Find answers, ask experts and talk with the procurement community


Do you want to deliver savings faster, reduce risks and transform functional performance?

Industry leading events

Inspirational leading procurement thinkers and innovators, providing unique opportunities to network and share best practice.

Upcoming events

West Coast Forum 2018

San Francisco - June 2018

Bringing together the West Coast’s brightest minds in procurement from the most innovative and disruptive technology firms and leading global businesses for 1 day of insight, inspiration and interactive discussion to accelerate the performance of your procurement function.

6th Annual East Coast Forum

Boston - 13-14 September, 2017

Join procurement innovators from across the Americas to debate hot topics and develop innovative strategies and practical solutions, enabling you to transform every facet of your procurement function.

Plus, executive briefings offering optional tailored content for Senior Financial Services & Marketing Procurement professionals.


My Profile

World Procurement Congress: Unilever on growing true strategic procurement.

Cost and Cash ManagementTalent and LeadershipBlog

Marc Engel, CPO of consumer goods giant Unilever, took to the stage at the World Procurement Congress to talk about how he has created the ‘headroom’ in his function to allow for true strategic procurement.


This is where procurement can get down to the nitty-gritty, while also continuing to deliver value back to the business.


“Innovation is everything”, said Engel in front of a packed house at the Park Lane Hotel in London. When you are operating in a fast-paced industry with 90,000 suppliers and some 2 billion customers buying your products every day, he noted, you have no choice. You either innovate or you get left behind.


So how has the company attempted to achieve this?


Engel explained that there are three strategic levers that the company has used:


-          Organisational design and processes.

-          Operating model

-          Integration


This journey saw the team spilt into three sections. These were made up of ‘materials’, known more widely in the industry and category managers, ‘cluster’, which sit in the local geographies and ‘category’.


Each different section is given responsibility over certain stages of the seven stage sourcing process. ‘Materials’ have control of steps one through to five, focussing mainly on buying. Cluster have control of stages six and seven where they are implementing what buyers are doing in their local areas and ‘category’ are implementing all this throughout the sourcing process.


On top of this, Unilever has also established four new entities across the world, made up of procurement people, which has allowed spend to become more centralised and have also changed their purchase-to-pay system to a source-to-pay where IBM have taken control all purchase orders.


This has freed up buying resources to actually do strategic procurement and, according to Engel, is giving the procurement team the headroom to actually help deliver value back to the business.


Tim Burt
Posted by Tim Burt