Ladies who lunch it ain’t

6 August 2010
There was a hairnet on my head and blue bags on my feet.  A white lab coat trailed past my ankles and I could not see my hands. Twelve senior procurement professionals – all women – shared with me these wardrobe indignities for a chance to network, enjoy a good lunch and learn something new. Shirley Cooper, president of CIPS and procurement and supply chain director at Computacenter UK, invited the attendees to this Blueprint Club event to network in an informal setting. On our factory tour of boutique caterers Charlie Bigham’s in Harlesden, Northwest London, we watched a whole chicken get deboned in under 45 seconds. Fresh produce was turned into ready-to-cook meals for delivery to supermarkets the next day. Thankfully the factory tour came after a good lunch courtesy of Bigham’s chefs. However, the event didn’t end at the Bigham’s building in Harlesden that afternoon. Shirley’s sister welcomed us to her jaw-droppingly lovely home where more networking and dinner awaited us. Sipping Pimms in the garden beside a well-manicured lawn and handsome shrubbery had me wondering. Not just what fertiliser was used, but how the women felt about Blueprint events. Louise Parker, O2 O2’s Louise Parker, head of corporate and professional services procurement (pictured left), said:  “I was at the first event at the top of the BT tower. Blueprint is valuable because you can pick up the phone after meeting. You meet like-minded people who are dealing with the same issues you are. The procurement community is quite small and familiar. It makes our roles more enjoyable. I’m a big advocate of networking and making it useful and fun.” Maggie Willis, American Express Maggie Willis, American Express vice-president for EMEA in global real estate and procurement services (pictured right), told me: “I don’t come to many of these events. I’m here to network. It’s interesting to hear their views on global supply chain, the recession’s impact and other supply chain issues.” Julia Fancourt - Carillion"Apart from the drinking and eating, it’s good to come to see how different industries do procurement,” said Julia Fancourt, Carillion’s head of supply chain in buildings, fabrics and finishes (pictured below). Shirley said: “We launched 18 months ago and we have 150 members. We have mostly women but some men too. It’s been very well received. We’ve had events at Fortnum & Masons and Mulberry where we were even offered a discount on handbags – and they never do discounts!” Blueprint is not quite an all-female show. Men from the procurement and supply chain profession are invited too. Imagine 50 women and one lone man watching Sex and the City 2 at the Barbican… That was the previous Blueprint event. (You know who you are, Larry Beard from Aer Lingus.)
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