The Procurement Interview - Marie-Claire Marquis
Marie-Claire Marquis is a strategic procurement expert in multiple indirect categories and facilitates CASME events in the Asia-Pacific region. She looks back on her career in procurement, including time spent within Procure-to-Pay and how it helped broaden her view on the value that Procurement can deliver.
1. How did you get into Procurement?
By sheer luck! I was working in an area managing a vast contingent workforce, and a procurement consulting firm needed someone like me to manage an ongoing contract. At that stage, I didn’t know about procurement, but I had the numerical, analytical and soft skills that were required to work in this area, and I was willing to learn. It was a surprisingly good fit and I also had some fantastic mentors who showed me the type of results that Procurement could deliver for clients.
2. What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
I think the biggest challenge has been, and still is, to help others understand what Procurement can do for them. It is, of course, so much more than price and savings alone. My time as Operational Procurement Manager for three years in the procure-to-pay space helped me to broaden my view and capability to understand so many areas. We (Procurement) can help businesses in terms of value delivered from areas not related to price. I see Procurement as a customer service department, although this view is not always shared. So the journey of supporting the business and contributing to its success must start by understanding that we are there for our customers.
3. What has been the most significant success of your career so far?
My most significant success was when I worked as the Operational Procurement Manager for a newly-formed, centralised buying team. The business was not engaged and was trying to avoid using the procure-to-pay group.
My challenge was to help the business to understand the value we could deliver. This took effort and required all my communication and analytical skills to show how we could provide real outcomes, in terms of savings, while also ensuring the buying process was easy and efficient. In parallel, many of the implemented process improvements enabled the team to continuously deliver while also reducing headcount – it was a significant role resulting in tangible success.
I have also watched so many of my team succeed and go on to work in new, challenging roles in Procurement – it is rewarding to see their growth and enjoyment in this profession.
4. What advice would you give to someone starting a career in Procurement – especially young people?
There is no end to how far you can go. Procurement offers so many fundamentals that will allow you to build your skills, such as: stakeholder engagement, analytics, presentation skills, business case development, negotiation, leadership, and so many more. A role in Procurement will enable you to understand how a business works and gives you great exposure to so many other departments because your responsibility is to provide support for their various buying needs.
In Procurement, you learn how to engage and manage suppliers and work collaboratively to deliver solutions. This broad exposure to the whole business means it’s a solid start to your career and opens a window for opportunities across so many areas.
5. How do you think we could get more young people interested in Procurement?
We need to change the perception that Procurement is about sourcing, as this gives the impression it is a process and is always the same. Procurement is varied and has a real place in supporting and delivering outcomes. It’s exciting; the exposure you gain working on projects provides a fast track in terms of learning many skills, gaining knowledge and broadening your understanding of the different business functions within an organisation.
6. Finally, putting Procurement aside (just for a moment), what inspires and motivates you?
I am inspired by learning – whether it is studying (I completed a Masters of Law when I was 50!) or learning a new recipe. I love cooking and after completion of my undergraduate degree, trained to cook professionally. However, I am still a terrible baker of cakes and bread … so I’m always trying to learn more, and I am motivated when I succeed (which is not so often in the cake department!)
I continue to be inspired by my lovely twin boys, Harry and Max. They are passionate about what they do – one is a musician and the other is completing his PhD in Nuclear Medicine – they are curious, loving and generous.