SIG Speaks Blog

Leadership Lessons from Nelson Mandela

With many of the world's leaders gathered in South Africa to honor Nobel Prize winner and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, it seemed only apropos to acknowledge the many leadership lessons that he imparted. To say he was a great man would be an understatement. How he spent 27 years in prison and walked away with an attitude and spirit that allowed him to rise above the experience and become one of the names most associated with peace and forgiveness is beyond understanding. When he spoke, many listened. Below are a few of his words of wisdom, and my take on how we can use them wisely.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." How many times have you looked at a project — either business or personal — and thought you could never get it done? Not enough time, not enough resources, not enough support...and yet somehow you find a way to do it. Most people celebrate the big successes but overlook the little ones. Yet sometimes breaking big projects into little steps is exactly what you or your team needs to make the impossible possible. Don't wait until you cross the chasm to enjoy your successes. Celebrate the little victories too.

"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again." It's a little hard to imagine judging Nelson Mandela given the magnitude of what he was able to overcome and accomplish, but the message is a good one. You can't succeed if you don't try...and the fact is that many of us are afraid to try because we are afraid to fail. Failing isn't a requisite for succeeding...but it sure can be helpful you when you're trying to anticipate all the things that could go wrong in any given situation. Think back to some of the greatest innovators of our generation. Take Steve Jobs, for example. He left Apple in the '80s because of a series of failures, only to come back and create some of the most revolutionary technologies our world has ever seen.

Sarah Holliman, Vice President of Marketing, SIG

Corralling Creatives - Driven by Marketers Part II: How to Make a Partnership with Procurement Work

"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often." Winston Churchill's concept of perfection is easier said than done. Bringing change to a large organization takes more than philosophy. It demands buy-in from the top down, and an organization's willingness to be nimble. Large organizations enjoy longevity because they remain nimble and open to change. Take telecom companies, for example: in the last 20 to 30 years there have been multiple iterations of technologies implemented – and not necessarily by telecoms themselves. Change is rampant and necessary to stay in business, and nowhere has change been more evident than in the Procurement group. Although Procurement has always had a mission of controlling costs, partnering with other business units, such as Marketing, provides many opportunities for improved category management. The relationship between Marketing and Procurement has been proven to work best when each of the respective departments collaborate on budgetary and contractual needs. Procurement can provide Marketing with excellent support and take the negotiation and legal handshake over so Marketing can focus on their mission: to brand the company to the consumer and support product sales. Granted, it is easier to "perfect and change often" when all consumer-facing campaigns are under Corporate Marketing and one Vice President. Procurement can readily support Marketing's needs by creating a Marketing Category and dedicating a Strategic Procurement Manager and team to handle RFPs, contracts, renegotiation, score carding and vendor management for media buys, print buys, public relations and advertising agencies. The Procurement department can show Marketing how they can manage the spend and bring savings against the marketing P&L, as well as save time. The relationship between the two departments should be very collaborative, for example:

Celia De Benedetti

How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part IV: The Afterlife

In the final part of this series, I have a few tips on what to do after a SIG event…and specifically after the SIG Summit…is over.

Summarize your notes. Take a few minutes on your plane ride home while it is still fresh in your mind and write one sentence for every breakout and general session you attended. Make sure write down the overall theme and include key takeaways. Identify any action items for you or your team and who might own them, including any speaker follow-ups. If you need a few reminders, look at the SIG twitter feed using the hashtag for that event. In the case of the fall Summit, we used #SIGFall13. Chances are that someone tweeted some of the key thoughts. The Summit is full of tangible and implementable ideas. Use them!

Schedule time to report your experience to your team. When a SIG team member attends a conference, we report back to our team, providing:

  • Collateral: copies of decks, checklists, takeaways, forms, templates, tools
  • Summary of lessons learned
  • 5-10 new ideas / innovative approaches / topics for brown bag lunch discussions and strategy meetings

Many members have told us that they have to take turns attending the Summit, so a report-out is a great way to share your learnings and make the whole team feel like they were onsite. If you tweet while you are at the event, they can even follow you live!

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part III: Content is King

After every Summit we ask the delegates to tell us the two most important factors in contributing to their decision to attend the event. Consistently the delegates cite the Summit program content and the opportunities to network. In the first part of this blog series, I summarized some best practices for networking, specifically for Sourcing professionals. In this part of the series, I will summarize best practices for obtaining the most value from the SIG Summit program content. Keep in mind, most of these also apply to other SIG event program content (like our Symposiums, Regionals, Webinars and Town Hall Teleconferences).

Before the Event:

Make arrangements to arrive early and depart late - for Summits this means come in on Monday night and plan to stay until Friday morning. The event schedule is packed and the attendees are high-level...trust me, you want to get there early and stay late.

Write a list of objectives - include the content you wish to cover. For example, you may own the Legal spend category or you may be in the process of supplier normalization or possibly building a case study for procurement transformation. Consider the industries and organizations you may be interested in hearing from...and understand the expectations of your boss and your team members...do they expect you to report your experiences? If so, how? And when?

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Words of Wisdom from the Summit Part III: Seasoned CPOs Provide Pearls of Wisdom

In part 3 of this 4-part series, I am covering some of the insights from a powerhouse panel of CPOs and other procurement leaders we had at the last Summit. Our own Dawn Evans facilitated a fireside chat with a group of sourcing leaders, including Linda Behan, Senior Vice President, Iron Mountain; Clyde Dornier, Head of Global Sourcing and Procurement, Visa; Cory Locke, Vice President, Global Categories, Hewlett-Packard; and Todd Podell, CPO, Alcon, who shared some pearls of wisdom on what keeps them up at night and how they have achieved success in their careers. With all due respect, I can't even begin to capture all the fantastic feedback, insights and advice our panel provided, but in my opinion, these are some of the highlights:

Being uncomfortable teaches you to succeed. This nugget came after a question regarding how the panel overcame challenges at the beginning of their careers. If you think about this one, it makes a lot of sense. Innovation doesn't come from the status quo. It comes when people are shaking things up. If you are comfortable in your job and going with the flow, you may not be looking for ways to make things better. But if you are uncomfortable for any reason — worried that something isn't "quite right," you are probably seeking ways to make things better. Makes sense, doesn't it?

You must have tenacity in procurement. It's safe to say that tenacity is a virtue in just about any career, but in procurement, it may be even more critical. Said one of the panelists, "You need to have the doors slammed in your face to become good (at what you do)." Hopefully there aren't too many slamming doors, but the reality is that talking business units into collaborating with procurement isn't always an easy sell. Tenacity is a must.

Sarah Holliman, Vice President of Marketing, SIG

Spend Analysis vs. Spend Management

The phrase "Spend Management" is heard often today in the world of Sourcing and Procurement. It even has its own Wikipedia entry. It is often used in place of, or in the same context as "Spend Analysis." Some might think that the two are interchangeable. They are not. Each has a distinct and separate meaning. Spend Analysis is a more structured and well-defined phrase. Loosely, Spend Analysis should answer three basic and broad questions:

Patrick Reymann, Director, Strategic Sourcing Operations, Corbus

How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part II: Questions to Spur Conversations

In my last post, I provided some tips for networking. I actually enjoy networking, but I know many who think of it in the same way that others think of public speaking...they are scared to death to do it. They'd rather find the one person in the crowd that they know than to seek out new connections. At SIG Summits, which attract 350-450 people, we try to make it easy to network by putting a special sticker on the nametags of first-time attendees. At the first General Session we explain the sticker and encourage everyone to "introduce themselves to the cowboy boots" (for example, since a cowboy boot sticker was the chosen icon for the last Summit in Fort Worth, Texas). It takes a lot of the pain out of the process for those who don't enjoy seeking people out and is an instant conversation starter. But if you are in a situation without your "cowboy boots," (and/or if you are a network-a-phobe like so many), perhaps some of these questions can be helpful to you. I use them when first meeting a fellow Sourcing professional.

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Words of Wisdom from the Summit Part II: Understanding Gen iY

Several months ago a valued SIG member suggested we consider asking Dr. Tim Elmore to keynote at our Summit. A leading authority on generational diversity in the workforce, Tim has authored more than 25 books and appeared on CNN's Headline News and had media coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes.com, and The Washington Post among others. It was immediately clear that what Tim had to say was something our delegates needed to hear. As entertaining as he was instructional, I once again found myself taking notes as quickly as my fingers could type. Discussing what he calls "Generation iY" — the second half of the Millenial Generation, so called because they've grown up under the influence of iPods, iPads, iPhones, iTunes, etc. — Elmore's keynote was on how to understand this generation to enable them to be successful in the workforce. My key takeaways from this fabulous speaker and my interpretation of how to apply them: 26 is the new 18. In generations past, many 18-year-olds left home to enter the workforce. Not only is this not as common today, but many young adults are living with parents after college, where they still have their cell phones paid for, laundry washed and meals fed. Not a bad gig if you can get it...but isn't this in fact enabling this generation to be narcissistic? Having low empathy, being ambiguous about the future, "slack-tivists," technology-savvy, self-absorbed, and postponed maturation are all characteristics/adjectives that have been used by Elmore to describe the Gen iY group.

Sarah Holliman, Vice President of Marketing, SIG

How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part I: Best Practices for Networking

There's nothing more I love to do than get to know someone new. I'm curious about where and how they live, if they prefer a good book or movie over a roller coaster ride (or both), if they like Beethoven or the Beatles (or both), if they went to school abroad or in the South, or wherever. I like stories. I like people. That makes it easy for me to network. However, not everyone finds networking easy. One of the top two reasons people attend SIG events is to network with other like-minded folks who are in the same roles, have similar responsibilities and face the same type of challenges. Every SIG event offers ample opportunity to network, whether at a reception or a meal or our specific speed networking program at the Summits. So whether you're at a SIG event or (gasp) another industry event, I thought I'd take a few minutes and just offer some ideas for making networking a little easier for the "non-networking-inclined."

Create your own elevator pitch - Be prepared to explain yourself in just a few minutes. It's easy to put together your story if you come up with answers to these questions:

  • What is your role at your organization? How long have you been in that role?
  • What are your immediate goals within your current role?
  • What are your future goals? For your current role? For your future role?
  • What is your boss asking you to accomplish?
  • What keeps you up at night?

Review the attendee list beforehand - If available, review the list of expected, registered attendees. Look for folks in your industry and make a list so you can be sure to find them when you're onsite. Ask your team members or direct reports if there are certain organizations or people you should target. Don't hesitate to ask one of the conference organizers for help making these connections, either beforehand or onsite. We at SIG are always happy to facilitate introductions!

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Words of Wisdom from the Summit Part I: Leadership Lessons from the Flight Deck

At the last Global Summit, we hit the jackpot in our keynote speakers. We had fighter pilots, CPOs, Ph.D.s and MBAs...we had practitioners, motivational speakers and authors...and we had people who have viewed things from the trenches and seen them from the sky. In each, we received pearls of wisdom...anecdotes to apply in our daily lives and corporate positions. In this series, I'll try to capture some of the key messages our general sessions provided. We kicked off the event with Carey Lohrenz, a former U.S. Navy Tomcat Fighter Pilot. Her session was inspiring and had the audience scribbling furiously, trying to capture her lessons from the flight deck that we could carry into the business world. As the first female fighter pilot, Carey learned to thrive in adversity. Some of the more poignant things I took away from her presentation...and my interpretation of how they apply to those of us in civilian clothing:

Sarah Holliman, Vice President of Marketing, SIG

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