Procurement leader spotlight with Greg Tennyson

February 11, 2020

Here at Fairmarkit, we are excited to launch our Procurement Leader Spotlight blog series where we learn from the best and brightest procurement leaders in the game. To kick off our series, we sat down with Greg Tennyson, Head of Global Corporate Services at VSP Global, to talk all things procurement, tail spend and where he thinks the future of the role is headed.

To learn more from Greg, be sure to check out his webinar with Walter Charles, and our CEO and Co-Founder, Kevin Frechette, on best practices for identifying and minimizing tail spend.

Q: How did you get into procurement?

A: Honestly, by accident. My first job post-university was in sales. I realized early on I preferred the other side of the equation—the buy-side. I went back for my MBA and have been in procurement/contract management since.

Q: Over the last 5-10 years, what are the most impactful changes you have seen in procurement?

A: The convergence of technology, process, and people by leveraging RPA, machine learning, and AI. Procurement has been slower to adopt such advancements, but companies like Fairmarkit are helping to differentiate the value proposition for the procurement team and drive value-based outcomes.

Q: Where do you see the procurement industry going over the next five years?

A: Blockchain will finally arrive—systems talking to systems to initiate, fulfill and deliver product; contract alignment by systems talking to each other, etc. The net-net is procurement's role will dramatically change as systems now perform rudimentary tasks freeing the procurement professional up to be a more strategic, relationship SME.  Procurement will need to shift to soft skill-based learning development in order to stay relevant and current.

Q: What skills do you think the future leaders of procurement need to be successful? What advice would you give them?  

A: Focus on soft skills—being persuasive and influencing the right outcomes, building trust, relationship management, and negotiation by driving to more effective business outcomes. Understand how sales solution sells. Adapt that approach when selling internally.

Q: Tail spend is a big challenge for procurement professionals. Can you share some keys to success for managing tail spend successfully?

A: Understand the value proposition and your company's drivers. For example, risk is a top concern coupled with savings.  We look to rationalize the number of suppliers we deal with to mitigate our exposure and put the critical few through our onboarding process. Savings then naturally come as a byproduct of that activity—few suppliers, greater leverage equating to better savings.

Q: Extra Credit - what is a trick for procurement leaders to get more spend under management?

A: Start with a value proposition—a promise to the business that aligns with their needs and importance placed on the function.  LISTEN, LEARN and then lead when engaging your internal customers. Don't anticipate what they need—understand and have a plan to listen and learn what they need.  Undertake a promise to deliver and then commit to executing to an agreed-upon service level. Do not lead with compliance unless that is your company's clear value expectation.

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