Where is procurement headed in the 21st Century . . . the answer can be found in a ketchup bottle by Jon Hansen

Posted on May 29, 2014


I have to say that I have moderated and/or hosted everything from conferences to webinars, and of course my show on Blog Talk Radio – which will soon air its 900th episode.

All of them by and large have been fun and for the most part, memorable for different reasons.  Being the moderator/host for today’s Proxima webinar was no exception.

Featuring a guest panel that included Spend Matters UK’s Peter Smith, Scott Sparks who is the Deputy CEO for Proxima and Guy Strafford who is the Chief Commercial Officer for Proxima, we discussed an article that was written by the company’s CEO Matthew Eatough.

The article, which was published in the Harvard Business Review in March, focused on the fact that “Leaders can no longer afford to downplay procurement,” and how procurement professionals could better align their deliverables with the objectives of the 21st century enterprise.

For those who were unable to attend, not to worry because a recorded version of the webinar will be made available to the general public on an on-demand basis sometime next week.

Of all the great insights that were provided the one that stood out the most – at least from my perspective – was Peter Smith’s sharing of a story regarding the introduction of the now ubiquitous upside down Heinz ketchup bottle.


According to Smith, the idea originated with a Heinz supplier, and was championed in the company by the procurement department.  When you listen to the recorded version of the webinar you will get all the details.  However, it made me think . . . how many people both within and outside of our profession would would link a product innovation with procurement?

With this one simple story Smith perhaps best summed up the spirit and purpose of today’s discussion.  Specifically that we as procurement professionals must see our role in a different and more vibrant light.  In doing so we then need to do a better job at branding our true value beyond the traditional process-oriented, savings-obsessed function that has for far too long limited our contributions to the greater enterprise.

You can track the Tweets for today’s webinar – including when the on-demand recording will be available, using the hashtag  #HBRPurchase


Posted in: Commentary