The Big Interview with Ian Murphy

PROCUREMENT HEADS | The Big Interview with Ian Murphy

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

Ian Murphy

How did you get into Procurement?

It’s quite an interesting story actually. My degree included a placement year, and I wanted to go into Marketing but it was so popular that it was almost impossible to secure a placement. About a week before the deadline a Careers Advisor said to me, you’ve got a week – you’ve got to find a placement or get back to your three year course. He offered me a placement with British Nuclear Fuel in Procurement which I accepted – and that’s where it all began. I don’t even know his name but he effectively shaped my whole career!

The placement was in Bristol, so it was quite a big move from Liverpool where I had grown up and chosen to study – especially for a placement in something I hadn’t even heard of. I was there for a year, purchasing basic commodities in stationery and cleaning but I loved it. I returned to university and completed my dissertation on Procurement - there were about 250 people who had done Marketing and only about six of us that had done Procurement.

After graduating, I was fortunate enough to work in automotive Procurement for DAF Trucks, part of the Paccar Group Inc. It was an incredible experience – I travelled the world, I was the first Buyer they had across UK and Europe, and for a while I was based out of the Brazil offices.

Six and a half years ago I joined Compass Group UK & Ireland, the UK’s largest food and support services provider.  I was keen to see if I could transfer my skillset between industries and I had other offers, but Compass was probably the most out of my comfort zone.  I felt I had a really solid background in procurement to support the move, and it was the best decision I ever made.

The journey we have been on at Compass has been amazing and the transformation of the procurement function has been game-changing. In 2016 we launched Foodbuy, a specialist food procurement organisation in the UK. With over £1bn of managed spend, we bring together the widest range of foodservice and hospitality clients to buy food and everything associated with it.  We work closely with our clients to deliver expert procurement services saving them both time and money and enabling them to focus on what really matters to their businesses. What’s really unique about Foodbuy is that our parent company is also our largest client. This means we have real skin in the game when it comes to negotiating deals and delivering value!


What do you love about Procurement?

Ever since my first placement in Procurement I’ve loved every part of what I do, all aspects of Procurement. I really enjoy building relationships with people, and seeing those relationships blossom - enabling us to become a customer of choice for our suppliers. What we’ve been able to deliver at Compass and Foodbuy over the last six years as a result of that has been incredible. I love that we have the ability to make a difference – we can underestimate how much of an influence Foodbuy has on people’s diets, the impact on the social communities we work in, and our influence over consumers’ choice. We also have a big impact on how much food waste there is, and we can promote positive new trends and findings like plant-based diets. We’ve got an amazing opportunity to directly influence health and wellbeing.

In the past, I’ve seen Procurement go wrong where a procurement team is buying what the Procurement function wants, not what the business needs, which drives distrust and conflict. I’m proud to say that’s not at all how we operate at Foodbuy. We spend a lot of time with our clients, understanding their wants and needs to make sure we get it right.

I believe that Procurement, done well, is quite simple; it’s aggregation of volume, so that you can drive the best commercial terms, with the right partners that can bring you innovation and insight, enabling you to drive value to your clients.

Are there any aspects of Procurement that you find challenging?

Data is always a challenge. When I worked in automotive Procurement, we’d know every single bit of data from the OEE of the machine that we were purchasing the product from, to wastage and scrapping value. Every single person across the organisation would be aware of that because it was so critical to overall success. In the food industry this is really critical, especially in terms of allergen information. Consumers also increasingly want to know more about their products and we’re on a constant journey to gather improved levels of really rich data that can help us inform our clients and customers in ways we have never been able to before.

What inspires you as a Procurement leader?

When I look back at my career, I can identify multiple people who have given me chances and opportunities that have led me to where I am now.  Now I’m in a position to be able to influence so many people’s careers in a positive way. It’s important to me that Foodbuy does everything we can to help people progress their careers, to provide them with different experiences and encourage them to step outside their comfort zones whilst getting loads of support. I want to create an environment where people are continually developing but where they also know that if they make mistakes, they will learn from them and get better. We’re in the sixth year of having graduate intakes, and our early grads are stepping into more senior roles within Foodbuy which is fantastic. We’ve launched a learning and development plan that means we can give inhouse training but also use external bodies where appropriate and I’m especially excited that we’ve just announced we are going to work towards CIPS accreditation. Once successful we’ll be the first organisation in food service to get that!

More than anything, I am inspired to create an environment that’s fun to work in, and allows Procurement to influence our people’s careers in a really positive way.

To read Ian’s full Big Interview, and for further information about Procurement Heads, please visit the Procurement Heads website:



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