Babs Omotowa learning experiences
I took over as President on 1 November 2014. However, my involvement goes back to 1994 when I began studying for CIPS qualifications while with Shell in Nigeria.
By 1996 I was a qualified member, and went on to serve as an examiner for two years from 2002. In 2006 I was honoured to be made a fellow. So, as you see, I am strongly grounded in CIPS as well as in procurement.
Some of you may also know me in my current job as MD and CEO of Nigeria LNG Limited, which currently supplies 8% of the global liquid natural gas market and with annual revenues exceeding $10billion, but my career in procurement began in the storeroom. The tools and techniques gained from CIPS enabled me to reach the heights as CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. I think this shows that the sky’s the limit, because CIPS and the profession enables you to aspire to the very top.
What qualifications do you have?
- BSc (Industrial Chemistry) from Nigeria University of Ilorin, Nigeria.
- MBA (Operations Research) from Nigeria University of Ilorin, Nigeria.
- MBA (Supply Chain Management) from the University of Leicester in the UK.
- CIPS Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Professional Diploma.
I loved manufacturing as a child and being quite good in the sciences, led me to choose my first degree in Industrial Chemistry. I later understood that businesses bottom lines required more than just the manufacturing and so I pursued an MBA for wider knowledge. It was when I started working for Shell as a buyer in the warehouse that I realised I needed a deeper procurement knowledge and MCIPS was the obvious choice for me.
What was it like studying and balancing your work and home life?
It was very challenging to balance everything, but the determination to succeed meant that I had to make some tough choices and my social life had to take a temporary back seat at times. Weekends were a good opportunity to read and study. I used study centres and made the most of quiet moments at home both after the children were in bed and before they woke up in the morning. I was very lucky that my wife was very supportive of me; it’s important that your partner understands how important it is to you, what you need to achieve and why.
I planned my leave entitlement around exam periods so that I had a few days before the exam to revise and interact with fellow students who were also writing exams. The support network you can now build via social media is so valuable, I would urge you all to join the CIPS Facebook group if you need support or if you can offer it to fellow students.
The study centre I joined put me in touch with a support group of both students and tutors helping me prepare for the exams. I found one of the most valuable activities was going through past question papers.
What did it feel like when you achieved your MCIPS?
I had a real sense of fulfilment and satisfaction when I obtained my MCIPS. I felt like I had received a ‘licence’ to practice from an internationally renowned institute which instantly makes one more marketable globally. The knowledge I had gained through studying became very useful in bringing changes to processes and I started to see results in the organisation. Understanding the importance of the value chains and how bringing innovation and creativity to maximizing it can change the bottom line has been instrumental all through my career.
Why do you look for employees with MCIPS and what does it mean to your organisation to have professionally qualified procurement people in your teams?
Candidates that are MCIPS qualified bring professionalism and the highest ethical standards in procurement into the workplace. They bring expertise, knowledge and are able to implement global standards and best practices to all procurement activities. They also bring a deep network of professionals that ensure that they have access to best practices globally and are able to bring such knowledge and practice into the organisation. I also find that MCIPS professionals bring more in terms of innovation and creativity to contributing to the main objectives of the company. MCIPS combined with a commitment to continuous professional development (CPD) ensures that they are always up-to-date with modern practices.
Do you have any tips for raising your profile both within your organisation and with your peers?
Seek out opportunities in procurement to improve the organisation's bottom line as well as contribute to solutions on societal issues. An example from my own organisation is where we recently signed a $1.4 billion contract with Samsung and Hyundai in South Korea to build six new LNG ships. This followed a transparent and fiercely competitive tender, which ensured we got value for money. Having so ensured shareholder value, normally that is where the story would have ended.
I would also urge you all to get actively involved with your branch network. Attend events and help to shape events by offering to present a case study or inviting members into your own organisations. Where possible share your experiences with others both internally and externally. We are often not very good at blowing our own trumpet, but you cannot leave it to others to do it for you.