By: Sarah Scudder

 

The Future of Sourcing Awards will celebrate individuals newer to the industry whose thought leadership and expertise have shown promise that is likely to have a lasting impact on the industry. Below, read about Rising Star Finalist Sarah Scudder. Sarah is President of Real Sourcing Network, co-writes articles for SIG and ISM and recently served on two thought leadership panels at the 2019 ISM conference in Houston.

How did you get into this field – was it purposeful or by accident?

I was involved in several organizations in college. My sorority put on an annual fundraising event that I chaired. I hired a local company to source and produce all the print, promotional items and apparel. They offered me a job. They wanted to infuse the company with younger people and set up an internship program.
I started in sales and marketing. I worked in marketing and print procurement until my company was acquired by The Sourcing Group (TSG) in 2013. I served as the Chief Growth Officer for TSG, an outsourced print management firm, until taking on the position of President at Real Sourcing Network (RSN) August 2018.
While working in print and marketing services procurement, I saw a need in the market for a print category specific e-sourcing tool that automated competitive bidding, monitored supplier performance and captured savings and spend data. This motivated me to transition into software and start a company that has a print and marketing services software sourcing tool that adds value to procurement and marketing stakeholders.

In what ways do you hope to influence or transform the industry?

I want to change the way companies buy marketing services. The biggest challenge facing the print and marketing services category is the lack of procurement’s control and influence on the marketing print spend. In 70% to 80% of companies, marketing has complete control of spend. This means that procurement has no influence on the category. There’s significant money, time and resources to be saved by getting procurement and marketing to work together to develop sourcing processes and systems.

Who are the mentors or role models who have guided you in your career?

I’ve had several mentors in different areas of my life: leadership, real estate, investing, procurement marketing and writing. I seek out people who are innovative, outgoing, inquisitive and learn from their experiences. It’s also important for  me to try and learn from people that are not in procurement. There’s a lot to be gained from trends and innovations in technology, e-commerce and retail.
I owe the world to my parents for teaching me the importance of kindness, treating everyone with respect and making the world a better place.

What is something you wish more people knew about the sourcing and procurement industry?

Procurement is cool. It’s not a lame profession where people just cut costs and write POs. Procurement can play a  strategic, visionary and creative role that can become an essential part of a company’s success. Procurement does not yet have a seat at the executive table in many organizations, but with the right leadership in place, it has the potential to become a more valued and revenue-generating function. Accomplishing this is a challenge and is a great reason for ambitious people to choose procurement over other more well-known careers. I have a bias toward marketing services procurement. I think it’s super challenging, fun and has the most potential for making an impact!
NOTE: Procurement is not the most fashionable industry, but I’m working to change that 🙂

Looking ahead, what trends do you think will emerge in the sourcing and procurement space?

  1. Companies will hire procurement professionals with good interpersonal skills who can build relationships, sell and drive change. These people skills are  more valuable than technical sourcing skills because technical skills can be learned.
  2. Companies will implement more niche category solutions (like our Sourceit tool for sourcing print and marketing services) rather than trying to use one general system to do everything. Niche category solutions allow buyers to go deep into a category and provide tools that solve specific needs. These niche solutions can coordinate with broader systems to cut PO’s, manage AP and track data.

What advice do you have for those who are considering a career in sourcing or procurement?

  1. Think about the size of the company you want to work for. I choose to work at a small company. Instead of being one of thousands of employees fighting to stand out, I prefer regular face time with the CEO, CFO and COO. I have constant interaction with them. They are able to witness my work ethic and strategic thinking first hand. I learn a lot and get hands-on experience in all facets of business, from customer service to marketing to sales.
  2. Have clear and consistent communication: We are all busy and get caught up in assignments. It’s easy to forget to spend time with team members, let alone focus on their growth areas and leadership development. Make it easy for your boss and your boss’s boss to know what you are working on by sending a weekly or monthly email. Recap what you have accomplished, what you are working on, your upcoming priorities and your education/leadership experiences.
  3. Take on key assignments: Even though you are busy and have a lot on your plate, take on key assignments.  Ask to take on projects that give you high visibility to the executive team and that focus on new and innovative ideas. Once the team sees how well you handle the project, you will become their “go-to” for future high-stakes projects. Projects may not be given to you, so ask for them. Ask your CEO and/or boss what projects you can take on to help out with key initiatives.
  4. Build your  personal brand: Make yourself known for something. Don’t be like everyone else you work with. Get speaking gigs. Write a blog. Become a columnist and get published. Be known for something that adds value to your company.
  5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the little details and fail to see the big picture. Focus on the end goal.