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Movers and Shakers - Ryan Kirgan

Published: 3 years, 10 months ago

Reputations are made or lost in the first 100 days.

Placed by The Source in August 2013 Ryan commenced in a Category Manger role with Downer focusing on Sub Contractor and Vehicle Fleet procurement, responsible for the development and execution of strategic category plans and ensuring compliance to best practice procedures

Prior to beginning a new tenure with Downer, Ryan was working with Orica for six years in the global procurement – shipping and logistics platform.
We followed up with Ryan during his first 100 days to see how he went about onboarding in his new role and get some of his key tips for young people entering the procurement profession.

1.How was your onboarding? Did the role meet what you expected during the recruitment process?

The onboarding process was seamless – an agenda was set in place for my first week that ensured I was familiar with the Procurement framework used by the team. I was introduced to the Procurement Leadership Team and their teams under them, as well as the key stakeholders I would be interfacing with during my first weeks at Downer.

Rob (Lisle, from The Source) had given me a full brief of the Procurement structure and detailed both the opportunities and challenges that I would face, which on reflection I can say was very accurate.

2.What were the key goals you set yourself for the first 100 days?

I.To complete a baseline analysis and conduct a diagnostic, culminating in fully-endorsed category plans for both categories.  Given the spend categories were so big (subcontractors particularly) prioritisation has been critical

II.To establish a cross-functional council for the categories that includes all of the key stakeholders

III.To physically meet all of the key stakeholders identified in the diagnostic and understand their sourcing needs

IV.To have initiatives delivering actual commercial (EBIT) benefit to the organisation under way

50 days into the role, I feel I am well on track to achieve these objectives, but this is in no small part to the team and the framework that has been established by the Head of Procurement (Paul Menzies).

3.What do you believe are the key skills required for the procurement leaders of the future?


Procurement leaders of the future will need to be more adept at capturing value in innovative ways.  For mature organisations, there is a limit to delivering benefit by solely targeting price.  Value creation and driving efficiency improvements will be critical.

As a profession, in many places we have transitioned from needing to lobby the value of Procurement internally and have demonstrated the point of difference against “purchasing”.  That said, collaborating and influencing will always be a key skill.

In the immediate future, historically strategic sourcing approaches will need to be complemented by a more tactical skillset (in the past, the opposite may have been true).  “Rapid sourcing” and delivering value in a compressed timeframe seem to be prolific, least not in the mining-related industries in which I have worked.


4.What 3 bits of advice would you give to a young person thinking about entering the procurement profession?

I.Find a good mentor – taking advantage of the wealth of experience of others is invaluable.
II.Join an industry body (e.g. CIPS) and attend network functions (such as “Straight from the Source” events). 
III.Talk to your recruiter – Procurement recruiting is increasingly specialised and they interface with the full range or Procurement functions.

If they decide that Procurement is the profession for them, with the right level of aptitude and framework, the technical skills will be easy to come by.  If a young person can quickly develop their soft skill set (e.g. collaborating and influencing, adjusting negotiating style) they will be placed in good stead; benefitting from the experience of seasoned procurement professionals is a great way to achieve that.