Successful Women In Procurement Q&A


To celebrate International Women's Day we have reached out to inspiring and successful women in procurement to ask them to give advice to those new to the industry, give an account of their experiences and career challenges that face women in business.

    Laura Faulkner FCIPS and Coretta Bessi

    Laura Faulkner FCIPS

    Director, Supply Chain Management, COO Community, Nationwide

    Following my return to work after having my 2 children I had to work hard with my manager to assure him that I was someone still worthy of consideration and challenge. It took some frank discussions (over many months) to make him understand that he should not assume that simply because I was now a parent that my career was no longer important to me. I appreciate he felt he was doing the right thing but its a lesson to us all not to assume anything on someone else’s behalf.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    There are still some areas that women feature less in numbers but that doesn’t mean their voices are not heard... looking around some rooms its still the norm that I will be outnumbered by men but my advice is to be yourself... you’re at the table to do your job and give your view no matter who you are.

    Who has inspired you?

    Easy... my mum and dad.  Being a parent myself constantly makes me think about how my mum and dad raised and guided me and if my husband and I can give our kids as much support as they did for me I will have done a good job.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Last year following the collapse of Carillion, one of Nationwide’s biggest suppliers, the Board supported our proposal to insource the Carillion team and directly contract with all sub contractors. A year on we have delivered the plan on time and on budget... securing the livelihoods of hundreds of ex Carillion team members and suppliers. Very proud of Nationwide for enabling us to do this.

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    The variety and the constant learning. Every day presents a new opportunity ready to be met and as a naturally curious (some would say nosey!) person I love learning about new ways of working, new technologies and innovations and how they could be brought to life at Nationwide.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/or what advice would you give your younger self

    Having started in Procurement straight from University I feel lucky to have entered a profession that has let me develop and grow... my advice would be keep going, don’t waver and believe in yourself now and again

    What keeps you awake at night?

    Nothing... I sleep like a log

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    I love attending different conferences and networking events... lifelong learning and exchanging ideas across different organisations and industries is so important.

    What are the character traits of successful women and/or what do you think makes a good leader?

    People who care about people make the best leaders... you want to follow them and trust in their advice. I’ve been fortunate to work for many good leaders and all I hope is that my team believe I do the best by them.

    What’s your favourite film?

    The Odd Couple... best watched on a rainy afternoon to put a smile on your face.

     


     

    Coretta Bessi

    Head of Procurement, Ausgrid

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business to date?

    Gaining senior male advocates or finding supportive women leaders as a young female in a male dominated environment.  It was very tough being an ambitious female in heavy manufacturing in the 90’s – trying to build credibility without being labelled.  Also being given the credit for my own work or my own career.  Often doing work that was then used by others pushing them up the ladder.  I still remember being invited to business dinners where others would assume my husband was the “invited manager” and would ask me politely “so do you work at all?”

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Unconscious bias still occurs.  Assumptions are made by everyone without realising the impacts on our decisions.  Women still face a lack of representation at the top board and leadership levels so those that are in those positions are seen as the “type” that makes it.  Organisations may be aware and be conscious of being more “diverse”, but they struggle with being more “inclusive”.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Hiring cadets, graduates and university students – allowing them to gain education, developing them with critical experiences and giving them exposure through mentoring and passion opportunities.  I have been especially proud of all the millennials I hired in the steel industry – they are bright, ambitious, conscientious and want to work for a higher purpose.  I cross paths with many of them and enjoy catching up to hear what they are doing now. 

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    We have such an enormous impact on our businesses, industry and also on the world.  I have a fundamental belief that if all the Procurement professionals procured considering social, environmental and governance factors, we could solve all the ills of the world – slavery, inequity, climate change, corruption.  No other single profession has this amount of power over our future.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/or what advice would you give your younger self

    Everyone is winging it.  Fake it til you make it – have confidence in yourself and back yourself.  Stop doubting yourself when you  venture into some area that is new.  And don’t allow others to take the credit for your work all the time.

    What keeps you awake at night?

    Climate change will have a very serious impact to my children and grandchildren – we need to be more aware and do more.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Being present and focused every time I am with someone or while I am learning something.  I consciously decide what I am doing and where I focus.  I reduce inefficiencies of how I spend my time. I do not watch TV.  I do not iron.  I spend my time on my family, my businesses, my work and my interests.

    What are the character traits of successful women and/or what do you think makes a good leader?

    Being passionate and compassionate – being authentic genuine and vulnerable – being tenacious and resilient.

    What’s your favourite film?

    Wonder Women (what is NOT to like about her!!!!).  A brilliant funny, inspiring and emotive movie.  A fabulous authentic and compassionate heroine / leader.  A true role model.

    Sara Abdellatif Omer FCIPS

    Account Director - Tejari

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business to date?

    I believe the biggest challenge is the fact that I have had to work twice or thrice as hard as my male counterparts to prove I am capable and well qualified for the next move ahead. The challenge is for a woman working her way up the ladder that she needs to work harder than men to move each step upwards. However, I believe once women prove themselves at a certain level, they gain the confidence of those around them and their leadership teams.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Nowadays the world is becoming more open into inclusion and diversity, so I believe women are facing less issues in business, but we still have glaring gaping differentiators such as lower wages that are still an indicator that women have not been yet “allowed” to show, prove and earn their full potential.

    Who has inspired you?

    I was inspired by both male and female mentors, bosses, and colleagues throughout my career path. I hold a special spot for my first boss who introduced me to the field of supply chain management, a gentleman who saw potential in me as a fresh entrant to the field, and was not deterred at all by my gender, and put me through the right path to start my supply chain and procurement journey.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    My ability to diversify from a Supply Chain practitioner to Supply Chain and Procurement Digital Lead Change Agent for leading organisations in the MENA region, and my success in building a portfolio for myself and a footprint among leading procurement and supply digital and software lead consultants.

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    It is a profession that impacts the world, the economy and the lives of many. It is the doorway for innovation, entrepreneurship, SME development and much more, thus I never lose faith in the criticality and importance of sound procurement and supply chain management at all times good or bad.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and what advice would you give your younger self?

    I would have started my CIPS journey a few years earlier, to ensure that my procurement and supply career started in the right direction earlier on, as I am sure it would have saved me a few years in my career progression upwards, though I am satisfied with my progress and achievements to date.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Keeping abreast of new changes, networking, listening to the young entrants to the field, and mentoring and giving advice to those in need.

    What are the character traits of successful women and what do you think makes a good leader?

    Having a clear vision of their own ideas and future plans, passionate about developing and growing others, does not fear change and always aspiring to learn something new. Confident in their views, and able to apply their vision into real organisational practice.

    What’s your favourite film?

    The Sound of Music ! 😊

     


    Marwa Hassan Aburahma

    The misconception that women cannot dream big and achieve those dreams. Moreover, they cannot over achieve and advance their careers once they have a family and kids. In general, businesses don’t support and appreciate juggling women in getting the right balance between business and family; therefore, push women to abandon either their business or family. 

    Second, in a leadership role, women are expected to be overly “Nice” in business and reserved or else they would be frowned upon and labelled as overly aggressive.  

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Not being taken seriously and not getting the right support to build and advance in their careers to get to C-level and board level positions. 

    Who has inspired you? 

    Mostly Males have inspired me as I have never worked with a female in a leadership position.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Building a procurement team from scratch and becoming a best practice organization in a 9-year journey. During this experience, mentoring fresh grads in my procurement organization that advanced themselves onto mid management and now leadership positions was on the biggest achievements. My department was called the " procurement incubator".

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    Loving this profession and choosing it as my career is what keeps me going when things are hard. I love what I do and do that with a lot of energy and passion. Procurement requires 360-degree leadership and stakeholder management, ensuring that you deliver on your internal stakeholders’ requirements, motivate suppliers to out perform their SLAs, report to senior executives bottom line savings and benefits. This mix makes it very dynamic and rewarding even when times get hard.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/or what advice would you give your younger self

    Building solid knowledge and a professional business network are essential elements to business success. Empower yourself with relevant practitioner knowledge and a community of mentors, advisors and support business network that will facilitate your growth. Choose to be surrounded by multipliers and not diminishers.

    Take a balanced approach in life and build yourself as a practitioner in your early years of practice before you start building your family.

    What keeps you awake at night?

    Keeping up with the digital advancement and making it relevant to the business context. Moreover, continuously generating business value that is in line with the business vision and strategic direction.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Hard word, team work, self-development and consistent dedication are key attributes to success.

    Don’t over promise and under deliver.

    What are the character traits of successful women and/or what do you think makes a good leader?

    Build your own league and don’t compare yourself to others. You are yourself biggest competition. Equally invest in building a strong support network that will inspire you, motivate you and probably collaborate with you during your career.

    Don’t be afraid to discuss what your plans for yourself are, what you wish to achieve and what you deserve.

    What’s your favourite film?

    To sir with love  & Moulin Rouge

    Sarah Collins

    Head of Procurement - Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business to date?

    To be honest I’ve never experienced the glass ceiling that people talk about. I’ve been lucky that I’ve had supportive managers and teams who have never made gender an issue in any of the roles I’ve undertaken during my career to date.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Believing in their capabilities and potential, and putting themselves out there for opportunities.

    Who has inspired you?

    I’ve had many inspiring leaders who have been both male and female. Equally I’ve observed many of both gender that I’ve modelled what sort of leader/manager I don’t want to be. 

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Mentoring a number of student interns to choose procurement as a career and watching them grow and become the next generation of procurement leaders.

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    The real difference that procurement can make to both the organisation achieving its goals and the positive impacts it can make on its supply chain, particularly in the areas of social  and sustainable procurement

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out?

    That you don’t need to know what you want to do for the rest of your life straight after finishing Uni. Take the time to try a few different roles and organisations and the right profession will find you (as procurement found me!).

    What keeps you awake at night?

    Mentally renovating my house!

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Always remain positive in front of your team. You won’t achieve anything by bringing their day down just because yours isn’t going well.

    What are the character traits of successful women and what do you think makes a good leader? Authenticity, being a good listener and communicator and showing a genuine interest in people.

    What’s your favourite film?

    Star Wars episodes 4-6 (I don’t acknowledge episodes 1-3 😉)

    Gill Thorpe FCIPS

    CEO & Founder – The Sourcing Team Ltd

     What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    Balance – finding time to focus on what’s important.

    Balancing the ethos and values of our company (sustainability, ethical, fairness) whilst driving a successful business.

    Responsibility for the company – the livelihoods, welfare and careers of the whole team.

    • Finding time and energy to give back to our industry and other things that I love to do.
    • The tension between professional commitment, leadership of the business with responsibility for family – partner – children – parents and dogs (maybe not in that order)!

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Lack of confidence.  Don’t misunderstand me, there are lots of incredible women in procurement and women running businesses however, I still think many women do not have a strong enough belief in themselves, in their businesses and careers. 

    We need to work on some of the traits that sit more naturally with men, believe in yourself, be bold and just go for it.  Forget the part of the brain that says, ‘am I good enough, can I do this, what experience have I got in this?’  Go for it and accept there may be some learning on the way, but you can do it – you just need to start.

    Who has inspired you?

    I am constantly being inspired by the work and achievements of others – both male and female.  If I think about an inspiration from a procurement and CIPS perspective – most definitely Shirley Cooper – the Chair of our Fellows Committee.  Her passion for the institute, for supporting both men and women to move to the next level and her generosity in connecting people – has inspired me since I was on CIPS Council and she continues to inspire to support our Fellows with amazing events.    

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    In our work with global corporations and the charity sector, we’ve learnt the impact we can make in driving change from an ethical and sustainable perspective.  This helped us evolve our core values, reframing our focus and determination to make a positive contribution as an ethical sourcing company.  It has not been an easy journey as financial metrics can often outweigh sustainable considerations.  I’m proud of what we do, how we do it and in the feedback we get about the change we are helping to drive both up and down the chain.

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    When I studied my MCIPS many years ago, the world was a very different place.  What I love about procurement is it doesn’t stand still, and it must keep up with the changing world we live in.  I love change, I embrace it in all that I do.  Procurement leaders need to innovate and embrace new opportunities, new technologies, engage across the organisation to deliver the right outcomes.  Part of that is being open minded, receptive and to facilitate new thinking.  As a business you have to keep transforming, innovating and gaining insights that ensure you are ahead of the curve. 

    Change is exciting; the digital world, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, social purpose to name a few topics. Price will always matter but it is one part of the value proposition.  That definitely excites and drives me forward.  Whether running your own business or working for a corporate there are good and bad days, what’s crucial to me is loving what I do and having a great support network around me – in my team, clients, partners and friends.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/or what advice would you give your younger self 

    Surround yourself with great people, don’t worry about your weaknesses focus on your strengths and hire the best you can afford to do what you’re not great at – it’s a team.  Have a clear vision, don’t be afraid to adapt as you go (things change), embrace innovation and be true to your values.  Even when others don’t get it – keep going and learn how to tell your story differently so you can engage your audience and drive positive change.   

    What keeps you awake at night?

    I have run my own business for 27 years – it is always the money, cashflow and paying the bills.  It doesn’t change however full the order book is, there’s is always a different financial challenge to overcome.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Never stop learning and seeking new sources of information and inspiration, here and abroad.  Don’t be afraid to try something new, keep innovating.  When times are tough have your support network around you get out of the business. 

    What are the character traits of successful women and/or what do you think makes a good leader?

    The value of a diverse team, listening, having empathy, passion and delivering on the values – no matter how many knock-backs you get, brush yourself down and carry on!  Being positive inside the business with your team and outwardly with clients, suppliers and partners.  I get that from my Mum. Someone said to me ’if you’re not winning, you’re learning’ – I love that!

    What’s your favourite film?

    That’s a tricky question!  Okay, it’s going to have to be Artificial Intelligence - Steven Spielberg – about the first robotic boy who was constructed to have the ability to feel, to bond, trust, love and hate.  It’s about David’s quest for love and to find his real mother.  Full of emotion, oh, and a young Jude Law who plays the robotic Gigolo Joe! If you haven’t seen it, you really must!

    Hannah Bodilly FCIPS and Conception Ribaud MCIPS

     

    Hannah Bodily

    Acting General Manager – Property & Procurement, Bank Of Queensland

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business to date?

    Leaving for maternity leave!

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Being taken seriously at Executive Level.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Being able to move countries 3 times and still leading procurement teams.

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    When times are hard, procurement becomes the pinnacle of what’s needed!

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/or what advice would you give your younger self?

    Be patient in your career, not so many moves and longer tenure at first few companies - all good things come to those who wait!

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success? 

    Taking notes works for me 100%! I am hyper-organised also. 

    What are the character traits of successful women and/or what do you think makes a good leader?

     Traits such as empathy, developing an edge, flexibility, organisation come easier to women and work well in procurement.


    Conception Ribaud

    Head of Procurement – MTR Crossrail

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business to date?

    From time to time prejudice towards women still exists regarding their role and responsibility. You have to work harder and prove yourself more than men colleagues of the same age and competencies. Unfortunately, you also still find people with mentalities who believe in the “boys’ club” or, because you are a woman, would ask you to take the notes in a meeting or arrange their agenda. You have to set the expectations very quickly and give a feeling that you are the equal of any person that try to make you feel the reverse.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Work life balance can be a real challenge. A comic was published last year in France regarding the women mental load. Our society still expects that women manage the household and this does not go away during the day. If you complain, you take the risk to be given the label of feminists. The society is changing, but this is still a reality.  

    Who has inspired you? 

    Both. Gender does not matter. We need more men being role models for gender equality for the challenge is not to convince women but men. I tend to be inspired by people who have faced challenged and overcome them, who live by their value and are not afraid of spreading their message.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    The journey to where I am and what it took to achieve it. It is not about one event, but a series of hard work, challenges, success and failure that gives you the taste of having really achieved something.

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    Procurement can really make a true impact on the business and society. It is a profession which shares values I believe in: honesty, fairness, sustainability, to name a few.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/or what advice would you give your younger self.

    Don’t be afraid of greatness or hide in corners. Continue and remain humble. Carve your difference. When someone tells you it is impossible because you are a young woman, just do it with a big smile to prove the person is wrong. Do not let them win by pushing you down.

    What keeps you awake at night?

    Not doing what is right.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    The triple C factor: consistency, consistency, consistency. And D for discipline.

    What are the character traits of successful women and/or what do you think makes a good leader?

    Successful women tend to not listen to the noise around and follow their path against all odds.

    A good leader has to demonstrate great ethics and be an example. You have to live by your value for people to believe in it. Be true to yourself and others.

    Kelly Irwin and Jo Toon FCIPS

    Kelly Irwin

    Global Head of Procurement, The China Navigation Co.Pte.Ltd

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business to date?

    Managing the demands of being a mother and a homemaker and the pressure we put on ourselves to be great at everything and to be everything to everyone. You need to make sure you make time for the important stuff, I never missed a sports carnival or an assembly, and I managed the expectations of those to ensure I had flexibility to do so. Don’t say sorry, just be honest and set the expectation of what you can do and if necessary reset those.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Women are still under represented at mid-senior levels in the workplace. Ensuring we are supportive of women, providing opportunities to learn, grow and develop and think about how to support them through different more flexible ways of working will allow us to gradually increase the number of women we see remaining in the workforce and climbing the corporate ladder.

    Who has inspired you? 

    I have been inspired by both male and females professionally throughout my career. I have been inspired by both good managers (showing me how its done) and bad managers (showing me how its not). My greatest inspiration has come from a manager who became a friend who really does her best to support woman, gives them a go, is open and honest with feedback and is just there to support, she is genuine and inspires me to do my bit to ‘lean in’.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Building a high achieving, highly engaged team that really cared about each other and wanted the best for the business.

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    I truly believe in the value procurement can deliver. I love that it can make a company more profitable, more sustainable, can build effective relationships, drives process efficiency and gets to talk to everyone across the organisation.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/or what advice would you give your younger self?

    Be yourself and back yourself.

    You don’t have to be able to do all of a job to do the job. No one knows everything there is about a role, everyone makes some if it up as they go, and that’s ok, that’s where great ideas and initiatives, and development comes from. Don’t be impressed by egos, surround yourself with people you can trust. Ensure you maintain the no dickhead policy from the beginning.

    What keeps you awake at night?

    Insincerity

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Being personable, building rapport, asking how people are and caring about the answer. Having the ability to relate to all levels of the company and acknowledging when you are wrong and have made a mistake.

    What are the character traits of successful women and/or what do you think makes a good leader?

    A good leader genuinely cares, if people know that, they will support you and will always do the best they can. A good leader is fair, open and honest.

    What’s your favourite film?

    That’s hard as there are so many I love. The movie/documentary I saw that has stayed with me most recently is RBG, the story of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the second female Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, who is in her 80s and still working tirelessly. When she graduated from Harvard she was only one of 9 females of the 560 cohort.

    She successfully argued five of six cases regarding gender discrimination before the U.S. Supreme Court. She advocated for both men and women facing sex-based bias

    ‘Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation’


    Jo Toon FCIPS

    Team Leader, Procurement and Contract Development, Oranga Tamariki–Ministry for Children

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business to date?

    To be honest I don’t know whether I’ve faced that many career challenges that could be related to my gender, aside from the occasional crisis of confidence. I have been very lucky in that, even before I joined the workforce, I was surrounded by people, especially my parents and wider family, who essentially told me that if I wanted to do something, I should go out and do it! I’ve never been faced with any barrier that have been put up because of my gender. I have also been fortunate in that I have had strong female role models to inspire me in every job that I have had, who have shown me through their example that, with hard work and determination, there are no limits to what can be achieved.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    I’m under no illusions that there are still challenges. There are still people whose mental shortcut is “Woman in meeting room = secretary”. The #MeToo movement has also shown that there are still too many people who are intimidated, belittled and assaulted purely because of their gender. There is still a long way to go in order to change attitudes so that there is true equality for everyone in the workplace, no matter where they are on the gender spectrum.

    Who has inspired you?

    I have a lot of people who I look up to and who inspire me. However, those who spring to mind right now are:

    My little sister, who is a huge personal inspiration – she is an actress, and she has shown amazing dedication and resilience in pursuing her career. I’m constantly amazed by what she achieves and her continual energy and passion.

    David Attenborough, who has been an inspiration since I was a child. His career story, including only becoming a presenter at short notice when the original presenter fell ill, is a great lesson on taking opportunities when they come up, rather than worrying about not having all of the skills required in advance. Again, his passion and the love for the job that he does shines through across all of his work.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    It’s very difficult to point to one particular thing, however, I’m proud of the times that I stood up in front of people to train them, to present to them and to help pass on the enthusiasm I feel for the job that I love. I was very shy when I started my career, and the first time that I was pushed out of my comfort zone filled me with dread. However, now, I love public speaking, and the hardest thing is to shut me up!

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    Knowing that the work that we do supports New Zealand’s children and families. I love that we are making a difference to people’s lives.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and what advice would you give your younger self?

    When I started work (before I even knew what procurement was), I thought that I had to know how to do a role before I applied for it. The best roles that I have taken have been the scariest – the ones where I started off feeling that I knew nothing at all.

    What keeps you awake at night?

    Too much coffee!

    Seriously, I try very hard to have enough downtime between leaving work and heading to bed that I have the chance to unwind from any work stresses before I go to sleep. It’s more likely to be having a song running around my head than anything work related.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Trying to make sure that I learn something new every day. Keeping on being curious about the world that we are living in and all the great things people are doing.

    What are the character traits of successful women and what do you think makes a good leader?

    I don’t know if I’d attribute any character traits to women in particular. A good leader of any gender is one who listens, who has confidence in themselves and their team, who is prepared to listen to challenges and adapt where needed, and who is prepared to make the difficult decisions. Hard work and determination go a long way as well!

    What’s your favourite film?

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail – for sheer silliness and off the wall thinking

    Shirley Cooper FCIPS and Stella Addo FCIPS

    Shirley Cooper FCIPS

    Director - Lorien Resourcing, Chair of CIPS Fellows

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business to date?

    Everyday sexism - not so much for myself these days but I continue to help women - every day who contact me for help and advice on situations they find themselves in. 

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Top of the list has to be the Gender pay gap.  Great work by the Government Equalities Office to initiate this regulation. 

    Who has inspired you?

    Both my mum and my dad. They were great role models for me and my sister.  They were born into a world where they were each a carer for one of their parents and both left school far too early.  From that background, they gave us great life and coping skills and respect for everyone and everything around us, as well as ensuring we had the best education we could attain.   We didn't realise it was different to be a girl until well into our working lives.   

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    The biggest achievement was to be the Chairman and President of CIPS and now to be the First Chairman of Fellows.  Huge honour.

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    The ability to make a difference and develop my teams.   This is our time with supply chains in focus, modern-day slavery act, ethical buying, diversity and inclusion and so much more.  There is much we can influence for good outcomes.

    What advice would you give your younger self

    Make time for exercise!   I remind young women all the time to look up and look around.  To ask for what you want.  Outsource chores to allow you time to seize the opportunities as they come along.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Always willing to learn. Taking professional qualifications and caring for the success of the people around me. 

    What’s your favourite film?

    It's A Wonderful Life.  


    Stello Addo FCIPS

    Country Manager, CIPS Ghana

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?

    The biggest challenge I have faced as a woman in business to date is to fight for recognition among my peer males who have same qualification as me but get easily assigned and promoted.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    The difficulties women still face in business is to have to work harder to be accepted and recognized in male dominated professions even though they have the same qualifications, and years of experience as their male Counterparts.

    Who has inspired you?

    Ans: Two male figures have been my Inspiration to date. My husband who has always been supportive aspiring me to reach height even beyond the Skies. My former boss at Crown Agents Ghana Ltd also a male.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    My biggest achievement to date is to be appointed as Country Manager for CIPS Ghana to promote this global brand in Ghana after serving as branch chair for two conservative terms.

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    The Smiles that reciepients of Procurement Services or End users show when a good professional job is done and a Solution is given or a project executed on time.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?

    I wish I had experienced Mentors/ Coaches/ Senior Professionals who helped or ushered me into the unknown profession and guided my steps so that I would have minimized some of the mistakes I made. I will advise the young professionals to research more about the profession, be very convinced this is the profession they want to belong to and look for experienced mentors to guide them.

    What keeps you awake at night?

    What keeps me awake at night is thinking about a solution to a problem I might have chanced on either work related, social, family, church or community related.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Regular habits that I credit to my Success are planning, Getting to work early to organize my flow of work for the day, diarizing and keeping track of my progress and failures and always researching to improve on whatever I do to do it better and faster.

    What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader?

    Sacrifice. The ability to juggle and ensure all aspects of your life are given equal attention. It is difficult but achievable with determination.

    Good leaders are those who listen a lot and encourage others, give others the opportunity and share the knowledge acquired with others. In short bringing out the best in others.

    What’s your favourite film?

    My favourite film is Avator

    Willean Master and Nesma Saber Osman

     

    Willean Master

    Head of Procurement and Supply Chain - G4S (United Arab Emirates)

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business to date?

    This may sound like a cliché but my biggest and still an ongoing challenge is balancing motherhood with a full-time career.  

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Apart from equality, in terms of salary, benefits, and opportunities, I’ve seen too many female colleagues not believing in themselves.

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    The measurement of achievement is defined by you. For me, I have a passion for teaching, passing on knowledge and enabling people to grow. Seeing employees develop and being able to step out in the world in managerial positions is the biggest achievement a leader can have. 

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    LOL … The fact that I get to spend other people’s money!

    On a serious note, meeting new people and being exposed to new technology and innovations all the time.   

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and what advice would you give your younger self.

    Not just my younger self but all young females. Have courage and go after your dreams. Don’t allow anyone to stand in your way, anyone.  

    What keeps you awake at night?

    Definitely not work. Let’s just say that she’s edging the ‘teen’ stage.   

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Learn Learn Learn. Never stop learning.

    Richard Branson once said “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later’

    What are the character traits of successful women and what do you think makes a good leader?

    • The ability to listen!
    • Confidence & courage
    • Compassion
    • Being focussed

    What’s your favourite film?

    The Fast and Furious (and for the avoidance of doubt, it’s because of the cars. I love cars). 

     


    Nesma Saber Osman

    Procurement Business Partner Manager, Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business to date?

    The biggest challenge I have faced as a woman is very simply trying to be the best mother I can be, and at the same time, trying to grow in my new high-ranking managerial position. I try to set an example to my fellow female colleagues that a woman can fulfil her duties as a mother, but at the same time be ambitious with her career and have the determination to push to reach the top. As I look around me in my workplace, women are still lagging behind when it comes to leadership roles in our organisation. As a working-mother this makes me ambitious, and want to reach a top decision-making role and set an example for women-alike.  

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Some of the difficulties or challenges which I blatantly see and is quite common in this region is that woman lack confidence and are simply not heard. A lot of my female colleagues, are just sitting at their desks fulfilling their day-to-day duties, and are not speaking. I think some fear being ostracized or rejected, however respect comes when one’s voice is heard. Some of my female colleagues need to raise their hands in meetings, speak up and be heard. They need to hone certain skills, such as communication skills, and learn to share their perspectives because it can help shape policy, make their presence known as a leader and collaborator for good.

    Who has inspired you?

    The director of my department, Mr. Waleed Saeed Al Saeedi, is someone who I have known for quite some time, and he is someone who simply believed in my skills and saw the strength of my character from day one. In addition, the people who inspired me, such as Mr. Waleed, did not just help, support or direct me, they more importantly motivated, encouraged and made me believe that there are no boundaries and that I am as strong as anyone. I also think that I am lucky, especially since in the Arab world, woman have limited opportunities. Thus, I am grateful to my husband who supports, encourages, allows me to express myself and become the role model I want to be for my daughters. 

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    My biggest achievement to date is becoming a manager and forming my own team. As a leader for my team, and from a procurement-perspective, I believe my team has made a big difference in such a short period of time. My intention was to form a team which was innovative to the organisation and I believe that I have successfully led my team to being strategic and tactical instead of operational as it used to be previously.

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    What is fascinating about this profession, is that because we deal with so many different internal and external stakeholders, it makes me learn and gives me the ability to overcome times which are hard.

    In addition, as a woman, manager and decision-maker, what I love about my current job is that I have a team which I trust and they trust and look up to me. When times are hard, any member of my team at any moment will come forward wanting to help. I think the team’s spirit is crucial for withstanding challenges and tough situations.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and what advice would you give your younger self?

     In all honesty I simply didn’t know enough about procurement itself and what it’s all about. Fresh graduates and young women, have no clue what procurement is, and therefore I think more needs to be done to tell female jobseekers, the benefits of such a profession, the possible skills which could be developed and the career growth. I am getting the impression that nowadays, women prefer more trendier jobs than one in procurement, such as social media expert. 

    What keeps you awake at night?

    If I realise that in that particular day, that I haven’t achieved or learnt something, or made a difference.

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    I think an important habit or rather a skill, is to value work-life balance. I think woman are great leaders because we are able to balance professional and personal lives, which are ingredients for success.  I care about my team and their well-being, which includes their performance at work and their work-life balance.

    What are the character traits of successful women and what do you think makes a good leader?

    Women are great listeners, as we take the time to listen instead of reacting right away. We appreciate people and their viewpoints. Whether they are right or wrong, we hear them out and then make our decision. We tend to give people chances that no others do.

    In addition to being great listeners, we are also naturally nurturing. One of the key aspects of leadership is the ability to help your team members develop their own skills and strengths. Women are naturally nurturing, which in the best scenarios can translate to helping those around you succeed.

    CIPS Leading Ladies

    Over our history CIPS has celebrated many successful women members so we’d like to share with you some of our firsts:

    UK members

    • Constance Kay MCIPS from the UK awarded Full Membership in May 1962
    • Joyce Beatrice Hoare FCIPS  from the UK awarded Fellowship in April 1962
    • Pat Barlow FCIPS from the UK who served on our Global Board of Trustees between October 1990 to October 1993 

    Regional members

    • Esther Siu MCIPS from Hong Kong - awarded Full Membership in June 1986
    • Sophie Mwalethaka Dimbungu FCIPS from South Africa - awarded Fellowship in September 2005
    • Karen Van Vuuren FCIPS from South Africa – who served on our Global Board of Trustees as Chair between November 2010 to August 2012

    Helen Trivett FCIPS was one of our first Fellows and is still a current member of CIPS. Helen offers the following advice:

    What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business to date?

    I have always ignored the fact that there are males and females in the working environment. Perhaps the most difficult hurdle was getting the construction company, Gallifords, where I worked in the accounts department  to give me the position as Assistant Buyer in the early 1960s as ‘it was a man’s job’.

    What difficulties do women still face in business?

    Whatever these difficulties might be, women MUST try to ignore them and prove that they are able to carry out their responsibilities equally or better than any male. In the EU this shouldn’t be a problem.

    Who has inspired you? Male or female.

    Both. Winston Churchill and Pat Smythe (who was a showjumper).

    What is your biggest achievement to date at work?

    Possibly starting companies off from scratch and seeing  them grow. This is how you understand how companies work.

    What do you love about this profession that keeps you going when times are hard?

    The fact that procurement in some form needs to be carried out for any company to go forward to offer an end product.

    What do you wish you’d known when you started out and what advice would you give your younger self?

    Remember that you and your company need to be rewarded for every effort you have carried out.

    What keeps you awake at night?

    Situations that usually resolve themselves the next day!

    What regular habits do you accredit to your success?

    Being competitive, determined and focussed on the job in hand. Keeping mind and body healthy.

    What are the character traits of successful women and/or what do you think makes a good leader?

    Takes all sorts! Employees need to respect their leader and also find them approachable and willing to listen and help.

    What prompted you to apply for Fellowship?

    Recognition for my businesses. Also knowing that there were only 8 female fellows in the CIPS at the time.

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