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The Modern Day Intricacies of Procurement Landscape

Stéphane Masson, SVP Global Procurement, Marriott International
Stéphane Masson, SVP Global Procurement, Marriott International

Stéphane Masson, SVP Global Procurement, Marriott International

According to you what does the current procurement landscape look like and what emergent industry challenges are you witnessing?

The modern day procurement landscape has witnessed a myriad of emerging global trends that are catalyzing business objectives. Undoubtedly, the first and foremost one is the impact of social media; the cycle of continuous information exchange is creating a sense of awareness and engagement with the guests and supply chain partners. Not only can we benefit from the insights but with faster communication, firms can effectively manage concerns with any discipline in a timely manner. The second one is a constructive pressure to constantly improvethe supply chain. From a supply chain point of view and as a procurement personnel, I believe that renewing the whole supply chain consistently is going to be a redefining practice in the procurement space.

I will position ‘access to the right talent’ as one of the most imperative parameters to a successful procurement business. Every major organization or entity today is fighting to find the right set of people, whether it is a hotel business or a technology firm. The challenge, however, extends to not just finding qualified and good people but also ensuring that they have a significant understanding of the global mindset and global business intricacies. The need for appropriate talent also coincides with the increasing demand for the right vendors, partners, and source of products.

  ​I will position ‘access to the right talent’ as one of the most imperative parameters to a successful procurement business 

The inflow of “Big Data” has also taken the procurement industry by surprise with an exceptional potential to offer to the industry. Initially, people used to consider that cash is the key; however, according to me, tables have turned now, data becomes the key to generate that cash. And, in order to make the right decisions for a business, one needs to have access to the right set of data. This also raises a concern, as there is a massive ocean of data that needs to be processed to extract relevant actionable insights or information that will make the difference. Therefore, I see all these parameters in sync with the trajectory that the procurement industry is set to follow.

You did talk about the importance of having right partners and the right solution in your response. What is the checklist or evaluation process that you follow while looking for the right partner?

In my opinion, a perfect partner does not exist, unfortunately. The fact is, we are still looking for this rare person or rare company, and when we put them through our wishful checklist, there is always going be something missing. Therefore, our approach is a 360 degree partnership that involves not just procurement but also other departments such as marketing. It is a unique relationship that ensures that we are being equally valuable to our partners. For instance, our partners need to have a competitive stronghold in over 130 countries, in order to support and sustain the size of our business in those regions, while also having the brand strength and marketing resources to drive compliance globally.

One more unique aspect that we tend to focus on is ensuring that our partner practices green and sustainable initiatives and is considerably cautious about the environmental impact of their products. This aspect not only depends on what products they are bringing in but also how they are utilized, and whether there is a recycling process deployed for leftover waste. Another point that is significantly important for us is to make sure that our partner supports supplier diversity and has an intensive and extensive program deployed to address components of corporate social responsibility such as animal welfare, human trafficking and child labor within their supply chain.

Over years of your vast experience in the procurement landscape, what have been the prevalent challenges that you have witnessed over the time and how have you addressed them?

Ironically, I wouldn’t call them challenges or difficulties; rather I looked at them as opportunities to do better and change to become a game changer in multiple ways. Undoubtedly, implementing a global e-procurement program across 30 countries and in over thousands of hotels was a challenging endeavor for us along with the complexities of dealing with diverse languages and cultures. Not to mention the requirement of a program for accessing data that we need to make critical, necessary and strategic decisions. Again, procurement is part of a solution, as there are several other parameters that we need to implement in order to be successful. Therefore, irrespective of all the challenges and affordability issues, our primary focus has always been to take the procurement process and the industry to the next level while being able to control 80 percent of our total spend.

As a leader, what is the strategic thought process spearheading the procurement business?

From a strategic point of view and as a leader, my first thought is to acquire smart people around me to answer the simple questions - What is next in procurement? Where we are today and where do we need to be in future? And finally, what is our end goal and how can we get there? I would want the right people beside me thinking about these aspects of the industry and implementing that into our core business. Given that our core business is to best cater our guests and manage hotels on behalf of their owners, my procurement organization needs to be in tune to the underlying facts of where the business is headed and how to optimize their resources to push towards excellence.

Since I was born and raised in Africa with a family that travelled vastly, I was able to visit different nations and embrace a lot of different cultures. This has helped me gain a distinct understanding of the global complexity and a unique affiliation to global mindset. The experience has shaped a big part of me as a leader in appreciating the values and crucial differences of people while trying to take the best I can from every single person I'm working with.

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