CPO interview with Absa's Vusi Fele: a 'wish list' for CPO capabilities

| 0 Comments

VusiFele_100.jpgProcurement − and chief procurement officers (CPOs) in particular − need to become more proficient and comfortable with broader business concerns. It is no longer enough to focus just on your own sphere of business.

"Business acumen is key for a CPO, as is financial acumen", says Vusi Fele (MCIPS), CPO, Absa.

Apart from unpacking the above, Fele also shares his personal 'wish list' for CPO capabilities with SmartProcurement.

Background
Fele is the CPO for the Absa Group. Having had his start in procurement at the Port Authority of South Africa back in 1997, and having worked in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), aviation and mining, before turning his hand to finance, Fele brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his current position. He uses his expertise to advance the role and standing of the procurement function, both inside the banking group as well as in the greater business context.

Positioning is key
Within Absa, procurement is a group function - providing services to South African business as well as to ten other countries in which Absa operates. Fele oversees nine direct reports at director level and, by extension, the teams beneath them, which includes functions such as supplier risk management, procurement operations, category management (CM) and supplier diversity.

"We provide thought leadership on procurement and category management", he explains. "We set out to provide not just core services, but sustainable projects and initiatives, and we demonstrate this to the business through monthly and quarterly reporting, and engaging directly with the EXCO. This means that, within procurement, we are helping to guide and direct the company, feeding into strategy, and we engage at a level whereby the business is aware of what you do, and you're aware of what the business does."

CPOs strategically aligned
"We, as procurement professionals, have for a long time been calling for a seat at the boardroom table, so we need to see (and show) how we can contribute to the business strategy."

This sentiment is the first point on Fele's 'wish list' for CPO capabilities, along with relationship management, partnering with the business, political savvy (in terms of the organisation and knowing how to drum up support for procurement initiatives) and "integrity beyond a shadow of a doubt".

Fele further calls on his fellow CPOs to become revenue focused, not "just" cost focused: "CPOs must be problem solvers. We are presented with the opportunity to work in different parts of the business at any given moment, so, therefore, you must be able to provide solutions and come up with options that will drive business strategy".

A focus on categories
Another important area is CM. Fele believes that CPOs and their teams require CM expertise, and by smart use of the entire organisation's data (not just of spend but of investment too), the procurement function can prove itself an attractive partner and collaborator to all business departments and divisions.

Contract management forms part of the overall CM strategy at Absa: "we have pre-contracting, during and post-contracting processes as part of managing supplier contracts and their performance", Fele explains. "We also have an assurance team who do field visits to support suppliers. We take a cradle-to-grave approach to ensure the supplier is delivering what they are supposed to be delivering and that they can continuously improve and innovate."

A focus on supplier development
Absa is currently at Level 2 in terms of B-BBEE. One of the ways in which procurement is supporting this is through extensive supplier transformation and development initiatives. There are three pillars to this: transforming suppliers, helping them to find opportunities for growth, and finding and developing new enterprises.

"All in all, we've seen a great change in our supply base and we are working with all our suppliers on major transformation plans so that they find like for like within their own supplier base."

Looking forward
In the year ahead, Fele and his teams will focus on embracing technology and innovation in procurement for its own sake as well as being part of Absa's strategy of being a digitally-led bank making data-led decisions.

As a leader in Absa, Fele is also dedicated to developing the skills of his people: "we need to develop the necessary skills not just for where Absa is today, but also where we are going in the future". Fele believes that procurement within the finance sphere is still maturing, compared to fields such as automation, extractives, FMCG, logistics and transport. "We need to catch up with other industries but we are getting there, which means that the capabilities I was talking about above are important to develop."

Finally, Fele asserts that continued learning is critical. He believes that professionals in this space should engage with bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), etc., arguing that the procurement profession and MCIPS designation should be widely and statutorily recognised as a formalised institution, with a board examination requirement just like chartered accountants, because of procurement's considerable impact on a business' bottom line and incorporated reputational aspects.

The above all fall under the broad umbrella of future-proofing not just the CPO role, but also the function itself - especially in the face of trends and movements such as the fourth industrial revolution.

Fele's 'wish list' for CPO capabilities
- Become proficient and comfortable with broader business concerns
- Focus on relationship management
- Be partners with the business
- Be politically savvy in the organisation to garner support
- Possess integrity beyond a shadow of a doubt
- Be revenue focused, not just cost focused
- Provide solutions and come up with options that will drive business strategy
- Develop CM expertise
- Focus on supplier development
- Embrace technology and innovation
- Learn continually - it's critical

Leave a comment


 

 

Career opportunites

Internal Procurement Officer

  • <500 000 Gauteng Permanent Procurement Officer / Specialist Strategic Sourcing
Position Available: Internal Procurement Officer Status : New ...More

Supply Chain Officer

  • <500 000 Gauteng Procurement Officer / Specialist Supply Chain
Seeking dynamic candidates to take to the market

Supply Chain Planner

  • <500 000 Free State Operations, Planning & Inventory Supply Chain
Seeking dynamic candidates to take to the market

Senior Buyer

  • >500 000 Buyer Gauteng Procurement Management
Tech-Pro specialises in placing professionals in the Supply

Industrial Engineer

  • <500 000 Gauteng Industrial Engineer
Tech-Pro specialises in placing professionals in the Supply

Warehouse Manager

  • >500 000 Gauteng Logistics & Warehousing Operations, Planning & Inventory Supply Chain
Seeking hands on individuals that come from an

Manufacturing Purchasing Specialist

  • >500 000 Procurement Officer / Specialist Supply Chain Western Cape
A leading auto manufacture company based in Cape

Procurement Sourcing Specialist

  • <500 000 Gauteng Procurement Consultant Strategic Sourcing
A Leader in the Supply Chain industry is

Planning Manager

  • >500 000 Gauteng Operations, Planning & Inventory Procurement Management
Looking for Planning Managers to take into the

Logistics Manager

  • <500 000 Gauteng Logistics & Warehousing Operations, Planning & Inventory Supply Chain
Are you an experienced Logistics Manager looking for

Continuous Improvement Manager

  • >500 000 Gauteng Procurement Consultant Supply Chain
I specialize in placing professionals in the Supply

Telemarketing Team Leader

  • <500 000 Gauteng Permanent Supplier / Business Development
We are seeking an experienced Telemarketing Team

Telemarketing Sales Executive

  • <500 000 Gauteng Permanent Supplier / Business Development
We are seeking an experienced Telemarketing Sales Executive

Planner

  • <500 000 Gauteng Operations, Planning & Inventory Supply Chain
Are you looking for new career opportunities as

Procurement Specialist

  • >500 000 Gauteng Procurement Officer / Specialist Strategic Sourcing Supplier / Business Development
As a specialist Supply Chain recruiter, I am

Logistics Controller

  • <500 000 Gauteng Logistics & Warehousing Procurement Officer / Specialist
Seeking dynamic up and coming candidates looking for

Supply Chain Manager

  • >500 000 Permanent Procurement Management Supply Chain Western Cape
As a specialist Supply Chain recruiter, I am

Business Process Specialist

  • <500 000 Gauteng Procurement Consultant Procurement Officer / Specialist Supply Chain
A company within the financial services sector is

LOC Procurement Manager

  • Gauteng Permanent Procurement Management Procurement Officer / Specialist
Your Responsibilities: Job Purpose To be the interface ...More

Account Manager

  • >500 000 Procurement Officer / Specialist Supplier / Business Development Western Cape
Key Performance Areas:• To ensure that all aspects