Ten minutes with...Dr Philip Orumwense CBE, Commercial Director for Technology at Crown Commercial Service

Ten minutes with...Dr Philip Orumwense CBE, Commercial Director for Technology at Crown Commercial Service
Published: 5 May 2022

In our latest ‘Ten minutes with…’ interview, Head of our Procurement team, Richard Guest spoke with Dr Philip Orumwense CBE, Commercial Director for Technology at Crown Commercial Service, with responsibility for supporting public and third sector organisations to get the best value for their technology and digital spend.

Dr Phlip Orumwense's teams help to manage over £9bn of spend each year on behalf of customers, including categories like Cloud and Digital, Networks, Software Cyber and AI, Digital Futures, and Technology Products and Services. 

Prior to joining CCS, he headed up the Information and Technology Commercial and Procurement Group at Highways England as Commercial and Procurement Director. He has been Head of the Digital Platforms, Programmes and Applications Category at the Department for Work and Pensions, where he was also the Commercial Director for the Universal Credit Programme. 

Before joining the UK Public Service, Philip worked for Siemens, where he had responsibilities for commercial activities spanning the UK, Germany and elsewhere in Europe, South and North America across several industry sectors including Automotive, Transportation (Rail, Civils, Communications, Electrification and Signalling) and Financial / Business Services. 

Philip has an MA in Political Behaviour (Essex), an MBA in Business Strategy and Procurement Management (Birmingham) and a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) from Aston Business School. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supplies (FCIPS). In 2021. Philip was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by Her Majesty the Queen, for services to the public.
 

Tell me a little bit about your career to date?

My supply chain, procurement and commercial management career began in earnest with my first job as a Consumables Stores Controller with a Birmingham-based automotive company called Walker Tenenco Automotive. From here I went on to be a Senior Buyer with GKN Axles, latterly Dana Spicer, and then a Commodity Manager with the old BTR, latterly Dana Spicer Europe, manufacturing telematics and fuel injector connectors.

My commercial, procurement and supply chain management skills would eventually be consolidated during my long tenure at Siemens, which started in 1998 with Siemens Automotive and Siemens Business Services, ending in 2005 with Siemens Transportation Systems. 

At Siemens, I had the privilege and opportunity to have been involved in buying and letting contracts for several of the UK’s rail services, including the Transpennine Express Route and the West Coast Mainline Rail infrastructure and trains, several of the London Underground trains, and the train care depot at Acton, London.
 

Is there a role you look back on as being pivotal in your career?

Joining the Civil Service in 2005 was a career-defining moment for me as it gave me the opportunity to make my very own contributions to public service delivery. The Department for Work and Pension (DWP), with its excellent work in supporting the most vulnerable people in our society from birth, right through to working age, and touching on disability, care, child support, employment and pensionable age, was just the right place for me.

At the DWP, I had the privilege to contribute to the delivery of the financial inclusion strategy which brought millions of ‘unbanked’, financially excluded citizens into the financial inclusion corridor, helping them to access credit facilities: for example, to open a basic bank account, or get a mortgage. It also meant that pay day lenders were kept at bay from accessing their social benefits. Doing public service and supporting the most vulnerable in our society was and continues to be highly satisfying for me and quite honestly highly rewarding.
 

What is the best piece of advice that you have received (And how has it shaped you both as a leader and person)?

Advice and feedback are golden gifts that have shaped my opinions throughout my entire career. I remember quite vividly during my transition from the private to public sector when one of my Director General at the time said to me – Philip you come across as someone who is highly intelligent and bright, for you to succeed in this role, you will need to enhance your stakeholder engagement skills. This is so true in all circumstances both in the work place and at home and regardless of our technical and professional skills. Mapping out who our stakeholders are, how they wished to be engaged with, their likes and dislikes, their motivations, social, philosophical, ideological and leadership persuasions are ever so important in our dealings in the workplace. I find myself passing on this same advice to colleagues whenever I am asked about what advice I can give them and in doing so I always end with please learn not to say no but develop the art of saying yes maybe because this gives you the basis for further engagement and clarification.
 

If you could wind back the clock to when you first transitioned into the public sector, what advice would you give yourself?

A piece of advice that I would give to my younger self especially one that was true then when I first transitioned from the Private to the public sector and one that I am repeatedly aware of even till now is not to be as robust and steadfast to beliefs and convictions but to remain open to be persuaded by those around me. One further piece of advice I would gladly give to my younger self is to learn to be more tactful, more diplomatic even when engaging with others at meetings, rather than overly calling a spade a spade. Very often our intended meaning and context can be misconstrued or misunderstood unless dynamically moderated in the way they are presented, so, using symbols, adages, parables or storytelling to convey one’s messages, I have learnt from several mentors and coaches can be potently effective in enhancing how our messages lands with those receiving it.
 

You’ve been in central government for the past 17 years now, have you not been tempted back into the private sector?

The lure to go back into the private sector has always been there and continues to be. In my early years, I was known to change jobs quite regularly, I recall quite vividly during my time at the University of Birmingham, Business Strategy and Procurement Management MBA programme colleagues where astounded how often I changed jobs. In the year book they wrote “ask three people from the 5th cohort which company Philip works for and you will get three different answers (twice a year whether they need or not)”, at that time the challenge and prospects were more important than anything else. However, since coming into the public sector, the lure of financial recompense now takes second place to the opportunity to do public service, this explains my enduring stint in the public sector that has spanned almost 2 decades. I love doing public service as you can immediately see the manifestation of your contributions in the determination and delivery of public services which manifestly affects countless numbers of citizens and in my case saves billions of tax paters money. Savings that helps the government to build more hospitals, buy more ambulances, build more schools, employ more teachers, support the most vulnerable in our society through social benefits and much more. This is truly satisfying.
 

You’ve got two amazing opportunities to join your team at the moment, what makes them so unique?

My team and I are at the forefront of developing cutting-edge commercial technology agreements and solutions for government departments and the wider public sector. We have to demonstrate to our customers that we have deep category expertise, which informs our strategies for developing commercial agreements. 

We are regularly locked in negotiations and strategic relationship management discussions with strategic suppliers to Government. We are also actively engaged with providing up to date information, guidance, webinars, white papers and market engagement sessions to both suppliers and the users of our commercial agreements and solutions.

Our focus in the near term is on how best to leverage the best value from our existing suite of agreements. At the same time, we’re always looking for opportunities to drive the message of aggregation of government buying. An example of this is our memoranda of understanding with strategic suppliers. 

Our Technology commercial agreements include Digital Outcomes and Specialists, G-Cloud, Cloud Compute, Technology Services 3 (TS3), Traffic Technology and Associated Services (TTAS), Back Office Software (BOS), Software Design and Integration Services (SDIS), Cyber Security DPS, Space and Geospatial DPS, and more.

We are also developing and bringing to market several new, replacement and innovative commercial solutions including Vertical Application Solutions (VAS), Back Office Software 2 (BOS 2), Software Design & Implementation Services 2 (SDIS 2) and Big Data and Analytics (BD&A). We are also continuing to work on releasing Technology Products & Associated Services 2 (TePaS 2) and Spark 2. As well as Digital Specialists and Programmes, Digital Outcomes 6, Digital & ICT Professional Services Framework (DIPS), Digital Supplier Resourcing (DSP), Quality Assurance & Testing 3, AI and Automation, G-Cloud 13 and Cloud Compute 2 and much more.

These two amazing opportunities will drive the transformation of our cloud, storage and Digital and Technology Professional Services throughout Central Government, Wider Public Sector, Charities and beyond. With a combined annual expenditure in excess of £4bn per annum, the opportunity to become one of the foremost technology thought Leaders in the United Kingdom, working with our customers and global technology providers makes these roles even more appealing. 
 

What are the trends emerging in the procurement of technology right now? How is CCS working to ensure its customers can access the very latest technology?

Our market insights shows that artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation as well as edge and quantum computing, Internet of Things (IoT), cyber security, hyperscale, public and private cloud solutions, big data and analytics, 

connectivity solutions including talent mobility and interoperability are trending right now.

We are also seeing aspects of 'As-a-service' PaaS (Platform as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service), IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and DMaaS (Data Management as a Service, Microservices and Low-Code Platforms, Collaboration and Communication Tools,

Mobile Services and Self-Service Portals continue to trend.

My team and I are working right across Central Government and the Wider Public Sector continue to engage with various stakeholders including the Central Digital & Data Office (CDDO) the Government Digital Service (GDS), CDIOs and CTOs, Chief Commercial Officers and Technology Commercial Directors right across Government to ensure that our products and services remains current and relevant at all times.

Furthermore, we are working with industry groups including Tech UK, SMEs, Government Crown Representatives and Strategic Suppliers to Government to ensure that we fully capture the prevailing market capacity, capability and innovative solutions. By doing so we are able to develop world class category strategies to help inform the development and innovative pathways in the provision of Data, Digital and Technology Solutions for Government and all of our customers. We are also able to deliver enabling procurement policies including sustainable and green technology, Carbon Net Zero, Social Value, SME growth, localisation and much more.
 

What is your focus for 2022 and beyond?

Our focus in the near term and beyond is to engage dynamically with the new procurement reforms by developing the enabling pathways for ensuring that all of our frameworks and commercial solutions can become compliant. We will also be specifically engaging with the various procurement policies including how we boost ours and our supply chain partners compliance to the modern slavery statement (https://www.crowncommercial.gov.uk/news/ccs-publishes-modern-slavery-statement). We will do this with a clear determination and consideration of how through our technology solutions we can create the basis for tackling modern slavery by developing commercial solutions for collecting, measuring, analysing and sharing transparent data and by optimising the use of available tools and standards. We believe that our new commercial framework on Big Data and Analytics will be one such enabler that users of our commercial solutions can access to drive improved compliance.

We will accelerate our focus here at the Crown Commercial Service and through the Government Commercial Function on delivering on the commitment to grow our SME spend through our supply chains. We are doing excellently well in creating good opportunities through our commercial agreements and commercial solutions for bringing more SMEs into our supply chain. Our SME engagement statistics for 21/22 are outstanding as demonstrated in the table below but there is still more for us to do.

 

Agreements

SME Numbers and % - Current

SME Spend and % - 21/22 YTD

Digital Outcomes & Specialists; and Sister Agreements

3011 (94%)

£255M (33%)

G-Cloud (incl. Cloud Compute)

4612 (91%)

£412M (41%)

Technology Products & Associated Services

20 (50%)

£45M (7.2%)

Technology Services 3

160 (63.5%) 

£857,000 (10.7%)

Back Office Software

9 (30%)

£77,339 (4%)

Software Design and Implementation Services

25 (45%)

£113,448 (100%)

Data and Application Solutions

29 (40.2%

£10.37m (11.11%) 

We continue to develop and offer up commercial solutions for helping the Government and our users meet their Carbon Net Zero (CNZ) commitments. To this end, our Traffic Technology and Associated Services Agreement (TTAS) provides sustainable solutions for transport technology that are designed to help our customers with decarbonisation across their portfolio. The agreement has a dedicated lot for sustainable transport solutions with key improvements to service delivery. The agreement also builds on our commitment for making it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to do business with us. It includes 77 suppliers, 44% of which are SMEs. This is compared to 30% SME suppliers for Traffic Management Technology 2 our previous agreement.

www.crowncommercial.gov.uk/news/our-new-sustainable-transport-technology-agreement-launched
 

What do you think are the traits of good commercial leadership?

In keeping with the values espoused in our Civil Service Leadership Statement and our CCS family values, as leaders, we take responsibility for the effective delivery of the Government’s programme and Ministers’ priorities, living the Civil Service’s values and serving the public. We do this by being inspiring about our work and its future, by being confident in our engagement and by empowering our teams to deliver.

We expect our leaders to have the right level of business acumen and be able to exercise the right level of commercial judgement relative to their role in order to deliver positive outcomes for their teams and users of our services. We invest in our leaders by providing the enabling pathways for growing their leadership skills and capability to deliver positive outcomes for their teams and users of our services. We equip our leaders with the requisite strategy and policy skills and capabilities for enabling the delivery of our key priorities. 

Our people demonstrate a good understanding of our customers and our needs in order to help formulate the right sourcing options by engaging with a structured set of governance, process and regulations in delivering the procurement process. We execute complex deals, undertake contract and strategic supplier management activities in ensuring that best value is secured.

We therefore expect our leaders to embrace all these attributes in creating a visionary and dynamic commercial leadership.
 

How does the UK public sector ensure we are nurturing the best talent into the government commercial profession?

We create opportunities for all to engage with us through an emerging talent pipeline across the function - including a blend of apprentices, interns and graduates - with a clear pathway to what a career in technology commercial looks like. We also have alternative pathways for non-commercial civil servants from other functions to join the Government Commercial Function, obtain the necessary skills and experience to develop a long and future career in technology commercial.

We pride ourselves in actively investing in the current and future leaders of our Function through an active coaching, mentoring and sponsorship programmes. Our Government Commercial College is at the forefront of ensuring that all of our people are sufficiently skilled in all aspects of the Government Functional Standards (Commercial).

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1021421/6.7640_CO_Govt_Functional_Std_GovS008_WEBv2_1_092021.pdf

Our people are provided with ample learning and development opportunities to enable us all to acquire not only the required technical, professional and leadership skills but also those soft skills that are necessary to make us effective leaders. We offer opportunities for our people to get promoted within the Crown Commercial Services and the broader Government Commercial Function and right across the entire Civil Service. Our people benefit from numerous talent programmes including the Future Leaders Schemes and the Senior Leadership Schemes, schemes that are designed to equip participants with the right leadership skills for enhancing our civil service leadership values.
 

How do we ensure you’re always creating an inclusive environment?

Crown Commercial Service, the Government Commercial Function and indeed the Civil Service is a great place to work. It’s a place that allows “me to be me” and “us to be us”, this means that I can be me and because of this we actively promote diversity in all its manifestations. I am from an ethnic minority group; I occupy a very senior role and sit on the Executive Board and there are many others like me across the protected characteristics group spectrum who occupy similar roles right across our organisation. This is a truly exciting place to work and I will highly recommend it, especially the opportunity it offers to make a contribution to public service delivery.
 

For more information, please contact Richard Guest is an Associate Partner in our Procurement and Supply Chain practice.

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