best is huge! I have to remind myself frequently that work, while I love what I do, is there so I can live my life, I’m not here just to work. That’s huge to realise when you’ve just started out working and you feel you need to do it all and be it all but it is so important to take care of yourself and your mental well-being and understanding that you will have off days really helps your mental resilience.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    • Having a good work/life balance is critical. I am a working mum and I am responsible along with my husband, for picking up or dropping off our two children for school and nursery. There are times when I have had to get up and walk out of meetings at 5pm, making apologies of course, because the meeting is running late and I have to get back to pick up my children. I have no choice but to be disciplined in that because my children are the ones who will suffer, work can wait and if there is something incredibly urgent, I see if my husband can pick up or ask a close friend. There are times when I’ve arrived at work only to get a phone call 10 minutes later that one of my children is sick and I have to go and pick them up. In that situation, I have to be Mum and not Worker.
    • Being brave enough to challenge; my customers, my suppliers, my boss, my colleagues! It takes a lot to speak out but a well worded question can reap huge benefits in terms of getting the most suitable outcome for everyone.  
    • Having an appetite to be successful will also drive success. I make no secret of the fact I am ambitious and that I want to be the best at what I do. It’s what made me apply for this job while I was on maternity leave. In everything I do, I try to push myself to be better and go further and get feedback to work on those aspects that aren’t so good and there are plenty! If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to work hard, no one is going to give you your dreams on a silver platter, and if they did would you feel you had deserved them without the journey you take to get there?!

    What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good

    leader?

    A good leader is someone who listens and takes a collaborative view, someone who is part of the team and shares their vision and objectives so others can buy in. I’ve worked for managers who have a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude and it is so de-motivating, I swore I would try my best not to be that way.

    Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?

    No question is too stupid. If you want to know something, ask the question. How else will you find out the answer!  

     

     

    Rachel Legg

    Rachael Legg 

    Chief Procurement Officer

    Johnson Matthey

     

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    Not knowing when it is my gender that has 'got in the way'. Gender bias, like other characteristics such as age, ethnicity and sexual orientation, is a hidden challenge which needs surfacing and addressing.  

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Depending where in the world you are, in what industry and at what stage of your life, women

    experience different opportunities and difficulties in business. From accessing the job market and

    fulfilling careers, taking a break to create a family and finding a way back to progress your career;

    being taken seriously; balancing parenthood and a career; and just when you think you are coming

    into the pinnacle of your career, facing serious illness or loss of a parent and dealing with the impact

    of grief…oh and then for many of us women there's the fall out of the menopause to deal with! 

    As individuals, managers and leaders we all have a role to recognize the value and contribution of having equal, diverse and inclusive organizations, and create practical pathways to make this a reality.

    Who has inspired you (male or female)?

    It is difficult for me to pin-point any one person. I have been shaped by many people throughout my life… if I did have to narrow this down, I am most inspired by those individuals who see a change is needed and are moved to action to make a positive difference.  One such person is Ali Stunt. In 2007 Ali was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Unlike 90% of the patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Ali was lucky. Her illness was detected early enough to allow a life-saving operation. Pancreatic cancer is the UK's 5th biggest cancer killer, soon to overtake breast cancer as the 4th. In the UK, 5 year survival rates are less than 7%, this rate having barely changed in decades compared to other cancers. If a patient is diagnosed early and able to have surgery, their 5 year survival increases to around 30%, but there are no early detection (screening) test available for the disease. Ali was one of 10% of the lucky ones and today has survived 12 years. Shocked by the statistics, Ali took action and in 2010 founded Pancreatic Cancer Action, a charity with the mission to 'save lives through early diagnosis'. Today, the charity is going from strength to strength driven by Ali Stunt, one woman who was moved to action to make a positive difference.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    I've had many typical achievements as a CPO and change agent…but my biggest achievements and pride comes when I have helped others have an 'ah-ha' moment, grown in their own self-confidence, taking the next step on their journey. My biggest achievements are in those smaller moments when what I have said or done has inspired another to think or act differently about themselves or the world around them for positive impact.

    What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    I am passionate about making a positive difference to the lives of others - knowing your purpose and how you contribute can sustain you when times are hard. As Johnson Matthey CPO I'm accountable for transforming procurement’s strategic contribution and positive impact on the business and wider society. We are enabling JM’s vision for a world that is cleaner and healthier now and for future generations. Procurement has a wonderful vantage point across any organisation and value-chain, so we have a significant contribution to make both in what we do and how we do it.

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement?

    Be curious. I get asked to coach and mentor young women, particularly in Procurement…when asking what their goals are often it is to increase salary or get a higher grade or 'more impressive' job title…and 'quickly'. Whilst I recognize these are a factor, I would encourage individuals to think about the value they can contribute and what they will learn from that role to build your capability/competency/leadership muscle. 'Think laterally'…breadth and depth is important, take lateral moves to broaden out your experience. Embrace the change and the challenge.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?

    Often conditioned in us in childhood, perfectionism can drive your ambitions, but, it can also be an unhelpful trait that can cause stress, anxiety and feelings of 'not being good enough'. It is important to understand where any perfectionism comes from, recognize that it will only serve you to a point and learn when 'good' is 'good enough'.   “Don't aim for perfection, aim for better than yesterday.” - Izey Victoria Odiase.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Values-led leadership - Thinking, speaking and act true to my values. Being clear of my values provides an internal compass to help navigate me, my team, my organization and family through uncertain or unchartered waters in particular. 

    What are the character traits of successful women and/or what do you think makes a good leader?

    Having a 'successful mindset': 

    • Know that you have an equal right as anyone else to share your thoughts, ideas and opinions, and get comfortable sharing an idea even if it’s not totally thought through - you are short changing your business if you don't speak up and share these.
    • Stepping out of your comfort zone will help you grow - it's ok to feel the 'fear', but do it anyway.
    • Challenge and disagreements are part of creative discussions.
    • There are times when being direct and self-promotion are appropriate - know what you want and tell people; your work won't speak for itself, so find a way to share my successes that isn’t bragging and is helpful to others.

    Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?

    I have a two favorite quotes:

    “Change will not come if you wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time.  We are the ones we have been waiting for.  We are the change we seek.”- Barack Obama

    “If you want to walk fast, walk alone.  But, if you want to walk far, walk together.” Ratan Tata

     

    Julia M. Brown

     

    Julia m. Brown

    Julia M.Brown 

    Chief Procurement Officer

    Carnival Corporation & PLC

     

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    In all honesty, it’s hard for me to speak about challenges solely about being a woman as I am  also  Black.  It’s difficult for me to identify if a challenge has been based on my gender or race especially as I also achieved a certain level of success at a relatively young age.  My parents raised me by telling me that  “you need to be twice as good to be considered half as good”  so I have spent my career on ensuring that the “What” I deliver and the “ How”  I deliver it is so outstanding that it supersedes any race or gender bias that may exist.   And yes, I do believe it still exists!  I just do not have it in the forefront of my mind when I am working unless it is extremely overt.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    While I am pleased that women now have a stronger voice to speak to injustice and inequity in the workplace,  the watchout is that we are inadvertently left out of the “informal” networking that occurs because men are nervous about having what may be perceived as too close of a relationship.  I have gained the most insights throughout my career  informal mentoring and sponsoring from men. 

    Who has inspired you (male or female)?

    I find inspiration on a daily basis!  But my parents who chose to immigrate from an island they loved to raise their young family in a country they had never lived in for the sole purpose of creating a better life for their family is my ultimate inspiration

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    I am consistently proud of the teams that I have created, developed and built and what they have continued on to do.  Many of the people that I have worked with have achieved their career aspirations and have grown to lead large organizations.  Several are now  CPO’s in several large companies.

     What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    The ability to drive change – everything is a “buy”  except for employee salaries and taxes.  So, as a result, in Sourcing, we can make a meaningful difference in every company, every industry once we’re at the table.

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement?

    I have 3C’s that I talk about and try to model--- Curiousity, Confidence and Courage- the Curiosity to find ways to improve the business, the confidence to serve up those options that can change the business and the Courage not to take a “no” from someone who does not have the authority to say yes!

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?

    There are so many things that I have found only come with time and wisdom even though the advice had been given to my younger self by mentors!  Relationships are paramount, take the time to invest in relationships at all levels throughout.   That is as important as the work that you do.

    My relationships have been the source of my support, advancement and contentment in the work environment.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    • Building inclusive teams with regular cadence of communications
    • Setting stretch targets (with a plan to deliver)
    • Never taking a “no” from someone who can’t say “yes”

    What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader?

    I sum it up in the quote “ When the leaders best job is done, the people will say, we did it ourselves”  Our jobs as leaders are to ask the right questions, at the right time – of the stakeholders, teams etc so that we can efficiently and effectively solve complex problems.

    Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?

    “You can’t make everybody happy - you’re not chocolate”-  Unknown

    Tracey Fogg

     

    Tracey Fogg

    Tracey Fogg

    Head of Procurement Rail and Utilities 

    Balfour Beatty 

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

     

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    The biggest challenge I have faced has been to ensure that I am taken seriously in a male environment.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    I have found that women have to really prove themselves and get challenged more than men in the same environment.  I also think that more flexibility needs to be given to encourage women with families back to work. 

    Who has inspired you (male or female)?

    I have had several positive leaders in the past both male and female.  Those that have inspired me the most have been those that believed in me and who gave me the opportunity and environment to develop and succeed. 

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    My biggest achievement has been changing and developing an underperforming team into a leading team.  It is always great to help and support people to succeed and grow in their careers.

    What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    I am passionate about the profession having worked in it for over 30 years, I have supported my teams to achieve CIPS, and I have also tutored CIPS in the past.  The majority of the time I love my work so that keeps me going through the difficult times. 

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement?

    Never give up and get qualified. 

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    I am extremely hard working, organized and motivated.  I love to mentor people through their careers. 

    What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader?

    A successful woman is generally tenacious and hard working.  I have always tried to lead by example and tr

    eat others with respect.

    Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?

    Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Don’t stop until you’re proud. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

    Jo Bailey

     

    Jo Bailey FCIPS

    CEO

    Progressive Systems

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    I think I was lucky to have worked in environments that respected my work and gave me opportunities.  Yes, when I first started working the women were expected to tidy the office, get the coffees, do the dishes and accept innuendos but that was just how it was, I didn’t see it as a challenge at all. 

    I’d say the most challenging time in my career was when I was a full- time working Mum. My children are all grown now, but the hardest thing for me was the feeling of letting people down when I had to drop everything and go, or take days off to care for sick kids. During those early years it seemed like I was away more often than not sometimes. Obviously my children were my priority but I felt so badly that I wasn’t pulling my own weight at work, or that it might reflect on my performance.

    My husband helped where he could but there was no such thing as parental leave back then, I was just lucky to be allowed to take some unpaid time off to have them in the first place.

    It’s a bit different these days, but I know people still get anxiety when it comes to caring for family. It was a great learning for me and ever since, I do my utmost to help people I work with to feel more relaxed about having to take time off for life priorities.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Inequality in pay. I’m generalizing of course but based on research and my own experience, people seem more comfortable paying a man more money than a woman who does the same job with the same performance expectations.

    If other women are anything like me, then we are more accepting of what we’re offered, grateful for the opportunities and less inclined to ask for more initially and risk any ill-feeling with a new boss.

    I’d like to see those making the offers or trying to negotiate lower rates for women, take more responsibility here to support equity.  

    Who has inspired you (male or female)?

    That’s easy, my husband of 34 years. Jim’s a quiet achiever who has shown me more about perseverance, humility, kindness and respect than anyone.

    He finally got to compete in the most recent Commonwealth Games after 16 years of just missing out on qualifying and after more than 35 years dedicated to his sport.  He came away with a silver Commonwealth Games medal and then last year he was part of the Australian Team that won the World Championship. The first time Australia has held the World Title since 1988. The Team comprised a lot of younger people that Jim had mentored.

    He’s humble about his achievements and he gives a lot of his time to helping others, never expecting or wanting anything in return. He respects people and gets it back in spades.

    If we can apply all those same attributes in our work, success is assured. 

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Looking back I’m proud of a number of things I was able to achieve for the Organisations I worked for and in respect to my own career, to date.

    But I think what I’m proudest of are the relationships that I’ve developed, and that people know they can trust me.

    What do you love about the profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    The difference you can make in Procurement. 

    I’m always talking about the positive impact that Procurement can have on businesses, communities and careers. There are so many ways that each procurement practitioner can make a real difference, and together we can literally change the world!

    I love promoting sustainable and socially responsible procurement and mentoring Indigenous businesses and aspiring procurement professionals. It feels good to be able to help others and give back and Procurement allows me to do that.

    What advice would you give to young women starting out in procurement?

    I’ve come up with 7 tips that are probably just as relevant for young men starting out as they are for young women. Admittedly though I’ve seen a few young women apply these ideas who are doing very well.

    • Learn all you can.  Be like a sponge that absorbs everything you can about your job, the jobs around and above you and the organisation you work for. Do courses, subscribe to professional newsletters and network with others in the profession.
    • Always do your best.  Everything you do, do well.
    • Help and support others. People first. Be respectful, helpful and kind regardless! If others don’t behave this way around you, don’t mirror them.
    • Always honour your commitments. Be careful and honest about what you can do for people. Once you commit to something, do everything in your power to get it done.
    • Back Yourself.  If an opportunity comes up, go for it! Don’t tell yourself you’re not ready for it or compare yourself to others. Give it a shot!  I missed opportunities earlier in my career to progress much faster than I did, because I had less confidence in myself than what others had in me.
    • Earn it first. There’s no free rides. Don’t expect to start high or be promoted until you’ve done the base work and demonstrated your value.

     

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?

    Just because you haven’t done it before, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Give it a go.

    Whether it’s a new task, a new project, category or contract, analysis, research or a report that needs doing, don’t hold yourself back. Work out what you need to do, and get on with it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help but ultimately you might just surprise yourself and no doubt be very pleased with your new-found skills. 

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

     Making Lists - I always make lists and cross things off as I go it also gives me a sense of achievement, especially on those days when it feels like I’m on a hamster wheel, to be able to see the important things I’ve actually accomplished.

    • Being decisive – I’m not one to procrastinate. I like to make informed decisions as quickly as possible. There’s nothing worse for productivity and morale than creating bottlenecks and leaving people hanging.
    • Prioritising People - I always try to make time for people so they know they’re important. Regardless of how busy my day, if someone asks if I have a moment, I give them my full attention.  

    What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader?

    I don’t think there are specific character traits for successful women, I’ve seen all different types of people reach high levels and get strong results for a great many reasons. Regardless, they all believed in themselves enough to put themselves into a situation to become successful.

    I believe that a good leader

    • treats people with respect
    • provides a clear vision and correlation to the team and individuals’ contributions
    • backs and supports their team
    • communicates results
    • celebrates wins

    Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?

    Yes, I always say “If it’s to be, it’s up to me

    CIPS Leading Ladies

    Over our history CIPS has celebrated many successful women members so we’d like to share with you some of our firsts:

    UK members

    • Constance Kay MCIPS from the UK awarded Full Membership in May 1962
    • Joyce Beatrice Hoare FCIPS  from the UK awarded Fellowship in April 1962
    • Pat Barlow FCIPS from the UK who served on our Global Board of Trustees between October 1990 to October 1993 

    Regional members

    • Esther Siu MCIPS from Hong Kong - awarded Full Membership in June 1986
    • Sophie Mwalethaka Dimbungu FCIPS from South Africa - awarded Fellowship in September 2005
    • Karen Van Vuuren FCIPS from South Africa – who served on our Global Board of Trustees as Chair between November 2010 to August 2012

    Helen Trivett FCIPS was one of our first Fellows and is still a current member of CIPS. Helen offers the following advice:

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business to date?

    I have always ignored the fact that there are males and females in the working environment. Perhaps the most difficult hurdle was getting the construction company, Gallifords, where I worked in the accounts department  to give me the position as Assistant Buyer in the early 1960s as ‘it was a man’s job’.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Whatever these difficulties might be, women MUST try to ignore them and prove that they are able to carry out their responsibilities equally or better than any male. In the EU this shouldn’t be a problem.

    Who has inspired you? Male or female.

    Both. Winston Churchill and Pat Smythe (who was a showjumper).

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Possibly starting companies off from scratch and seeing  them grow. This is how you understand how companies work.

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    The fact that procurement in some form needs to be carried out for any company to go forward to offer an end product.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and what advice would you give your younger self?

    Remember that you and your company need to be rewarded for every effort you have carried out.

    What keeps you awake at night?

    Situations that usually resolve themselves the next day!

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Being competitive, determined and focussed on the job in hand. Keeping mind and body healthy.

    What are the character traits of successful women and/or what do you think makes a good leader?

    Takes all sorts! Employees need to respect their leader and also find them approachable and willing to listen and help.

    What prompted you to apply for Fellowship?

    Recognition for my businesses. Also knowing that there were only 8 female fellows in the CIPS at the time.

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