Sportswear giant Nike was built around founder Bill Bowerman’s philosophy that ‘Everything you need is already inside’ – and the company’s procurement function has become the living, breathing testament of that premise.
With a relentless emphasis on the possible, Nike’s procurement organisation is in rude health. Utilising the power of sport and the positivity that physical activity can engender, Nike’s procurement team has based its values on five key pillars - technology, sports, connectivity, sustainable design and science.
It’s a set of beliefs which not only makes Nike’s procurement function one of the most exciting around but also serves to inspire the company’s next generation of procurement stars.
The excellence of the Oregon-based company’s procurement team was recognised at the 2015 Procurement Leaders Awards with the Best Procurement Team trophy.
Daniella Weitmann, european senior director, Nike Global Procurement, tells Procurement Leaders that the firm’s desire to embrace the principles that have served the company so well in the past, is a key differentiator for the firm’s procurement function.
"As a procurement organisation we want to embody everything that has made Nike successful," she says. "That means harnessing the power of sport and everything that it can bring with it. We know that we inspire and create motivated athletes for life when we have an understanding of what they need to achieve their goals."
Weitmann herself is Brazilian and, in keeping with the country’s proud sporting tradition, lists running and football among her passions. Whether it’s Barcelona performing in the Champions League, Vasco de Gama attempting to win another Brazilian national championship or her home country taking on the rest of the world at a World Cup, Weitmann’s passion for the beautiful game is clear to see – and it’s reflected in the way that she manages her team.
"I will sometimes be sat at a my desk and feel the ’thud, thud’ of a ball being kicked against the office wall," she enthuses. "Sport is everywhere here. I often host one-to-ones on the tennis court or on the treadmill at the gym. We really encourage all our team to embrace fitness."
Nike’s procurement organisation also has competitive energy to burn, with the team also taking part in cross-functional sporting contests, whether it be in basketball or dodgeball.
"Things can get pretty competitive," she admits. "I think you need a competitive edge to succeed in life and that’s really reflected in the positive attitude and energy that we have as a procurement team. We play a range of sports against each other and that’s where the competitive juices really come out.
"It’s not unheard of for some people to get injured! It is, though, a great way of bringing everyone together and, again, encouraging and harnessing the powers of teamwork.
"If you’re confident playing alongside someone in a sporting environment then I think that’s often reflected in the office environment too – you’re building up trust across the entire organisation. You get that unity."
It’s the kind of approach that might raise eyebrows elsewhere but it’s one that certainly works for Nike.
Weitmann, meanwhile, believes that it’s also a mindset that brings the best out of the company’s employees.
"Meeting someone on the tennis court or the basketball court places them in a completely different environment," she says. "From our point of view it enables you to get a much more open exchange of ideas. I would hope that we give people at Nike a fantastic platform to express their views and bring new ideas and innovation to the table."
Along with the key values mentioned previously, the transformation of Nike’s procurement organisation has also been based around four dimensions, namely: Strategic Alignment, Capabilities, Diversity and Culture. It’s those four areas which Nike identified as potential game changers for the organisation.
With weekly fitness classes and team huddles, Nike’s award-winning procurement team have also embraced teamwork to a whole new level in a bid to inspire and engage the team. In Weitmann’s own words, our team knows that "talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships."
As part of this the company has committed itself to employing people from a range of different backgrounds, something that it sees as essential to its success. The team contains a diverse range of nationalities, ages, gender, industry experience and personalities. The team boasts a rounded team in everyone sense of the word – a fact that was recognised by the judges in this year’s Procurement Leaders awards.
Such is the grounding that members of Nike’s procurement team now receive, that the organisation hasn’t just raised its profile across the company, but has also enabled members of the team to move into other functions – spreading both their expertise and their positive attitude.
"Our team today has a red thread that is recognisable across the organisation," says Weitmann. "We’re energised and hungry to learn more – do more – beat our own limits."
Not only has this approach delivered a highly motivated and capable team, it has also, crucially, delivered savings for the firm at large.
Based on the aforementioned four key elements, Nike now has a procurement function that has raised both expectations and standards across the board.
"From a strategic alignment sense, we’re more than simply functional experts – we are business minds," she says. "We partner with influence to really drive change through cross-functional leadership."
Culturally too, Nike’s procurement organisation is merely an extension of the company’s over-arching to ambition to ’play by the rules but be ferocious’.
Nowhere has this transformation been more obvious than in Europe, where the company has made significant strides in recent years. A team of ‘procurement ambassadors’ within finance to own procurement executional plans has played a key role in that development – a move which has already delivered tangible results.
That’s just one of a number of reasons why Nike’s procurement team stood out at this year’s awards. Formidable in the office and formidable on the playing field too – Weitmann’s organisation is fit for purpose in more ways than one.
Nike - Europe Procurement Team picked up the Best Procurement Team Award, partnered by GEP, at the 2015 Procurement Leaders Awards. To find out more about the Awards click here.
This article is a piece of independent journalism, written by an experienced journalist and commissioned exclusively by Procurement Leaders.
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