SIG Speaks to Shashank Saxena, CEO and Co-Founder of VNDLY

Shashank Saxena is a presenter at the SIG Procurement Technology Summit

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

As CEO of a software SaaS company, I spend time with my leadership team focusing on the product and obsessing over the problems we're trying to solve for our customers. I focus on making sure all of our teams – internal product management, sales, engineering and customer support – are functioning at optimal levels. I also enjoy spending time with our customers, hearing about their pain points and how they're actually using the software we've built. 

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

Sourcing isn't just about finding the right vendor or supplier, it's about understanding the problems business stakeholders are trying to solve. Very often I see teams obsess over the solution, its features and price, rather than focusing on the problem the stakeholder is experiencing. The best sourcing and procurement teams I've worked with are strategic in their approach and never lose sight of the pain points stakeholders have throughout the sourcing process. 

In your opinion, what are 3 skills that sourcing and procurement professionals of tomorrow must have? 

1. Critical thinking – having the ability to ask and understand the "why" behind an exercise coupled with a deep understanding of the problem the business is trying to solve 
2. Empathy – partnering with the business stakeholder and empathizing with their situation  
3. Interpersonal skills – having the ability to build trust and maintain long-standing relationships with business stakeholders and suppliers 

What does the future of sourcing and procurement look like to you? 

I think the evolution of technology in this space (machine learning, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things) will cause large-scale disruption of how we go about our day-to-day job functions and roles. These new technologies will elevate the roles of humans, giving them the time and space to complete more strategic tasks and activities rather than tactical, day-to-day busywork. 

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Shashank Saxena, CEO and Co-Founder, VNDLY

Prior to starting VNDLY, Shashank was the Corporate Strategy leader at The Kroger Co. Shashank joined Kroger in October 2012 as a manager in the digital team. Six months into the role, he got promoted to serve as the Director of Digital and eCommerce technologies at Kroger. As part of this role, he managed the Web, Mobile, Tablet, eCommerce, and platform development teams within the Kroger Technology organization. In November 2015, Shashank was promoted to Sr. Director, Partnerships and New Business Development, where he led these functions before taking on the Corporate Strategy role. 

Shashank was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Cincinnati, Lindner College of Business, where he taught Digital and emerging channels marketing. He also serves on the Lindner MBA advisory board at the University of Cincinnati.