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Archive for November, 2010

On Measure Me This, one of the many measurements of procurement people is how much cost savings we can bring to the company.  Another common scorecard item is how much of the overall spend we get ourselves involved in.  It would make us redundant if we deliver fantastic results but over a very small fraction of the entire spend is unaddressed.   There  is of course a distinction of in-scope or out-scope spend as identified in almost every procurement policy in most established global companies, but we as strategic procurement professionals always strive to push that boundary further.

The key is whether we can add value.  There is no point of getting involved in things that we will only drag down the process.

If we are convinced there are value-adds to bring to the table, we need to bring our strategies, similar successful case studies, potential solutions as well as our execution plans and knock on our internal customers’ doors.  That is very much like a salesperson. 

I recently came across an article on CPO Agenda (CPO stands for Chief Procurement Officers, an executive role that is gaining prominence over the last decade), “Face it, we are salespeople” by Paul Snell, which includes a quote from Roy Anderson, CPO of financial services firm State Street.

“… the ability to implement change was primarily down to the staff you employed.  Do you have people in your organization who are intelligent enough and confident enough to drive change and can be the authority in that category?…”

“… do your staff have the skills to explain change and innovation throughout the business?  They might be a great negotiator or market analyst, but for this, they needed to communicate and sell.  Face it, we are salespeople.  Procurement is definitely long gone.  We sell concepts to internal customers, we sell to our supplier base to be more innovative in their solution set and we sell to the internal customers to explain what the changes need to be…”

Personally and especially in this part of the region, I am seeing very few procurement professionals who do this well.  They are either too boxed-in to their comfort zones of negotiating and bidding, or way too customer oriented that they end up being “corporate servants” which they do not deserve to be.  Striking the balance is a lot harder than it looks, and therefore whenever I hire in my specific area of strategic procurement, I look for these soft skills which are much harder to be groomed comparing to product knowledge or negotiation techniques.

If you are interested, more of Paul Snell’s articles can be found on his blog

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Thou Shalt Not Kill

In my earlier post Thou Shalt Not Covet, there is a cliffhanger about times when I thought my own security was at stake.  No I am not exaggerating, and I do not need to make this up to make myself look important.  Now that I am in a secure location and with critical names masked, it shall be presented in the spirit of how our decisions could alter people’s livelihoods – and vice versa. 

“Slumdog Millionaire”

First a case I wasn’t directly involved until the incident occurred.  The company was looking to entirely revamp the employee shuttle arrangements in New Delhi India.  There had been numerous incidents and complaints about the below-par performance of a few service providers and the company was determined to make some changes. Millions, if not billions had been invested in the Delhi operation with thousands of employees hired in the region.  Since the transportation infrastructure was far from developed, the company has an obligation to take care of its employees in terms of daily commute between their homes and our offices.

New service providers and management need to be brought in from abroad to break the local cartel.  A few of the incumbents are managed by the triads and they refuse to oblige to American ways of bidding and negotiations.  Of course, the dollar amount involved is in the millions so it is money not to be missed.  Any change from status quo is a permanent livelihood shift for anyone.

Next we heard that the head of procurement of India got personal life threats to him and his family.  The company was genuinely shocked because no one in their right minds had expected such barbaric acts to take place in this day and age.  The company also did not want to back down as a sign of weakness. 

Finally after consulting with security, legal and senior management, it was decided that the project would continue but the project leads had to be reassigned to ensure safety of the individual.  It was eventually assigned to my team in Hong Kong.  It was believed that moving the project offshore and leading it virtually would create the least amount of risks to everyone.  We were doing the negotiations via phone calls, and all e-mails exchanges were conducted via a generic, un-named, e-mail account and distribution list.

I didn’t see it coming: India outsourcing to Hong Kong.   Yet we were glad to be part of a team!

“Titanic”

 

My client buys quite a lot of marine fuel for  its passenger liner operation, a figure close to US$70M a year.  The supply market is extremely limited and to make matters worse, harbor regulations and tight scheduling makes it very difficult to switch suppliers due to the huge investment they have put in especially for us.  The supplier naturally needs a longer contract to make up with their return on investment. 

My client for all the right reasons wants to make sure our rates are the most competitive in the market.  I am asked to run extensive studies of market pricing as well as to see whether it can be derived from process improvements.  After a couple of months of meetings and conversations it was time to physically inspect the current operation.  From my line of work, we need to be very astute of the surroundings in order to negotiate well by adapting to our counterparts.  In this case, I immediately felt that there was a strong sense of hostility upon us.

Remember we are talking about US$70M and above.  They also have other tying deals with us.  Me and my colleague needed to ride the water taxis to the fueling berth in the middle of the harbor to inspect the fueling process, and we had no protective gear.  Oh, I forgot to add that this all took place after midnight.

My colleague and I decided to make a full report to our boss prior to the inspection.  I told my boss if I am found missing or in the water, it will be no accident.  We really thought there could be this possibility.  Of course, I am still here writing this blog, but it was the first time I felt my job could risk my very wellbeing – a bizarre concept to me.

“The Break-Up”

I participated in a business meeting with an incumbent service provider who was about to receive bad news of not getting the new business volumes that we put out for bid.  The head of the user department was there in the meeting and did most of the talking.  Being procurement lead for the project, I had to be there to witness the conversation from start to finish, and it was me who controlled the entire bidding process in the first place with key requirements downloaded from the user representatives.

The service provider came prepared and later I found out that they were actually worried about losing the current share of their business which was neither our intention nor within the scope of our bid.  They sat down and took out a mobile recorder asking to record the entire conversation.  There you could see that there was absolutely no trust between both sides, due to a range of incidents that took place for years between the two companies.  After a few candid exchanges, the service provider got less nervous (since they knew their current business stayed intact) and became a lot more outspoken.  They decided to point the fingers at me and put the blame on us bothering only on dollars and cents.  The business head explained to them that it was senior corporate management who had changed views.  The service provider continued to mock me saying that he wanted to throw up every time he sees me, and almost refused to shake my hands when we met that day.

The business team was actually apologetic to me and pulled me aside assuring me that it was only business and I should not take it personally.  I never did.  I knew perfectly the tactics we played and more often than not procurement is labeled as the bad guys anyway.  I actually think it is fine as I always use this as bait to look for new businesses and projects from first-time business partners, so that they can act as the good guys – which is welcoming to them since they are the ones who end up working with the supplier on a daily basis.

After the meeting ended out of professional courtesy I escorted the service provider to the parking lot.  I saw a long stretched black limo with an uniformed driver opening the limo door awaiting his master.  “Do you go to the gym?”, he asked.  “Hell I might not be able to beat you if I get into a fight with you!”

And the limo with the tinted windows sped away.

That evening, I worked out for a straight 3 hours at the gym.

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The American dollar is so weak right now that it makes me think twice about traveling abroad.  Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the USD meaning that as long as I stay in between these 2 places, I shouldn’t be too less well off.  Wrong.  The recent quantitative easing round 2 by the Fed is pumping $600 billion artificial money into the US economy to stimulate business and creating jobs.  It however has a gigantic ripple effect to the global economies and I can already see huge inflation in this region ranging from grocery to property prices.  With all these uncertainties in personal purchasing power and a could-be volatile stock market, I better be more cautious about my vacation traveling plans.

Like most people I love to travel.  I particular have a thing for traveling on company trainings.  No I am not attending training seminars, but delivering them.  I never knew I had this passion of being a trainer until I was in consulting and a big part of my job then was to teach corporate clients how our reverse auction applications work.  Usually these are one to two-day workshops with not only technical transfer but also strategic procurement contents.  Then soon after I was asked to deliver purely knowledge courses specifically on the topics of strategic procurement, commodity and supply market positioning, project management and communication planning, negotiation skills, opportunity assessments, and the list goes on.  These trainings are by far the most fun and rewarding because they are highly interactive and engaging.

Conducting trainings is not all about getting messages across.  I see incredibly talented professionals who cannot present themselves or their ideas across precisely, not alone chairing workshops.  Making use of a room full of industry experts with varying levels of expertise and experience is exciting and challenging.  I love the challenge and I love to turn the floor over to get more participation.  It’s the sure-fire way to get everyone in the mood from just another boring seminar to one candid sharing and learning sessions which is about them and not about me.

I travel to many cities of Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, India, Vietnam, Philippines and Korea to deliver trainings and I get excited every single time.  The people are different every time and if you add-on the different industries and cultures to the equation, I have to constantly adjust myself to make sure the scale is even.  It’s about playing the part well and playing the part based on people and circumstances that you can hardly prepare for until you are at the training hall at 8am.  It’s like waiting for the curtains to open and you have no idea whether the audience is a bunch of 80 year olds or die-hard heavy metal rockers.

Put yourself in my shoes for a moment.  What would you do if you find your training audience:

1. Dozing off

2. Seemingly bored and kicking himself thinking why he was forced to come in the first place

3. Extremely argumentative and outspoken which is interrupting  the progress of the class

4. Stone faced and authoritarian, maybe even feeling insulted from listening to a younger trainer

5. Fiddling with his blackberry or laptop the whole way through

6. Receiving and making calls as he pleases

Sounds fun huh?  Remember these are not school kids.  They are on average in their 30s to 50s and rank high in their organizations.  They usually come together as a team so the leaders may want to exert their authorities throughout the training.  Similarly the subordinates are shy to speak up with their bosses in the room. 

I’ll let you ponder over the above scenarios for a while and please share your comments with me.  I shall continue with my stories of each of these scenarios in my later posts.  So stay tuned…

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Negotiation skills in my opinion are nothing too technical.  Sales people today are already well prepared for intensive bargaining by the buyers and sometimes even the users themselves.  I refuse to believe that we achieve fantastic results because of our expert negotiation skills, unless we are talking about business partnership deals where there are lots of variables to trade mutually.  The latter takes strategic planning, homework and role-playing.

More often than not,  the users or stakeholders do not even know what they want in the first place.  They are confused over why they need what they are buying.  In turn they end up buying things expensively, and sometimes even buying things they don’t need.  It sounds silly, but also ironic that it appears the more “educated” people make more of these mistakes – just because they think these trivial matters are just not worth their valuable time.  Well, that’s why I am paid to help them.  I often spend a considerable amount of time interviewing my users and find out what is the current stage and where they want to go from there.  They will usually have some strong ideas about what they want to buy or may have received proposals already from suppliers.  I help them pin down to what are the necessities and what are the bonuses.  I try to put a limit to customized  requirements in hope to broaden the supply base from a few niche players to a more commoditized market.  This may not be practical at times and I may actually approach it the other way round and look for players that provide me with solutions rather than cookie cutter off-the-shelf products.  This takes experience and I of course need the help and expertise from the users as well.

If you keep asking questions like a 5th grader, you are already half way toward success.

 Pinning down what we want and identifying our true needs is quite a significant milestone.  Sales people love ambiguity because they can pad hidden costs and allowances into their product offering.  I want transparency, accountability and fairness.  With these simple principles, it does not take a genius to drive pricing down.

Some of my colleagues use good old traditional “threat” as their negotiation tactics.  I respect everyone’s individual negotiation styles, but it’s just not my cup of tea.   Today’s suppliers can be larger and more powerful than my employers.  We may actually need to depend on them though we are paying the bill.  When I pick people in my field of strategic procurement, I always go for talents who have expert communication and problem solving skills.  Critical thinking is a must.  The low hanging fruits are long gone, and we are presented with new unprecedented and complex problems.  I need  people who are fast learners, innovative and eloquent.  I used to be told that people who possess these qualities will put procurement jobs as their last resort.  True.  Good people are in demand everywhere.  However, just because such qualities are so rare, they can become truly niche players in the field, and the opportunities are endless.  To raise the bar and professionalism of strategic procurement is partly the objective of me starting this blog.

Cheers!

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Sometimes people have this notion that as buyers we are on top of the world.  We get to bitch and yell at suppliers, say no to users, and enjoy all the perks and bonuses coming our way.  They couldn’t be more wrong.

As I covered in my previous post Measure Me This, there are indeed procurement people who draw a very gray line in business ethics, and I am extremely concerned over this.  Every respectable company has explicit gifts policies and anti-corruption codes of conduct. On top of that, procurement people should adhere to even stricter guidelines due to the power that we have.  We make supposedly unbiased recommendations or even decisions in deals that could worth millions of dollars.  If there is anything even remotely suspicious to being influenced by any one or more suppliers, we should get ourselves detached from that as early as possible.

I know how today’s businesses are run, and I know how difficult it is now to make a sale or even get ourselves 15 minutes in front of our targets to make a living.  Sales people, often with blessings from their management, offer all sorts of incentives to their client targets.  It can start from an innocent box of chocolates to movie tickets to holiday hamper of wine and cheese to fancy meals to golf games and to even so-called familiarization trips with business class flights and spa treatments all paid for.  Yes, I have seen many of my user departments in practically every company I work for, accepting these gifts with no remorse.  No they are not just the secretaries and junior officers who do not know any better.  They are also senior managers and directors.  They have all sat through hours of code of conduct trainings.  Their excuse?  It’s all part of building relationships with their partners and suppliers, for the good of the company.

I personally do not buy that.  I can perfectly manage fantastic professional relationships (and sometimes even personal) with my suppliers without accepting any gifts AND not hurting any of their feelings.  So don’t give me that “culture and customs” crap.  In any cultures, as long as I am sincere, humble and provide explanations as to why I cannot accept their generous offer, people are already grateful enough that I have been open-minded and helpful to them professionally.  When we start to build further business relationships and if somehow we get to become better friends personally, I don’t mind going for a drink with them while I pay my way through.  It’s THAT simple.

Sometimes suppliers send small gifts to us through courier and it lands at the reception without us having the chance to decline.  Instead of secretly sneaking those expensive hampers or chocolates home to their families or personal parties like I see time and time again in companies I have worked for, I send a broadcast e-mail to the entire office that ABC supplier has just sent in this fruit basket and everyone should feel free to pass by and grab whatever they want.  This way everyone knows that the gift is for the company and not for me.  If it is something not splitable then I report to management and decide together whether it should be donated to charity or reserved as lucky draw items at the year-end staff ball.  In all these cases, I make it formal and inform the giving supplier what I have done with the gifts they sent.  Sooner or later, everyone gets the message.

I ask my staff to brief me on how their site visit trips are arranged and paid for.  We do site visits to inspect suppliers’ plants, factories, offices, operations, or even their clients’ sites as references.  They may be located out of the country.  These are well warranted for but they should seldom be funded by the suppliers except for ground transportation, since some factories are hard to locate and there are just no efficient means of commute to and from those sites.  All other costs should be borne by the company because this is part of our job.  When a supplier loses a business, you cannot imagine the length they would go to make sure they can find any simple indication of corruption wrongdoing.   More often than not, you can kiss your career goodbye.

I am perfectly content with getting my fair paycheck from my employer without getting myself tempted by all the freebies.  After all I have a much bigger reputation to uphold for myself.  However, it’s a whole different dimension when you find yourself physically threatened by suppliers when large dollar is at stake.  Yes it does happen – and I will tell you more about it later…. from a secure location.

Now WHO says procurement is boring?

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It’s not like we are devious.  Yes we get measured by how much cost savings we achieve for the company, and that’s what the company hired us for in the first place.  Some people, however, are just plain reckless.  Just because it does not come out of their own pockets, they would just spend it out on anything imaginable, perhaps as compensation to their perceivable below market pay or uncalled-for bullying by their bosses.  If only everyone treat the company’s money like their own, we would be jobless.  Oh yes, thank goodness we have you guys around.

So if you come to me complaining about worsening business traveling perks, I hate to break it to you, you are just so behind the times.  In this day and age of diminishing revenue and profits, top management has already been cutting traveling and operating expenses long before any procurement people was born.  It’s all top down.  It’s all policies.  They want to take away your printers.  I don’t even give a damn.  We are just so lucky to be the ones executing the policies to keep our jobs, and so stop complaining about how underprivileged you are.  Grow a pair and stop whining.  At least you get paid.

Those who protest against procurement people having special treatments and getting themselves upgrades or even freebies, get proof and report them to management.  Don’t let them get away with it.  They are the ones who hurt our brand and community and I don’t want any of them smearing my name.  Procurement people should assume the highest ethical standards because aside from technical skills and subject matter expertise, credibility, impartiality and ethics are the only pillars of who we are.  I fight for my company and my users / stakeholders.  Despite drastic budget cuts by top management, I strive to get the best value for the diminishing dollar.  If I am not doing my job right, the matter could be a lot worse.  In today’s markets of ever-increasing inflation, avoiding price increases or maintaining buying power is as important as getting discounts.

I hate to break it to you, these are challenges of procurement perhaps 10 years ago.  Every major company is done with cuts in traveling expenses, IT budgets, or office equipment spend.   In order to keep meeting ongoing cost savings targets summing up to millions of dollars per year, we have to continue looking for new and un-ventured areas for cost savings opportunities.  Business process outsourcing, recycling, above-the-line marketing buy, consulting, transportation, training, headhunting, health coverage, energy and utilities, professional memberships, private clubs, event planning, leases, corporate cards, and the list goes on.  I even once led a project in India selling company owned condos using reverse auction tools, for cash.  In another scenario I sold off tens of millions of dollars worth written-off customer debts to investors for immediate cash benefiting the company.  I go where the money is, period.

So you now get a better picture of how I am measured.  Like any salesmen, I need to deliver a set upon ROI (Return of Investment) to my employer.  Hypothetically, if I am paid a million dollars, my job is to help the company save at least 7 million.  In this case, the ROI is 7 fold.  Of course, there are procurement colleagues whose jobs are to process purchase orders and ensure timely receipt of goods and services.  They are equally important and they shall be measured a bit differently.  I am, however, more specialized in running projects that require more strategic planning and the collaboration of multiple stakeholders, and more often than not, extremely powerful suppliers.  I need to make sure my project outcomes are implementable across the region, but I am expected to keep building a cost savings pipeline to meet my targeted ROI.  That means I also need to convince my fellow procurement colleagues to support my initiatives and in turn help me implement the change in respective local markets.

If you look at it this way, I am very much a sales person as well.  I need to be humble, open, a good listener, resourceful, efficient, a good communicator, and entrepreneurial.  Better yet, my results are completely measurable.  In my opinion, these skills and attitudes will soon become the pre-requisites of strategic procurement professionals everywhere.

Next time when you have the honor to run into a procurement person, try to see which breed they are. 

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Corporate buying is not that different from us shopping for ourselves or our families.  When we shop for the latest fashion must-haves from I.T., H&M or Lane Crawford, we know we are getting our needs fulfilled, whether they make us look ravishing, keep us warm for the ski trip coming up, or just means of getting ourselves out of depression.  There are also purchases which we count them as investment in our everyday lives and work, like a flashy suit, a laptop or educational games for our kids.  In the corporate world, we buy just about the same things, only for very different reasons.

In the world of procurement, there is a rough distinction of two broad camps.  Intuitively enough, one is called Direct Materials while the other one Indirect.  Direct Materials refer to those that go into the product we sell.  Indirect Materials, on the other hand, refer only to those purchases made for the support of the corporate’s operation.  Take Hewlett-Packard (HP) as an example.  Its direct materials sourcing team will buy from plastics to printed circuit boards to batteries to packaging, while its indirect materials sourcing team will buy labor (staff), office rental, airplane tickets, and TV time spots to support its business operations.

Every corporate has both direct and indirect material sourcing.  Though we do not always see two distinct teams in service companies today (like financial institutions for example), I can still categorize whatever I buy that goes into the services we sell as Direct Materials.  It’s just a definition and no outsiders care about it, except us.

Like fashion buyers or fabric merchandisers you see in “The Devil Wears Prada”, it takes 10 or 20 years of experience for a buyer to be specialized in the direct material categories.  A food buyer, a plastics buyer, or an electrical buyer can be in hot demand depending on where you are located and what experience and supply base intelligence you can bring to the company.  The buyer needs to work closely together with the product development and production teams so as to source the right ingredients for the company’s products, and at the right price.  There are schools, networks, organizations and even unions for this community.  It may not sound too intriguing to the general public, but one can still quite easily appreciate the professionalism they bring to the table.

Unfortunately, I am not in this category.

I am an indirect materials buyer.

All of a sudden, the word “professionalism” shatters into pieces, and a loud piercing scream usually comes right afterwards.  Seldom out of revelation, mostly out of disgust.

“So you mean like… you are buying pencils?”

“Oh so you must be responsible for all those crappy knockoff Post-It notes they make us use now!”

“Get your hands off MY printer!”

“You just do NOT understand how bad the company will look if I am seen coming out from a HolidayInn by my clients!”

“What? You make us fly Korean Air?????”

Well, if answering what I do hasn’t bored people to death in the first place, these questions will definitely kill any cocktail party conversation.

Hmm… Can I yell “Trick or Treat!”?

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It’s not an easy word, or at least it’s not a word that you will use in your daily life.  I do not hear friends saying “I’m going to procure for furniture tomorrow for my new apartment.”  So it’s not surprising when it was like 17 years ago when I just started working as a distribution officer for the China lubricants team in Shell, my colleague had to look the word “procurement” up in his Oxford dictionary.  Yes folks, there wasn’t Google then.

Turned out there was this young (but still older than myself at the time) executive whose title is procurement manager.  My colleague was embarrassed to go to this manager for a description of his title so he started to make fun of his search results.

“Hey it is something about prostitution!” 

Well we shrugged about it because we both knew Shell wasn’t into the China prostitution business, but it shows how alien we were to the word particularly as a second language.

I still remember my boss at FreeMarkets (now Ariba, a spend management consultancy) talked about increasing the awareness of our profession by putting more spotlight on the buyers.  Why? 

“Who wants to grow up to become a Buyer?”  The teacher asks.

I cannot imagine anyone would have raised their hands.  We are no policemen, firemen or doctors.  No one studied or aspired to be one of us, at least in my time.

I had been working in the oil and chemical industry for about 6 years after school and my last job was a regional business planner for the adhesion industry business unit of ExxonMobil.  I was working 16-hour days crunching reports, tabulating stock inventory while heading the Hong Kong office safety committee which was a very worthy cause but extremely time-consuming.  I was too stretched and wanted to try something new.  I naturally looked at similar business analyst jobs and applied to a few from the weekly Classified Posts. 

The interview was smooth but I didn’t expect to get a call from HR a few days later saying that the lady whom I interviewed with had me in mind of another post in her department.  HR told me it was actually a more senior post.  Sensing my hesitation and disbelief over the phone, I was invited to go for a second meeting with the lady boss.  Turned out she was the Asia head of operations procurement, and she wanted to mentor me as the next strategic procurement manager in her team.  The business analyst role that I applied for was already out of the picture.

“Why me?”  I obviously had no prior experience of the subject and the words strategic procurement meant nothing to me at the time.  I only remember one of the reasons she provided was that she thought I was very “articulate” and would be a perfect candidate for the role.  It was like riding a bicycle, or learning how to swim.

I have to say, now that I am 10 years into this,  it’s not exactly rocket science either .

And that was the beginning of my days with Agilent Technologies (a spun-off from Hewlett-Packard), the birth place of my procurement career.  This Director still remains to be one of my most respected mentors to date.

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Confessions of a Shopaholic

If you think you are visiting a fan site of the popular Isla Fisher’s starred movie, sorry you have to move on.  I am conveniently stealing the catchy movie title in an attempt to help readers understand what I do and what I am writing about.  Believe me, it’s never easy to describe what I do to friends and families.  I believe as of this date, my mom and dad still have no idea what I do as a living. 

There are two sides of a coin for this however.  We do get typecast sometimes but only to those in the know, or at least to those who have rather strong opinions about “people like us” in their workplace.  I may not agree to what they think, but at least you could have a conversation with them afterwards.  It’s professions like lawyers, bankers, realtors, and financial planners which people sometimes make fun of by reflex, which I still do not understand why.  Well, I console myself thinking that at least I don’t drive people away, but to be honest, too many people I met still have no idea what I do as a living after the several times that I told them.  Perhaps Superman or Batman should use my profession as disguise.  Unflashy boring work that nobody would remember.

Perfect.

So cut to the chase. I am a shopaholic.  I buy things for a living, and I mean on a daily basis.  Its value can sum up to millions of dollars and I do that without the blink of an eye.  In fact, a 10 dollar buy and a 10 million buy is not much of a difference to me.  Well, what I buy is not for me, but for my employers.   “Oh I get it!  So you are a fashion buyer? ” I get this a lot, perhaps due to the overwhelming popularity of “The Devil Wears Prada”, or that Hong Kong houses a lot of merchandising and fashion buyers in this megacity famed for its re-exports and international trading.  No, I am not.  I buy things for the corporate that I work for, and they are nothing glamorous or flashy like putting merchandise on the racks of Dolce & Gabbana or Gucci.  This is where I lost most people.  They politely smiled and winked at the next better acquaintances they see hoping to be pulled out of this boring conversation.  I fantasized I am Superman while adjusting my square glasses and moved on.

Instead of rushing into a public telephone booth to rip off my suit and reveal my awesome Superman outfit, I return to my office to follow-up on  work stuff just like any 9 to 5 white-collar job.  Unlike  Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), there is no rush or high from shopping for the corporate.  There is no plastic (ahem, there actually is, which I shall tell later), no personal shopper, no gift wrap, no 30-day unconditional return guarantee.  Very often I don’t even want to make the purchase because the needs are either unwarranted or, like Rebecca Bloomwood in her case, we are simply broke.

Yes, for all the hard work that the product or service salespeople put in to reel in the cash, large multinationals do get broke merely because they have spent it all away.

And we are here to help prevent that.

Well, don’t get me wrong.  There is nothing heroic about it.  The profession has been here for ages but the recognition and awareness just isn’t there.  I don’t intend to make this an academic blog of my profession, and in fact I’d love to take a more light heartened look of myself.  If my readers happen to get a bit of professional knowledge from my posts I would be grateful.  I will be equally delighted if my readers get a kick out of my observations over a drink or two.  I believe it is our individual personalities that shape our work and results, and I want my readers to feel my personality through this blog.  Better yet, I am still looking for the perfect and concise answer to the simplest cocktail party question: “What do you do?”

*Blush*

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