Don't look in normal places for transformation talent

posted by Lucy Patchett
1 November 2019

Procurement professionals need to think outside the box when acquiring talent for digital transformation as it requires new skillsets.

Speaking at the CIPS UK Conference in London, Alex Jennings, CPO at packaging manufacturer DS Smith, said: “It's important when you think about talent and driving the transformation that you don't just look in the normal places.”

Jennings emphasised that from managing digital insight and analytics to project management, acquiring talent needed to focus on the skillset of the professional rather than just a procurement background in order to deliver a digital transformation. 

You need to tap into a “pool of capability”, he said, and get a focus “for people to understand what skills are needed to help drive the transformation”.

Harold Hendrickx, transformation director at DS Smith, said that “the chain is as strong as the weakest link” so the whole procurement team needs to understand the aim and follow the correct and most effective process. 

“It starts with the process. You need to identify that process, and when it comes to ownership, you need to identify who takes responsibility for that piece of the process.

“Technology should always be supporting, not leading. If you implement a technical solution without adding understanding about what you want to do with it then people are reluctant to use the technology.”

DS Smith developed a data team to assist with the data that the technology was creating.

During a separate presentation on digital transformation, Ninian Wilson, group supply chain management director & CEO at the Vodafone Procurement Company, described how the company has also hired a similar skillset, a team of data scientists.

He said: “Data scientists are becoming significantly important for the skills base needed in supply chain management.”

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