Charles Darwin said “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” This quote came to mind while I was in New Orleans for Zycus’s Horizon 2012 event. Change was the common theme among the keynote presentations and breakout sessions that rounded out this 2 day event. Zycus brought together a dynamic group of procurement professionals to hear thought leadership focused primarily on navigating through the rapidly changing landscape. The agenda provided attendees with insightful shared sessions and focused learning opportunities.
Day one was full of content beginning with the morning Mainstage Sessions. Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Air painted a fascinating picture of how Southwest, under his guidance, literally changed air travel by putting their people first. By attracting employees whose passion and vision matched Southwest’s, in addition to refocusing on simplicity and setting strict standards within procurement, the company drastically improved the bottom line. Southwest has defined a new standard for success with 39 consecutive years of profitability—who wouldn’t want to hear that success story?!
What drives performance? Certainly this is a question every procurement professional has asked themselves at one time or another. Bruce Schneider, Vice President and Senior Director of Performance and Risk Management of Global Sourcing for AIG, provided some key insights into this age-old question during his session. In addition, he gave an encore performance “LIVE from Horizon 2012” on SIG’s weekly webinar series directly from the Zycus event. In both presentations, Bruce gave real world lessons on how AIG adopted a vision of “doing things differently” in times of increased scrutiny and challenges, including dealing with limited resources, a decentralized organization, the lack of a global support model and the absence of good data. During his impactful presentations, Bruce discussed lessons learned and shared real world practical tips on transformation from such a massive scale. The presentation inspired significant feedback and questions, which Bruce tackled one-by-one, including: How do you align business units? How do you measure accountability and non-compliance? What about risk management policies and guidelines? This presentation can be downloaded and listened to HERE.
Deborah Wilson, Research VP with Gartner wrapped up the morning sessions with a presentation on “How to Leverage Technology for Proactive Supplier Management.” She went over some important tips and solutions for effectively managing your suppliers through best practices in qualifying suppliers, risk assessment techniques and development.
The afternoon included Andrew Bartolini, Chief Research Officer of CPO Rising’s CPO Colloquium. Andrew provided an overview from the annual CPO Rising research report, published by Ardent Partners, which compiles the perspective of over 200 CPOs and other procurement executives. The wealth of information housed in this report and during this packed session made it abundantly clear that professionals from many different industries are all dealing with very similar issues. Delegates appreciated the ability to benchmark alongside other best-in-class organizations. One of the main topics of this session resonated with every person in the room; namely, the absolute necessity that CPOs and CIOs work closely and cooperatively to drive adoption of ePurchasing technologies and purchasing strategies in general. This has proven to be incredibly effective in improving corporate sourcing, purchasing and contracting processes.
Tuesday’s Mainstage Sessions were full of more information about how things are rapidly evolving in this industry and how to manage through that transformation. Duncan Jones, VP and Principal Analyst with Forrester Research talked about the role of the CPO in 2016 and how the pressure points that are dealt with now will be even tougher as the search for new innovation continues. Those who stay on top of the trends and plan ahead will have powerful tools to navigate through change.
Jason Busch, Managing Director from Spend Matters flawlessly picked up the baton and drew us into discussions around the global environment we exist in today to the procurement world of tomorrow. He addressed issues such as how we move from being reactive—consistently operating in a “putting out fires” mentality; to becoming proactive—becoming a “fire-starter” that can foresee the needs of the organization and problem solve before there is even a problem.
The afternoon breakout sessions tackled technology and process as we looked at case studies from such companies as Cincinnati Bell, Rockwell Automation, Vertis Communications, and Nestle.
All in all, Zycus' Horizon 2012 echoed some of the main themes we heard at the SIG Global Leadership Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona in October: innovation plays an important role in the evolution of procurement; talent management is critical in the success of any organization; and performance will be driven as much by internal procurement transformation as by the relationships CPOs can develop with CIOs and other key executives and organizational stakeholders. The Horizon 2012 event was a great opportunity for procurement professionals to network with other executives facing similar issues.
Deb Cunningham, Director of Membership Development, has 18 years of sales, marketing and business development experience. She spent many years in the Pharmaceutical/Healthcare industry where she concentrated on the development and implementation of marketing strategies and business expansion for several Fortune 500 companies, including pharmaceutical giants, Schering Plough (now part of Pfizer) and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (now part of Merck). She developed specific expertise with MedImmune, a biologics organization operating within the AstraZeneca family of companies. Deb is passionate about building long-term client relationships, and is accomplished in the development of sales strategies that drive business and financial results. In her current role, she is focused on expanding the dynamic SIG community and strategizing with companies to realize the full value of their membership. Deb has a BS from Colorado State University, and is an active supporter and volunteer for a battered women’s shelter.