IPSA Western Cape Breakfast: “Procurement is the Profit Machine!”

SmartProcurement recently attended the Institute of Purchasing and Supply South Africa’s (IPSA) breakfast meeting on the 13th of August 2008 as held at the Hotel School in Granger Bay, Cape Town.  Kraai van Kraayenburg, IPSA’s Business and Training Development Manager, started the proceedings by welcoming guests to the event.

In his welcoming address Van Kraayenburg pointed out that major progress has been made in the field of Education & Training for procurement professionals since the year 2000.  He highlighted that IPSA’s national office is presently focussing on qualifications standards and are involved with the Services Seta in setting up the relevant industry benchmarks.  This joint initiative, it was pointed out, distinguishes IPSA members from their counterparts at SAPICS, whose courses are conducted within the framework of MERSETA standards.  “Ultimately”, Van Kraayenburg told SmartProcurement, “IPSA’s aim is to offer all Procurement & Supply Management practitioners an attractive basket of qualifications which will embrace the complete range of skill sets necessary”.  This range includes:

  • National qualifications from universities;
  • Selected educational and training programmes at colleges and other training companies; and
  • International qualifications through IPSA’s affiliation with the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) (UK), the largest institute of its kind in the world.

The aim of this initiative is furthermore to afford all members the opportunity to embark on a fully fledged career path in Procurement & Supply Management with qualifications that will enable them to achieve top positions in both the private and public sectors.

Van Kraayenburg also announced the dates for next year’s IPSA / CIPS Annual Pan African Conference which will take place on the 26th and 27th of May 2009 at the Emperors Palace in Johannesburg.  The previous IPSA conference attracted nearly 500 delegates and the aim for next year is to get over 700 delegates.  The main attraction of this conference will be the new format, namely two separate discussion streams running parallel with one other to differentiate, and cater separately for, Government and the private sector / commercial delegates.  Once again, IPSA will be staging the Annual Pan African Awards for Excellence in Procurement and Supply Management.

The Profit Machine that is Procurement

Next up on the podium was Karen van Vuuren, the General Manager, Supply Management at Transnet.  As IPSA Chairperson, Van Vuuren exudes a passion and commitment to the ideals of a true procurement professional, something that came to the fore very strongly throughout her presentation.  She told SmartProcurement that:  “My day job at Transnet inspires me in my night job; my big passion is for people development.”

Throughout her presentation, Van Vuuren had some serious pointers for the busy procurement officer:  “Always be honest in assessing your departments’ (and your own!) progress.  If results are only average, then say so.  Don’t be delusional!  This lets you get on with the job and get done what needs to be done.  For instance, don’t worry about spending days on spend analysis, make sure you get cracking on savings – that is your primary concern.  Find them and bank them.  It’s a case of sorting out your problems while staying ‘on the run’.”  Van Vuuren further emphasised that:  “We all know that procurement is the profit machine.  The trick is to put it on the table and show it to the board”.

This dynamic woman continued with some excellent words of advice for the procurement fraternity as a whole:  “As a procurement practitioner with set business objectives you must have the courage to say NO”.  She explains:  “All too often procurement is lumped with dirty linen from other departments and we must draw the line and not get distracted from our business purpose”.

Van Vuuren ended with a tip for procurement employers:  “Our philosophy at Transnet is that while you run the race you must keep learning.  As a result, the output we get from our teams is nothing short of phenomenal.  If you as an employer are prepared to make serious ‘people commitment’, you will reap the benefits and results all along the way”.

Van Vuuren’s paper on Transnet Supplier Development and the Next Frontier, a major cost management strategy at this State Owned Enterprise, will be the subject of her presentation at the upcoming SmartProcurement “Strategic Cost Management Conference” to be held on the 7th and 8th of October at Leriba Lodge in Centurion, Gauteng.

The breakfast meeting concluded with Van Kraayenburg handing over flowers to Catherine Hills of Quadrem, the outgoing Western Cape IPSA President, and then welcoming on-board the new IPSA Western Cape President, Alan Cornwell of Drake & Scull FM.

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