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  • Animated image for Facilities Management Facilities Management

    Essential services to help keep your school running smoothly.

  • Ingredients and cooking pans Food and Catering

    Everything you need for your school meals and catering requirements.

  • person working at a desk Furniture

    Helping you create inspiring spaces.

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school exercise books varied colours
Discover our complete range of exercise books.
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Blue school exercise book with ruled pages
Ruled paper exercise books for a range of subjects.
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Name: Melissa Bell

Position: Sustainable Procurement Manager

How long have you been working at YPO: 15 years this August.

What do you like most about working at YPO?

I love working at YPO! The people here are fantastic and it really feels like a family. I’ve been at YPO for a long time and worked in lots of different teams but the thing that has been consistent is everything we do is customer focused.

I love working with customers to understand what their requirements are and finding a solution to help. I also love the fact that we have lots of engagement with suppliers. I find it fascinating talking to suppliers to find out what else they do and spotting new opportunities. When I see the outcomes of my work, such as a framework being launched or a customer getting the result they were looking for it gives me such a sense of pride.

What are your main responsibilities?

The focus of my new role is on developing our sustainable procurement practices to help our procurement teams embed sustainable and social value outcomes into our tenders. I am also going to be working with our suppliers to develop and deliver positive social impacts in the community.

Part of my role will also be working with customers to understand what their priorities are in relation to social value and what they would like to see reflected in our solutions.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

This is a brand new role – not only to me but to YPO and I think that is the biggest challenge at the moment. There is lots to do which to start with will be understanding where we are now before I can start looking at where we want to be. It’s really exciting to be in a new role where I can essentially make it my own.

Describe your role in three words:

Exciting, challenging and rewarding

How did you get involved in procurement?

It was actually because of my Dad – he saw an advert in the local paper for a trainee in the school supplies procurement department of YPO which included training. I was 18 and was about to go to university to study applied psychology at Leeds but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. He worked in the NHS at the time and knew about YPO and recognised that the training would be CIPS. When I got the job, I deferred my place at uni for a year, just in case I didn’t like it – but 15 years later I’m still here and the rest as they say is history!!

(I still have the original job advert cut out of the paper at home!)

Tell us a bit about your procurement experience

I’ve worked in lots of different categories at YPO which has exposed me to different experiences and each came with their own set of challenges. I’ve been involved in buying pens and pencils through to insurance and travel management services.

I started life in stationery (or school supplies as it was called at the time) where my main role was stock control, making sure that we had enough stock to cover demand. I learnt a lot in my first few years and started my training – first by doing a HNC in Business Studies then my CIPS qualification. In 2006 I was given the opportunity to cover maternity leave as an assistant buyer in the sports category. It was a great learning opportunity and gave me experience of working with our direct products rather than stock. In 2008 I was successful in securing a permanent position as an assistant buyer in the catering and cleaning category. This was really interesting as it was a blend of stock and direct products so was drawing on both my previous experiences. I learnt so much about tendering and frameworks and was given a lot of freedom to develop the category.

Again in 2012 I covered a maternity position, this time as a buyer for social care. This was a completely new type of procurement to me – moving from products to services. It really opened my eyes and by the end of my cover role I had decided that I wanted to be in services. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long as in 2013 I secured the position of buyer in the professional services category.

Throughout my career I have worked with some great procurement professionals and I’ve learnt so much from each and every one of them.

I gained my MCIPS in 2012 but I’m a glutton for punishment so in 2016 I started a LLM in Public Procurement Law and Policy at the University of Nottingham.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I love spending time with my family and friends. I have a three-year old daughter and a seven-year old Dalmatian – both can be quite full on and demanding! My husband and I moved into a new house last year and we have been making our way around it decorating or doing some other type of work on it, so I can often be found with my head in a home magazine getting ideas – Pinterest is my hobby at the moment!

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Melissa Bell

Social Value and Sustainability Manager
YPO