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Agropur’s Director of Strategic Sourcing on Procurement – Origins and the Big Picture – Part 1

By Silky Agarwal
In Procurement Talent Management
Jun 9th, 2014

I had the pleasure of speaking to Sean Smith, Director of Strategic Sourcing at Agropur Ingredients, the other day, and I couldn’t help wanting to share some really interesting insights that he had on procurement and supply-chain, the origins and the evolution.  So I decided to put them together in a two part series, and here I am with the first one:  The world of procurement and supply-chain and how they developed today’s sophistication.

Sean Smith - special conversations on procurement and sourcing.

On the exciting world of procurement and supply-chain

About Sean Smith

A forward thinker and a visionary leader, Sean Smith, the Director of Strategic Sourcing at Agropur Ingredients, has acquired well over a decade of hard core experience in the field of procurement, sourcing and supply-chain.  Sean was named a 2014 Practitioner Pro to Know by Supply & Demand Chain Executive Magazine and a 2014 Future Leader Award Finalist by Procurement Leaders TM.  He has worked in the US Army for about 7 ½ years.  One of his major accomplishments during his US Army years was management and leadership of a 12-man team, providing all supply chain and logistical services for a 5,000-man Humanitarian Disaster Relief Force in New Orleans following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He is skilled in multicultural communications and interaction, having lived, worked and traveled in 24 countries worldwide. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Predictive Analytics to add more specialized expertise to his MBA in Supply Chain Management.

1. How did you happen to meet the world of Procurement and Sourcing?

“I got into supply chain through the Army.  Although at school I was interested in Investment Banking, after I joined the Army and was put in charge of the Supply Chain, I realized that I loved it.  I finished my Army training at the top of the class and had one of the best trainers there to groom me into being successful in the field.

So I sort of fell into it by chance, fell in love with it and stayed forever, eventually working for some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies.”

2. Share some thoughts on how you transferred procurement and sourcing from your Army years into the corporate environment today

“The Army calls it ‘Logistics’.  Supply Chain Management, at its core, basically grew out of Military principles.  The Army depends on its Supply Chain just as much as on the quality of soldiers.  The US Army, for that matter, is the largest supply chain in existence and, technically, larger than any Fortune 500 Company operating today. There is no better place than the Army to learn Supply Chain. It adds a whole lot of dynamics to the situation.

Realistically then, in the business world, things don’t seem so hard.  You feel like saying ‘This is easy’ when comparing to things you have done in the Army.  You are more easily able to find solutions and overcome problems.”

3. You said that you fell in love with the world of sourcing and supply chain, so tell us a little bit about how that happened.

“I am the kind of person who has to always be challenged, else my mind starts wandering.  When I was doing Financial Accounting during college, it seemed very boring and redundant, doing the same things every quarter. But when I joined the US Army, there was always something new.  There was always a problem to solve, some improvement to be made, some challenge facing me, it was amazing.

I like looking for answers, and then saying ‘Hey look, it worked!’ and then moving on to the next problem. Apart from that, no company has a perfect supply chain, which is why there is always something to be done, something to be solved, and something to be bettered.  Amazon, Apple, these companies too, are always trying to improve.  It is really about being challenged. It is not the same thing day in and day out.”

Part II of this blog series will cover some of Sean’s thoughts on the future of the Procurement and Sourcing industry and where they are going.  You may subscribe to our blog if you wish to receive an instant update when the second piece of the interview is published.

By the way, we also have a special eBook which talks about PROCUREMENT LESSONS FROM WORLD WAR I on the eve of its 100 years anniversary this June, 2014.
You might be interested in reading it!

Click on the download button below to access the eBook- Procurement Lessons from World War I

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About "" Has 26 Posts

Silky works as part of Zycus' thought leadership team. She loves to bring interesting perspectives to the procurement profession, thereby providing food for thought to leaders and visionaries in this profession driven to make a difference to their organizations. She is an MBA in Communications Management, a Graduate in Mass Communications. Her specialization lies in Qualitative aspects of the business and the market needs.

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