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Procurement Leaders’ Asia Pacific Forum returns to Singapore in November for two days of insightful discussions on driving transformation and strategies to help procurement teams prepare for the future. Hani AlSaigh, GM of technology procurement at Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and a speaker at this year’s event, discusses his experience of transformation and ways of attracting talent to the function.
Procurement Leaders: What should procurement do differently to recruit and retain staff?
Hani AlSaigh: I believe procurement needs to reposition itself as a business leader and create the right conditions to attract the best talent. If we focus more on business impact, we can develop solid career paths that will produce strong leaders. People want to see their contributions making a difference, so we should link our work to transforming the wider business and the bottom line; talent will then follow.
Is the procurement skill set changing? If so, what types of training will the function need to focus on?
HA: Procurement is no longer just about negotiations or trying to get the best price. The next generation of talent will need to focus their attention further up the value chain as digitalisation and robotic process automation (RPA) erode the need for operational work. I believe we need to focus more on strategic skills and on leveraging technology to augment our decision-making processes.
At STC, we have been building on technical capabilities by attracting people with an IT background and then putting them through our Procurement Academy to give them a skill set that fuses the two. This way, these individuals can channel their technical knowledge into business outcomes.
How does the procurement team at Saudi Telecom approach value creation?
HA: We started our transformation journey three years ago and are now into the second phase, which focuses on our vision for 2020.
The first part of the journey was to create the right conditions for value creation, which included aligning procurement across the business and other functional units, building strategic sourcing capabilities, supplier relationship management, and working across our 13 operating companies and subsidiaries. This demonstrated how cross-functional the STC procurement team could be, as well as the power of teamwork and having a single voice with suppliers. Now the conditions are right to move to world-class levels, where we drive technology standardisation across the group, bring innovation into STC and help generate revenue.
What has your role at Saudi Telecom taught you about successful transformation?
HA: Transformation is all about people – whether it’s leadership, stakeholders or change management. When we began to transform, we struggled to take people with us and get them to believe in what we were doing.
Breaking complex challenges into small tangible pieces helped people to see results, and this built up enough traction to move to the next step. The key is to communicate regularly and do it well, whether it be with employees, stakeholders or suppliers – try to see it from their perspective, and show them what’s in it for them.
What are you hoping to learn at the Asia Pacific Forum?
HA: It will be interesting to see how other leaders in procurement see the impact of technologies such as blockchain, RPA and big data. We hear and read so much about these areas, but it is important to hear some real-life examples. I’d also love to hear how group procurement works in other companies as this is something the STC Group is undergoing now.
Find out more about the Asia Pacific Forum here
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.