Demystifying Procurement by Mariona Tres Vilanova
If you look at Centrica’s summer placements you will come across Procurement and Supply Chain, and that is the one I am doing! After asking my name and what I study, the question asked by all interns was ‘What is procurement?’. My answer to this last question has definitely changed as my internship has progressed.
I applied to Procurement understanding that I would be in a team in charge of buying everything that Centrica needs to function, from stationary and business planning consulting to boilers and wind turbines. Although this is definitely part of the work that is done, the energy of procurement teams is focused on seeking best value and promoting best practices.
A traditional procurement approach is based on buying supplies for the company’s needs and focusing on price. However, at Centrica procurement is driven by value. In other words, procurement is looking beyond cost, engaging with stakeholders to understand where the market stands and where the best quality is found. Other people in the team also work on category management. It is easier to explain with a short example. If 10 companies are providing the same goods to the different business units across Centrica, why not identify the best of these 10 and centralise the supply of this good to only one supplier? I could carry on giving you examples of how value is pursued across procurement teams, but let me move to the second side of the story.
Under best practices lies the Responsible procurement and supplier management policy that aims at ensuring that Centrica’s suppliers are compliant with Corporate Social Responsibility values (ethics: corruption and bribery; social measures: labour conditions, human rights, forced labour, health and safety etc.; environmental impact: CO2 emissions, water, biodiversity etc.) and Anti-Bribery and Corruption policies. For example, wouldn’t you gain more satisfaction from knowing that what you are buying hasn’t been made by children under very poor working conditions? To ensure this does not happen, a series of checks are put in place to guarantee the best product while complying with sustainability and human rights across our supply chain. Or, have you thought about the importance of cutting carbon emissions amongst other companies- our suppliers- and not only internally. This is what I call having a bigger impact, achieving beyond our own goals, an impact that can be happening the to company next door, in a neighbouring country or in another continent but that eventually will contribute to improving the world we all live in.
After all this you might still wonder what I am actually doing in my placement. I am contributing towards the responsible procurement 2014 goals, which is something that makes me feel very proud and motivated. I am looking at suppliers that have not yet been assessed in terms of the ‘Responsible procurement and supplier management policy’ and writing a recommendation so they can be assessed by the end of 2014, sometimes this involves an investigation where I will work with a third party organisation
Apart from my daily work with these projects, I am regularly meeting with people from across the business, in different departments and roles which means I have, first of all, the opportunity to meet an amazing group of people and also to understand the organisation as a whole and see where my projects fit in the larger picture.
I am very much enjoying my work at Group Procurement, since apart from giving me a clear idea and understanding of the energy business, Centrica and procurement; it has contributed to fulfil my goal of having a positive impact around me and convey values of social responsibility and well being. I do not wish for this placement to be over!
Mariona Tres Vilanova