This year, Source One celebrated 25 years as an industry leader in procurement and strategic sourcing. We couldn't have made it nearly this far without a wealth of dedicated experts on our side. Last week, we shared some sage advice from two members of our spend analysis team. Here are more lessons from some of the people who've helped make Source One a best-in-class firm.
Senior Consultant, Joined Source One in 2017
Even a championship team can always use another star player. Vernon says he hopes to be Source One's Kevin Durant. Boasting nearly two decades in procurement, he's already proven a winning addition to the Warriors of strategic sourcing. Looking back on his experiences as both a consultant and coach, he offers the following tips for professionals looking to excel:
"Confidence is Key"
Always remind yourself that you're where you are for a reason. On top of that, you know what you know, and need to feel empowered to present that knowledge. Without personal confidence, you can't hope to instill confidence in a client. "Imagine a doctor walking into the waiting room nervously," Vernon says, "I think you'd be looking for another doctor." Thankfully, Source One is an environment that nurtures confidence in its hires to optimize their talent. The best workplaces do.
"Don't Be Afraid to Fail"
Offering this advice, Vernon recalls the experience of writing his first RFP. Elation and relief quickly gave way to dejection and disappointment when he realized how many important questions he'd forgotten to include. Speaking to a reassuring manager turned things back around. Vernon realized what a valuable moment this was. His manager had experienced failure, so had the manager before him, and so on. Never forget that everyone you meet has gotten to where they are by trying and failing to get there more than once.
"Nothing Great Can be Accomplished Without Enthusiasm"
You'll never succeed unless you're truly committed to your work. Part of that commitment is meeting even your least favorite aspects of the job with the same level of enthusiasm and energy you reserve for your favorites. Passion can be contagious, but so can dispassion. A single unenthusiastic, unmotivated, unambitious person can bring your entire team down. Don't be that person.
"Keep at It"
"You can't be a great chef unless you cook," Vernon says, "in fact, you've gotta cook a lot." In that sense, working in procurement and strategic sourcing is an awful lot like working in a kitchen. Source One's team of analysts and consultants are great at what they do because they've all 'cooked' extensively. They've never settled for 'good enough.' Invest in honing your skills, put time in every day to learn and grow, and you'll go far.
The people who achieve great things in procurement - in any field, for that matter - embrace change and uncertainty instead of fighting them. Few things ever turn out exactly the way you plan. It is not enough, however, to simply expect the unexpected. You've got to mentally and physically prepare yourself to improvise. Your ability to concoct creative solutions during unpredictable situations could make all the difference in successfully executing an initiative and distinguishing yourself as a capable professional.
Associate Director, Joined Source One in 2009
Since joining Source One as a Project Analyst, Jen has provided the determination and know-how necessary to distinguish herself as a true asset. Today, she tirelessly collaborates with internal resources, suppliers, and customers to streamline operations, reduce costs, and create value. Reflecting on her successes, Jenn presents the following advice:
"Find Your Team"
Even a star player performs better with a collaborative and supportive team on their side. It's especially essential for young professionals to find an environment that promotes confidence and professional development. Surround yourself with the sort of people who'll push you to grow both personally and professionally. You'll likely find these are the same people capable of driving growth for the organization.
"Remember that Everyone's Different"
Be careful, there's not a definite formula for interactions and collaborations. Every co-worker and every client necessitates a specific approach. What works with one person could easily alienate or offend another. Finding the balance between professionalism and levity can be difficult enough, but it's important to do the extra work and determine the appropriate balance for each individual in your professional network.
"Find What Speaks to You"
Flexibility is important, but equally important is making efforts to find your own personal niche. You'll do far better work and feel more excited to come to the office every day if you find a particular subject area that challenges and thrills you. Better still, the enthusiasm you inject into the workplace could prove infectious.
"Have an Open Mind"
This principle, Jen suggests, is at the heart of Source One's continued success. When looking to fill a certain position, we don't limit ourselves to applicants who eat, breath, and sleep one area of focus. Rather, we consider the myriad talents and experiences of a diverse pool of applicants to make the best decision. Treat your work the same way. Avoid pigeonholing yourself. You'll enjoy what you do more and perhaps offer the creative solutions your employer didn't know they needed.
Don't spread yourself too thin in the name of flexibility. Not only will it upset your work/life balance, but it tends to be both unnecessary and unhelpful. Source One has enjoyed enough success that we no longer need to "oversell" ourselves. It creates scope creep and contributes to situations in which we could end up working for free. We don't want that, and neither should you. Have enough respect for yourself and your employer to place the appropriate limits on customer service.
Senior Project Analyst, Joined Source One in 2016
Nick has come a long way since his post-grad stint as an "unemployment statistic." At Source One, he not only channels those early disappointments, but also his years as an outstanding supply chain and logistics professional to deliver the excellent service that's become his trademark and helped him acclimate to Source One's culture so quickly. Here are a few key takeaways Nick has learned over the years:
"You Have to Want It"
People who work hard, seek opportunity, and ask the right questions almost always manage to get recognized and rewarded. Go into work every day eager to set yourself apart and get better. Don't let anyone get away with saying they wanted it more. You'll find that enthusiasm goes a long way in reaching your goals and achieving a sense of personal accomplishment. Laziness and disinterest, however, never fail to cause trouble.
"Always Stay Calm"
No matter how hard you try, not all of your conversations are going to go well. Unhappy clients and customers shouldn't be a regular occurrence, but even the best negotiators can't avoid them altogether. Keeping your cool in a tense situation could mean retaining an account or other business relationship. You can't lose sight of what's best for the business. This is still true when somebody's yelling in your face.
"Leverage your Mistakes"
Like everyone who has ever lived, you are going to experience failure. You differentiate yourself, however, by treating each negative experience as an opportunity to learn. There's no time for feeling discouraged, nor for wallowing in disappointment. A constructive, level-headed, and determined attitude toward mistakes makes for a far more successful future.
"Slow Down to Go Faster"
Learning to work efficiently is both challenging and necessary. To do so, you first have to learn how to take your time. Quick results are not necessarily good results. In fact, the exact opposite tends to be true. You'll save yourself worlds of time in the future if you take a deep breath, assess the situation, and tackle a task the right way the first time.
"Listen to Understand, Not to Reply"
"This is often easier said than done," Nick admits. That does not make it any less essential. Listening and appearing to listen are two immensely different things. Active listening is not only a sign of respect, but also helps drive efficiency and produce results while keeping you in the moment. You'll slow yourself and your co-workers down if you're constantly asking questions you should already know the answer to.
This is just a small sampling of our team's collective wisdom. Contact Source One today and learn what lessons our strategic sourcing experts could teach you.