Dial P for Procurement Features Leaders from the Humanitarian Supply Chain


“…a donkey with a stick behind him and a carrot in front always goes forwards and not backwards.”
- Tony Wendice, Dial M for Murder (Alfred Hitchcock)

Procurement, supply chain, and mystery may not be the most natural combination, but they come together seamlessly in my new Supply Chain Now livestream: Dial P for Procurement. Broadcast on LinkedIn, Twitter, Twitch and more on the third Tuesday of each month, Dial P brings together a constantly changing cast of procurement executives, providers, and thought leaders. We’ll use the time to investigate the nuanced – and constantly evolving – boundary of the procurement/supply chain divide.

In the first episode, broadcast on January 19th, Scott Luton and I welcomed Anna McGovern, Chief Supply Chain Officer at the Food Bank for New York City, and Kathy Fulton, Executive Director of the American Logistics Aid Network. I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure how to approach these amazing ladies, both of whom are putting their professional skills to use for the betterment of others. They provided me and the audience with a welcome education on nonprofit supply chain management – a discipline that has an awful lot in common with corporate procurement and supply chain.

For instance:

Your customer is what matters most

Most corporate procurement teams are pretty separated from their company’s consumers and target market. For that reason, we often refer to internal stakeholders as customers, a practice that has incentivized better technology, less friction in the buying process, and improved soft skills. What it hasn’t done is keep procurement’s focus in alignment with what the company as a whole is working to achieve. For that, we really need to keep our eye on the ball, focusing on enterprise-wide branding and market share initiatives and contributing to them in any way possible. Anna pointed out that if her team falls short, someone goes to bed without dinner: a humbling and inspiring reminder of how and why the customer must remain king.

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast

Since Kathy is almost entirely focused on responding to crises and disruptions, she has learned to remain calm in the midst of chaos. She advocates an important practice that all of us can learn from: slowing down to focus on building trusted relationships and partnerships long before they are needed. Then, when you need to call in a favor or ask a partner to step above the usual expectations, you know they will be ready and willing. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t tough conversations in those relationships. As long as there are common or aligned interests, everyone can keep pulling in the right direction.

If you have to do it, do it with heart

One of the most memorable moments in the livestream was when we were talking about what drives people to dedicate themselves to nonprofit organizations. Anna and Kathy agreed that commitment to a cause is one of the most motivating factors they have seen. Working with both passion and purpose can make even the most difficult work light. Before 2020, I might have felt obliged to point out that, being more familiar with corporate procurement and supply chain, I couldn’t possibly understand. Now that we’ve weathered almost a year of pandemic fallout, I’ve had the opportunity to see all kinds of procurement professionals step up and do amazing things: selfless dedication that we can all be proud of.

The on-demand video of January’s Dial P for Procurement can be seen here, and the audio is also available as a podcast here. Mark your calendar for 12n ET on February 16th as we once again go live with Dial P.

By Kelly Barner

Keywords: Sustainability, Supply Chain, Procurement

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