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Zurich Summit: Lessons In Communication.

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Every CPO and procurement executive knows communication is key for the future success of the function. Communicate your wins effectively and people will take notice; get it wrong and you will find yourself shouting into the void.   


Corinne Fleischer, CPO of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), took to the stage at the 2015 Procurement Leaders Summit in Zurich, held in the hills high above the Swiss city, and told delegates that if there was one thing she could change, it would be her communication policy. 


The WFP knows how important communication is. As the world’s largest humanitarian agency, the organisation distributes food in many conflict and disaster zones – including Syria and Iraq. The agency’s ultimate aim is to end world hunger by 2030. However, for instance, if the WFP doesn’t get its communication with suppliers right, it won’t be able to assist the people who need help in time; causing the organisation to fall short of its target.


Fleischer and her team have done amazing things in some of the most challenging circumstances imaginable. Only recently, during the recent turmoil in Iraq, WFP was alerted to 20,000 people on the way down from the mountains, all of whom needed food. Within 48 hours, the team had the required supplies in place, ready for distribution. 


The agency has also developed an agile and local supply base – one that can respond quickly and efficiently to humanitarian emergencies, while also supporting the local economy. 


Fleischer said that while the team has had these successes and have communicated them, this went through only one level of the organisation – which is not deep enough to have any meaningful impact.


In terms of what she would do differently, Fleischer told the Summit she would take the message down through the organisation herself and ensure it resonated.


If this means talking to marketing or adding someone to your team who specialises in internal communications, then it has to be done – it is the only way procurement will be heard above the noise.


To read more from the World Food Programme click here


For further information on the 2015 Procurement Leaders Summit in Zurich click here.


This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.

Tim Burt
Posted by Tim Burt