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On the podcast: Helping new buyers learn the ropes and drive innovation

August 11, 2021 | Bonfire Interactive

Multi-generational procurement team collaborating with technology

Tell me if this sounds familiar: It’s your first week on the job. You’re the new hire in your organization and your colleagues have been here for 10, 15, or even 30 years. Everyone seems confident and in the know—except you. To top it off, you’re afraid to ask questions or make mistakes because then your boss might realize the truth: they hired an imposter.

We’ve all been there. And it can be especially overwhelming starting out in procurement, of all places, where established relationships make the world go round. Whether you’re early in your career or working with colleagues who are, being successful means knowing how to collaborate across generations.

In our second episode of Inside Public Procurement, Joanna Hunt joins us to talk about just that: how can new and senior procurement professionals build strong working relationships within their organizations—and why is it important? 

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Meet our guest: Joanna Hunt

As a Retail Buyer and Customer Experience Professional for the Wildcat Shop at Central Washington University, Joanna is an advocate for the fun (and sexy!) side of procurement.

With over 10 years of experience in dynamic visual merchandising, product procurement, and event facilitation, she brings infectious enthusiasm and seasoned insights that can help procurement teams collaborate better, work smarter, and be bolder.

Here are some of the topics we dive into with Joanna. Catch the full conversation on our website or wherever you get your podcasts!

Building relationships bridges the gap

For early career procurement professionals, Joanna says, “It can be really overwhelming to try to innovate or do anything new because you don’t know the history of the organization.”

She often sees young professionals experiencing imposter syndrome and afraid to share ideas with well-established colleagues. Her advice for fledgling buyers is to bring it back to the basics: building relationships and asking questions. Understanding how people in your organization work together, what relationships exist, and how you fit into that context is key.

“When we’re not thinking about ourselves in our one role, but about how we are a part of a living entity, it changes the dynamics immensely.”

Innovation starts with asking questions

When new procurement professionals enter an organization, Joanna says they’re typically thinking: “We want to get it faster. We want to get it at a better value. We want to create relationships with new vendors.”

That enthusiasm for innovation and eagerness to explore new ideas can make early career professionals real changemakers in their organizations. But not everyone is as comfortable with change. Innovation has to start with asking questions and working together.

Joanna has seen how established organizations can be apprehensive about new technologies, but the selling point always comes back to the efficiencies and cost savings that come along with shifting from paper to digital. 

In our conversation, she shares advice for how buyers can approach conversations about digital transformation in a way that’s sensitive to everyone’s perspective, from digital natives to traditional mindsets. 

Success is in the nitty-gritty

Ultimately, Joanna’s biggest piece of advice for new buyers is to obsess over details. While it can be tempting to focus on the big picture of how procurement keeps the whole organization running, the true key to success lies in the nitty-gritty of every order and RFP. That, and always having a backup plan.

“When I talk about gritty, for me, it’s knowing as much as you can about what can go wrong. I’m not a pessimist, but there’s so much room for human error—for manufacturing delays, shipping delays, natural disasters—that for me I need to know what can go wrong so that I can maximize what can go right.”

Joanna shares why she believes success in procurement always comes back to asking a few key questions to understand what’s important and where it’s okay to risk making a mistake.

Listen today

Tune into episode two today for our full chat with Joanna—and more tips, insights, and inspiration you can use to level up your procurement strategy.

Hungry for more in-the-field insights from the world of public procurement? Head over to our website, or find Inside Public Procurement on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts!

About the author

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Bonfire Interactive

Bonfire helps public procurement teams reach better sourcing outcomes through an experience that’s blazingly fast, powered by peer insights, and so easy to use—vendors love it just as much as buyers do.