Jane Zhang is the Co-Founder of ETCH Sourcing, a Canada based consultancy specializing in providing strategy and execution services in the sourcing, procurement and category management space. She loves people, solving problems, and has years of expertise working throughout the entire sourcing spectrum, from building and executing multi-million-dollar tactical strategies, to being entrusted with some of the most complex and strategic contractual negotiations on business-critical projects. Graduating from the Haskayne School of Business twice over with a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and an MBA in Finance with a focus on Global Energy Management and Sustainability, she has returned to build and teach business contract negotiations with her Co-Founder as a part of giving back and elevating her alma mater.
Jane is passionate about education is a member for multiple boards, most notable is her role as Board Director and Chief Operating Officer of a non-profit designed to connect children aged 8-13 with industry learning and development through play.
Jane’s latest passion is to champion the role of sustainability in procurement and is celebrating the launch of ETCH’s sustainable procurement offering, which integrates the UN SDGs as a sustainability function into the procurement process from an end-to-end perspective.
Can you share a little more about your day-to-day role and responsibilities as Co-Founder and COO for ETCH Sourcing?
As the Co-Founder and COO of ETCH Sourcing, my day to day revolves around the three core pillars on which ETCH is founded – people, passion and performance. I spend a large portion of my day with my colleagues, suppliers, and clients ensuring that we’re always matching the right people to the right projects to ensure the quality of the service we’re providing, not only to our clients, but also to the suppliers we deal with in ensuring a fair and competitive selection process.
With the extra hours out of the day, I spend them focusing on our strategic direction with our service offerings in sourcing, procurement, and category management consulting and the development of the talented individuals I have the pleasure of working with. I work together with my Co-Founder to ensure we’re not only developing industry leading sourcing talent, but we’re also helping to drive industry change with our specialized offerings in sustainable procurement, private equity, IT spend outsourcing and so on.
Can you talk about your background and education— how did you get involved in the sourcing and supply chain industry?
Like many, I didn’t plan to go into sourcing and procurement when I was completing my studies. With an undergraduate degree in Marketing, I started my career in business development and business architecture. Both of these served as the foundational elements to what helped drive success when I did eventually stumble into this amazing industry. I then went on to complete an MBA in Finance with a specialization in Global Energy Management and Sustainability, while working in sourcing and category management for one of the biggest telecommunication companies in Canada – where I worked on a variety of contracts, from tactical to strategic new projects.
My love for sourcing and procurement comes from driving true value through better relationships, and I’ve always been a firm believer that relationships are truly the cornerstone to any successful business relationship. One of the greatest joys in my work is when we not only help clients create tangible value in the form of strong contracts that drive compliance, but also connect them with a supplier who is happy to pick up the phone and help when there are challenges.
What do you see as one of the biggest challenges facing sourcing and supply chain professionals?
I think one of the biggest challenges with sourcing and procurement professionals that still exist today is the 10:1 ratio. On average, at a negotiation table, a sales person is 10x more prepared than their sourcing and procurement counterpart. This is due to two main elements: First, sourcing and procurement professionals are always simultaneously drinking out of the same firehose they use to put out the various fires happening within the organization and, as a result, are crunched for time to adequately prepare. Second, the supplier information network is much more powerful than the existing procurement information network. I think that as an industry, we need to come together and get real about sharing our pains and successes with each other to drive shared improvement – which is why organizations like SIG are so critical.
How do you see the industry changing in the coming years and what can sourcing and supply chain professionals do to stay ahead of that change?
There are two major trends I foresee in the sourcing and procurement space:
First, I see all the technology developments happening now, and I can see automation taking a lot of the tactical burden away from procurement and sourcing professionals, freeing up their time to get more strategic about how to tackle company spend and supplier management. Sourcing and procurement professionals will hopefully have more of that finite resource we call time to start to look deeper into supplier development, category development and have a stronger voice at the table for strategic fiscal planning.
Second, the push towards better business practices. We launched our sustainable procurement offering in November of last year on the realization that more businesses are looking for ways to bring a positive impact on sustainability in the world around them, while still maintaining the business value to the organization. Procurement and Sourcing is situated perfectly to be that glue that will bring these two elements together. By integrating sustainability into your day to day procurement practice, a business can not only have a meaningful and measurable impact on the world, but also create strategic business value simultaneously.
What is something that you wish more people knew about the industry?
How much fun this industry is! We’re truly the magic makers of business and we’re uniquely situated to help our internal business units make the most of their projects, while having the ability to influence not only how our business runs, but also our suppliers! There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful I found my way into this whirlwind of ever-changing challenges and opportunities, and I love nothing more than to share my passion for this industry with the world. As sessional instructors in Contract Negotiations at the University of Calgary, my co-founder and I both agree that one of the most rewarding experiences we have is the moment when a student’s eyes light up after experiencing their first mock-negotiation. The thrill of finding a solution that drives value for both parties is one of the best feelings in the world!
Heather Schleicher, Senior Marketing Director at SIG, has more than 15 years of experience in business and marketing with organizations ranging from independently owned franchises and small businesses to $12B international enterprises. Prior to joining SIG's leadership team, Heather served as Senior Marketing Manager where she was responsible for creating, executing, and supporting SIG’s marketing strategies across all regions and lines of business. Before joining SIG, Heather led digital marketing initiatives for outsourcing, recruiting and workforce management provider Allegis Global Solutions. Previously, Heather managed the marketing department at a contracting consultancy in Washington, D.C.
Heather is actively involved with local and national non-profit organizations. She was the spokesperson of a two-year nationwide campaign to bring home missing persons and teach safety education and prevention. Heather has a BS in Corporate Communication from the University of Baltimore.