Welcome!

iPhone Authors: Michael Shaulov, Shelly Palmer, Elizabeth White, Kevin Benedict, Yeshim Deniz

Blog Feed Post

Procurement for the Naturally Curious: An Interview with Autodesk’s Kevin Dowd

Taking inspiration from "Corner Office: conversations about leadership and management" from the New York Times and Inc. Magazine's "The Way I Work", we look forward to featuring Procurement/Supply Chain leaders on this blog series. 

 

I’m excited to introduce Kevin Dowd, Senior Director of Global Procure to Pay at Autodesk, a prominent Procurement leader in the Bay Area. I have known Kevin for many years as a colleague and a friend and it was a pleasure to trace his professional journey to becoming a Procurement leader.

 

Vital Stats

Location: San Rafael, CA

Current Role: Responsible for global purchasing, Accounts Payable, and the Employee Expense program

Current mobile devices: iPhone

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Trip Advisor, Golf Shot GPS, Vivino

What are you currently reading?  Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em : A Guide to Getting Good People to Stay

 

Q: Could you tell me about your background? What influenced you early in your career?

A: I grew up in the Bay Area, in Larkspur. I received a BA in Business Management from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. I also received a Masters in Finance from GGU three years later. I was active in sports throughout my childhood and still am, but at a slower pace.  I’ve been in the Bay Area my entire life except for two significant stints – four years in San Diego for surfing and junior college and one year in Guatemala, Central America where I worked at an orphanage. It was a transforming experience.

 

Q: How did you get interested in Procurement?

A: I started at PG&E in a clerical role in 1981 before graduating from college.. There I met people in Procurement and interviewed for an entry-level purchasing manager position. I ended up spending 23 years at PG&E where – for the last 6 years - I led a combined organization of about 150 employees performing procurement, travel, engineering records management, and reprographics services.  Next, I started the Sourcing organization at Blue Shield of California, followed by Kaiser Permanente where I headed Capital and Facilities Purchasing.  I get motivated by identifying areas in need of improvement and by partnering with my team members to make necessary changes.

 

Q: What do you like about Procurement?

A:  The thing I probably find most attractive about working in Procurement is the fact that it touches literally almost every area of the business. As a result, employees working in procurement have the opportunity to learn a great deal about the company and to influence decisions that impact the company’s financial condition and its ability to compete. 

Procurement employees, unlike employees in many other areas of the business, are also afforded the opportunity to work on many different types of projects and to deal with many different external companies during the course of their careers. 

 

Q: PG&E, Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente – these are highly regulated industries. How has the compliance climate evolved in the last two decades?

A: Dodd-Frank, SOx, privacy and data protection requirements in the US, and even more so in Europe, have had a dramatic impact. We have very strict controls today and negotiations have become increasingly complex. This makes for an interesting challenge and an opportunity for Procurement leaders to address.

One example is gathering Information Security data from suppliers. We work with our internal Information Security group and our Legal team to make sure that all new services coming inside our firewall clear this hurdle. Aspiring CPOs must be very aware of Information Security and know where to find the experts and to select competent suppliers.

 

Q: In your current role, how do Information Security and Procurement come together to serve the needs of the business?

A: Through three touch points. I have two attorneys on my team who handle data usage and IP protection; when there are concerns or they get beyond their level of expertise, they involve Legal. In the IT organization, there are a couple of designated resources who administer a high level questionnaire for suppliers. Based on the answers, they may perform a full assessment with over 100 questions.   We jointly work to improve the process and make it more efficient.

 

Q: How do you see the CPO (Chief Procurement Officer) role evolving?

A: CPO role has become much more strategic. At PG&E we had a $2.7B annual goods and services spend during my tenure, but buying goods and services was simple, relatively speaking.  It has evolved greatly and influences many enterprise decisions. A good CPO previously was someone who was a good people manager, someone who could hire and nurture talent. Today, a good CPO must also know what’s technologically possible. For example, in my current role, I have responsibility for global Procurement and Accounts Payable. I spend 70% of time thinking about AP optimization, outsourcing options, how can we help cash flow, dynamic discounting, cloud solutions vs on-premise software. You need to be much more tech savvy and hire people who are tech savvy. Now you need people who are change agents, not just administratively strong.

 

Q: Where do you see procurement talent coming from in the future?

A: Universities with supply chain management programs – Michigan State, MIT, Arizona State, and Stanford - are all a good source. Other California options include Cal State East Bay, University of San Diego, and Fresno State.  Supply Chain management curriculum includes demand management, pricing and negotiations, and a number of other supply chain related courses.   I’ve hired about 15 new graduates from Supply Chain programs over the years and most have stayed in the profession and done well.  Another good source is law schools.  I’ve found that a blend of Legal and Supply Chain minded people works very well.

 

Q: What abilities do you look for in senior Procurement leaders?

A: It depends on whether the hire is an individual contributor or a manager. For individual contributors, I often look for strong industry background. As just one example, I recently  hired a person with a very strong Telco background, but no purchasing experience – we taught her strategic sourcing and other purchasing related skills and she was very successful.  That said, I consider good procurement/sourcing people to be fairly fungible, meaning the skill set they have typically transfers across categories.  For senior managers, I look for strategic sourcing experience plus a demonstrated ability to identify improvement opportunities and to drive change. I want people who are who get things done and who can influence senior stakeholders by understanding the business and being well prepared.

I think it’s also imperative for those managing others to have a strong understanding of contractual terms and conditions.

 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I look for excellent communication and interpersonal skills. I suppose you could call it a “no big egos and no jerks” policy.

 

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring Procurement leaders?

A: Begin by becoming an expert in sourcing and procurement. There are many strategic sourcing methodologies taught, but almost all of them include the same basic steps.  Learn them and practice them. Secondly, understand contract language.  Attend ICN or ISM contracting classes and learn what the terms and conditions mean and how they work together.  Work hard, harder than your peers, and take time to build relationships and to understand in sufficient detail the needs of the departments you support. 

 

Thank you Kevin, for sharing your insights and passion for Procurement! 

Readers - Share your thoughts and questions for Kevin in the comments below!

Read the original blog entry...

@ThingsExpo Stories
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
There will be 50 billion Internet connected devices by 2020. Today, every manufacturer has a propriety protocol and an app. How do we securely integrate these "things" into our lives and businesses in a way that we can easily control and manage? Even better, how do we integrate these "things" so that they control and manage each other so our lives become more convenient or our businesses become more profitable and/or safe? We have heard that the best interface is no interface. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Co-Founder & CTO at Octoblu, Inc., will discuss how these devices generate enough data to learn our behaviors and simplify/improve our lives. What if we could connect everything to everything? I'm not only talking about connecting things to things but also systems, cloud services, and people. Add in a little machine learning and artificial intelligence and now we have something interesting...
Last week, while in San Francisco, I used the Uber app and service four times. All four experiences were great, although one of the drivers stopped for 30 seconds and then left as I was walking up to the car. He must have realized I was a blogger. None the less, the next car was just a minute away and I suffered no pain. In this article, my colleague, Ved Sen, Global Head, Advisory Services Social, Mobile and Sensors at Cognizant shares his experiences and insights.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) irreversibly encoded. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, will look at how this identity problem can be solved and discuss ways to use existing web identities for real-time communication.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT. Attendees will learn real-world benefits of WebRTC and explore future possibilities, as WebRTC and IoT intersect to improve customer service.
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, will share some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, an Open Source Cloud Communications company that helps the shift from legacy IN/SS7 telco networks to IP-based cloud comms. An early investor in multiple start-ups, he still finds time to code for his companies and contribute to open source projects.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to create new business models as significant as those that were inspired by the Internet and the smartphone 20 and 10 years ago. What business, social and practical implications will this phenomenon bring? That's the subject of "Monetizing the Internet of Things: Perspectives from the Front Lines," an e-book released today and available free of charge from Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue management.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges.
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at 6th Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, to discuss how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines.
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices – computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be!
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Erik Lagerway, Co-founder of Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services to the modern P2P RTC era of OTT cloud assisted services.
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehension and conference efficiency.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, will discuss single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example to explain some of these concepts including when to use different storage models.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace. These technological reforms have not only changed computers and smartphones, but are also changing the data processing model for all information devices. In particular, in the area known as M2M (Machine-To-Machine), there are great expectations that information with a new type of value can be produced using a variety of devices and sensors saving/sharing data via the network and through large-scale cloud-type data processing. This consortium believes that attaching a huge number of devic...
Innodisk is a service-driven provider of industrial embedded flash and DRAM storage products and technologies, with a focus on the enterprise, industrial, aerospace, and defense industries. Innodisk is dedicated to serving their customers and business partners. Quality is vitally important when it comes to industrial embedded flash and DRAM storage products. That’s why Innodisk manufactures all of their products in their own purpose-built memory production facility. In fact, they designed and built their production center to maximize manufacturing efficiency and guarantee the highest quality of our products.
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. Over the summer Gartner released its much anticipated annual Hype Cycle report and the big news is that Internet of Things has now replaced Big Data as the most hyped technology. Indeed, we're hearing more and more about this fascinating new technological paradigm. Every other IT news item seems to be about IoT and its implications on the future of digital business.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.
With the iCloud scandal seemingly in its past, Apple announced new iPhones, updates to iPad and MacBook as well as news on OSX Yosemite. Although consumers will have to wait to get their hands on some of that new stuff, what they can get is the latest release of iOS 8 that Apple made available for most in-market iPhones and iPads. Originally announced at WWDC (Apple’s annual developers conference) in June, iOS 8 seems to spearhead Apple’s newfound focus upon greater integration of their products into everyday tasks, cross-platform mobility and self-monitoring. Before you update your device, here is a look at some of the new features and things you may want to consider from a mobile security perspective.