Can procurement change the world?

28 March 2018 By Gillian Askew, Head of Procurement

procurement world

Working in public sector procurement is not for the faint hearted. Faced with the hardest recession in our lifetime, professional procurers within the public sector have been asked to step up and deliver more value through procurement than ever before.

But, if you’re like me, it’s this very reason that drives me to be better every day, it’s what makes me love my job so much and it makes the role that procurement plays so unique. Our profession can really make a difference to the provision of public services, to help leave a legacy for generations to come.

I spent the first 18 years of my procurement career in industry. I worked on some very high profile projects, implementing global supply chains in complex and challenging sectors as well as providing resilience contracts to core infrastructure in the UK. Although I loved it, when I moved into public sector procurement in 2013 in the higher education sector, everything changed for me.

Financial performance is high on the agenda for everyone, so it’s fair to say with decreasing budgets the pressure on cost is unprecedented and while it will remain so for the foreseeable future there are other agenda at play. I discovered as a Head of Procurement in a university that I needed to rethink the drivers behind my procurements. That student value, student employability potential and research were also at the heart of everything I needed to deliver. I found that in implementing a strategy that brought students and supply chains together that procurement had the potential to transform the value it could deliver.

Now, working for YPO, a public sector buying organisation, my aim is to bring supply chains and communities together to transform value delivered at a local level. We aim to be at the very heart of supporting other public sector and not for profit organisations to get the most out of procurement. And it’s not all aggregation (although of course this is part of it), we also are embedding the UN Sustainable Development Goals into all our procurements to help make sure that while our procurements deliver optimum financial benefit, they also have the power to create substantial social impact at a local level.

I am proud to be a procurement professional within the public sector. Like everyone, at various points in my life I’ve needed the support of the NHS, I utilise the services provided by my local authority and although I’ve needed to use them rarely, I have complete faith that when I dial 999 that the emergency services will come to my aid.

I’m a primary school governor working hard with my school to try and make the best of our budgets, prioritising teaching and learning and aiming to keep class sizes appropriate. My husband and I also run a small care farm and we work with children and adults in the care system and so the work that YPO procurement does right across the public sector is tangible to me, like all of us, at a very real level.

In procurement Services at YPO we have, in my opinion, some of the most talented procurement professionals I have ever worked with. We’re motivated, passionate, we have fun and we’re tireless in our quest to support the public sector as well as we possibly can. I love my job, I love working for YPO and I’m part of a fantastic team. Someone once asked me if I thought procurement could change the world. The answer is, when it’s done well, absolutely YES.

I’m looking for a senior manager to join the Procurement Services management team here at YPO. We’re currently supporting around ¾ billion pounds of public sector spend and it’s increasing all the time. If, like me, you’re passionate about making a difference through effective procurement, unafraid to challenge the status quo and want the opportunity to develop your professional legacy then please give me a shout, I’d love to hear from you.

Learn more about YPO

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Categories: Procurement

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