What the Duck?! Episode 35 Transcript
DYNAMIC DUOS: Developing Direct Materials Talent and Teams with Anna McGovern and Rachel Hassall
Welcome to What the Duck?! A podcast with real experts talking about direct spend challenges and experiences. And now, here’s your host, SourceDay’s very own manufacturing maven, Sarah Scudder.
Thanks for joining me for What the Duck?! Another Supply Chain Podcast, brought to you by SourceDay. I am your host, Sarah Scudder, and this is the podcast for people working in the direct materials part of the supply chain. I’m at Sarah Scudder on LinkedIn and @SScudder on Twitter. If you are new to the show, make sure to follow this podcast so you don’t miss any of our direct material supply chain content.
Today is special because we actually have two guests on the show. Normally, I just interview one person at a time, but this is a very important and special topic that actually Rachel came to me with the idea and thought that Anna and Rachel together would be a really good fit. So today, I’m going to be joined by Anna McGovern and Rachel Hassall, and we’re going to discuss developing direct materials procurement talent and teams.
If you work for a manufacturer and want to train up and retain your procurement team, then this episode is for you. Anna is a supply chain and procurement evangelist and geeks out on all things supply chain. She may be an equal supply chain nerd as myself. I always like to call myself a supply chain nerd, but Anna is very high on the list as well. Anna is a New York Yankees fanatic and a New York sports team fan. She and her hubby are proud parents to amazing college-age young men, and they are newish parents to a rescue Lab Husky Miss, who has kept them up for many, many nights. Anna is not looking as sleep-deprived as she was when they got the puppy.
Rachel is a CPG procurement executive with 15 years of experience ranging from personal care to home care to cosmetics for both large established brands and smaller challenger brands. Rachel is passionate about empowering people and sees this as one of the most important competitive advantages to her organization. She is a mom of two small humans who are amped up on sugar, being that we are conducting this interview the day after Easter, and she has two cats and loves the color green almost as much as I do. You can see my green background today. This is actually the twall in my office because I love green so much.
So Anna and Rachel, welcome to the show.
Thanks, Sarah. It’s awesome to be here. Anna, always good to see you.Anna, we’re going to start with you. I would like to have you share the most important thing that someone has done to help further your career. I’m asking you this question because I know you are a great storyteller and have had some pretty amazing bosses in your career. “Yeah, it’s wow. Where do I begin with the examples? Let me go back to the beginning of my procurement journey, which officially started while I was with Unilever. I had spent about six years in supply chain planning in laundry, skin care, and other personal care categories, doing project management such as installing ERPs, implementing integration around SAP, and things of that nature. Unilever happened to be going through a journey of transitioning from purchasing to supply management procurement, and I was asked to join the organization buying rigid plastics components – bottles, caps, closures, anything rigid plastics-oriented – and I didn’t know the difference between a bottle and a cap. So, I questioned my leadership, ‘What’s your problem? I don’t know anything about real purchasing, real buying, real sourcing.’ They said to me, ‘You’ve got an MBA in finance and a background in end-to-end supply chain. Therefore, you know the value chain, and you need to pick out the waste and help remove it. So, we know that you’ll be able to work with your suppliers on that value chain to deliver cost savings. We’re going to support you, and we’re going to give you the training that you need.’ I was sent for formal negotiations training. I was sent on finance for procurement manager courses and things of that nature. It was probably one of the most impactful career moves I’ve ever made. I took a chance, I believed in my leadership, who believed in my potential, and I haven’t looked back. My entire career, I’ve been bouncing back between procurement and extracting value out of the supply base and the end-to-end planning function, which is planning and manufacturing and delivering. So, I’ll stop with that.
So, Anna, you worked for a very, very, what I would consider, large and mature organization. A lot of our listeners are working for small and mid-sized manufacturers and don’t necessarily have resources that have solid internal training programs or processes, or maybe don’t have the resources to send team members or send themselves to expensive training programs. What advice would you have for people that would like to get more training but have a very, very small and limited budget?
Yeah, so that’s a great question, Sarah, because after leaving this wonderfully large organization, by design, I went to go to a very small, smallish organization that didn’t have the resources in the budget, and I was recruited to essentially create a strategic sourcing function. So I was the CPO for a beauty manufacturer who created sampling solutions, and that’s exactly what we had. We had a bunch of really good people that knew how to create transactions. It wasn’t any kind of strategic sourcing. So there are a number of ways to leverage not having a budget. Okay, there’s a ton of training that’s available online free of charge, things like Coursera, as an example. So as long as you’re not looking to get a certificate program, there are a ton of programs that you can sign up for for free. The other thing is, and not to put a plug in for my own business, but really, there are practitioners out there. There are practitioners out there that are highly experienced, okay, and you can bring them in for much more reasonable rates versus hiring the big four, let’s say, who can create bespoke customized training programs to meet your needs. For example, I do that for my mid-sized clients all the time. So there are independent contractors who are highly experienced that you can tap into, and this is where networking comes in, right? And then there are, you know, there’s always, you know, going to ISM conferences, you know, going to SIG conferences and so on. It, you know, there are lots and lots of opportunities to give, you know, to give training. And the other one that I’m going to put a plug in, a shameless plug in for my colleagues at the Procurement Foundry. You know, I know that Rachel and I are both members, Sarah, you know them very, very well. It was the origin of our relationship when you were presenting on the sales side. The Procurement Foundry is a community of shared best practices by practitioners for practitioners. So this is a community that was created to be able to leverage. And honestly, when I was, you know, part of Arcade Beauty and I had left Unilever, I didn’t have the access, I didn’t have the budget, I didn’t have the resources.
So I would get on, you know, to the Slack community, and now we’ve got our own community, but I would get on there and I’d say, ‘Hey, I’ve never run, you know, a software RFP before, who could help me out?’ So this is the kind of stuff that I would encourage SMBs to leverage. And in addition to that, you know, one of the things I always recommend people is ask your vendors. So when it comes to learning about what you’re buying, a lot of the direct material vendors, whether it’s your fragrance houses, your label vendors, your box bundles, bottle vendors, they will all have colleges or workshops that either they will host at their facilities or that they’re happy to come and talk to you about. Ask your vendors. There’s nothing more important than really understanding what you’re buying. So that’s a great way not to get overarching procurement knowledge, but to really understand what you’re buying. Many, many vendors have this, so reach out to your vendors. That’s a big one. LinkedIn Learning, right? They actually have a ton of great courses, and there are business accounts. I’ve never used it as a business account. I have my own personal LinkedIn Learning account, but, you know, they’re not that expensive. And so, you know, reaching out and looking if there’s anything applicable to your group, you know, that’s that’s a great way to look into this. And then, you know, really the final thing when you’re talking about documentation and creating your own training, I know a lot of smaller groups don’t really focus on that, and putting it onto one person can be a lot. If you look at, and I know probably we’ll talk about personal development and plans and things like that, but adding to your group a singular task, you know, each cycle to document a process, a procedure, right, how to update that, that’s a great way for you to update this kind of on an ongoing basis. And it’s a great learning for those people. There’s nothing like having to actually document a process. That’s such a great skill to have and is applicable to whatever you do. So I highly recommend if you don’t have, let’s say, a center of excellence, to spread that out amongst your team as a great learning for them. And then also, that helps you to build up your internal learning processes.
So, Rachel, on the flip side of my question to Anna, I think there’s a lot of learnings from the not-so-good bosses that we’ve all had in our lives. So, worst boss you’ve had and what did you learn from that experience? So because we haven’t mentioned this yet, we need to throw like the disclosure out there. I worked for Anna at Unilever, so if we start talking about the same things, then that’s why. But Anna obviously, I wouldn’t have invited her, you know, or asked for us to be on this show together if she was in that camp. So Anna’s been one of the greatest bosses and mentors and advocates for me, you know, in my career. So I really, really appreciate her for that. But what I will say as a trend, I’ve been really lucky, right? I’ve had really amazing bosses throughout my career, and that’s really helped me accelerate my learning and to take on new challenges. But the bosses that I’ve had who have the biggest areas of opportunity, I like to say they choose chaos. Chaos is a choice. That’s one of my biggest mantras. And it’s the knee-jerk reactions, right? The bosses who let the short-term noise block out the long-term vision for the group or keeping the eye on the ball, as we say. That is always the biggest struggle, right? Anyone who works in supply chain or procurement knows that changing your goals, changing your approach every other day is not useful for anyone. And, the bosses that I’ve had, probably, the biggest struggle with have been the bosses who have chosen the chaos route over maintaining a clear path for their team and their people.
Question to you and then to Rachel as well, so I just turned 40 last Monday. I’m in reflection phase in my career, and this is something that I thought a lot about last week, so would like to ask both of you this question. So Anna, we’ll start with you. What career advice would you give your 21-year-old self starting out your supply chain career? Let’s say you were starting tomorrow, what one piece of advice would you give yourself, knowing what you know now? So, I, you know, I think I’ve shared before that I sort of stumbled into a career in supply chain. And, I would say, you know, that stumbling into supply chain or choosing supply chain or any career, for that matter, is never ever stop learning, right? I don’t care if you’re 21 or 41 or 81. You’re always, always going to be in learning mode. Right? If you’re not, you’re going to perish. The other thing is you need to have respect up, down, and sideways, right? So everybody has something to teach you, whether it’s, you know, the janitor that’s walking around, you know, cleaning out the waste paper baskets or it’s the person who’s serving you in the cafeteria line or it’s, you know, the chief procurement officer or it’s one of your peers on the team, they all have a story, and they can all teach you something. So value every single relationship because what goes around comes around, right? So, your peer that you’re in competition with may someday be your boss, you may be somebody else’s boss. Okay, you never know what crosses people are carrying, so always be learning, and always, always respect people and relationships because every single person has something to teach you. And, you know, I’ll just share a quick story. One of my direct reports, you know, who is an older gentleman, he came from a factory in one of the Carolinas, and during the interview, he just asked me, “What do I need to do to help you succeed?” And I thought that, this was earlier in my career, he just said, “You just need to answer one question. Help me understand what you need for you to succeed and how can I help you with that?” So, I hired them, and this person had a backstory, right? He had a lot of crosses to carry in his personal life, yet he came in every single day with a smile on his face, with faith and hope in every move that he made, and I learned so much from being thankful and from being grateful for everything, and this guy valued every opportunity, and I will never forget the lessons I learned from him because he just came in and did a good job day in and day out with this attitude of how can I make others succeed, and with that, I’ll pass to Rachel. So, Rachel, same question to you. What career advice would you give your 21-year-old self if you were just starting out your supply chain career tomorrow? Yeah, so I heard a quote recently which said, “It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.
So, define what your values are and build your brand. You, as an individual, are a brand leader of yourself, right? And so, clearly defining your brand widget or your values, which at 21 it’s a journey, but make sure that you’re starting to really clarify your values and then how that translates into you as a supply chain professional. That is probably the most important thing. There are lots of paths to go down, and it’s not hard making the decisions once you really understand what your values are and then what roles will help you to stay true to that in the companies as well that will help you to stay true to that. The other thing is network and network now. Right? Building on what Anna said, you will go so much further when you’re able to be the person that someone wants to call to help solve a problem, and then you can pick up the phone and call someone else to actually help you do that. Networking, I wish back when I was 21, I was always very social and made great friends, but I never thought of it as a networking as a tool to help my development, and I wish I had treated more interaction, and especially externally and internally with senior stakeholders, as networking opportunities. So, clarifying your values, building your brand, and networking. Those would be the three things that I would tell my 21-year-old self to start doing right away. And Rachel, to go along with that, one of my biggest pet peeves is when I don’t hear from somebody for two or three years, and then they reach out, and they reach out because they want help finding a job. And my first thing that I tell them is while I’m happy to be a resource and support and help you, it would have been much more advantageous for you to stay in touch with me throughout the past three years versus randomly reaching out to me out of the blue and asking for something. So really think about nurturing and maintaining relationships ongoing and not only reaching out to somebody when you need something.
Sarah, 100%, and you know, I think over the course of the last few months here, right, I put time in my calendar every day, 30 minutes for networking. It’s 30 minutes, and it’s not a long intensive process, but it’s reaching out to people and making a plan because it’s not if you just do it ad hoc, as you said, Sarah.
You’re not doing it appropriately, and then you’re going to be reaching out to people, cold calling them, basically. So, you know, even if it’s if you can’t do 30 minutes a day, if it’s one hour on your Friday afternoon when you know it’s quiet, right, but dedicating time and treating this as a develop a part of your own personal development, that’s super critical. If I can jump in just to build on that, it’s extremely important. You know, for years, you know, I mean, I’ve always made it a practice to reach out to three people every week. And this is, I mean, I’ve never been without a job, right. So it’s not about job hunting or job search. Every week, just reach out to three people just to stay in touch, right, and make it a habit, just like you brush your teeth and you know, you get dressed in the morning, make it part of your routine. And I would also add on to that, not only maintaining relationships, but creating new ones. So I moved to Austin about a year and a half ago and knew absolutely nobody. I packed up my life into two suitcases, moved on a Sunday, started a new job on a Monday, and so I’ve set a goal to meet with one new person every single week because I’m in a new community, I’m in a new state. So not only maintaining existing relationships but think about how you’re going to expand your network and meet new people as well.
So, there’s a couple of buckets of topics that I want to make sure that we cover in this Talent conversation today. So Anna, the first bucket I’d like to address with you is spotting Talent, which I think is one of the most important skill sets of a leader, is being able to find and identify the Future Leaders or the people that have the right skills and abilities to be coachable and trainable to move up to that next step in their career. So what key things should people be looking for in direct materials talent? And then maybe you could also talk about if there are any unexpected Talent pools where maybe there are places that we should be looking for within manufacturing and within the direct materials procurement, for instance, like other departments or things that you’ve seen that maybe attract people with the right skill sets.
Absolutely. So, you know, one of them is here right now. So Rachel comes to us from R&D; she was a packaging engineer, right? So, you know, the interesting thing about what makes great talent, you can teach someone something every single day. You know, procurement is teachable, to teach how to negotiate. What you can’t teach are values, you can’t teach integrity, you can frame it out, but generally, you know what I would be looking for is I’m looking for that analytical mind, right? So somebody who comes from Finance, somebody who’s got a technical background like comes from R&D and knows the Commodities that they’re buying, the portfolio that they’re buying. So, if you want to bring somebody into buying, you know, buying packaging, let’s say plastics rigid packaging, you know, somebody like Rachel was trained in that in her education. She worked in packaging development so she knows the value drivers, right? She knows the value driver, she knows where to take out waste, she knows that I can add this additive agent to make it more rigid so that I can take out, you know, weight in the resin, you know, so less grammage but add an additive. You know the additive may be costly but the total package now comes down in cost. These are the value creation opportunities right. It’s not about pinning supplier A versus supplier B.
This is about real value creation. Nobody is going to question her technical capability on the supplier side, so it becomes this joint relationship where we’re talking about creating value rather than wanting to take out cost savings. So, somebody who has a financial, chemical, engineering, or manufacturing background, because don’t forget, when we’re buying direct materials, one of the components, one of the decisions that we have to make is: is this manufacturable? Is this fit for purpose? So, if you’ve got an engineer in manufacturing who knows how to design a packaging line, he knows how that package is going to be fit for purpose. Or, if you’ve got a chemical engineer who knows how we’re going to compound a bunch of ingredients together, what’s the most effective combination for continuous manufacturing, as an example. Those are the tangential, but analytical skills, relationship building, because think about what a procurement leader is. They are a bunch of different things. They’re negotiators, they are legal people because they need to understand regulatory and compliance, they are the technical engineers, the packaging, and the product engineers, they are the cheerleaders both for their supplier and for their company brand owners. That’s typically what I’m looking for, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a big firm or a small firm. In fact, in smaller businesses, having that kind of background is absolutely critical and essential because then you can get somebody who can wear many hats, who can come and add value immediately. In building on what Anna said, it’s all about the person’s ability to understand value. Procurement is not black and white. There are lots of shades of gray, and there’s lots of need to pull levers, being able to take in lots of inputs and drive that into a clear prioritization across lots of different teams and needs and wants. That, for me, is the biggest thing. So, having the person who’s able to take in lots of inputs, digest them, and then bring them out as a clear path to value, that, for me, is what I’m looking for. Anna talked about all these different groups where I’ve seen talent. I’ve seen talent come from R&D, from planning. I’ve seen FP&A people specifically from the finance side. FP&A tends to throw out a lot of really great people for procurement as well. Those are the people that really can bring those all together, and for me, curiosity. If you’re curious, that’s going to do a world of good because, as you heard from Anna, I don’t even think I could check off all those boxes of all the things that make a great procurement person, but I can check off a number of them, and I know how to be curious to bring in the right people to support the areas that I don’t know inside and out. So, curiosity is really important because you’ll be able to better understand what value really means to your organization because quite often, especially if you’re in a smaller organization, value will not be super clear. There might be a cost savings target or a gross margin target, and then when you’re able to actually quantify what a reduced lead time, a smaller MOQ will mean, that’s where you start driving the true value. That’s an important point.
I just want to quickly highlight that Rachel pointed to, which is if I don’t know, I know where to get the answer. That is hugely critical. I always said that, that’s my secret sauce, that is my superpower. I know I am smart enough to know I’m not the smartest person in the room, but I’m smart enough to know who to go to for the answers. Critical point. Thank you, Rachel. Alright, so the next topic I’d like to cover is training and tools for procurement teams. So, Rachel, what are the top tips for onboarding new members of a direct materials procurement team?
Yeah, so onboarding is probably the biggest miss in a lot of organizations, right? I hear it from so many people that I talk to. I’ve experienced it in my life, right? I’m very lucky to have been a part of organizations who have great onboarding, and then to have been part of organizations that don’t. And it’s something that is completely in the hands of any manager to do correctly, right?
So the ideal scenario is you have a great HR team that then also helps you to design your own onboarding for your function, and in the absence of that, it’s the responsibility of the manager, right? So if you don’t have access to a great HR organization that’s highly organized or to a functional organization that’s really organized, it is your responsibility to empower your people, to give them the correct onboarding. And again, once you start doing this and you start documenting it, it gets easier every time, right? So I know the first time might be hard, but it’s really important to start planning it out and documenting it. And again, looping people onto your team to help you document those processes is really, really important. But what I have found personally is that onboarding with systems and tools is probably the easiest thing to do and is most often overlooked. The amount of time that people take looking for stuff or work, looking for people’s names or how to best utilize a tool that they maybe haven’t used before, a different ERP system or version of an ERP system, the wasted time is astronomic. So I find that buddying people up with more senior people within your team is a really good way to truly get them ingrained in the process. Now, in a virtual world, it is more difficult. I think we’ve all seen that over the past couple of years, but there are ways and channels, so if you have a slack system to be able to increase communication. But really giving that hyper-like two-week onboarding with following people along and shadowing, I find that that’s really great if you don’t have a team to support a more organized onboarding process. So, for me, that’s critical. Anna, what about for small companies that don’t have large established HR departments and maybe don’t have formal onboarding programs? We’re talking about procurement teams that probably have five people or less on them. What advice do you have for onboarding when there is little to no budget? How do you use and leverage the resources that you do have?
That was definitely the case for me in the last two companies where I worked, where I had zero budget. So, I had to create, essentially, onboarding and training from scratch. And the most important thing is learning by doing, management by walkabout. So, spending time, so what are you buying? Let’s understand what is the scope, what are you buying, what are you responsible for, who’s impacted by it? So then touching all of those areas that are impacted by what you’re buying, spending time shadowing, as Rachel explained, how do you shadow.
So that you’re learning the ins and outs of what that person is doing, which is going to inform where you create value by buying something. Even if you’re buying cardboard, right? Understanding the spec, you know, card brown boxes that you’re going to pack stuff in, understanding in the warehouse what some of the constraints are, you know, things like tape sealers, like package shipping sealers. I was walking around and asking what the issues were in my last role, and a couple of the guys were like, ‘You know, Miss Anna’–they were calling me Miss Anna–‘would you get us bigger tape dispensers?’ Like, why? Well, they showed me why they were broken. So, I asked my procurement team, ‘Hey, buy bigger [__] tape dispensers.’ So that’s the first thing, is make sure that you’re creating that shadowing exercise so that what you’re buying, understand who it’s impacting. And then, back to what Rachel said before, leveraging the suppliers, leveraging the suppliers. Visit the supplier, go walk on the line, learn how they make the stuff that you’re buying so that you understand what leverage you have as a buyer, as a customer. But everybody’s got a university this and that. That’s how I learn molds. Rachel, I mean, I learned molds by going to all those molds classes. You know, they offer them. The only thing you have to pay for is like travel, and usually, you can get to somewhere local, but those are free, free of charge. So there are a tremendous number of opportunities for onboarding and training when you have zero budget. Rachel, what are some tips for development plans? So I’m in direct materials procurement. I want to further my career. Where do I even start?”
“Yeah, so this is the number one important thing. I’m going to say it once, and I’m going to say it again, and then I want everybody to repeat it to themselves: you own your own development plan. You own your own development plan, not HR, not your boss. This is the number one important thing. Hopefully, you’re in an organization that supports you and that you know you have people that can help you to define that, but at the end of the day, you’re responsible for your own development. So you need to hold onto that, and this goes back to creating your values and understanding that, but it’s really for you to own. So the most important thing that I would recommend to individuals..
Let’s talk to yout as an individual. Do your own little mini-risk assessment. Ask people who you trust – your boss, your peers, a mentor, an advocate – to figure out what your personal risk assessment is in your areas of opportunity. From there, that should be defining what you’re trying to create within your development plan. Of course, as you know, most of us will have some sort of very clear metrics within our development plan, or you should. There’ll be a cost-saving target, or there’ll be a target in supporting innovation or optimization or supplier mapping. There’ll be something pretty specific for you to focus on. But even within that, you should be targeting key areas of opportunity for yourself to be able to work on through your development plan. Your development plan isn’t just your cost-saving target, but it’s your cost-saving target plus better understanding a new portfolio that you’ve taken on or better understanding the commodity drivers to those materials that you’re buying. You can always be working on something other than just what that is asking you. Also, you should be demanding that within your development plan, there is also a more personalized goal that maybe isn’t directly related to a savings target or executing plans. This should be really something about your own personal development. If that is stakeholder engagement, it always should be something on the more softer side. Do you need more face time with senior leaders? You should be demanding that your boss is helping you find ways to achieve that. I was very lucky, and I’m going to call out Essie Johnson here. They made it super clear that if you had the desire to go work in another part of the world, put it in your development plan, and that tracks. They are then obligated to work with you to figure out how to make that happen. Does that mean it’s going to happen tomorrow? Probably not. But if your values are saying, “I really want to make this thing happen,” they will help you work towards that. Again, you own your own development plan. You have to own that and then make sure that you’re delivering for the business while also demanding support for things that are important for your personal development. Anna, what about as we talk about development opportunities and career progression, the importance of advocates and not just having mentors? Hugely important, right?
So, having mentors, both formal and informal, is important, but having those confidants, whether inside the company or outside of the company, is game-changing, right? So, you know, what I always advise people who come to me for advice on their career goals is, you don’t look for what is my next job, you always need to be looking, what’s the next two to three roles that I want to aspire to and then building that roadmap to get you there. What are the skills that are needed, having informational interviews, you know, gee, you know Sarah, you’re an incredible marketing guru, you’re an incredible supply chain guru, what did you do to do X, Y, and Z, and not being afraid to get your hands dirty? So, I mean, those advocates are hugely important, and these are the people that put you in front of the decision-makers, they give you credit, they’re not stealing your thunder. Okay, so your advocates or those that are not only pushing your agenda, they’re giving you the credit, and they’re putting you so that you can shine, they’re creating those opportunities. And if you’re not in those types of firms, I don’t care how small or how large, if you’re not in a department or in a firm that has bosses that value that, putting you out there so that you get your opportunity to shine, this is that values discussion. Really think long and hard, is this the right place for me, and if it’s not, if they’re not getting those opportunities, think quickly and move on. Hugely important to have advocates because they’re the ones that open doors, they’re the ones that create opportunities. That’s all they’re doing, the hard lifting is up to you, and I couldn’t say enough that you own your career, just like Rachel was saying, you own your career, nobody else but you. And remember the key difference, a mentor will talk to you, an advocate will talk about you when you’re not there, yes, right? So they’re there to be that voice for you. So, you know, having a mentor to talk through how do I do expires, that is great, having someone who will talk about you when you’re not there in those key forums, that is what you need in an advocate, and I highly recommend you get at least one internally and you get one externally as well.
So, Rachel, the other topic that I want to make sure we cover today is supporting your teams and talent procurement and supply chain is a tough, tough place to be right now. There is lots of craziness, lots of uncertainty, lots of stress. I know people personally that have hit a breaking point and have had to take time to step away from their careers because they’ve just become too overwhelmed and too stressed out.
So, protect and enable your teams as a boss or a leader in times like this. Yeah, so I’ll put into three buckets. So one is limiting those knee-jerk reactions. It’s very easy to do when things are stressful to knee-jerk and to try to say go off and do this, go off and do that, right.
So having mentors, both formal and informal, is important, but having those confidants, whether inside the company or outside of the company, is game-changing, right? So, you know, what I always advise, you know, people who come to me for advice on their career goals is, you don’t look for what is my next job, you always need to be looking, what’s the next two to three roles that I want to aspire to, and then building that roadmap to get you there, right? What are the skills that are needed, having informational interviews, you know, ‘Gee, you know, Sarah, you’re an incredible marketing guru, you’re an incredible supply chain guru, what did you do to do X, Y, and Z,’ and not being afraid to get your hands dirty, right? So, I mean, those advocates are hugely important, and these are the people that put you in front of the decision-makers, they give you credit, they’re not stealing your thunder, okay? So your advocates are those that are not only pushing your agenda, they’re giving you the credit and they’re putting you so that you can shine. They’re creating those opportunities, and if you’re not in those types of firms, I don’t care how small or how large, if you’re not in a department or in a firm that has bosses that value that putting you out there so that you get your opportunity to shine, this is that values discussion. Really think long and hard, is this the right place for me, and if it’s not, if they’re not giving you those opportunities, think quickly and move on. Right, but hugely important to have advocates because they’re the ones that open doors, they’re the ones that create opportunities. That’s all they’re doing, the hard lifting is up to you, and I couldn’t say enough that you own your career, just like Rachel was saying. You own your career, nobody else but you, and remember the key difference, a mentor will talk to you, an advocate will talk about you when you’re not there, yes, right? So they’re there to be that voice for you. So, you know, having a mentor to talk through, ‘How do I do this? How do I aspire?’ That is great. Having someone who will talk about you when you’re not there in those key forums, that is what you need in an advocate, and I highly recommend you get at least one internally and you get one externally as well. Right, so Rachel, the other topic that I want to make sure we cover today is supporting your teams and talent procurement and supply chain is a tough, tough place to be right now. There is lots of craziness, lots of uncertainty, lots of stress. I know people personally that have hit a breaking point and have had to take time, step away from their careers because they’ve just become too overwhelmed and too stressed out.
Port, protect, and enable your teams as a boss or a leader in times like this. Yeah, so I’ll put into three buckets, so one is limiting those knee-jerk reactions, right? You know, it’s very easy to do when things are stressful to knee-jerk and to try to say, ‘Go off and do this, go off and do that,’ right? Trying to create stability for the team, even though there is turbulence, right? That, for me, is one of the most important things as a boss. So sometimes that might mean to shield your team slightly, but more often than not, it’s making sure that requests and communications are highly prioritized and fit into the longer-term strategy, right? That, for me, is trying to create a stability for the team even though there is turbulence right that that for me is one of the most important things as a boss so sometimes that might mean to to Shield your team slightly but more often than not it’s making sure that requests and Communications are highly prioritized and fit into the longer term strategy right that for me is is thing number one thing number two is development plans it’s really easy in times of stress that development plans go out the window right and everyone’s just like get the material in find the boat find the truck right so really making sure that you still create space for your teams to dig into their development plans it’s hugely hugely important because that will help people understand that you’re in it with them for the longer right and they’ll see that value and they’ll they’ll kind of remember that you’re in it for their retention as well right and then really you know the third thing is and I say this people leave bosses they don’t leave companies right so as a boss you need to be open to taking feedback you need to be open to listening to your teams and creating a space where you can give your teams radical Candor regular feedback make sure that your teams are also empowered and understand that you are looking for and you are wanting them to give you radical Candor and feedback and that will just create a much better environment and ecosystem for you to retain that talent and for them to feel supported and also to support yourself as a leader right it’s not just hard for your people I know it’s hard for for leaders as well so ensuring that you have that that system of feedback is really super critical Anna what’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share on how to support teams in Talent right now in these times of craziness and turbulence get to know the people and get to know what makes them tick right so if you know that they’ve got young children or they’ve got a sick elderly parent you give them space right because if you can show appreciation if you can show empathy they’re going to the you know walk to the moon and back on your behalf right so it’s really about showing appreciation but then more importantly highlighting the value that the team brings it’s really a thankless job to be in supply chain and to be in procurement it’s become what the value that we deliver has become a drug for brand owners and and the c-suite they’ve just taken it for granted so it’s extremely important for cpos or cscos to constantly be advocating in terms of here are the metrics man here are the kpis this is what my team is delivering put it in black and white language that everybody can align behind so that’s creating the value showing the value but then how do you support your team giving them what they need if I need you know if it’s like if you’re noticing that I’m really stretched give me the mental health day you know Sarah
Go take the day off, go on a hike, go recharge, and then come back and tomorrow give me 14 hours because you’re going to be willing to do that, okay? You just recharged your battery. So having that empathy and being in tune, showing appreciation, like you know, this is where people miss the mark, they think you know, give me more money in my paycheck. I found nine out of ten times showing a little appreciation, you know, is far greater than giving somebody, you know, a hundred dollar bonus. You know, celebrate, celebrate, celebrate, right? The small wins, the big wins, birthdays, anniversaries, you know, little wins, little deliverables, that goes a long way. And I found that when I’ve worked in environments like that, I was willing to give 150 percent. Well, thank you for discussing developing direct materials procurement talent and teams with me today, Anna and Rachel. Anna, where would you like to send people if they want to reach out or connect with you?
That is a great question, thank you. Please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, either direct message or you can find me on my website www.pondviewconsulting.com.
Rachel, where would you like to send people to find you?
LinkedIn. LinkedIn, and also I want to put a plug-in if you haven’t listened to Anna’s previous episode or my previous episode, find us both there as well. And I can’t remember, what was your topic again, Anna, that you spoke? Value stream mapping.
Value stream mapping, right. In mine was on enabling on your vendor base. Find me there and find me on LinkedIn. If you missed anything, you can check out our show notes. You can find us by typing in What the Duck?! Another Supply Chain Podcast in Google. To have optimal search results, make sure to add ‘Another Supply Chain Podcast’ at the end of your search to ensure you don’t miss a single episode. Make sure to follow this podcast and subscribe to us on YouTube. I’m at Sarah Scudder on LinkedIn and at s gutter on Twitter. This brings us to the end of another episode of What the Duck?! Another Supply Chain Podcast. I’m your host Sarah Scudder, and we’ll be back next week.