Justin Brochocki’s international procurement experience is a key reason for his career success. We sat down with him to find out more about his varied career journey to date, what led him to his current role as head of property and commercial services at Westpac New Zealand, and his advice for people looking to move down under.
Global career journey
“You could say I fell into procurement,” admits Brochocki, who started his career in recruitment before being contacted by a former manager about a carrier services procurement vacancy in a telco company with European travel opportunities.
A few years into that role (17 years ago), Brochocki decided to move to New Zealand with his wife and quickly landed a technology procurement role at TelstraClear – an Australian telco with a New Zealand presence. After a couple of years, he joined Telecom NZ (now known as Spark) where he spent “many memorable years” in technology procurement roles, ending up as head of tech procurement.
After six years at Spark, Brochocki joined Barclays (through Robert Walters) as a director in the global sourcing centre of excellence in Singapore. “The role and experience were incredible,” says Brochocki, who had the opportunity “to build a team from scratch, be across some of the largest deals globally and work with procurement colleagues and stakeholders who were some of the best at what they did in the world.”
After a couple of years in Singapore he relocated to London where he continued for two more years before starting his own consulting business, working almost exclusively with the complex transactions team within the UK Cabinet Office.
Invaluable international experience
After five years back in the UK, he and his wife returned to New Zealand to get their children ready for high school. Brochocki secured a role at Kiwibank where he spent the next five years as general manager of property and procurement.
“Senior management gave me an opportunity to use my international experience to transform the role of procurement in the bank and to take on the property function and embed it into the bank,” says Brochocki.
"LIKE MANY NEW ZEALAND COMPANIES NOW, THEY SUPPORT FLEXIBLE AND REMOTE WORKING, WHICH IS A 'MUST-HAVE' FOR ME."
- Justin Brochocki
He now heads up property and procurement at Westpac. “I moved banks because Westpac’s values align with mine and I really liked how they focused on ‘values’ throughout the interview process.
“Their procurement and property function is embarking on an exciting journey. Like many New Zealand companies now, they support flexible and remote working which is a ‘must-have’ for me.”
Embracing a ‘work to live’ culture
“The attraction to New Zealand was mainly lifestyle focused for me and my family,” explains Brochocki. “We wanted a bit more space, some fresh air, to be near a great beach and to not have to deal with crazy and stressful daily commutes. Now, we embrace much more of a ‘work to live’ culture.
“We also wanted to give the kids an opportunity to live in an area where they could roam around outdoors freely with their friends.”
Brochocki and his family decided to settle in the South island which ticked all those boxes with the added bonuses of vineyards, hop farms and great trails.
He adds: “For work, Kiwibank and now Westpac, have been very flexible and accommodating in allowing me to work from home or from a regional office on the understanding that I am expected to deliver outcomes and be present at HQ when I need to be. Flexible working is certainly much more the norm than it was when I left New Zealand previously.”
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Having relocated five times in his career (four times in between countries and once between cities), Brochocki is no stranger to upping sticks and adapting to new surroundings.
From a career perspective, the main challenge he’s had to face is that each country has a very different culture and approach to getting things done. “I had to quickly adapt my team management and stakeholder management approach to align with the local culture – and I sought feedback from peers and mentors about how best to do so.”
He’s also found this to be true when it comes to dealing with suppliers in different countries or regions. His key learning is: “While many might be large global or regional operations, the local cultures prevail and you need to adapt your style accordingly.”
A “significantly accelerated” career
Exposure to different working cultures, regulatory environments, suppliers, and contracting and tender models, has “significantly accelerated” Brochocki’s procurement career. He adds: “My experiences with larger organisations – and also to global and regional roles – have been significant. I got to see how to string together agreements that cover multiple countries and develop global strategies for countries or regions to adopt.”
Brochocki believes there are many opportunities for procurement professionals in New Zealand. “The country is continuing to invest significantly in its infrastructure.” This includes traditional areas such as roads, water and health, as well as data centres where many of the major players have communicated a strategy to have a presence in New Zealand. “Industries are also investing heavily in digital transformation. This means that the breadth of opportunity is abundant,” he adds.
What makes New Zealand stand out?
While New Zealand has a small population of circa five million, it is very much a developed country with the same industries and regulatory regimes as other much larger developed countries. As a result, companies are generally a little smaller but operate similarly. What does this mean for procurement professionals? “You get to work much more closely with senior executives and can learn from them, and also directly influence them,” explains Brochocki. “It also means you have the opportunity to be exposed to a much broader range of activity which requires you to be flexible and to learn fast.
“When I moved from New Zealand to a senior global role with Barclays (through Robert Walters), I was really nervous that I would be out of my depth, but what actually happened was that I already had the skills to be able to deal with very senior stakeholders and to adapt on the fly.”
Striking a work-life balance
Commenting on social life in New Zealand, Brochocki feels it’s really what you make it. “There’s so much to do on your doorstep. You could be working in Auckland at 5pm and out on the water within 30 minutes. Or you could go for a lunchtime trail run from the Wellington office and within 15 minutes be in thick bush with only the sound of native birds around you.”
Brochocki’s shares five top tips to help you make the most of relocating:
- Think through the logistics and plan for them. Consider where in a country you want to live. And schooling is an important factor if you have kids.
- Companies are normally really good at ensuring you settle into a country or city, so don’t stress if in the first couple of months you have to be away checking out a school or a house.
- Seek advice on tax and pensions beforehand and if you are moving with a company, then try and get support from the local expertise within that company.
- Financially, do your own research into affordability. Taxes are different in every country, salaries are different, cost of goods are different and so try and work through these as best you can and then add a bit more in the first six months (my experience is that it does cost a little more to move in and settle).
- Finally, embrace the experience. It might seem nerve wracking and difficult, but if you have a plan and have done the research, it can be incredibly exciting.
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To discuss your career, get in touch with Simone Connors (email@example.com) and Jennifer Gilbert (firstname.lastname@example.org) who are based in London and help people move to New Zealand and Australia.
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