Advancing Women in Procurement: “Stop talking about luck!”

CIPS Switzerland started a focus on procurement women at the end of 2016 with a ‘Women in Procurement’ event where almost 100 people came. John Everett, Swiss CIPS branch chairperson asked me if I would like to focus on the ‘women in procurement’ group.

Guest Author: Pauline King – CEO Heykins

So at the end of the first event, we asked if there were any other senior procurement women who would like to form a team to help other women in the profession. Several women rushed up to me right away with more coming on board in the days following.

At our first call, we talked about what our motivation was to give our time to this effort. Jill’s comment really stayed with me. “When I came back to Switzerland from several years in Asia, I realized that nothing had changed, so now I want to do something about it. “ Jill Buchanan, Global Category Leader, Dow Europe.

We decided that it was really important to meet face-to-face and eight, very busy women made it. Looking around the room, we all looked pretty tired. Then we got into introducing ourselves and the energy lifted immediately. After some brainstorming and sharing, we quickly settled on our mission and what topics we wanted to look at. It was all so easy and free flowing.

Our mission: Advance Women in Procurement

At the end, there was a moment when we all sat back and looked at each other and said. Wow, isn’t this fun. It’s so great to be in a room of women – most of us work with majority men.

‘I’m very excited about the team. I have many years experience in management and working internally on promoting women, but it’s great to be able to benchmark externally with what other women are doing and learn from a wider network.’ Corina Cioranu, Senior Director Procurement MEU, Mondelēz International

A strong motivator for the whole team was being able to give back to other women in the profession and we decided that events organized as workshops would be an effective way. We were off!

Our first event in June, focused on helping women become better networkers with a great key note speech from a super networker, Lucy Harding, Partner at Odgers Berndtson, followed by working groups focused on presenting yourself in less than two minutes. Lucy presented the latest research as well as gave practical advice on how women can network and present themselves more effectively. She asked the room, ‘raise your hand if you’ve ever said ‘I was so lucky because my boss took a chance on me’’ – all hands were up. Men she explained, never say that. She went on that everyone gets a break, but senior people only take chances when they think someone will perform. So stop talking about luck!

We then formed smaller working groups led by members of the Procurement Women’s Team where we worked intensively on our personal pitch, practiced and got feedback.

By the end of the event, a sense of community was forming. One feedback really encompassed the event, ‘great break out sessions with very good individual feedback – I learned a lot’.

The team is now working on the final planning for our next event, ‘Presenting the numbers’ a critical skill in procurement which also continues the theme of women working on their presentation skills. We will have real case studies adapted from presentations from our companies and then go into smaller groups to work a case. Team member, Astrid Borgmann, former CPO of Swarovski, will finish off the evening with an inspirational speech fresh from the Global WIN Conference.

We are already talking about ideas for next year with events that make a concrete impact on procurement women. Personally, I’ve never been part of such a fluid and yet really effective and efficient working group.

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