SIG Speaks to Alpar Kamber, Corporate Executive Vice President & Head Procurement Services, Denali-WNS

Alpar Kamber is the Head of Procurement Services at WNS

What is your role and your day-to-day responsibilities?

I am head of WNS’ Procurement Services Business Unit. We support procurement organizations globally across all industries. In my organization, there are over 3,000 procurement professionals in 53 locations across the globe. We touch over $85 billion in spend globally and provide a wide range of services. Clients partner with us to operationalize their procurement function and improve financial performance and efficiency.

My responsibilities are broad, I spend most of my time running our business, engaging my team, focusing on building a stronger organization, meeting with clients and industry leaders, and solutioning. But I am always happy to roll up my sleeves and jump into any project. I am passionate about expanding procurement’s influence and helping our clients boost their performance.

Twelve years ago, I started Denali Sourcing. As a procurement professional myself, I know what our clients face daily. I’ve been asked to deliver on similar mandates and create value for the business that goes beyond cost savings. I founded and grew Denali Sourcing Services into a leading global procurement services organization and then joined WNS as part of our acquisition in 2017. In my current role, I work with a larger and more global client base. The evolution of the last decade has proven to me the significance of the value that procurement adds to the business, regardless of industry. I’ve always known that procurement was a huge value-driver, but I needed time to prove it.

Now, I am helping procurement organizations think about ways to transform operating models and enhance the procurement ecosystems across our entire client base. This includes helping companies with any of the following:

  • Deploying effective category management tactics and strategies through training and coaching
  • Developing new operating models and digital enablers to manage resource activity and pipeline
  • Defining their mandate and vision
  • Gaining visibility into the right data to make informed decisions that are aligned to business outcomes
  • Evangelizing and telling their story to the right internal customers about how they create value
  • Executing defined and aligned business mandates using roadmaps and strategic plans

What topic are you covering at the Procurement Technology Summit? What are some key takeaways for delegates?

During my session, we are diving into smart digitization. While some people see this as a buzzword, we see this as a serious strategy and change management practice that is influencing all areas of the business. Together with Michael van Keulen, CPO, Coupa, we will discuss:

  • Results from a recent benchmark study that illuminate where many organizations are missing the mark with digitization
  • How to look at your procurement roadmap holistically, as an ecosystem
  • How to bring your digitization roadmap to life

Who would benefit the most from attending your session?

The topic of digitization matters to every procurement professional today. Whether you are running strategic sourcing projects, negotiating with your suppliers, managing your project pipeline, or reporting back to Finance with projected savings and milestones, you are part of the ecosystem and you need to know how digitization influences your role. This means category managers, sourcing project leaders, procurement managers and directors, and CPOs all have a spot saved for themselves in this session. The key is that they look at our discussion and walk away with a handful of actionable ideas relevant to their role and business goals.

>>Read more: How to Create Your Procurement Ecosystem<<

What is something you wish more people knew about sourcing and procurement?

Ask any procurement professional, and they will confirm that one of their biggest challenges is randomization by the work coming at them from multiple angles. The first step in addressing this challenge is to realize that everything is highly interconnected. If the objective is to optimize the value procurement can generate, we can’t achieve that by just focusing on one part of the ecosystem. 

I wish more people knew about this interconnectedness and the importance of reviewing, assessing and addressing the critical parts of the procurement ecosystem, which include:

  • Executives
  • Stakeholders
  • Business Imperatives
  • Suppliers
  • Third-party partners
  • Data (internal)
  • Intelligence (external)
  • Processes
  • Enabling tools and systems (which ensure this ecosystem functions in harmony)

I believe having this perspective is what helps procurement teams function on a new level and ultimately be a function that does more than deliver on cost savings in a sustainable way. This approach enables our clients to be a desired partner for business-critical decisions and goals.

>>Read more: Seven Creative Strategies to Build Your Procurement Team<<

In your opinion, what are the three skills that the procurement professionals of tomorrow must-have?

I get asked this question a lot when I am working with CPOs and other procurement leaders who are looking to grow their team. I would encourage people to focus on:

1)     Agility: The old methods of creating three-year-long plans are harder to follow and adopt. People who are flexible, nimble and open to change will thrive in a rapidly changing time for businesses across all industries.

2)     Curiosity: As a procurement professional, you must stay curious. Don’t accept the status quo. Ask why things are happening and refuse to settle for the answer, “Because we’ve always done it this way.” Ask the hard questions and spend time understanding why things are happening in your business and what it means if things change or stay the same.

3)     Intentionality: Everything you do should have a purpose. You should know your intention of every task, every project, and every goal for the team and company. The sourcing and procurement professionals of tomorrow know that being productive by knocking off tasks from your to-do list doesn’t always mean you are being successful. When you are intentional with your work, you do more meaningful work that has an impact beyond just your own to-do list.

What does the future of procurement look like to you?

Like I mentioned previously, the future of procurement is rooted in a strong understanding of the driving force that makes up the procurement ecosystem. Think about an ecosystem in nature, such as coral reefs, which are often called the rainforests of the ocean. Why? Because coral reefs are vital for ocean-life. In fact, an estimated one-quarter of marine species rely on them for food or shelter. So, how does this relate to procurement and sourcing professionals? 

Procurement should aspire to become a coral reef for the business by inspiring “life” and growth for a company; creating real value that the entire business relies on. There is tremendous power procurement teams gain when they realize just how connected they are to every business outcome; procurement does play a role in ensuring the consumer experience is strong, memorable and creates loyalty for the business – which ultimately leads to more revenue and expansion for the business, too. This means procurement is a lifeline for the business – and during my 20+ years’ experience in this world of sourcing and procurement, I know that’s incredibly true.

I look forward to seeing everyone at my session. Follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn for updates on this session. You can always ask a question in advance using the hashtag #AskAlpar.

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Stacy Mendoza, Senior Marketing Manager

Stacy Mendoza is a Senior Marketing Manager with Sourcing Industry Group (SIG). She began her career as an editor for a Washington, D.C.-based market research firm where she worked on projects for political campaigns, nonprofits, and major corporations and brands. Since 2014, she has assumed progressive levels of responsibility in leading marketing and public relations campaigns and specializes in content creation, social media marketing, data analytics, media relations and crisis communications. Stacy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, a certificate in proposal writing from The Graduate School in Washington, D.C., and is Inbound Certified through Hubspot Academy. Follow her on Twitter and tweet at @SIG_Stacy.