Seasoned Leadership in Action™ – An Interview with Jill Button, CEO of ProcurePro!

Jill Button

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At Supply Chain Game Changer we believe in sharing experiences and expertise from people in every industry and from across the globe.  As such we have introduced our “Seasoned Leadership in Action” Interview series.  This interview is with Jill Button, President and CEO at ProcurePro.

Procurement is an integral part of any company in any industry.  While historically companies have performed this function internally it is increasingly recognized as being more strategic to have a well functioning Procurement capability, as opposed to just having a Purchasing department.

Given that many companies cannot always afford the skills, time, tools and expertise to have a great Procurement team inside their organization it is more and more common to consider outsourcing this service to Procurement experts.

In our latest interview we have the pleasure to introduce you to Jill Button, President and CEO of ProcurePro.  Jill Button is a true, seasoned leader and expert in Procurement.  She offers Procurement services which anyone seeking help in any aspect of this area of Supply Chain must seriously consider.

Here is our interview with a great leader and industry expert, Jill Button!

Tell our readers a little about your background and experience?

I am a Strategic Sourcing & Supply Chain executive with close to three decades of experience spanning multiple industries including; High-Tech, Telecom, Banking, Financial Services and Consulting.

I have thorough, hands on knowledge of all aspects of transformational, strategic sourcing, supply chain, logistics & operations management. My background includes; large international enterprise, high growth companies including GE, Manulife Financial, IBM, CIBC, Rogers and Shaw.

I have deep subject matter expertise in; IT, Professional & Consulting Services, Facilities, Travel, MRO, Print Services, Centers of Excellence, Outsourcing and Off-shoring.

I am the President and CEO of ProcurePro Consulting a boutique procurement and project management consulting firm. www.ProcurePro.ca

What are some of your greatest achievements in Business?

My greatest achievement in Business is leaping off the corporate ladder in 2012 to found ProcurePro Consulting with a goal to help clients optimize their procurement spend and save money while providing a fun and inclusive work place where like minded procurement professionals can do their best work.

We are still on our journey but are growing and expanding our services and just celebrated our 5 year anniversary.

How has the Business and Supply Chain changed over the course of your career?

In my nearly three decades of experience, I have seen a tremendous maturing.  When I began my career in the late 80’s, no one knew what Supply Chain or Procurement was. I was lured into the profession only after my acting career never panned out and I liked the idea of buying things with other people’s money.  (True story).

The term Strategic Sourcing had yet to become reality and is only now gaining understanding. The quality and availability of professionals, while once scarce, has grown and more colleges and universities are seeing a surge in interest and graduates.

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Last, the value the profession can deliver to business is exponential.  Where once we were relegated to the back office cutting PO’s we are often now front and centre driving savings and uncovering new innovation as strategic partners to the business.

I am so encouraged by the next generation of procurement professionals I meet when I speak to students on campus.  The future is indeed bright for Supply Chain.

What are some of the lessons you learned in your career that you would like to share for others to learn from?

The greatest lessons I have learned have come from witnessing failure, my own or my business partners.  The saying “Fail to Plan is a Plan to Fail” resonates strongly with me.

I recall a large outsourcing deal I was involved in. What would normally take a year to plan was short circuited into six months.  A critical step in the planning process involves establishing the baseline services and costs of the function or services to be outsourced and to have the supplier validate this during the critical transition or hand over phase.

This was missed and ended in a dispute which my team and I were called in to resolve with the supplier.  Despite six months of further negotiation, it ended in tens of millions in lost savings for the business and a less than trusting relationship with the supplier.  It could have all been avoided had the planning been done correctly in an appropriate time frame and good governance had been in place to monitor deliverables and performance.

Failure to Plan really did cause a near terminal FAIL.

What challenges facing the world are important to you?

I am both gravely concerned with what is happening with girls and women around the world and heartened by the growing awareness and support from both men and women.  As a woman in business for nearly thirty years, I have experienced firsthand discrimination and harassment.

While changing, Supply Chain has been a mostly male dominated field. I am delighted to see more and more women enroll.  Men are now getting engaged in the issues and advocating for women and girls.  This is so important as without strong MALE leadership, advocating and sponsoring females, we have no hope of moving the needle.

What is the role of Business, Supply Chain and Change Leadership in addressing these challenges?

To address the issues facing women in business, organizations need to create environments where women feel welcome and included. Education is key in understanding conscious and unconscious bias against women and should include all genders and levels within the organization.

Bias is not unique to men and not solely at the executive level.  All genders and levels must be aware and make conscious efforts to be inclusive and to ensure women are given the same opportunities for advancement as men.  Mentoring and importantly, sponsorship within organizations is key.

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Unlike most women, men are much more comfortable with self-advocating for advancement than women.  Having a mentor or sponsor to help guide, encourage and actively sponsor women is critically important.   The next generation of female leaders; GIRLS, need programs to help encourage them to step into leadership roles and get in involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

Providing girls access to programs, such as offered by Girls Inc. Durham, give girls education, helps them find their unique voice and access to role models that help them achieve their greatest potential. To learn more about Girls Inc. Durham check out; http://www.girlsinc-durham.org/or search online to find a Girls Inc. affiliate in your community.

What are you working on these days?

The major project we are currently working on is to assist our Media and Entertainment client implement a new Finance, HR and Payroll solution or (ERP) Enterprise Resource Planning System.  Beginning in March of 2018, we started by gathering and documenting their requirements, conducting market research to identify potential solutions, launching a competitive (RFP) Request for Proposal and finally leading contract negotiations.

We are excited to be providing project management and oversight for the implementation of NetSuite (an Oracle company) for Finance and ADP for HR/Payroll. We are looking forward to a successful launch in Q1 of 2019.

What advice would you give people who have a career in, or who are considering joining, Business and/or Supply Chain?

To have a successful career in Supply Chain or any field for that matter, you need to have both soft and hard skills, what I call “Will and Skill”.

The soft skill, or Will, is the ability to build strong, trusting relationships including a willingness to continuously learn and build strong communication and interpersonal skills.

The hard, or Skill, side is much easier to learn, however, you must continue to build on the foundation of knowledge and skill learned in post-secondary education by exposing yourself to as many varied experiences as possible.

You can read how to be a good negotiator but there is no substitution for being involved, in the trenches and actually negotiating or shadowing someone who has the experience you are looking to gain.

How can people contact Jill Button?

To contact me please call me at 416-505-8698 or email [email protected]

Originally published on October 23, 2018.
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