Continuing our series looking at the people who make Control Techniques tick, here we speak to Jenni, New Product Sourcing Manager.
Name: Jenni Visser
I am the New Product Sourcing Manager. I represent procurement within the new product development team at our R&D facility. I manage the procurement needs of the engineering dept in line with the strategy of the procurement team when working on our next generation products.
I’m based at our technology headquarters in the UK.
I was introduced to procurement whilst working as an office temp in a promotional merchandising company. There was an opportunity to be a junior buyer and I later completed my Bachelor’s degree, in European Studies. When I started work for Control Techniques, I took up the offer to complete my CIPS (Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply) qualification. I am currently committed to a post-graduate qualification in Strategic Procurement.
Describe your current role and that of the department in which you work:
I work very closely with the commodity managers to ensure that any risk is mitigated and to ensure that the organizational strategy remains in focus when selecting suppliers and parts for our new products.
To use an analogy; say you live in a small town with a local shop – it’s very convenient to go to the small shop, but you know that you’ll be paying slightly more for your groceries. For one or two items, bread and milk for example, you would happily purchase from the small shop. If you were considering to do a big weekly shop however, you would probably go to a larger supermarket that, although would take a bit longer to get to, could offer you a better price and selection of items. The quality might also be different.
My job is about identifying the priorities and fulfilling the needs at that time – in early project stages the unit price for a few samples may not be as important as delivery time frames especially if the part is influential on design decisions. For longer term the price becomes much more important!
To sum up, a big part of my job is balancing all these factors to ensure the business buys the items it needs, from the right place, at the right time.
Your key responsibilities:
Key parts of the role is being a problem solver, being able to work with different people and departments to ensure everybody has the things they need to do their job, or achieve their goal, or deliver on their project. Problem solving is a very big part of it – I’m quite a creative thinker, which I definitely helps!
Being able to manage project budgets and identify cost opportunities is important. It’s critical to everything we do, and we are constantly reviewing costs all the time.
Task you do the most in your role:
I think my biggest role is as a communicator. It’s understanding the needs of all the different stakeholders and doing the best that I can to meet those needs whilst aligning to the organizational strategies.
Task you enjoy the most in your role:
Anything that involves working with people. I like the coordinating part, being involved in a multi-functional team. I’m not an engineer, so I’m not a technically qualified, but I play a crucial role in ensuring those who are can assist me so we can both do our jobs effectively.
I love working within a cross-functional team and seeing how other people operate, I think that’s the most enjoyable part of it. That and seeing it all come together. I remember when the Digitax HD, the first product I worked on from start to finish, arrived on my desk and how proud we all were. It had gone from being a concept to a drawing to being a real-life thing. That was a real buzz and made me feel like I contributed something positive to the business.
How are you measured?
I present 6-monthly-reviews on the project status. I’m measured against our department’s KPIs (key performance indicators). One of the key objectives relates to reducing supplier lead times – many of the parts are on high manufacturing times, so trying to get these down in line with what we require can be a challenge.
We also strategically review suppliers, making sure that we use vendors from the preferred supplier list. They’re measured on quality and delivery, environmental compliance, contract coverage and other metrics which helps me ensure the project performance is in line with its targets. I’m essentially making sure that project exposure to risk is kept to a minimum.
What personal/technical characteristics or skills are crucial to your role?
You need to be able to use a spreadsheet, for sure. I spend a lot of the time ‘number crunching’. Data analytics, and the ability to interpret them is important. Having a good understanding of procurement is critical to this role and certainly having the ability to work in cross functional teams is required. Communication is key, as mentioned earlier. And being a good, logical problem-solver, I think that’s a very big requirement. You are constantly solving problems in this role.
What opportunities are there for progression:
Continuous improvement is something that we can all work towards. Reflecting on previous projects or activities, thinking critically about how they operated with hindsight is important to see how you can improve in any role, but in this it is essential in procurement and new projects.
Advice for anyone considering a future in procurement:
Identify the people that do it well and you can learn from them. Observe why they do things well and try and to get as much exposure as you can to different situations. Keep your eyes open and absorb as much as you can. Find a buddy; someone that you respect and you’re not afraid to ask questions to, who seems to be doing a good job. And just generally be a nice person. Be kind. Have courage and be determined. You’ll do fine.