​“Your fresh thinking and learning mindset are the values you can bring from day one,” says Karen Thompson
​“Your fresh thinking and learning mindset are the values you can bring from day one,” says Karen Thompson

A career in procurement with Karen Thompson

The head of direct procurement at UK firm Anglian Water Services spoke to Supply Management.

How did you get your current role?
I was lucky enough to be offered the job I’m in now to support challenges in the region, such as climate change and population growth.

What does an ‘average’ day look like for you?
I touch base with my team and spend time with stakeholders, understanding their needs and business drivers on complex projects – and ensuring we have effective strategies to support them.

The best part of my job is...
...helping the business to do things differently, getting involved up front to shape strategy. I also really enjoy learning and developing. I am always stretching my thinking – even after all these years in procurement I still have things to learn.

My current top challenges...
Delivery of a procurement and logistics transformation strategy. Alongside technology, our strategy includes investment in our people. We will increase and create in-depth category expertise with improved analytical capabilities. This will enable us to build more constructive supplier relationships while increasing supplier performance and reducing risk.

Tell us something about your organisation
Anglian provides almost 1.1 billion litres of water a day. The pipe work in our region if laid end to end can stretch a quarter of the way to the moon.

What’s the best piece of advice you have received?
Leadership is not only about doing things right, but also about doing the right thing.

What advice would you give junior professionals?
Grab opportunities – and don’t be afraid to challenge. Your fresh thinking and learning mindset are the values you can bring from day one.

The future of procurement is....
Technology-driven, but with agile teams at the centre that are customer-centric and relationship-focused to enable innovation and collaboration.

How do you relax in your free time?
I love to travel. The escape, the change and the new surroundings recharge me.

If marooned on a desert island what would you take?
Music. My Spotify playlist is so varied – from Fall Out Boy to Bon Jovi – it’ll keep me entertained for a while.

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