Gordon Tytler: "The riskier opportunities often become the greatest ones" © Rolls-Royce
Gordon Tytler: "The riskier opportunities often become the greatest ones" © Rolls-Royce

This is who I am: Gordon Tytler

22 February 2019

The director of procurement at Rolls-Royce Group talks to SM.

How did you get into procurement? 
I started in aero engine design engineering at Rolls-Royce, then manufacturing management. My move to procurement was in many ways my big break as I was appointed procurement and logistics director for a new supply chain unit. 

What does an ‘average’ day look like for you? 
Up at 5:45am, check emails over breakfast then drive to work. A major restructuring programme across the group – and including procurement – has been a focus recently. With meeting teams, suppliers and stakeholders, this tends to fill the hours quite easily.

What is the best careers advice you have received? 
Be prepared to take a risk in role choices – the riskier opportunities often become the greatest ones.  

What advice would you give to junior professionals? 
Your early career provides a fantastic opportunity to gain experience over a breadth of disciplines in addition to moving up the ‘career ladder’. Try to keep a balance between the two as sometimes breadth of experience can be more useful than early promotion. 

What’s the biggest thing that’s gone wrong in your working life, and how did you fix it? 
My first time leading a maintenance team on a steel works shut-down to fix a number three priority furnace. I was desperate to show I could finish ahead of target, so asked to take a crane off a number one priority furnace. The job went wrong, I finished late, making the number one priority furnace late. Not a comfortable meeting with my boss, but he memorably said: ‘The only people who never fail are those who never do anything – learn and don’t do it again!’ 

The future of procurement is… 
…being recognised for strong business leadership, not purely expertise in procurement. How do you relax in your free time? Hiking the hills and mountains of the UK with my wife Rachel and my dog Arthur, reading and skiing.   

Who is on your fantasy dinner party guestlist? 
Winston Churchill, Mishal Husain, Barack Obama and David Attenborough.

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