Kath Johnson joined YPO two and a half years ago and is the category buyer for Highways and FM in the Procurement Services team.
Name: Kateryna Johnson – Kath to friends
Position: Category Buyer – Highways and FM
How long have you been working at YPO? Two and a half years
What do you like most about working at YPO?
I thoroughly enjoy developing relationships and helping customers and suppliers. It gives me heaps of job satisfaction when I see that my work is in fact making a difference for them. I love learning about innovative products and services and often get carried away with enthusiasm for all the possible applications. It’s quite unusual for a buyer to get involved with sales, promotion and marketing but at YPO it’s great to have the ability to be creative of our products and services.
I found it easy to make some lovely friends at YPO. I also feel very lucky to work for an organisation, that not only helps with my work/life balance, but motivates me to achieve my objectives. It has been refreshing to join a company that is genuinely interested in investing in my education and personal development too.
What are your main responsibilities?
The main part of my work at YPO is to help public sector buyers with their procurement requirements, helping them to find the route to market that best suits their needs whilst ensuring that the solution is compliant with current regulations. Gathering quality suppliers is another important part of my role, working with providers, guiding them through the maze of regulations and still keeping them focused on providing the most competitive products and services our customers need.
My focus is on increasing our portfolio of frameworks and DPSs for our customers, working on highways and external facilities management. I manage and develop a number of frameworks and DPSs for products such as gritting salt, streetlighting, civil engineering products, construction, road markings, surfacing and traffic management. I’ve also recently been working with colleagues on the catalogue we produce each year. I meet our customers to help them with specifications and documentation required to run a successful and compliant Call for Competition that suits their stakeholders. I also keep myself informed of industry issues by attending conferences and exhibitions, this helps me to develop the most useful products and services.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Every day’s a school day in my job. There are so many diverse products and services involved in highways and construction, which means I’m constantly learning (even at my age!), especially with LED streetlighting and the prospect of even more technological advances that will be available in all our towns and cities pretty soon.
Describe your role in three words:
Satisfying, diverse, enriching
How did you get involved in procurement?
In 1999 I closed my interior design business after building it from scratch for nine years. It was a sad time but I was a single mum with two children and I needed to provide more for my family. I found temporary office work via an agency who kept me fully employed on numerous assignments. In 2000 they sent me to a construction site for a two week secretarial holiday cover. Four weeks later the site manager offered me the site buyer position. The £14 million project covered about 50 miles of motorways, installing the ducting and cables for the electronic message boards. It was the best time, learning about all the different products, colourful site language, amazing characters and the craic.
Tell us a bit about your procurement experience
I suppose my procurement experience began when I was developing my own business. Sourcing materials from manufacturers, distributors, fabric and wallcovering design houses and paint suppliers. I still love the smell of fabric, fresh from the factory (I wish I knew then what I know now). Then in construction, the first job (described above) was for John Mowlem, a company based in Leeds. I then went on to Balfour Beatty Utilities in Hoyland; we relocated to Chapeltown, Sheffield, where I was a regional buyer, purchasing materials required for gas, clean and foul water installations and repairs. I then became a regional contracts buyer working with the quantity surveyors employing sub-contractors. After a brief spell at J Murphy & Sons in Dinnington, I became purchasing manager at Frontline, a curtain walling company in Sheffield. My role immediately prior to coming to YPO was at Glassolutions where I was a project co-ordinator for major curtain walling and cladding installation projects. Purchasing glass and cladding products and services for multi-million pound projects throughout UK. I still can’t believe that I have the opportunity to study towards achieving MCIPS qualification, which I began in 2016.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
We’ve just purchased an old caravan that we’re currently refurbishing – I’m obsessed with it and I can’t wait to complete it. I’ve managed to replace all the window seals, re-laminating the floor is next, then the upholstery and refurbishing the window blinds. It needs to be completed by Glastonbury 2019! I became obsessed with family history research some time ago and there are a number of projects associated with that I need to complete. I have lots of stories to tell about family members, their occupations, relationships and especially their secrets. I feel like a detective but my husband says I’m just nosey.
We have a huge garden that constantly needs attention, I’ve installed my own mini-storm water management system and completed some hard landscaping but there’s heaps still to do. I would love to find time to do the embroidery projects I’ve promised myself but it’ll wait until I can’t get off the sofa.