Adapt and Thrive

Published: 15 September 2016

Watching the Paralympics over the past couple of weeks I can’t help feeling enthused by such an amazing event with countless brave, inspiring and motivated individuals and above all else unbelievable athletes. 

As a keen Formula 1 fan it was the story of Alex Zanardi that really struck a chord with me. A Formula 1 driver who had moved on to compete in the Indy series in the US in the late eighties, Alex suffered a horrendous life changing crash in September 2001 which resulted in the loss of both his legs. 

Despite this dramatic change in his life, the burning competitive spirit and the desire to win shone through as he added to the two gold medals he won in London 2012, by winning the H5 time trial hand-cycling event in Rio this week.

This is a wonderful illustration as to how you can transfer your skills and experiences into something completely different, so long as you have the commitment, enthusiasm and determination to succeed and an overall willingness to learn. Too often hiring managers are focused on filling a square hole with a square peg, and lose sight of transferable skills in other functions. I frequently read and hear about the lack of talent within the procurement arena and a frustration from CPOS and Procurement Directors that a number of the team lack the softer interpersonal skills to truly engage and influence the wider business and stakeholder community. 

"Even my accident, what happened to me, became the biggest opportunity of my life." Alex Zanardi

Be brave, bold and open to considering these individuals who will inevitably bring a different dynamic and insight into the team.  Many years ago I recall Bass actively switching the Procurement Director with the Sales Director on a regular basis in order to provide them with valuable insight into working from the other side of the table, enhancing their skill sets. 

Don’t limit your view point and be willing to embrace people with the burning desire and skills needed to succeed. After all procurement is but a process that can be taught, what you can’t always teach is the motivation and softer relationship skills. 

Richard Guest specialises in senior procurement and supply chain positions across a range of industry sectors

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