Click here to close now.

Welcome!

iPhone Authors: Baruch Sadogursky, Liz McMillan, Kelly Murphy, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez

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
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
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! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
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, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be
Container frameworks, such as Docker, provide a variety of benefits, including density of deployment across infrastructure, convenience for application developers to push updates with low operational hand-holding, and a fairly well-defined deployment workflow that can be orchestrated. Container frameworks also enable a DevOps approach to application development by cleanly separating concerns between operations and development teams. But running multi-container, multi-server apps with containers is very hard. You have to learn five new and different technologies and best practices (libswarm, sy...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DragonGlass, an enterprise search platform, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. After eleven years of designing and building custom applications, OpenCrowd has launched DragonGlass, a cloud-based platform that enables the development of search-based applications. These are a new breed of applications that utilize a search index as their backbone for data retrieval. They can easily adapt to new data sets and provide access to both structured and unstruc...
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "First Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. The “Second Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place November 3-5, 2015, at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists will peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fil...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
The Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) market will grow to $6.4B by 2018. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, will begin by walking the audience through the evolution of Workspace as-a-Service, where it is now vs. where it going. To look beyond the desktop we must understand exactly what WaaS is, who the users are, and where it is going in the future. IT departments, ISVs and service providers must look to workflow and automation capabilities to adapt to growing demand and the rapidly changing workspace model.
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
One of the biggest impacts of the Internet of Things is and will continue to be on data; specifically data volume, management and usage. Companies are scrambling to adapt to this new and unpredictable data reality with legacy infrastructure that cannot handle the speed and volume of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and president of Infobright, will discuss how companies need to rethink their data infrastructure to participate in the IoT, including: Data storage: Understanding the kinds of data: structured, unstructured, big/small? Analytics: What kinds and how responsiv...