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Ahead of Procurement Leaders’ seventh annual Asia Pacific Forum, Kellogg APAC and Africa CPO Qasim Hussain shares his thoughts on how to tailor the function to the needs of the business.
Procurement Leaders: What have you learned so far in your role as CPO of Kellogg APAC and Africa?
Qasim Hussain (QH): I’ve learned there isn’t one perfect procurement solution. To find the right answer, we need to understand a company’s values, its mission and business model, and how it plans to deliver value to shareholders. The procurement structure in place at Procter & Gamble was good for Procter & Gamble, the procurement structure at McCain worked for McCain. You cannot replicate either of those solutions at Kellogg because the business is organised differently. The fundamental functional capabilities and skills may be the same, but they need to be used differently to deliver value in the way the business needs.
What are the biggest challenges CPOs in the APAC region currently face?
QH: There are the traditional issues such as costs, people and capabilities, which we have faced in the past and will remain in the future. But as the environment, technologies and procurement’s role evolve, factors such as risk management, compliance, governance and sustainability will become increasingly critical.
When it comes to risk, the focus has been on mitigation versus management. Having an effective risk management programme can be a tremendous value-enabler for a company, but it does require a change in mindset. The business must recognise risk management as a value and a competitive advantage that can be leveraged.
How do you view the development of procurement? What lies ahead for the function?
QH: People discuss ‘Procurement 2.0’ or ‘Procurement 3.0’ as there has been a general progression of what the function does and the capabilities required in order to do that. We have gone from just being great negotiators to implementing category management, supplier relationship management and stakeholder management, as well as driving innovation, risk management and modelling. Now we are talking about sustainable procurement. Artificial intelligence has the potential to fundamentally change the way in which the function operates. When we start integrating those types of capabilities into procurement, the way we operate and organise ourselves will be disrupted.
How do you see the role of the CPO changing in future?
QH: Like any other C-level role, the CPO position is all about having and driving a clear vision for a function. I would argue, though, that the role of procurement – rather than that of the CPO – will change. CPOs will also have to carefully consider shifting business strategies and the choices the management team makes to enable a company to deliver its targets.
What advice would you give to CPOs looking to demonstrate how they add value?
QH: It is important to establish what value looks like for the company you work for. For certain businesses, it’s all about growing the share price while, for others, it is all about developing new innovations or pushing products to market as quickly as possible. You need to be clear about the business strategies and what you can do to drive them forward. Furthermore, you need to do that without solely focusing on costs. Helping articulate how both you and your function can help push forward company strategies will not only allow you to deliver value but promote a broader role for procurement in the company, too.
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This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.