With Nick Jenkinson, Managing Director, Verto Solutions
00:05:30 - Aligning tactical and strategic activities in transformation
00:11:40 - Influences and experiences from transformation in multiple industries
00:26:20 - Balancing the people and technology elements in transformation
00:34:00 - Procurement's influence on an organisation
00:37:00 - Perceptions on risk, complexity and delivering value
00:45:10 - Driving tech adoption in a complicated technology landscape
00:57:50 - Discovering new technology solutions
01:07:20 - Observations on procurement excellence
01:10:30 - How is data going to change procurement
Jonny Dunning: 0:00 Great, well, let’s get started then. So Nick Jenkinson, welcome. Thank you very much for joining me.
Nick Jenkinson: 0:05 Thank you, Jonny. Good to be here.
Jonny Dunning: 0:06 Yes, but I did wonder whether we were going to both make it today, bear in mind an it’s early in the morning, be it’s snowing. And it didn’t take much more than like a couple of leaves on the line to.
Nick Jenkinson: 0:16 Actually, it all went pretty well. I do feel a bit of a drowned rat walking in the rain this morning. But yeah, all good. Yeah, we get here. And the British infrastructure stood up to this tiny piece of snow that we have had.
Jonny Dunning: 0:28 It held up. Are you normally kind of a morning person?
Nick Jenkinson: 0:31 Yeah, massively. I think that’s changed over time actually. I have always been the late nights and early mornings, and I am still good at the late night, if it’s more of a socializing, I think from a work point of view, my brain starts to close down the later we go. And I would much rather than switch off and then get up early and crack on with things. So yeah, it’s a problem of getting older, I think is that the sleep hours are slightly different than what they want. And I have got two young kids as well. They definitely influence it.
Jonny Dunning: 0:59 That’s the difference, I think, because you did quite a bit of running, don’t you?
Nick Jenkinson: 1:03 Wow. Yeah, so people who follow me on LinkedIn will have seen that I was doing a charity challenge, which was to do 20 half marathons, three marathons and sort of two endurance events. So it was based on 2023. So, it was two, two and three. And so I am on with that. I have had probably a bad couple of months, I would say. So, I am planning on getting back on actually next week, so to be able to complete that challenge before the end of the year. I have already done, [Unclear] marathons. I have done three half marathons, I have done two endurance events, I need to get back up to speed and start cracking on for this year
Jonny Dunning: 1:27 Is that something you normally do in the mornings?
Nick Jenkinson: 1:53 Depends actually, it depends where I am. I am probably, even though I would tell people to ensure they get that balance from a... When I am working and leisure time. And I do actually. And one of my ex-team members knows this really well. And I mentioned it on LinkedIn recently. And he did say, “Who you are talking about?” Because he knew exactly what I was talking about. I have a lot of my probably good ideas when I am running and you are doing something else. I am quite a big believer; your brain obviously goes to a different place. I am also quite deadly at then just switching my laptop on very early in the morning and then getting caught up in the day-to-day. So, when I am away, I am pretty good at actually. So with my family, I have got a house in Portugal. And when I am there, I am really good at getting up early in the morning, going for a run and on holidays. It’s just where you create that time. So it’s probably a good lesson for me moving forward in terms of making sure I do create that time because otherwise I can get caught up in the hustle bustle of the day before you know it.
Jonny Dunning: 2:58 Yeah, it’s difficult. I tend to find the exercise stuff that I do, which is varied. I have to do it. First thing. Yeah. And if I think I am just gonna quickly check something on my laptop first. It’s almost like game at that point. You just get caught up and everything. But yeah, I can cope with an early morning. But so procurement transformation, some topics around that, that we are going to discuss today, kind of talking about navigating the journey, extracting maximum value, but there’s a couple of key areas that I want to drill into with you.
Nick Jenkinson: 3:29 Yep.
Jonny Dunning: 3:31 Just in terms of talking about your background. It’ interesting, we were chatting earlier about the fact that, we realized we both worked within the GM GT group at the same time back in the day.
Nick Jenkinson: 3:41 We did indeed. Went well.
Jonny Dunning: 3:43 Yeah, exactly. But you have worked across quite a few different sectors.
Nick Jenkinson: 3:48 Yep, I have that strange CV of seven industries, seven companies, whoever I worked for so.
Jonny Dunning: 3:54 And you have done direct and indirect?
Nick Jenkinson: 3:56 Yep. So I started off probably first half of my career fully in direct and second half predominantly an indirect and obviously, it changes because obviously, having done some work in financial services recently, directs in financial services, indirects in other industries, in terms of the operations and print, etc.
Jonny Dunning: 4:18 It’s really interesting, isn’t it? It’s like, as a tech vendor in the procurement space, you are always trying to clearly define what you do to, when you look at like the Cairney market map, and all the different procurement sector, they are so confusing, and you think, “Oh my God, there’s so many types, so much technology out there, where does it all fit in?” So you are constantly trying to leverage industry definitions and they are just not that firm in some ways in procurement. I mean, like you say, even direct and indirect. I had Naveed Amin on the podcast recently, and working for a large engineering consultancy, like surveyors and things like that, working on high speed two and all these different big projects, their direct spend is all services and their indirect spend is where they are buying laptops and things like that.
Nick Jenkinson: 4:18 And I had that earlier in my career where I worked for BPO. But the predominant was around print. So it was very much, that was the core delivery and the indirect were managed very separately. So yeah, it’s kind of, I guess, I enjoy being involved in what drives the individual business. And therefore, yeah, whether that be direct or indirect, or how you term that I started in the automotive industry, and it was all very much focused on keeping cars, building cars, ensuring you kept that production line going. So it was a much broader, I would say, supply chain type role. And as a result that I think that probably stayed with me throughout my career, so you kind of want to be involved in the heartbeat of the organization, what actually is keeping exco up? What’s keeping the board up? And being close to that where, and I don’t necessarily think that that’s a direct or indirect piece, it’s just very much focused on what’s important for this organization, and how can we influence that?
Jonny Dunning: 5:04 Yeah, it’s easy for different departments and senior executives in some areas to lose sight of that. But ultimately, that’s the only way a business is going to function effectively, if there is a clear strategy, and it’s communicated effectively. And then different areas of the business can understand they are contributing that specific strategy.
Nick Jenkinson: 6:22 It is, and that’s where I think, probably be a little bit critical of us as a function in terms of procurement in general. I do think people get too hung up on, “I want to be strategic, and I don’t want to be involved in tactical, etc.” Because actually, depending on what your organization needs, some of the most tactical things in the world could be the most strategic things in the world. If you are in a huge recession and a low margin organization, going and making some tactical reductions, which then can be sustainable for the long term can be very, very strategic. And so I think we kind of get too hung up on, it’s really important that you look at your own business strategy, and you look at what is our business trying to deliver. And focus on that because you can bring in, take technology, as a good example, you can bring in lots of all singing, all dancing technologies, but if your business don’t care about it, then what’s the point is the reality and so I think you have really got to focus and I did a separate conversation with someone recently, I really made that point where I do think we get too hung up on everybody, it’s really obvious to say that, of course, I am aligning everything with what the business objectives are. But I don’t think people do in reality, I think people have their own vested interest in terms of what they want to do? How they want to be perceived? How they want to be perceived in the marketplace, how they want to be perceived within their own organization? And sometimes, some of the more mundane activities can be probably less appealing and less attractive. But actually, if that’s what the business needs, then actually, you have got to get those things right. And they are the hygiene factor that you really need to focus on doing well. And then you can start to build into the exciting, more sexier activities that you can deliver it within the organization. But you have got to take the people on that journey, they have got to see the where the need is for that. I mean, I always say to people, I think my role is about repositioning and reimagining, ultimately, and then getting the buy in from people. So it’s, where should procurement be positioned? Let’s reimagine that role. And then let’s go sell it into senior organization. And once you have done that, and then put the enablers in place for the team to be able to deliver within that position in, you can, things start to run much more smoothly. And that’s obviously taking the transformation point where you can start to stand back and actually start to move that into more of an ongoing evolution as opposed to a huge revolution.
Jonny Dunning: 8:56 Yeah, and I think, if a procurement function, are trying to make change, and trying to transform, but they are not taking it from a start point of focusing what the business objectives are, then you just end up with like a big disconnect. And you see it sometimes in organizations where even where they have done, like, spent a lot of money on bringing a big piece of technology in, but it hasn’t fit with what the rest of the organization wants to do and they don’t get adoption.
Nick Jenkinson: 9:22 I think, it is much bigger problem than people will admit, because the reality is, it’s obvious to say, I mean, no one’s going to ever, any event you go to, anyone you are ever going to talk to, everyone’s always gonna say, “I aligned with our business objectives.” I just don’t think people often do because they try and push their own objectives on to the business. But if you have got a business who aren’t taking that on or you are not positioning it right, or you are not selling it right, and exactly that the technology, I mean, I can’t remember the actual figures, but I remember doing a presentation on how many digital transformations fail and it’s in your 70%-80% but When we go to different events, and people are sharing how great implementations have had and how they are using the technology, amazingly well, nobody talks about the 70%-80%. And so I think that’s the core focus where you have really got to look at, what problem am I trying to solve? How do I solve that problem? And then how do you put the technology over the top as opposed to too many people start with the tech and then try and work out what the problem is, as opposed to start with the problem? And then work out how to do it? What is it, just the process change? Is that, are people change? Or actually, can we digitize? I guess, in the world we live in today, most problems will have a digital element to some extent, and but I guess what I am a big believer in is building the foundation first, building whatever process relates to it, and then get the technology to fit within that as opposed to doing it the other way around.
Jonny Dunning: 9:22 Yeah, as I think I have heard you say before, ultimately, if you automate a bad process.
Nick Jenkinson: 10:54 I remember that. Because that came from, that must be, six, seven years ago, we did a tour of India in terms of we were looking for some BPO activities and technology providers at the time, and, people were really, really happy to show you obviously, RPAs, were really starting to accelerate and AI tools starting to come in, and people really wanted to show you the art of the possible. But there’s quite often you did just look at it. And you thought, “Well, you just automated a terrible process.” But I can tell that that is a terrible process, whichever way you look at it. So there was almost they were showing it to be proud of look at what we have done in digitizing this, but it was still a bit of a mess.
Jonny Dunning: 11:32 Yeah, you can kind of miss the point a little bit.
Nick Jenkinson: 11:34 Yeah, exactly. And it was quite interesting. Just different perceptions.
Jonny Dunning: 11:38 Yeah. So, if you look at the different areas you have worked in, you have worked in pharmaceutical, media, obviously now finance with Santander. On the food side of it, automotive, you mentioned, what would you say are the key things that have influenced that trajectory in your career so far?
Nick Jenkinson: 11:59 What in terms of going across different industries?
Jonny Dunning: 12:03 Yeah. What’s been the kind of themes or things that have pulled you into different situations or pushed you in a particular direction? Are there any particular things that have mainly influenced it, whether that’s...?
Nick Jenkinson: 12:12 Not to be what industries I have gone into out. I have never really gone into anything saying, “I would like to go work in this industry.” “I would like to work in that industry.” I think it’s more been timing, because opportunities have come up. The challenge is the critical thing, for me, it’s actually, is there a real challenge that I can get my teeth stuck into where I can really make a difference? I mean, we were talking earlier, when we were both at DMG that was my first, head role, and it was a transformation role. And the reality is, at that point, I had limited in direct experience. And clearly it’s in media, it’s an industry that is predominantly indirect focus. So look, came into that, at the end of the day, I just got a good rapport with the hiring manager at the time. He gave the opportunity, saw something in me, I probably had quite a big impostor syndrome, I guess, when you first went into it, because it was your first sort of senior leadership role. And you have got a very, we ended up creating a strong team. And you all bring in a lot of category expertise and industry expertise. And so you obviously at that point, think, “Well, what’s my role? And how do I find my own position within this?” And two of those people still work with me now.? So in terms of, they have been working with me very recently, once they are working with me now. And we have now worked across different industries. But it was obviously take some time, I think, from a leadership perspective that you have to find, what is my role within this? How do I start to drive value because I am not the expert in this IoT category? I am not the expert in this marketing category, but the business didn’t need me to be. And that’s not what they recruited me to do so. So I do think, sort of finding those opportunities. And people say, you make your own luck. And I guess, I obviously did a reasonable job there and spent a number of years and we won a number of awards there. But the reality is that first interview, and when I got recruited into that role, I didn’t have the background necessarily that the perfect candidate would have had. So it was good that you built the rapport, you build that credibility, and then it was all about building the credibility once you were in the door, and how do we go deliver and making sure you had those quick wins?
Jonny Dunning: 14:27 But looking at some of the stuff you have done, correct me if I am wrong, it seems like there’s quite a heavy focus on the transformation site. So you are not a status quo guy.
Nick Jenkinson: 14:37 No.
Jonny Dunning: 14:37 So is that something that’s kind of pulled you through the different roles, you don’t because ultimately, transformations are ongoing, but there’s a big chunk of work to do. Is that the bit that really kind of interest you?
Nick Jenkinson: 14:48 Yeah, I think, so I have just kind of go through the different roles. So the one we talked about in media, that was a good example where I would kind of done everything I could within that organization I was there for best part of five years, as I said, I went on my own, learning curve, learn a lot about technology. So, I was the second person in the UK to sign up for Cooper. And we did a Cooper implementation. It actually got held up the implementation slightly, just because of other business change, things will happen in the organization. And you were part of that organization, you will probably recognize some of those. But actually, we then implemented Cooper, and so, but at the point I would been there five years, there was nowhere else to go. I was working for the CIO and the, when he moved on working for the CFO at the time, there was no real sort of upward progression. And that’s when I looked for that next challenge. And then similarly, when I was in pharma organization, we did some great transformation, I actually did three different areas and three different roles there because I did procurement, and real estate, and share financial services. So I kind of, for me, it was almost like every 18 months, I took on a new challenge. I was there five years, but also came out of the procurement space to be manage all of our real estate across Europe, and then took on all of shared services as well. So it was kind of a good learning curve, where procurement was one of three avenues. But again, it got to a point when we globalized that was certain ambitions I had, and for a variety of reasons, they didn’t come off, and therefore as a result, it was, “Okay, where’s my next challenge?” And actually, probably, always had wanted to stay in a permanent FTE type role. I always wanted to own and grow, never really had the interest in doing consultancy, never really had an interest in doing advisory. And then at Santander, it’s been an advisory role to sort of drive the transformation there. And actually, whether it’s COVID, whether it’s getting a bit older, I have enjoyed that element of it. And I think I have probably become more philosophical about where companies get the most value from me. And it is probably in that first sort of 12-18 months where you can do significant disruption, I would certainly wouldn’t say it’s a cookie cutter approach, because what we have done in Santander was different to what we did in Estelles and different to what we did in the media organization. But, I do think there are a lot of similarities. And therefore, in terms of bringing those accelerators and those enablers in order to be able to hit the ground running quickly. I guess what I probably don’t think I need is six months to embed, understand down the organization, I think I can probably quite rapidly understand what the challenges are. Try and then, obviously, that’s the point, you have then got to get the senior management buy in, “Here’s your problem. Here’s where I think you need to solve it and actually coming back to that repositioning and reimagining and then getting the senior buy in.” And so that’s kind of I think, it’s been a good couple of years for me to think about what it is that I am good at? What’s my focus? What am I not so good? That is the reality, because it’s also thinking, I am probably very self-aware, and I know what my strengths are. But I also know what my weaknesses are. And I am quite a big fan of focusing on your strengths and being really good at your strengths as opposed to trying to be great at everything. What I tried to do is surround myself with great people who helped my weaknesses, ultimately surround yourself with that diversity. Because those people can bring what you don’t have, and me trying to sort of constantly force myself as a square peg into a round hole. I certainly can adapt. And I certainly can be flexible, but it’s where you are strongest, and where you get most impact? And therefore, how do I really focus on those strengths? And try and really magnify those as much as possible.
Jonny Dunning: 18:52 Yeah, I think that always strikes me as a way to leverage yourself most effectively, if you are concentrating on adding the most value that you possibly can, and then you are surrounding yourself with people that complement the whole picture.
Nick Jenkinson: 19:03 Yeah, in all those roles, because obviously, I have changed teams, built teams, we have always done some sort of personality profiling to look at what the organization looks like. And we have used insights a number of times, because I think it’s the color aspect is very easy for people to understand. But I am a very, I am pretty much off to scale, red and yellow. So it’s that drive creative driver is cut. And that’s kind of the focus. And that’s why I have always found it interesting to do as a team. Because you always obviously, you want to ensure that you are not just recruiting by type. And you end up with all these crazy people who just want to drive everything and come up with creative ideas, but actually who’s focusing on the people? Who’s focusing on the data? And it certainly, it’s not that I can’t do those aspects. And obviously people are a critical element and data is a critical element and I can certainly go down into that detail. It’s more about where are you most as comfortable? Where do you get most energy? And it certainly for me, it’s that, those reds and yellows, which is obviously massive in a transformation and a massive transformation in the first 12-18 months, when you really thrown everything in the air, the balls are all coming down, and then you are trying to reassess everything.
Jonny Dunning: 20:17 Yeah, and I think you almost kind of have to put your ego aside, in terms of just delegating out and trying to hire people that are basically better than you and trying to make yourself obsolete to a certain extent?
Nick Jenkinson: 20:28 Yeah, I am massive believer in that, I mean, go back to the pharmaceutical industry, pretty much, that’s where we got to in, we got a team who made my life really easy. And the amount of change that was possible within the organization because of other changes that were happening, slower and slower and slower. And so I got into a very, very cushy place. And actually, I remember having the conversation about well, actually, let’s agree, some sort of exit based on that. And it was very much, one of my focus is, it’s not good for the company. And it’s not good for me, if I am in that cushy place, because I am quite strong on the stress versus performance curves, I kind of need quite a lot of...
Jonny Dunning: 21:20 Work well under pressure.
Nick Jenkinson: 21:21 Yeah, I am the person who gets the presentation done a minute before it needs to be on the way. My MBA dissertation, I stayed up for 36 hours.
Jonny Dunning: 21:30 I am a little bit this myself, I know what you mean.
Nick Jenkinson: 21:33 But I do thrive, obviously, it creates issues for those around you. And obviously, I have tried to change that as I have evolved over time. And you won’t want to put that pressure because it’s good for me, it’s not good for the people and I have worked in organizations where there were probably two or three of us like that. And as a result, we got a lot delivered. And we all got on really well. But it can create chaos for everyone else around you. So it’s really that sort of focus on, how do I then drive things forward?
Jonny Dunning: 22:10 Yeah, and I think, it takes a certain type of person, certain type of personality and skills and attributes to come into a problem situation, and to be able to effectively assess what that problem statement is for that organization and encapsulate that and then go ahead and, work on building the solution and putting the solution in place and getting that moving. But if you are the type of person that can do that, and you are then very happy to then delegate it out, build the team that can support it and take it forward without thinking, “I always want to be here. Always want to be part of this.” Not that necessarily needing to be the primary driver, it does lend itself quite well to that more interim advisory type scenario.
Nick Jenkinson: 22:53 Because yeah, I guess that’s more where I have come to the reality realization in terms of what I am looking for going forward. As I said, you have obviously, I think COVID probably changed a lot of us in terms of how we live our lives, how we want to live a life moving forward. Certainly, when I was in the pharma organization, I spent a lot of time on airplanes, I would be [Unclear] is still with me from the time doing that. But ultimately, I have also got two little kids and you want to be at home as much as possible. And now I get to do a lot, see a lot more. I was at one of their performances last night, and there’s another one Friday morning, but being able to do that is obviously quite critical. And so I think being able to like the advisory piece, and given that’s always been my mentality anyway, of, I have never been somebody who’s sort of fearful of bringing great people in, I am a big fan of you are as good as the people around you. And if you don’t bring great people in, then ultimately, you are never going to be successful. And so it’s more about how do I give them, as I said, that positioning? How do I give them the right enablers? How do I develop them and give them constant feedback in terms of how they can develop? But once you get that strength and depth there, your life becomes a lot easier. And I guess weirdly, that position you just talked about of where something’s not in a great position, I sort of thrive on that. So you thrive on, “This really isn’t great.” And then to have the confidence to back myself that I will be able to make an impact and make that difference. And obviously some of that’s come with experience. Some of that’s just come with time where you have got more confidence in your own capabilities. Like I said, I would definitely when I am at that media role, which would have been 14 years ago, when I first went into it, definitely there was a level of imposter syndrome of, “What am I actually going to do within this because you are better than me at this and you are better than me at this,” and actually just finding your footing. As I said, two of those people have been working with me recently. So I must have done something right at the time because they are still stupid enough to come back and work with me again.
Jonny Dunning: 25:10 Well, I think when you are going through these, if you are the type of person that’s got an appetite to approach these tricky problems, and try and put solutions in place and work through it, the people that are working with you are gonna have a huge learning experience. So that’s going to take people along and like you say, when the team gets to a certain level, you are almost not needed. If you bring in really good competencies, they can take that forward, and you can move on to what’s the next big problem, if that’s the thing that, I would say, it’s fairly rare in terms of that being the thing that floats your boat, and gets you to places.
Nick Jenkinson: 25:42 I like complexity, and I like change. And I like being able to take that complexity and turn it into something different. As I said, I never thought I would be positioning that actually, I want to do more advisory type activities. But actually, that’s exactly where I am currently, in terms of what I am sort of looking for and conversation I am having about them what the future looks like. I am sort of said, I will never say never on permanent roles, but I think that’s definitely where, what floats my boat more at the moment.
Jonny Dunning: 26:16 Cool. So, talking about complexity. When we are addressing digital transformation within procurement, you have got the digital side of it, or let’s just call it procurement transformation, you have got the digital side of it. And then you have got the people side of the transformation. You said, we discussed earlier, the fact that you need to understand where the business is going, you need to make sure you are lining up at the strategy, when you are trying to balance out that kind of people transformation, digital transformation. Firstly, what do the two different things mean to you? And secondly, how do you feel it’s most appropriate to try and balance that?
Nick Jenkinson: 26:53 So I think digital transformation, people get very hung up on this, in terms of what’s digital for one organization is very different to what’s digital for another organization? Because if you are SME. low margin, you have probably had lots of manual processes. And actually just having any form of technology is digitization. If you are a huge pharmaceutical organization, you are very much in the world of how are we automating as much as possible? How are we then bring in AI tools in to be able to provide, to augment the data and the activities that we are carrying out? So I think, there isn’t an easy answer of what the transformation looks like. It’s all about, for me, it’s how using tech enablers to enable transformation within the organization. And I think from a people point of view, I am quite a big fan of looking at it, it’s not just about organization, it’s not just about capabilities of the people, it’s that whole operation model, it’s the capabilities of the people, but it’s also the ways of working, it’s the interactions, it’s how that whole ecosystem works together. And I think that’s where the two need to come in play. And sometimes, you need to have the technology in order for the operating model to work effectively. I mean, we have definitely had examples of that, where we designed the operating model of what the end state would look like. But we couldn’t actually make some of the changes until the technology enablers were put in place because the roles became a different type of role, of what your activity was needed in the future. So I think, they go hand in hand. And I think you really have to look at it from what works best from a planning point of view, but also you have business strategy, you have business constraints, you have funding constraints, you have all the different things that go with transformation. I don’t think I have ever been anywhere where you walk in and everybody says, “Here’s an open treasure chest, please take as much as you want and go and find what you want. And then tell us when you finish.” Ultimately, it’s all about like I said, it’s that reposition, reimagining. But to do that, you need the technology and sometimes that’s planned, sometimes it’s opportunistic. So in one of my roles, we had a major, that was back in pharmaceutical days, TPRM became a real burning platform for the organization. And as a result, even though at the time, it wasn’t my number one priority, it became the number one priority. And we were able to really build some good capability and be quite opportunistic in that we got a seven figure funding request approved because we did have the burning platform within the organization and really, we built a real strong capability and third party risk off the back of that. When I first went in, it wasn’t in the top three of, “These are the things we are going to do,” but it seemed to became number one and then we built out capability up. So I also think, you can have the best plan in the world. But sometimes different things happen in the environment. And obviously, that’s never been true or as it has been in the last few years in terms of, whether it’s COVID, whether it’s inflation, whether it’s interest rates, there’s obviously a huge amount of change. And I think what’s important now is really having a clear operating model, a clear foundation, and then being able to build on that and adapt and be agile within it, as opposed to something which it’s, it ends up like a cruise liner, trying to turn that, I just don’t think that works anymore. So it’s really about where do we think the world is gonna go? Where do we think the organization is gonna go? Let’s build the right capabilities within our operating model to do that. But actually, in two years, that will probably need to evolve further because things have moved on or we have got things wrong. I mean, ultimately, I don’t think I have ever done one of these transformations, where every single decision I have made has been perfect and we have got everything right, because you don’t, it’s making that sort of level of change is a challenge and you get the 80%, right, but you will have the 20%. And you will have to challenges with people in the organization, and therefore you have to just continue to evolve. Actually coming back to it given, used to work in the same media organization, that was a great learning for me, because that was not an easy organization to work in and be in procurement in a media organization is not simple.
Jonny Dunning: 31:32 They are all about, “Last minute, something’s changed.”
Nick Jenkinson: 31:34 And it was all about either getting newspapers out or getting content out, really focused on things like policy, things like protests, obviously, just didn’t really matter. Because as you know, we had different sides of the organization, whether it be digital, whether it be in newspaper format, but it was a really good learning for me of actually building the relationships, building credibility through delivery, as opposed to trying to build it through some sort of mandate, because yeah, they have never ever got it in that organization anyway. And even if you got it, nobody would have ever listened to you. So it was all about how are we driving value? Why actually do you want to work with us? Because actually, we can bring some really great things for you. And I think we went on that, and it was probably the things you got involved in was very interesting. I negotiated paparazzi deals, which was, I have never done again. So it was a very interesting environment.
Jonny Dunning: 32:35 Yeah. Well, it’s like you say about the kind of the complexity of the procurement transformation doesn’t just affect procurement. Yeah. So when you are looking at the people change required, it’s not just procurement people, its stakeholders, its suppliers, even, you are putting in that kind of behavioral changes potentially. And the same from a digital point of view, in the sense that the technology needs to make sense within that organization’s wider infrastructure.
Nick Jenkinson: 32:58 Well, I mean, that is why, I guess procurement is quite interesting, because you do, there isn’t that many areas of business that touch everything, and you get oversight of everything. So finance, to an extent, obviously, HR, but I think you really, from a commercial point of view, do get to touch and feel most of the organization. And as a result of that, most of the organization will have an opinion. The reality as well, because you have got quite a core group who you are interacting with. And so being able to focus on that perception, even if it’s not a reality, again, I am quite a big believer in even if we think things are going great. And we measure data, and it says, is going great. If there’s a perception that things aren’t, then you need to take that on board. And you need to look at, how do we evolve things? And I think that only makes you better as well. Because if you are already know you are doing the right things, and the data shows, but somebody’s not seeing it. Actually it focuses your mind on right, “What are we getting wrong? Why is this not landing? And how can I improve that moving forward?” So again, weirdly challenging stakeholders can be a very positive thing, because I do think they focus your attention on, why am I here? What am I here to deliver? What can the team deliver? How can we do this better? And how do we sort of evolve that offering?
Jonny Dunning: 34:18 Yeah, definitely. And I think, I want to come on to data in a bit. But I think when you talk about the influence of procurement within the different parts of the organization and touching different parts of the business, I think procurements is an interesting and has a kind of strategic fulcrum within the business like a kind of, it’s pivotal, because of the information that’s going through procurement, well, it depends on whether information is captured, but you have got information on what’s happening within the organization. What your organization thinks of your supply chain? You have also got the information coming in from your supply chain as to how they are interacting with the organization and their views of what’s happening within your organization as well as from their own point of view what they are doing. And so I think just in terms of where you can capture the relevant amount of data, it was a very powerful position in terms of, you are...
Nick Jenkinson: 35:07 You got to use it. Because then that’s why a lot of people in procurement get into that whole boring. I want to say at the table, we should have a seat at the table and even COVID, lots of people kind of went through. Well, it’s never been a better time to work in procurement, which I don’t disagree, because obviously supply chains became critical at that time, but it’s what you do within that. And I think all the things you say in are exactly right. Yet there are countless procurement organizations out there, that are not set up very well aren’t doing those things. And I think it all comes back to that whole, where you position, what’s the message and you settle in? How are we driving that value? And what does that look like and trying to move away from this? “I am a policeman and I am going to stop you doing things because that’s just not the world we live in anymore.” There’s a relevant need to have some controls. But those controls need to be proportional. And they need to be based on what the needs of this specific organization. But yeah, I mean, I think the way you described, it is exactly the way that you would want a procurement organization to work in that you are fully ingrained in everything from a stakeholder point of view. And then you are managing that supplier ecosystem. And you are joining the dots together to say, “This is what the business needs are, this is what the supply chain can offer. And this is what that happy marriage between the two,” and actually, how do we then drive more value from that?
Jonny Dunning: 36:31 Yeah, and I am sure you must have seen plenty of commonalities across the different sectors and the different organizations you have worked in. But I am interested to know, from your point of view, when you look at things like the balance of cost versus risk, that must look quite different in different organizations, like, for example, in the finance sector, the risk profile.
Nick Jenkinson: 36:49 And in pharmaceutical, I would say. So the risk is obviously, because both are heavy, regulated industries. Risk is obviously really important. So, if I actually probably open I would say from a third party risk, my capabilities have grown exponentially over the last seven years because of the burning platform that we talked about in previous organization. And then obviously, working in financial services, which is heavily regulated. So whereas I don’t know if you work in, like let’s take the media, for example, you work in media, you work in FMCG. It’s much more about, “Okay, we know what the risks are, but we are going to manage those risks, appropriately,” and quite often with third party risk, for example. In other industries, I don’t think it’s ever a problem until it is a problem. Because people kind of go, “Well, yeah, we know. But is that really going to happen?” And then when it does happen, which is obviously what has happened more when that’s why I think it’s massively grown in importance in most organizations starting in automotive risk was obviously a big thing, because it was all about, A, we need the safety aspect in terms of actually we are building quality safe cars. But secondly, as much as anything, are the parts on that production line when we need to build cars. And actually, how are we managing that supply chain, which, obviously, the complexity in that, I mean, there’s a long time ago, I was in the industry, but the complexity in that, in the last two to three years, and anybody who’s been trying to buy a new car will know very well, obviously, that’s just been a hugely, hugely challenging organizations and environment because of all the semiconductor issues and just ongoing supply chain challenges, where people have really had to think about actually how we are going to just totally reimagine the way we do this, because this isn’t working and actually how we looking at the end-to-end supply chain as much as possible.
Jonny Dunning: 38:49 It’s a slight tangent, but just raise an interesting point there. So when you were within the automotive sector, because it’s more heavily predicated towards the direct side of it, and materials and goods. I always think of that as having the actual thing that you are buying is simpler. But the supply chain is generally much more complex. versus in a banking scenario, you are gonna be mainly buying services indirect, quite possibly.
Nick Jenkinson: 39:20 I don’t think it’s the thing is simpler. I think there will be a lot of automotive engineers out there who would fully...
Jonny Dunning: 39:26 Yeah, I wouldn’t say the simplest thing, for example, a semiconductor, but you know what it is?
Nick Jenkinson: 39:31 Yeah.
Jonny Dunning: 39:32 The definition.
Nick Jenkinson: 39:33 I think it’s more about your stakeholder management, which becomes very different, I guess, when I was in automotive. Everybody worked with procurement because you were an integrated part of the business, everything was done cross functionally. And we were very much focused on what is the specific value of a good or service and that’s what we are prepared to pay that and it was all very transparent. I think when you go into, use that media example, people don’t, or we are perception would be we don’t have to go work with procurement. And therefore, I will just go off and do my own thing. And so actually, how do you bring people with you? How do people then see the value? It’s just a very, very different approach. And, again, it comes back to that sort of where you are positioned in the organization. And if you are indispensable, then you are indispensable. I think, just in some industries, you are naturally indispensable, just because of the nature of the industry, nature of a huge part of your cost base in car industry is based on goods and services, and therefore you have a huge impact within the organization. And so I think it’s that really looking at that positioning, and how do we really start to drive that. But as I said, that the risk element in the supply chain has clearly become a massive factor in the last three to four years.
Jonny Dunning: 40:53 Yeah, I mean, when you look at automotive versus financial, for example, you are going to be buying more things in the automotive sector. And therefore, I feel like that’s a more evolved part of the procurement process in some ways, because it’s easier to define and measure what it is you are actually buying.
Nick Jenkinson: 41:09 And it was very mature 20 years ago, because ultimately, it was more than 20 years ago that was started working in that. And then it was a very mature area at that point in time. So it matured earlier, and therefore, kind of has maintained that level of maturity.
Jonny Dunning: 41:25 Yeah. Whereas it feels like some of the service areas like where the marketing or consulting whatever, are becoming more and more under procurement control now. I feel like there’s maybe a bit of an evolution where procurement are becoming more towards that indispensable end of the scale, when you are dealing with other parts of the supply chain that maybe weren’t so much before.
Nick Jenkinson: 41:43 I mean, it depends on your organization, it depends on how successful you have been in that, I think you can speak to lots of people who are going to say, “Yes,” and you see lots of people just be banging their head against the wall, day-to-day basis, particularly in some of the areas you talked about. Marketing is always, it’s building that relationship. And obviously, it’s a different mindset you would need to have because, any person who’s looking at marketing, procurement, and golden says, “I am going to save you some money.” And then you love less budget is obviously looking at it totally wrong, because the focus is up to absolutely on return on investment, and actually, how we drive in more value, how we drive more return for the money that we are spending? And that’s where it’s really getting that relationship, which is obviously different than other areas where it may be simply, “Yeah, we want to manage the cost base, and we want to manage it effectively.” So I think, it’s all about the adaptation and the skill set you need. And how do you then influence people? And how did you gain that credibility?
Jonny Dunning: 42:43 Yeah, and it just shows goes back to what you are saying earlier about, you can’t necessarily have a one-size-fits-all-approach, in terms of whether it’s cost cutting or trying to demonstrate value and increase return investment is? It’s not just one solution across the board.
Nick Jenkinson: 42:57 No. And I suppose that there are similarities. Absolutely. And there are elements across different industries, but different drivers in different industries are totally, totally different. And whether it’s been like FMCG, obviously, the key is being first to market and actually how you help him produce that. So when I have worked in FMCG, we had a big capital program and some of the supplier conversations we were having. And we are not about just buying bits of metal, they were about or buying facilities, it was all about, “Actually, how can we get to market quicker, because we will pay you more if we can get to market quicker. And actually, how do we then go into some sort of quite complex commercial arrangements that really focus on driving product from our point of view?” Because it’s product on shelves that we were looking for, as opposed to me sitting there arguing with you over 100,000 or 200,000, or 500,000, whatever that would be? It’s actually how do we change that relationship? So that we have become more collaborative, and actually, our key driver is driving products that drives p&l, and therefore, actually, how do we get that same driver from a supplier and customer perspective?
Jonny Dunning: 44:10 Business outcomes again, isn’t it going back to your strategy? That was interesting, what you are saying about, you know, that classic thing of people that slightly, maybe a bit tired conversation about wanting a seat at the table, and, that kind of perception of procurement being the police, because ultimately, policing doesn’t automatically mean that that’s going to be in line with strategy. It could be just seen as a control element, which can be being led by procurement, but it might be hindering the actual overall strategy of the organization where maybe there needs to be a little bit more freedom or things need to happen faster. And that’s where I think with cost cutting, as well, if you don’t understand value, for organizations that don’t understand value, they might be cutting off their nose to spite their face and might be cutting out work, that’s actually delivering on the bottom line where they might not realize that.
Nick Jenkinson: 44:10 Yeah, totally agree.
Jonny Dunning: 44:11 Cool. Okay, so another area I wanted to get your opinion on was just looking at it. So we looked at the kind of the value of the people side of the change, you can’t just assume that the digital side of it’s going to sort it all out for you. But on the technology side, when you look at adoption of technology, so when you have mapped out where the business is going, how procurement can most suitably support that, and what that means in terms of what the procurement function needs to look like? How they need to operate, that operating model? When you have got to that point, when you look at bringing in different technologies is let’s say you have got a base platform, you said, you kind of like to have a solid base there. How do you see where the process should start and finish bearing in mind, the complexity of the procurement technology landscape now?
Nick Jenkinson: 45:50 I think with anything you need to look end-to-end on the whole piece. So I guess I always look at it of what is that? What’s that user journey? And that experience? And even though that might not be one solution, it might be six different solutions, you need to see how that is all coming together and how do you start to manage that landscape from end-to-end, I think you are in a very dangerous situation, if you just look at a specific technology, unless it’s simply just... Well, if it’s solving a specific problem, but even then it needs to have a level of integration. And I don’t mean, necessarily technology integration, it’s all about, for me, it’s the process integration that it feels seamless. A good example was when we did that third party risk solution in the pharma organization, it was a different tool, different software provider. But from a user point of view, they didn’t really know that. Because we made it quite simple what they had to do. So they were in and out of it pretty quick. And there was somebody sat behind it, who then made sure that data flowed from X to Y. And it wasn’t necessarily the prettiest, because if we could have had the integration, but at the time there was funding constraints, there were infrastructure constraints and so actually, we had some bodies who were there making sure the whole thing kept moving effectively in the right data flow from A to B. But from a user point of view, it felt like a clean process, it felt that, that talked to that. And it all went through end to end. So again, I think people get probably hung up of what’s the perfect technology integration, which is great. But there’s a lot of complexity comes with that. And I think, it’s really about how do we make sure that we provide that end-to-end user journey as cleanly as possible.
Jonny Dunning: 47:49 Yeah, again, it’s about outcomes, isn’t it? It’s about not getting caught up in the kind of my new shy of that particular thing. It’s like, how does that fit into the broader scenario we are talking about, you might be looking at these technology and going, “Well, the capability is there that we can do a really sophisticated integration with our source to pay platform,” for example. But actually, if you want to get adoption, and you want to get things happening quicker, and you don’t want to kind of upset other parts of the process, you might do something simpler to start with. But that’s why I think it facilitates it.
Nick Jenkinson: 48:15 I think that’s why having the goal of what it is you are trying to achieve and having that business objective is really clear, is really important, because I have definitely seen examples where people lock themselves in a dark room and design a solution where it all kind of makes sense when you are on PowerPoint, because it would be great if we could see data on this. And it would be great if we could have that and be great, we can have that and you get it. And then you end up seeing that it’s 87 clicks before you can do anything. And you sit there and go, “No one’s ever gonna do this.” And I have been involved in that. I mean, certainly, early in my career, I can think of a very good example, where we did that, it was literally like, “But we would like to get data on this. And we would like to control that. And we would like to get there.” And it all sounds perfect. “And I want an approval point here and approval point there.” But when you start actually going into it with real life scenarios, you are like, “This is crazy! And this is going to take us forever to get anything done.” And so I think really focusing on what it is we are trying to achieve, and therefore what compromises do we need to make as a result of that? And really, how do we evolve that as well, because there will be certain things that you get in which don’t quite work how you thought they were going to work when you were originally planning. So I think having that sort of piece on end-to-end. And I know we have talked about it before, which is that this whole piece around best of breed versus sort of integrated solutions. I don’t really believe the integrated solutions exist, to be honest, certainly not an end to end basis and therefore, everybody needs a level of best of breed because there is no integrated solution out there that will solve every single problem that you have from a business point of view. So you now need to put together all this technology landscape and there are some good, obviously, there’s some great solutions coming in. I had an interesting conversation last week on a solution, which is really a workflow solution, but really looking at certainly over the top of all of the different aspects. And actually, how are we driving that through, a lot of complexity as well, gave me a bit of a headache, thinking about actually some of the complexity that you would have associated with that. But the market is obviously going more and more, it’s enhancing all the time, the level of automation, the level of intelligence within the solutions is increasing and increasing. And it’s all about how do you actually use those, because it all still comes back to the people aspect that the systems, the technology, and I guess, as technology providers take this in the right way, what I have seen with a lot of the newer technology providers, is they know exactly how their technology works. They know exactly, what problem they are trying to solve? How do you then bring that into a business and make sure it lands effectively, and it marriage together and all of the messaging comes right, and it flows with other systems? I think is where people struggle slightly, which is where I said, starting with the business problem and working backwards, as opposed to starting with the technology and working forward. And actually, yeah, it’s though you can kind of see where that’s the piece that’s often missing. It’s just actually, “I have got all of this landscape, and you are going to solve this problem. And you are going to do it really well if you have got a great solution.” But how do I put it together with everything else I have got? Because as I said, it does with some of it will probably give you a headache, just thinking about how you are actually going to bring that together and how that data is going to flow back and forth? Because otherwise you end up with, “It works great here,” but then you have got no source of truth. And the data doesn’t flow effectively from end-to-end. And you know, further forward than what you are because you solve this problem. But you have created lots of other problems further down the line. So I think having that bigger picture and trying to bring that business lens. I think the other thing on that, again, if you start with the tech, I don’t think people put enough time into that stuff, either. They just go on the basis of somebody’s told me, “I can implement it in six weeks, I thought I can get it implemented in six weeks.” And then wonder why they haven’t implemented in six weeks and where the challenges are. But it’s because they never really looked at it as a part of a much bigger ecosystem and how this all fits together.
Jonny Dunning: 48:42 Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely for technology providers, the challenge is, how do you get the best maximum value from what you are delivering to that specific end customer? And I think there’s a lot more movement towards being very good at one specific thing. And keeping that simple, but then having really good capabilities around just how you kind of adapt the product for that sort of client, how you configure it for that particular customer. Because really, again, you need to understand the problem.
Nick Jenkinson: 52:57 So that needs to set on the business side as well, doesn’t it? Because, again, I think, if when you go in for a best of breed approach, I guess what you don’t want probably is bringing in a huge SI for every single piece of tech that you are bringing in. Because obviously from a cost point of view, it goes hugely, they probably don’t have the capabilities either in...
Jonny Dunning: 53:20 Probably not needed.
Nick Jenkinson: 53:21 But it’s more about but then you need the right skills are talking about the operating model and talking about the capabilities. You need those people who can then in your own organization, think about these things, think about how it all marries together. And actually how do we join those dots together because you are solving this problem, but it’s all about the wider ecosystem and how that all fits together.
Jonny Dunning: 53:42 Yeah, I was reading an article that Lance Younger and Dr. Eloise Epstein had contributed to [Unclear] article recently, and Eloise was talking about stitching together these different solutions with a bit in the middle. And that bit in the middle is kind of one of those things that I feel like that’s quite a rapid evolution that’s happening at the moment in terms of what those things in the middle looks like where you have got the traditional source to pay sweets, for example. And then you have got new technologies coming in that kind of centralize ecosystems of different [Unclear] tools.
Nick Jenkinson: 54:18 I was with Lance last week, when the... I was just talking about a second ago.
Jonny Dunning: 54:21 Right. But Eloise, was talking about that middle bit consisting of four things, user experience, an app store or access to two other bits of technology, a data foundation and a kind of intelligence layer. And I think that sums it up quite well. And particularly when you go back to what you were saying about ultimately what you need to provide the organization to the buyers and to the suppliers is a good experience. And it doesn’t matter whether there are different pieces of technology that are going through.
Nick Jenkinson: 54:51 A good experience that solves the problem you are trying to solve in the first place. I think that’s the obviously the critical bit as well.
Jonny Dunning: 54:56 Yeah, there’s no point just having a nice time.
Nick Jenkinson: 54:58 But it solves a problem. People can live with a slightly poor experience of that. And then it’s about how to improve that over time. But, is this actually making my life easier? So a lot of users from a source to pay platform, they just want to buy something. So they just want it extremely...
Jonny Dunning: 55:16 To get on with it.
Nick Jenkinson: 55:17 Yeah, they just want to be able to, all I want is, I want to go work at this, I want an outcome I am looking for, I want to work with a provider to drive the outcome. Please make this as easy as you can possibly make it. So actually, when we get into everything from a different control points, and you get into different thresholds, and you get into different workflows, they are not really interested in any of that. Some of it is obviously necessary just because of governance and controls within organizations. But it’s just having that balance between but something’s different, like, I don’t know, a supplier collaboration tool that where I can go crowdsource problems and actually be able to bring suppliers in from a different ecosystem to manage that is solving a real problem for me or a tool that then gives me end-to-end transparency of everything, where it is and how it’s progressing. And what I need to do, is solving a problem for me until it’s those things where I think really trying to think about what is the problem we are trying to solve? And I think, going back, it would have been difficult, if you go back about 10 years, it would have been difficult, often for procurement teams to offer that because the marketplace wasn’t there, the technology wasn’t there, there was probably lots of some good thinking. And obviously, I guess, probably going back, when Cooper first came into the market, they obviously disrupted things in the source to pay environment a lot. But in that last 10 years, we have then seen disruption after disruption after disruption. But I think that needs more intelligence, the wrong word.
Jonny Dunning: 55:17 But it needs strategic thought, doesn’t it?
Nick Jenkinson: 55:19 It is, but I did say earlier, I don’t really like saying I want to be strategic, but it needs people with the breadth of thinking, where you could understand the art of the possible is probably the best way to put it. It’s understanding the art of the possible understanding, these are the problems we are trying to solve, understanding how that digital layer, solves those problems. And this is how I am gonna then fit all this together. So it actually solved the problem. And it provides a great experience for people. And that is not easy is the reality. I mean, anyone has got it mastered, and they have managed to do every single piece, then I am very interested in having those conversations, because it’s not easy, and it’s not easy, the more complex your organization, the more legacy you have got in your organization, you have got when in terms of legacy platforms, and if you have got lots of on premise, it’s difficult to do. And that’s why we ended up having all these conversations like we are having now about these things. It’s not because everybody’s sits in there, and it’s easy, and everyone’s nailed. It’s because there are challenges within and so you do need the right people who are having that thinking of how we join in all this together.
Jonny Dunning: 57:54 Yeah, and I mean, the procurement technology landscape has accelerated and grown rapidly, there’s massive investment going into it. When you look at it, compared to like marketing technology, it’s still small, and it’s gonna get a lot bigger. But how do you like to kind of be made aware about new technologies, because there’s loads of innovation happening, there’s cool stuff coming out. But when you start looking at market maps, and things like that, it’s generally a bit of a brain melting type exercise. So clearly, you are super busy, and your team is busy.
Nick Jenkinson: 58:24 I am honestly quite open to save. And I am sure there’s lots of people contact me on LinkedIn who have not responded to it, they will disagree with it. Actually, I probably do take a lot of the cold call emails, I do take a lot of quick demos. And I wouldn’t say I spend huge amounts of time. But I quite often will do a 20, 25 minutes with companies who got in contact, just to say, “Well, just show me what are you actually... What you are offering? What’s the solution? What does that look like?” I guess I am quite interested... So, when you are talking about the conversations with Lance when they launched the “Procure Tech 100.” I was there with them at that. And so kind of understanding the angle that they were taking from that perspective. I probably sort of build that network. So you are having those conversations and people are making you aware of the new tools. But Cooper was a good example. That was came off a cold call. Nobody knew who they were at the time. I got a cold call from [Unclear]. They had only an agent at the time that they ended up having one employee at the time when we signed up in Europe, but there was actually through an agent who at the time I said, “Never heard of it. What is it? Okay, come and talk to me about it.” And then the conversation grew from there. So I am actually, I do try and be as open as possible, clearly time constraints and sometimes you do end up with a lot of things in your LinkedIn inbox and I am not always totally on top of them but it’s really about network, it’s really about being, I guess why I enjoy the transformation is the curiosity to what’s the art of the possible? How do I then be creative and sort of more entrepreneurial, if you like in terms of, how do I develop that? So as a result, you need to sort of know what’s out there. And it’s not all about the platforms that you have already known. It’s about what else has come in. And I was one of the judges actually on “Procure Tech 100.” So that was quite useful, as well. So I was looking at all the contracting tools, but you obviously then dug into them a lot more in terms of different solutions, and Lance described me last week as quite outspoken on these things. So not the compliment. [Unclear]. So, but it was really like, “Well, okay, fine. But what’s the USP? Because I know, six other technologies that do this, this, this? What is it that you are trying to sell me? And how does that look?” And if it is good, and it’s like, “Oh, actually, that’s really cool,” then you will further those conversations, because I am interested and interested, actually, when we are talking about the advisory piece in supporting some of those organizations as well moving forward in because obviously, I have got a level of knowledge on what I think does work in organizations and what doesn’t and know the market pretty well, in terms of where I think gaps are. And it’s not like... I have done source today, I have done supplier management, I have done risk, I have done contracting. And so I have kind of done all the different elements to an extent, so it’s also actually working with some of those organizations and trying to provide some input that hopefully enhances their solutions as well.
Jonny Dunning: 1:01:26 Yeah, I think, what you say about having that, gaining that awareness of what’s out there, I do think it’s really important, clearly, you are very busy time constraints need to be taken into consideration. But that’s what I think with things like what Lance doing with Procure Tech, where he’s curating credible platforms and building up that kind of network of what’s out there and who’s in the conversation? I think it’s really useful. Events, I think, a good mode of communication for that sort of thing as well, because people are in that kind of open environment.
Nick Jenkinson: 1:01:55 And obviously, that is them becoming more open. So again, I said that to Lance last week, in terms, I think they have done some good things, since he said, Procure Tech open and do some work with, sort of, in the market in terms of the work we are doing with Jaguar Land Rover, into sort of.
Jonny Dunning: 1:02:10 Accelerated.
Nick Jenkinson: 1:02:10 Yeah. And so obviously, progress, obviously, DPW only started a couple of years ago, but I was at the first DPW. And that kind of has obviously got some real acceleration there. So I think it’s the route the more and more places and networks where you can get that learning. But I think you need to create the time and you need to be interested, if I am honest, that’s the big thing, where the big thing for me is because the way I work is I want to try and learn something new when you want to try and improve things done. I am always interested to have those conversations, if you just get into, “I just haven’t got time because I am meeting from eight o’clock till six o’clock,” then actually, you are always going to be in that position, because you are not creating the time to do it. I am a Liverpool fan, and I was at...
Jonny Dunning: 1:03:03 Must have been a fairly good week.
Nick Jenkinson: 1:03:06 [Unclear].
Jonny Dunning: 1:03:06 Where are you?
Nick Jenkinson: 1:03:08 At the match. So yes, it was a Happy Sunday afternoon.
Jonny Dunning: 1:03:11 Yeah, I bet.
Nick Jenkinson: 1:03:12 With the seven nil victory, Manchester United, anyway. But I was talking about with my brother, and he was talking about because he’s sort of come out of corporate life now. What you were talking about just kind of the difference of being in a more advisory, VC type activities. And just the difference in terms of meetings where, I think sort of, saying, sort of biggest cultural issue in organizations is just scheduled meeting, scheduled meeting scheduled meeting. And I think you obviously need to get yourself out of that where there obviously are meetings that are critical. But I think you need to get to the point where you are creating the headspace to be able to think about things and that you are trying to constantly learn none of it. The worst position you can ever be in is where you don’t think you have got anything else to learn. Because ultimately we all have, it doesn’t matter how long we have been doing this, it doesn’t matter what our roles are from CPOE to procurement analyst and everything else in between. The reality is we have all got things to learn. And it’s more about how do I create that type? And how do I create an infrastructure and that sort of ecosystem around me where I have got the opportunity to do that. And sometimes, like I said, I am pretty good, I think, taking the sort of cold call, where particularly if it’s something of interest, if it’s something where, it’s not relevant to me, then okay, fine. I am probably as bad as everyone else, just ignoring the messages that come in. But I think if there are things there where I think well, “Actually, I can see a real opportunity here,” then I am interested in having that conversation. And nothing might come of it for six months or a year or two years, because you have got to, it’s all about what we talked about earlier having the business problem, but in order to solve the business problem with the town nology, you need to understand the technology is the reality and you need to understand what’s out there, then the eureka moment comes in with we have got a problem, that solution that I talked about previously, which is why I mentioned the sort of workflow tools that are starting to come in where I do think there’s a good, there is a real gap there of everybody struggles with the end-to-end and they struggle with really looking at the trends, providing that transparency and providing a new user experience. And I think there are definitely some solutions now starting to look at that as a real problem to solve. And I think it is a real problem to solve, I think most organizations will have done it where even if you have done the best end-to-end implementation, there’s still bits where, we can give that up, and then you will have to go to a helpdesk for this. And you will have to go that way. And so I think, having had those conversations, you start to work things around in your mind and really think of that, the art of the possible and therefore might not be for another six months or a year or where you are having conversations where that becomes useful. But just having that in your mind, I think is very useful, very helpful to have.
Jonny Dunning: 1:06:08 Yeah, I think with what you were saying about the kind of, you can’t just be stuck in meetings all the time. And you have got to know what’s out there is you have got to understand both sides of the equation, what does the business need? What are the opportunities within that technology landscape? But it kind of comes back to what you are talking about around curiosity? If you are naturally that way inclined, you are going to want to, “Well, what are people doing? Well, how are people saying they are making things better? Is that true?” But it’s also that ability to take a step back every now and again, and keep coming back to the strategy. Which is such an important thing for any size of business for a kind of like a tech startup scale up type businesses, it’s absolutely critical to always come back to what’s your strategy? How are you addressing that, and not just get caught up in the rapids of what’s going on today on a day-to-day basis, but it applies to big companies as well. And I think when you are talking about aligning with strategy, I still think a lot of big companies just don’t either have their strategy lined up effectively or don’t communicate it effectively. But that’s a kind of separate conversation. But one of the things I wanted to come back to was when you are talking about kind of getting this broader picture. We are starting to have a lot more conversations with, for example, procurement excellence functions. I think that’s really interesting in terms of the way that side of things is developing in terms of understanding the wider infrastructure. And just looking at it from a pure problem solving exercise of how does this process and technology on it together?
Nick Jenkinson: 1:07:28 Yeah, I mean, it’s to me, so anybody who’s listening who wants to be a CPO, I would massively say, that’s the area that you should go and work in. Because I think it’s where you are closest to all of the touch points and all of the end-to-end elements. So in terms of when I was at pharma organization, the person who did that role for me is now CPO. In that organization, the person who’s done that role at Santander is now the CPO in that organization, in terms of so. So it’s kind of for me, it’s always the first role that I try and get somebody in place, because it’s absolutely critical. Because the way I have always described it is the categories will deliver the value, but they are enabled by, we always call it the capabilities, but whether it’s become an excellence, capabilities, they are enabled by that and they can’t work effectively. And they can’t really drive the value unless the whole ecosystem works together. And ultimately, that comes within that procurement excellence area. And actually, what’s our proposition? How we position ourselves how we perform in how are we measuring that? What’s our tech roadmap look like? What we are digitizing? How are we managing risk? All of that comes into it, and you have got some multiple touch points and a lot of complexity within that. So it’s kind of people have got that career trajectory they are looking for, I would massively encourage people to look in that area, because it really sorts of then opened your mind and opened the perspective on all the different elements of procurement, not just I am setting a category, and I am going to drive huge value, which are obviously important, and they are the people out managing business partnership. And under our category areas, we add supplier collaboration roles within there. So it’s certainly not saying that they are not critical, because actually, that’s where the data from phase if you like, but that middle and back office is just as important as getting that front office.
Jonny Dunning: 1:09:25 Yeah, it feels like a central leverage point again.
Nick Jenkinson: 1:09:27 Massively.
Jonny Dunning: 1:09:29 So the last area I really wanted to kind of touch on was just specifically around data. I know, you said you are very kind of numeracy is an important thing. It’s kind of part of how your mind works, you didn’t have an economics degree, is that right? So when you look at the numbers...
Nick Jenkinson: 1:09:49 Yes. Long time ago...
Jonny Dunning: 1:09:50 I am not gonna start getting...
Nick Jenkinson: 1:09:52 Back in the day.
Jonny Dunning: 1:09:53 It always reminds me of when I was at university studying Environmental Biology and one of my mates who was studying economics, wheeled out a copy of The Economist and said, “Jonny, why don’t you look up your degree in there in terms of what the likely earnings are, by doing that degree against the average earnings,” and economics was like, you know, plus 70%, or something like that, my degree was something like -9%. I was like, “Okay, I see.” Hopefully, it would be slightly more value these days. But so on the data side, how do you think that data is going to change procurement? Obviously, there’s a lot of data already. But I am kind of interested in how you think it’s going to change it in terms of how can procurement get more data? How can it get better data? What type of work is that mean, going to mean that people need to do within procurement? And also what kind of talent does that mean that procurement need to have in that area? And the last kind of bit around is, what does that mean for the relationship with the wider business? Because one of the things that I think you have talked about is kind of positioning and selling into the rest of the business? Surely, that’s always easier if you have got data to back it up.
Nick Jenkinson: 1:11:05 Yeah, so I think it comes back to that whole repositioning and reimagining what procurement is, I think. In previous roles were kind of explained to people in terms of the direction we will go in and through either some outsourcing of some activities, or then automation of activities, and I think you end up with people who are in two camps on that, you end up with the person who thinks, “Well, this is terrible, because this is my job, and what’s my job actually going to be?” And you end up with the person people who think, “Well, this is a massive opportunity for me,” because actually running RFPs and, and running some of the simple negotiations and getting involved in some of the more administrative tasks is not what I enjoy in procurement. And why I enjoy is how am I working with supplier partners? How am I working with business partners in order to drive those business outcomes? And so in terms of, really, I guess, it brings into the technology conversation with data becoming a critical part of that, to me, it’s all about how are we creating that time and headspace in order to be able to really drive the business partnerships and drive spy partnerships, which the more that you can automate, the more that you can then start to create that data ecosystem that actually starts to and to me, it’s not about the data, it’s about the insights that would come from that data. And I think people again, could get lost in that saying, “Look, we have got all this data,” it’s like, “Yeah, but what are we actually doing with it,” and that’s the critical bit, is the insights that starts to come from that. And ultimately, I guess, knowledge is power, and therefore being able to really bring those insights and to be able to drop those nuggets in. And to be able to have coherent strategies that are based on data are obviously absolutely critical, and will become more and more critical as teams spend less of their time doing the traditional, let’s call it category management sourcing activities, more time on actually how am I building the supplier and business partnerships and bringing those together and managing this ecosystem data is going to be critical within that about how is that being used to drive value for the organization and massively helped that repositioning because you are then bringing huge amounts of credibility as opposed to you are doing a task, which I guess, to me, run an RFP and running a sourcing event is a task, ultimately, you are actually focused on business outcomes that you are trying to drive and you are able to base that in a structured coherent manner based on the data insights that’s become available, and then you become a real source of knowledge within the organization. And I think that’s the critical element. And that’s where time, I think, take COVID as that piece where time people realized was probably the most critical asset that we have. And we are all time poor. So actually, how do you create more and more, in order to be able to understand the supplier ecosystem, understand what your business partners are looking for? Understand the art of the possible of how we simplifying and automating the sort of more mundane and how we really understanding the complex as well. So how are we really starting to which obviously, then data fits very neatly into that complex about, but that’s where I said, you do have to take that step back as well and look at your whole digital landscape, and how does it all fit together? Because it only all works if the data is able to flow and you are able to see the total end-to-end picture as opposed to this point in time. And then this dataset doesn’t match that dataset, and I am trying to crunch them together and I have got no way of doing that. So it does take a lot of, like I said it takes a lot of time effort, but I think it will naturally evolve operating models. So a good example is what we did at Santander where we, and I am not saying this is right, to be honest whether we have got it right and whether it will evolve, but about 40% of our team are either focused on supplier collaboration or risk. Because it was really focused on what are the needs of this organization? Where do I think this organization needs to go? Because what financial services organization needed 10 years ago to what financial services organization needs in five years time from a supplier ecosystem is very, very different, obviously, moving away from bricks and mortar into a more digital world, and therefore the supply base that you need is obviously different. So actually, we focused on what do we need from an operating model to be able to work with that, to deliver that, to manage that. And I think that will be a critical element where people move away from this sort of supersonic category manager who does a bit of everything and picks up risk in the morning and supply management in the afternoon and a bit of sourcing tomorrow morning to actually more structured division of responsibility. What does that data team start to look like? How we really drive in insights from that data team? So obviously, there is a specific skill set, we talked about the colors earlier, where you have got people who are, so whether it’s data scientists but how that starts to build it up. But you need to be able to create the environment where that data becomes available. And then it’s actually how do we turn that into the insight, which helps drive some of the other activities, whether it be through business partnerships, whether it be through supplier partnerships, but actually, how does that all fit together. And I think that’s the critical element. And data is one element of that. I think there will be others as well. But it is really about sort of taking away the simple if you like, and automate as much as possible, and really start to understand that complex area in a much greater level of detail. And as a result, I have said this a few times, so apologies, people have listened, but you are what you eat. And actually, if you create an organization that’s got half a person doing some data on a Friday night, then you are not going to have some great data insight. So and it’s the same with risk. And it’s the same with ESG. And it’s the same with supplier collaboration, you have got to really put your money where your mouth is and start to put the right people and what skills does that person need, because they won’t be the same person who was five years ago doing a Category Manager role for me. But I think you need to think about what we are here to do, think about what our value proposition is, and then think about where you are trying to get to, and then make sure the operating model fits with that. And you have got the right people doing the right things.
Jonny Dunning: 1:17:39 Yep, it all has to come back to the bigger picture, as you say. So I am going to wrap things up there. And that’s been really, really super interesting, I really appreciate it. Just a kind of a point of intrigue from my angle, with what you are doing, obviously, with the way that your roles have evolved in terms of becoming this kind of taking the problem solving angle that comes in at a certain point, it solves problem. So that’s one of the things that’s kind of influenced how your career has gone through to this point. And obviously, what you are doing is [Unclear], it’s really interesting, the fact that you are taking that from an advisory point of view, when you look at the future of what you are doing is going, where the industry is going, where the technology is heading, all these different things you mentioned about the fact that you have a good understanding, and you can work with the technology providers as well, what do you see is the key things in the future that you want to leverage, personally?
Nick Jenkinson: 1:18:33 For me, I guess, I can...
Jonny Dunning: 1:18:38 I want to really get into the depth.
Nick Jenkinson: 1:18:41 So for me, I think I have probably got to a point in my career. And again, this way, I think the advisory piece fits in, I want to do things where you can make a difference and you can see the skills that I have the strengths we talked about earlier, where A, you can see the challenge, and B, you can make a real rapid impact. And I think it also has to have some sort of purpose in terms of, why I am actually doing that and what it’s bringing into the wider environment or a specific organisation or specific industry. I think having that sort of purpose is really quite important to me now and again, whether it’s just a bit older, a bit more experienced with it, but it has to have that, it’s kind of clearly we all got to pay the bills and there is an income element we have to bring into it. But for me having that wider purpose is really important and really been thinking that, I can make a difference. I wouldn’t. I just would hate just going in where you are just taking your income and then just doing a mundane and not really challenging yourself and not really being able to make that impact. I think that’s the critical thing for me. So it’s really having the working with the right people who have got the right mindset and really seeing what that problem is, and really focused on what the art of the possible is, and then really trying to enhance that value. And that value obviously comes in many different ways, whether it be through responsible procurement agenda, whether it be through risk, whether it be through cost, there’s million and one different reasons. And it’s that sort of whole value proposition that really sort of interests and excites me moving forward. But I think, they are the key things from my perspective, it’s the sort of purpose, it’s the how can I make things better here? And how can I really make an impact? That’s kind of really kind of what motivates me, particularly, I guess where I am in my career in life at the moment.
Jonny Dunning: 1:20:45 I am very much on board what you are saying. It’s all about having a clear purpose, clear goal and just getting things done.
Nick Jenkinson: 1:20:53 Why do I get out of bed in the morning? Why do I do the work that I do? And I think that is probably there’s more to that than simply well, I need to pay the mortgage, ultimately. And it’s looking at all of those fundamentals together, and how can I just use that to drive myself on.
Jonny Dunning: 1:21:11 Yeah, it has to be that reason to get out of bed in the morning, that isn’t just that one of your kids are up and they have woken you up, or that the dog needs to go for a walk or something like that. They are all there as well.
Nick Jenkinson: 1:21:21 Yeah.
Jonny Dunning: 1:21:21 Excellent stuff. Well, listen, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat. I really enjoyed that. I think some great insights that come out of and I like the fact that we have been able to go off on a few tangents and delve into some of the experiences you had burned.
Nick Jenkinson: 1:21:33 The way my brain works that goes off on those tangents, hence why I like transformation.
Jonny Dunning: 1:21:37 Excellent stuff. Well, yeah, it’s been really great. And thanks very much for coming in. And yeah, hopefully we will catch up again soon.
Nick Jenkinson: 1:21:43 All right. Thanks, Jonny, thank you very much.