The Big Interview with Patrick Marter

PROCUREMENT HEADS | The Big Interview with Patrick Marter

The Procurement Heads Big Interview Series launched in 2017, and features Procurement Professionals throughout London and the Home Counties. It’s an opportunity to shed some light on the specialist world of Procurement and those who work within it. To be featured in Procurement Head’s next Big Interview, contact info@procurementheads.com

Patrick Marter

How did you get into Procurement?

The first job I was offered after my career in the Royal Air Force, was with Goodrich Corporation in the Aerospace industry, as Senior Commodity Manager. The link between military and commercial aircraft made sense, however what wasn’t so obvious was the transferability of skills. Nevertheless, once I had learnt the mechanics of the role and gained the relevant commercial skills I found I progressed rapidly – thanks to the quality of the leadership training received from the military.

Ever since then, my career has largely come about through my network. I’ve found that the key is to have a career plan, but not to be too rigid about it… you have to be open to interesting ideas! That’s how the role in San Francisco at Barclays Global Investors came up. On paper it was a smaller role in comparison to my role with Barclays Group HQ. But, the chance to build a Procurement function ground up and to learn from first principles was irresistible. The fact that it was based in SFO didn’t hurt either! As it transpired, the role also gave me a chance to be involved in one of the largest ever M&A transactions in Financial Services, the sale of BGI to BlackRock.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

The only consistent aspects of my day are timings. I go to the gym or for a run at 6.30am, making sure I arrive at the office by 8am at one of our core 3 locations in Kent, Surrey or London. I think it’s crucial to avoid getting caught up in BAU so I always try to block out a third of my day to speak with stakeholders or members of the team, a third for transformation projects, and I save the remaining third for the routine stuff. I leave the office between 4 and 7pm as I try and get home with enough time to spend with my family.

What do you love about Procurement?

The variety. Both in breadth, and depth. A career in Procurement is like a vocational MBA. Any given day can range from briefing our owner (Fidelity is a privately-owned firm) or Operating Committee on the progress of building out the function, to working through an issue with the new P2P system we are deploying (latest R13 version of Oracle Fusion).  As a category manager I used to love the fact that you could develop a strategy with your stakeholders and then over a period of a couple of years see that strategy come to fruition. Although as a functional leader the focus has changed, it’s still immensely rewarding to see the impact of the teams work on developing new products, moving into new geographies and integrating newly acquired businesses.

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Can you tell us about your biggest achievements in your Procurement career?

Depends how you measure achievement. By deal value? By save value? By scale of transformation? By impact to the businesses’ strategy? I’ve been involved in $15bn Merger & Acquisition transactions, multi $bn aircraft acquisition deals, and very successful front to back business transformation programs. However, I think my biggest achievement has been my legacy. Building and developing teams that have continued to perform, and even thrive after my departure.

Have you observed any trends within Procurement recently?

Digital is already transforming every facet of our business including the way we interact with our clients, colleagues and suppliers. New business models and new products mean new supply chains, and new ways of working mean new tools for our staff ….and both of those combined mean new suppliers and new risks and, as a consequence, new skills for Procurement professionals.

What skills do you consider essential to be a Procurement leader?

Resilience & Flexibility. You need to know when to back yourself. At times you will have both your stakeholders and your suppliers explaining why they don’t agree with you, no matter how good the strategy is that you are proposing. You need resilience. However, sometimes, no matter how good the procurement process/analysis, the outcome just doesn’t sit well with the business. You need to know when to take stock or try another angle. You need flexibility. I was once told ‘Process is the crutch of the incompetent.’ It’s stuck with me.

To read Patrick’s full Big Interview, and for further information about Procurement Heads, please visit the Procurement Heads website: www.procurementheads.com

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