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Guest Spot - With James Chalupa

Published: 3 years, 4 months ago


Recently placed by The Source at Telstra as the Marketing and Digital Content Portfolio Manager, James shares his insight into working through a procurement transformation, the new age of digital marketing in procurement, and his journey that led him to this exciting opportunity.


1. What was your journey that led you into procurement? You have always worked in large organizations, what is it that appeals to you about working for these types of companies?

Commencing a career with a large reputable corporation with many career opportunities was always a goal of mine from high school. I wanted to enter the workforce immediately prior to University to get hands on experience. At 19, I joined Australia Post in the retail environment, quickly moving through managing Post Offices in Western Australia, before shifting to a State Merchandising role focusing on 95 Corporate Outlets.

After success in that role and ready a greater challenge I took on a Sales & Business Development role selling Australia Post’s more complex business services. At this point I commenced a Bachelor of Commence in Economics & Marketing at Curtin University in a part-time capacity at the age of 25. 

After 2 years as a Business Development Manager which provided greater exposure to contracts and increase my business acumen significantly, my career focus swiftly turned to Procurement; I no longer wanted to sell for Australia Post, I wanted to buy for them. As a result, I left Perth to take up a Procurement role at Australia Post HQ in Melbourne. 


On reflection, selecting a large, complex and diverse organization was critical in building a strong foundation of skills to succeed in the Procurement Profession. In 2011, I departed Australia Post and Melbourne to take up a Global Souring and Procurement Strategy role in Toronto, Canada with TD Bank Group. 


Working for one of the largest banks in North America came with many challenges, especially those associated to managing stakeholders and business process in a completely different culture, industry and regulatory environment.


2. What were the biggest challenges and achievements you faced whilst working through a procurement transformation at Telstra?

My new role at Telstra within the Marketing & Digital Content Category (Oct 2013) is moving through a rapid transformation period to a Category Management structure. Some of the key challenges are around stakeholder management, procurement’s renewed value proposition (who’ are we today and what do we deliver) and procurements service delivery model that puts the business (who is our customer) at the heart of everything we do.   

3. How important are sales skills when managing a large and complex category like marketing?

Although I’m no longer in a Sales role any more, I haven’t stopped selling in Procurement. Just like any branding exercise we must continue to remind our customers of the service and value Procurement brings – we are selling our services & value initiatives (ideas) every day on the job. Anyone in the marketing industry knows that ‘Marketers’ are the hardest people to market to! However, that doesn’t mean they don’t have needs that require a product to meet them. 


The Marketing category isn’t exempt from the business enhancing tool kit available to them through the Procurement Professional’s available to them. As long as Procurement listens closely, evolves its product offering to meet the marketer’s needs, then Procurement and Marketing can hold-hands and walk the yellow-brick road to Emerald City together. ;-) 


4. In the new age of digital marketing, what impact has that had on marketing category managers?

Marketing Category planning is rapidly changing – due to technology and the new digital era - connecting with customers in the way they prefer is harder than ever. Executing a successful digital strategy is critical. It is challenging for Category Managers to find suppliers with the right capability at the right time in a rapidly growing/evolving industry. 


Switching marketing spend from traditional media channels to new digital media channels also requires new conversations with existing and new suppliers. Technology is driving faster access to information than ever before, whether it’s been ‘pushed to’ or ‘pulled by’ the customer; and I think it’s fair to say we all find this a little scary. However, I am very excited about the technology future and how it will enhance my work and personal life to get more out of every day and there’s no better place to maximize this opportunity right now then to be here at Telstra. 


Connect with James on LinkedIn and find out more about his professional journey!