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ENGIE UK & Ireland: people-driven procurement Project partners


ENGIE UK & Ireland: people-driven procurement CPOstrategy talks to Jonathan Sims, Chief Procurement Officer, ENGIE UK & Ireland to talk about the utility’s massive procurement transformation… WRI T T EN BY PRODUCED BY

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Andr ew Wo o d s Hey kel Oun i


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T

he modern Chief Procurement Officer currently occupies a space within enterprise hith-

erto unheard of in years gone by. The CPO and the procurement team are now armed with an incredible array of insights and skills that embolden the aims and ambitions of the business units. This shift heralds the procurement function as an integral strategic tool far more sophisticated than a merely savings-led practice. Procurement now has the ability and freedom to align itself to, and inform and strengthen, a company’s goals, through the provision of a 360-degree vision of a company’s operations. As a result, the origin stories of many modern CPOs are not following the traditional path of working their way from the top to the bottom of the procurement function. Many modern CPOs now have an array of skills and expertise that underscores this shift. Jonathan Sims is Chief Procurement

by background. A development surveyor

Officer for the UK and Ireland business

and I worked in that field for about 10

of the French multinational electric utility

years before moving into mechanical and

ENGIE. However, Sims is not a procure-

electrical engineering in a work-winning

ment guy through and through. “I came

role before ending up in strategic busi-

into procurement a little later on in my

ness projects. And one of those change

career, having only been in procurement

programs was around procurement.”

for about eight or nine years,” he explains

Sims’ work involving the procure-

from the ENGIE offices in London’s

ment function was the springboard

Canary Wharf. “I’m a commercial surveyor

for a number of increasingly senior

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ENGIE UK & IRELAND


procurement roles that led to his current position at ENGIE. “Procurement lends itself to a lot of transferable skills,” he explains. “So, as a team, even through to our group CPO, many individuals have had a very transversal route into that role. I think the generalist skill set lends itself to procurement and I think as long as you have that kind of business acumen and an affinity with people and suppliers, then it’s a great function to work in. The ability to make a significant fiscal impact on a business and to have that breadth of reach across people, teams and functions appeals to me significantly.”

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The UK arm of ENGIE turns over £3.6bn

in 2018. The way procurement was posi-

with 17,000 staff while ENGIE as a group

tioned within the organisation “probably

is active in 70 countries with a turno-

wasn’t correct” according to Sims with,

ver of around £60bn and 170,000 staff.

from an engagement perspective, people

Sims’ role is responsible for all procure-

who were not as engaged as other

ment within the UK operation that has

central services teams.

a procurement team of around 60, split

Sims managed to retain and develop

across five operating divisions. The team

a significant proportion of the staff he

manages all aspects of procurement of

inherited, with a clear succession plan for

goods and services where they spend

the next two or three years in terms of

approx. £1bn annually. The procurement

where they were going as individuals and

community at ENGIE needed a little bit of

how ENGIE could get them to that next

a reinvigoration at the time of Sims’ arrival

level of procurement excellence while

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ENGIE UK & IRELAND


driving performance. “For me, having

based on robust competency mapping

that succession plan within the business

and some really clear and insightful

is fundamentally important. I think for a

people assessments, which is particularly

number of key roles, when I joined about

important. We’re launching a strategy with

15 months ago, we didn’t have the right

the business where the key stakeholders

succession within the business and we’ve

have contributed and feel very much an

changed that significantly. So, all levels,

integral part of that.”

myself included, we have a clear line of

Retaining key talent has been one of

sight for who will be taking that next role.

the most important challenges for Sims

That’s something we’ve looked to drive

at ENGIE with an historically “higher than

across the wider group business whether

desired attrition rate” amongst procure-

the opportunity is within the UK business

ment staff. “It’s a very buoyant market

unit or another global business line. It’s

for senior procurement individuals at the 7


moment. So, creating that clear pathway

within finance, many of whom felt a little

where people could see the next three

remote from previous procurement strat-

or so years of their working life at ENGIE,

egies within the organisation. Sims’ strat-

while enjoying incremental milestones of

egy was very much building a transversal

development linked to reward, was really

cross functional team with non-procure-

fundamental. Once we got that stability

ment execs as sponsors for each strand

in the team, we could then really start to

of the strategy. “I think that really helped

take things forward.”

us get traction and slip under the skin of

Integral to the procurement strategy

what the key stakeholders in the business

at ENGIE is early stakeholder engage-

wanted,” he says. And Sims feels fortu-

ment. Sims’ primary focus in the first few

nate to have garnered senior sponsor-

weeks involved concentrated stake-

ship from the CEO of the UK and Ireland

holder engagement with the divisional

business: “That really helped us drive that

chief operating officers, the commer-

message through the wider business.”

cial directors and the key stakeholders

ENGIE’s three-year strategy is

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Rethinking Procurement and one of

a better result for them. Responsible

the major focuses for Sims is around

procurement remains at the heart of

its Supplier Of Choice Strategy. “That’s

everything we do, making sure that we’re

ensuring we’ve got the right relationships

eradicating any potential risks of modern

with the right suppliers in the right place

slavery within our supply chain, while miti-

to really make a difference for our clients,”

gating any risks of counterfeit product or

he says, “so we’re engaging suppliers in a

child labour.”

mature and considered way. We need to

The biggest element to the new

stay at the forefront of innovation and our

procurement strategy lays with people,

clients are demanding much more than

as seen in some bold new ambitions in

just a compliant price. We really need to

that area. The Competency Matrix maps

be demonstrating over the duration of a

all procurement people to one of the

contract, how we’re going to fundamen-

seven strands of the strategy. “Working

tally enhance our offering and deliver

through 70 different competencies, we’ve 9


understood how best placed that particular individual is to support a particular strand, or aspect of the strategy, be it innovation or responsibility or supply chain consolidation. All members of the team have objectives set specifically to a strand of the strategy and then from an overarching perspective, we have an executive director that’s non procurement who leads in a particular area, plus one member of the procurement SLT. To some extent it’s cascaded through the business and we’ve had some key conferences along the way with the procurement community to share how we’re launching the strategy, what it means for them and how we’re looking to evolve that over the next 12 months.” There are of course challenges linked to any transformation, especially where people and work culture are concerned, with change management often cited as the number one obstacle. “I think the first few months were particularly crucial around that because there was a lot of change in a very, very short period of time; including change in personnel at senior level within the procurement function. There was definitely an aspect of winning hearts and minds, while moving very quickly to turning what we said we’d do into tangible action with people going through that Competency Matrix.” The manifestation of this action were individual training plans and incremental steps, so staff were being rewarded for delivery. “I think that helped to build that positive messaging. And I think the sponsorship we’ve had from the exec level and how that’s repositioned procurement has been particularly useful. I don’t think procurement had that profile within the business previously. The Competency Matrix has created some real expectation 10

ENGIE UK & IRELAND


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“Externally, we’ve got a strategic partnership with EcoVadis and they’re really supporting our Responsible Business Development Initiative within the UK” — J O N AT H A N S I M S C P O, E N G I E U K & I R E L A N D

in our people. We’ve got a lot to deliver

down into a set of initiatives that we’re

on over the next 12 months to make sure

going after as a team. We attack that as a

people really feel that those commit-

team. We deploy the individuals with the

ments we made last year are being borne

best placed and most appropriate team

out in their development. That’s a real

members leading in that certain area.

pressure.”

But we deliver that target collectively

Procurement has always been decep-

and success or failure is determined by

tively people driven while from the

that rather than one individual feeling

outside appearing very much, the oppo-

they’re exceeding and another individual

site. Sims’ early conversations with

with a different set of addressable spend

stakeholders around how things had

or more complicated dynamics feeling

operated previously, had been incred-

unable to make the same level of contri-

ibly savings orientated and yet had

bution. For the first time in a number of

struggled to perform against savings.

years we exceeded our savings targets.

“The way we moved things forward last

So that said to me it was the right

year was very, very people driven. One

approach.”

Target, One Team is a new initiative

“Hopefully the team is more engaged

that has helped procurement at ENGIE

in that method of working and feeling that

to fully harness its new agility. It was us

they’re contributing their talents more

trying to break away from people feel-

effectively and more appropriately. But

ing constrained and restricted by a huge

it takes a lot of maturity to do that. Other

individual savings target. We broke that

stakeholders potentially can feel that


there isn’t the same level of accounta-

co-create together. There are also chal-

bility perhaps. We’ve been quite effec-

lenges in terms of what we’re doing with

tive in working through that, but it has

our people; how we’re retaining them,

been a challenge. People centrally didn’t

while mapping their skills for a changing

have an individual savings target, but we

marketplace in zero carbon. For procure-

delivered that collectively through initi-

ment professionals, this is a different set

atives, so people understood what we

of metrics in terms of how we’re look-

were going after, plus they didn’t neces-

ing at success. It’s put particular focus

sarily feel the personal burden of having

on what we’re doing within responsible

a number over their heads. I think that

procurement and innovation. We currently

drove a different mindset and culture and

have a £4m innovation fund in the UK

ultimately, we’ve been better for it. I think

where we’re actively looking to invest in

it’s demonstrating to the business that

organisations to drive new solutions. And

we’re more than just a savings depart-

that’s something that’s very, very new for

ment. There’s a lot of intellect within that

us. It’s also created changes in terms of

team, a lot of ability to add far greater

our overarching systems and processes.”

value to commercial, to finance, to oper-

Project Mercury is a completely new

ations. We’re definitely on that journey to

ERP system that ENGIE is developing

emphasise that.”

jointly with Capgemini, partners in that

It is hard to escape sustainability, no

space. Project Mercury will effectively

matter the sector, and for an energy

change the way that ENGIE does busi-

company it pretty much drives every

ness. “Mercury will help us become a

aspect of ENGIE’s focus going forward.

truly data-driven business with data driv-

The past six to nine months has seen the

ing the right decisions for the business

company position itself at the forefront of

and more robust procurement decisions

leading the zero-carbon transition, creat-

based on science.”

ing some new challenges for procure-

Jonathan Strelitz, Head of Category

ment. “It creates challenges in terms

Management is also looking forward to

of the types of suppliers and subcon-

the benefits of Project Mercury. “We’re

tractors we should be working with,”

about to embark on a £17 million trans-

Sims explains. “It also affects how we

formation program by bringing our five

engage with them and what solutions we

ERP systems to one. This is a fantastic w w w . c p o s t r a t e g y. c o m

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opportunity for us. We are now leading the P2P work stream and embedding that within Jonathan’s strategy. So, it becomes almost like the DNA of the strategy in terms of how we move that forward. It then allows us to embrace that within the whole team, so everybody has an understanding of that program.” With procurement evolving so much outside of ENGIE, and within, how does Sims remain at the forefront of what’s going on in this transformational space? “Our partnerships with a number of organisations have really helped that,” he enthuses. “Externally, we’ve got a strategic partnership with EcoVadis and they’re really supporting our Responsible Business Development Initiative within the UK, which is where we’re forming a strategic alliance with more than a thousand organisations to build a community investment fund, where we’re going to invest in the communities we serve. Our ongoing relationship with EcoVadis is fundamental. Our Mercury Change Program will be really, really pivotal this year to start to change the way that we buy and enable us to make better decisions.” Sims has also taken on the Solutions Director role for the P2P aspects of Mercury. “Having procurement 14

ENGIE UK & IRELAND


Jonathan Sims CPO, ENGIE UK & Ireland Jonathan Sims has more than 20 years’ experience working in the UK Construction, Engineering, Facilities Services and Energy Sector. Jonathan spent 10 years working in commercial property development as a development surveyor, before joining the Shepherd Group Ltd in a variety of business development and strategic business projects roles.  Jonathan has held senior procurement leadership roles for a number of major UK construction companies including Kier PLC and Morgan Sindall PLC, before taking on a leadership role at NG Bailey Ltd, the largest privately owned construction and engineering organisation in Europe.  Currently, Jonathan is the CPO and Solution Director at ENGIE UK&I, which has a turnover of c£3.6bn and employs 17,000 staff across its energy, regeneration and facilities portfolios, with an annual spend of goods and services of c£1bn.  Jonathan is passionate about developing procurement teams, talent and culture and is currently in the final stages of his PhD. Jonathan has strong associations with academia, and has been an external advising practitioner at Nottingham Business School since 2013, supporting the MSc programmes, with a particular focus on international business.  Jonathan has also been a guest lecturer on the Durham MBA programme for a number of years.  Jonathan is also a non-executive director of a major multi academy schools trust in the UK.  Jonathan lives in Nottingham with his wife, two children and French bulldog

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“I think it’s probably one of the strongest procurement teams I’ve ever worked with. We’ve got people being seconded into the business units and I think that’s really starting to create a positive message” — J O N AT H A N S I M S C P O, E N G I E U K & I R E L A N D

stakeholders really embedded in that

the way that the team present themselves;

process, positions procurement differ-

they’re enthused, they’re engaged,

ently within the organisation and enables

they’re all very ambitious and they can

us to really shape that process rather

see where they’re going within ENGIE. I

than it happening to us. Sometimes we

think it’s probably one of the strongest

inherit some systems and processes that

procurement teams I’ve ever worked with.

we wouldn’t necessarily have created in

We’ve got people being seconded into

those ways.” There is a lot of transformation taking place within procurement at ENGIE and so how does Sims gauge his departmental success? “The level we came from at the start of last year was fairly low compared to other central services teams within ENGIE, in terms of engagement. We were about 16% less than other central services teams and we made a huge step forward in that engagement score last year. So, this is something that happens every single year, which is very, very important for the wider business. We made a 16% improvement in one year, which was a huge step. And I think you can see that in 16

ENGIE UK & IRELAND


international business units and I think that’s really starting to create a positive message. Plus, we over-delivered on our group savings target last year, which again shows that we’re backing that up with business results. The procurement team are now involved in cross-functional initiatives, working with business and innovation teams while being identified as stakeholders that can add a lot of additional value. For me, it’s about having that desire to continually keep moving the function forward. We’re always looking for that next iteration in how we improve. We’ve had recognition at group level, from a supply chain perspective, for best practice being deployed in other business units through relationships we’ve developed and nurtured in the UK, and that gives me a warm feeling. We’re really making a positive change.” 17


ONE TEAM, ONE GOAL Jonathan Strelitz, Head of Procurement Energy Solutions, ENGIE “Procurement really was seen as the compliance police and the savings function. And I think for me, with the experience that I’ve had and with the people that we now have within the team, it’s trying to allow us to show the business, we’re more than just about saving money and stopping people from ordering goods and services. I think it’s more about trying to look at the end-to-end process and the strategy we have where

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savings is just really one lever of what we

having a long-term strategy, we need the

try to bring here at ENGIE in the UK.

right people in the right places at the right

I think the importance of having the right

levels. And then it’s incumbent on us as

people within the team, is that they create

the senior managers to try and develop

their own networks. So, within that they’re

and train these people so they can be

not then reliant on the management or

successful. Not just in terms of generating

the whole team in driving our strategy

savings, but generating overall value for

through. It means that there are CPO

the business.”

interfaces at the senior level. Then, there’s the next layer down and below that. So it enables us to try and communicate the

Charlie Roberts, Hard Services Category Manager, ENGIE

right messages in terms of what we are

“We have a good mix of services and

doing in making a compelling argument

solutions and projects, which means we

of why we want people to go and spend

have to keep a fairly open mind and have

their money in certain areas or use certain

a holistic approach rather than being

suppliers within our supply chain.

a purely CapEx driven strategy. That’s

For me, if we are to be serious around

helped us mould a very diverse range of 19


skill sets and a growing number of more youthful category category members growing from an apprenticeship position to lead buyer. I think we’ve got one or two who are knocking on the door for category manager in the next few months. So, it’s definitely moved to a much better place than it was where I think we had a very siloed approach, poorly integrated team from the top down prior to Jonathan’s appointment. We struggled to build the general morale that we needed to then go out to the wider business. That’s changed completely now we’ve opened the doors and we’ve kept those doors open with the wider business who actually see us as generating real value.”

Lisa Boumaza, Category Lead Buyer, ENGIE “It’s a really nice place to work and I can

in developing us. They’ve built up this

really see the difference from when I

competency assessment tool to map our

started in 2017 where I was in an opera-

profile against our current role, but also

tional procurement role. Now, we’re look-

where we want to be in the next three

ing at category management, which is a

years, building a development plan for

bit more strategic. We look at spend on

each individual so they can get where

a national scale working with the Group

they want.

and we have a team where we really get

When I began working for ENGIE in

on well altogether with great leadership

2017, we were in a much different place;

within the team. We know where we’re

it was all very operationally, almost

going and our managers are interested

commercially, driven, with no early

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ENGIE UK & IRELAND


category management has really helped in giving us a path in terms of what we prioritise for the business, and locating the higher value categories of spend where we could drive better performance and savings.”

George Mangham, Procurement Manager, ENGIE “My apprenticeship scheme was brand new to Engie when I started. It was a two-year apprenticeship scheme with three rotations. I’ve done a rotation in operational procurement, so I understand that side. I also did a placement in the bids and mobilisation procurement and so I understand the initial forefront where we mobilised contracts and bid for them with our potential clients. I am also familiar with the category management side as well. I’ve had quite a rounded experiprocurement involvement. So, it was

ence in two years of the apprenticeship

always too late to build any proper strat-

scheme. I’ve had a lot of opportunities

egy. It was all very reactive. And now we

in there and the mentors I’ve had are

have a much different approach, which

fantastic. The scheme’s been fantastic.”

is building three-year category plans. We engage with the business to get sign off and work closely with operations

Vincent Tissendie, Category Manager, ENGIE

to implement their strategies, making

“For a long time, we were seen as

sure that it’s good from a technical

people who only looked after cost

and commercial and legal level. So, it’s

prediction and spend, which is not the

very different to where we were. I think

exact purpose of a procurement function. 21


“The past six to nine months has seen the company position itself at the forefront of leading the zerocarbon transition, creating some new challenges for procurement” — J O N AT H A N S I M S C P O, E N G I E U K & I R E L A N D 22

ENGIE UK & IRELAND


other, because we have some cross-functional, cross-category project where we’ll work together and plan in advance to deliver at the right time. We are working in an industry where things happen very quickly, so when we meet for a project, we’ll mobilise and when the contract is mobilised, we need to ensure delivery. So, things need to be ready. It’s not when the contract goes live that we need to think about how we can add value to this contract. We need to be ready before to engage with our key stakeholders and make sure that we can deliver on time. We look at the full spectrum of the value chain, and not work only around savings. We look after innovation, sustainability, zero carbon emission, processes, digitalisation, technology. That’s what allows us to deliver bigger, better and faster, to be honest, because if we do not take these into account, we will be basic procurement people without any category plan or structure. And I think that’s what will take We tend to cover the full spectrum of the

us through to the next level as procure-

value chain and deliver across all aspects

ment individual and as a function too.”

of it. Yes, of course, it’s savings, but it’s also innovation processes, sustainability, zero carbon emission processes. So, yeah, that makes us much more interesting for the business. I love the way we engage with each 23


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