After finishing her business management degree, Jessica’s undergraduate placement at a company within Associated British Foods (ABF) provided her with a route into procurement.
What do you do in your job
Tags for Twinings teabags are just one of the many things I help buy. I help people with e-sourcing, which is essentially bringing the procurement sourcing process online. Twinings is part of ABF which is a large international food, ingredient and retail group. We like to share our skills within the group, which means I’m helping to source almost anything, from anywhere.
What is the most interesting thing you have bought?
I’ve helped to buy all sorts of things, from tea flavourings to blueberries, and laptops to air compressors. ABF is a huge company with lots of different brands, including Kingsmill, Ovaltine, Primark, Jordans and Dorset Cereals, to name just a few.
I recently bought colours for high-tech seed coatings, which go onto seeds for crops like sugar beet. They’re all brightly coloured to make it easier to differentiate them in the field for the farmer.
What’s an average day like?
It’s different every day. I spend a lot of time on the phone and on Skype to the different businesses, as we have buyers and suppliers all over the world.
My laptop is very important in my role. I hot desk at our offices in central London and I also travel around to our different business sites. I’ve been to Ireland to see Primark, to Poland visiting AB World Foods (who own brands such as Patak’s and Blue Dragon) and recently, I got the chance to visit our South African sugar business, Illovo, which was a great experience.
What do you like about your job?
I really enjoy the variety of things I get involved in. With so many different things to buy across ABF, it is quite rare that I will be helping to buy the same thing from one day to another!
What skills do you need?
Interpersonal skills are really important, especially when you are encouraging people to work in a new way, like e-sourcing. You also need an element of cultural awareness – as people work differently in different countries. With variety comes a need to be organised, because if you say you will deliver something, you don’t want to let anyone down.
If you like responsibility and showing results,
then it is a great role. You get responsibility early on,
and you get scope for creativity.
What is your greatest achievement?
I run quite a few training sessions internally, so one of my biggest achievements is seeing the people I have trained adopt the online tools to procure their goods and services – so much so that it becomes a part of their everyday buying role. Seeing them progress and start to challenge how they could be using e-sourcing better is really rewarding.
You are pretty young to be training others
I think when you just ‘get’ how a particular thing works and you can see the value in it, it’s so much easier to confidently show or train other people – whether they’re a supplier, buyer or anyone else in the company.
I’ve grown up with technology everywhere, so maybe my age is a benefit in some way!
I’d like to go somewhere within the ABF world, potentially as a category buyer in one of our businesses.