Setting our business course
In my previous roles, I was in charge of defining the sourcing strategy for products sourced externally (meaning not produced in a MDLZ factory), and working closely with teams in Business Development, Research, Development, Quality & Innovation (RDQI), and Finance to run ‘Make or Buy’ studies to define the best sourcing locations. My current role is more strategic. Essentially, I represent Marketing and Sales on the European Procurement Leadership Team and work closely with Marketing Operations team to identify Optimization initiatives within the Advertising & Consumer spend area, and drive them in partnership with the Marketing community. It is key to align business needs with our Procurement strategies and to drive towards the same objectives. Obviously we have quite challenging Productivity targets, and margin agenda is a key priority. But our Marketing & Sales Procurement organization also wants to support the growth agenda, developing Digital capabilities through preferred strategic partners and stepping up our relationships with our key Agencies in order to drive more value from our suppliers. We also believe in the power of ‘Fewer Bigger Better’ and we drive a simplification Agenda towards a leaner vendor portfolio.
For me, Procurement at MDLZ is a lot about leading in partnership with the business. We need to have a common agenda with the business, that’s crucial. For example, if we want to consolidate and get more value from our agencies, it is important to align with all the relevant Marketing and Sales leaders to get their buy-in, so we can implement the strategy and have a Win-Win outcome. It is not only about savings, it’s also ensuring we step up the Quality and the service we need to grow the business and look at End-to-End Optimization Opportunities.
Ultimately, it’s about being a trusted partner and leading from the front. We negotiate the best deals for both Mondelēz International and our suppliers and bring in new ideas and new ways of working to support and advance the business.
The art of negotiation
For me, one of the most exciting part of my role is negotiating. If you think about it, most people go through some form of negotiation in their everyday life, with their partner or their kids. In the end, negotiation is part of us.
In business, I believe negotiation relies on preparation. You have to aim for a win/win, because that’s the only way you can make it work sustainably. So you need to go into the negotiation understanding your supplier’s needs and motivations, which might not just be cost. Then you can balance what you want from your supplier with what you’ll give them in return.
It’s the same in my current role, negotiating with internal Marketing and Sales people on implementing our strategy. It’s about teamwork and getting people engaged with your ideas. If you don’t get their buy-in, you can’t move anything forward, so you need to strive for a win-win partnership. We’re a complex organization and it can be difficult sometimes but that’s the fun we have! And what is very important is to never give up. During my 16 years with MDLZ I have seen many ideas coming back and being implemented in the end. That’s because it is important to be at the right time with your idea…
Developing new products
Another exciting part of working in Procurement is to be the “Eye of the company” in the outside world. We’re involved right the way through the development of a new product. For example, in my previous role, my team was involved in developing the Dairylea Lunchables Pizza Pepperoni in the UK.
We started by defining which country offered us the best costs for sourcing. Then we worked closely with Marketing and R&D to define how the product should look. It’s a three-part product – the cheese, cracker and meat sit in their own compartments. So, we worked with our suppliers to develop the right flavor cracker, the right size and shape of meat and the right nutritional values. Then we liaised with the packaging supplier so they could guarantee the best shelf-life.
All the time, we worked with Quality to ensure the suppliers were audited and had the right checks in place. For example, because it was for the UK market and targeted at children, we had to ensure the product met strict nutritional needs, while meeting the flavor profile that would appeal to kids and having the right shelf life. There were also cost implications.
It turned out to be a very popular line that grew very quickly, so we also had to look at manufacturing capacity and reducing down time on the line to meet demand.
During my time in Procurement Innovation, I led several Innovation sessions with suppliers in order to get new ideas to feed the Innovation Pipeline.
So, as you can see, Procurement is involved at every stage of product innovation.
Learning all the time
I love to keep on learning and I’m enjoying what I'm doing. For me, that's the only way you can be successful. Procurement has connections to every part of our business. So, as long as you’re keen to learn and can communicate with people at all levels, you can quickly become involved in negotiations that have a noticeable impact on our Top and bottom line.
Learning is an ongoing process. You’re expected to learn while doing most of the time, so you need the confidence to find the people and resources that can help you learn. This often stretches your skills, but you learn a lot. That’s what happened to me when I moved from Quality to Procurement with no commercial experience. For a scientist it was a huge stretch, but I learned on the job. It’s the same with my current role – I had no marketing or sales background. But there’s so much knowledge here and you just need the ability and willingness to tap into it and learn from the people around you.
Philadelphia is in my heart – it was the first brand I worked on when I joined and I’m a heavy user! My kids are the same – they grew up with pasta and Philadelphia!