Dr. Charlotte de Brabandt is a procurement expert with over 14 years of experience in five different industries across three continents. She is currently the Head of IT Partner Management & Head of IT Governance US at ZF Group. She is also a member of the ISM – Institute for Supply Management Thought Leadership Council and a keynote speaker and author on the topics of procurement, technology, and leadership.
Dr. de Brabandt is passionate about helping companies to embrace new technologies and innovative practices in order to improve their procurement performance. She is also a strong advocate for sustainability in the supply chain.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Magazine, Dr. de Brabandt shared her career trajectory, insights on the key procurement trends to keep an eye on in 2024, her leadership philosophy, personal role model, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
Dr. de Brabandt, can you brief us about your professional background and areas of interest? How did you get into procurement?
I am a procurement expert with over 14 years of experience in five different industries across three continents. I have a Doctorate in Innovation Management and the adoption of new technologies by the elderly and I am a member of the ISM – Institute for Supply Management Thought Leadership Council. I am also a keynote speaker and author on the topics of procurement, technology, and leadership.
I got into procurement by chance. I was working as a management consultant when I was assigned to a project on supply chain optimization. I was immediately fascinated by the complexity and importance of procurement, and I decided to pursue a career in the field.
Tell us about your roles and responsibilities as Head of IT Partner Management & Head of IT Governance US at ZF Group.
In my role as Head of IT Partner Management & Head of IT Governance US at ZF Group, I am responsible for managing the company’s relationships with its IT suppliers and ensuring that its IT systems and processes are compliant with all applicable regulations. I also lead a team of procurement specialists who are responsible for sourcing and negotiating IT goods and services.
How do you think procurement must react to what is going on in today’s AI driven world?
Procurement must react to the AI-driven world by embracing technology and using it to automate tasks, improve decision-making, and gain insights into the supply chain. Procurement professionals also need to develop new skills, such as data analysis and machine learning, in order to be successful in the future.
What does sustainability mean for you in the field of supply chain and procurement?
Sustainability in supply chain and procurement means taking into account the environmental, social, and economic impacts of procurement decisions. It means working with suppliers who share the company’s values and who are committed to sustainable practices. It also means using technology to reduce the environmental impact of the supply chain.
What are the key procurement trends to keep an eye on in 2024?
Some of the key procurement trends to keep an eye on in 2024 include:
- The continued rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning
- The increasing importance of sustainability
- The growing focus on supplier risk management
- The need for procurement to become more strategic and aligned with the business.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I would describe my leadership style as collaborative and empowering. I believe in creating a team environment where everyone feels valued and respected. I also believe in giving my team members the autonomy they need to be successful.
Who is your role model in life and why?
My role model in life is my mother. She is a strong, independent woman who has overcome many challenges in her life. She has taught me the importance of hard work, perseverance, and kindness.
What are some of your greatest achievements in your career till date? What makes them special?
Some of my greatest career achievements till date include:
- Leading negotiations with suppliers that saved the Volkswagen Group more than 1 billion euros over three years. This is a significant achievement, as it demonstrates my expertise in negotiation and my ability to achieve results for my organization.
- Developing and building a procurement department for Porsche Design. This involved developing an ERP system, establishing a new supplier portfolio, and implementing 11 supply chain processes. This is a complex and challenging task, but I was able to successfully complete it, which is a testament to my skills and experience.
- Being named the Rising Supply Chain Star Megawatt winner for 2017, the first European in history This award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the supply chain profession. It is a prestigious award, and I was one of the few women to have received it.
What makes these achievements special is that I demonstrated skills, expertise, and dedication to my work. I am a highly accomplished individual who has made a significant impact on the supply chain profession. I want to be a role model for other talents in the workforce, and my achievements show that it is possible to succeed in a male-dominated field.
In addition to my professional achievements, I am also a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and my work is helping to make the supply chain profession more diverse and inclusive.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, I see myself as a C-Level leader in the field of procurement transformation. I want to help companies to embrace new technologies and innovative practices in order to improve their procurement performance. I also want to help companies to become more sustainable and to manage their supplier risks more effectively.
How has the landscape of procurement changed since you have been in procurement and what advice would you give somebody embarking on a career in procurement?
The landscape of procurement has changed dramatically since I started my career. Procurement is now more strategic and aligned with the business than ever before. Technology is also playing a much larger role in procurement.
What advice would you give to someone on the cusp of a Head of Procurement role, or maybe already in a Head of Procurement role?
Procurement is now more strategic and aligned with the business than ever before. Technology is also playing a much larger role in procurement.
Here are some of the key changes I have seen:
- Procurement has become more strategic. Procurement is no longer just about buying goods and services at the lowest possible price. Procurement professionals now play a key role in helping companies to achieve their business goals. For example, procurement professionals can help companies to reduce costs, improve quality, and manage risk.
- Technology is playing a much larger role in procurement. Procurement software is now used to automate tasks, improve decision-making, and gain insights into the supply chain. For example, procurement software can be used to automate the sourcing process, track supplier performance, and manage contracts.
- Sustainability is becoming increasingly important. Companies are now under increasing pressure to reduce their environmental impact and to source goods and services from sustainable suppliers. Procurement professionals play a key role in helping companies to achieve their sustainability goals.
My advice to someone embarking on a career in procurement is to be adaptable and to be willing to learn new things. The procurement field is constantly changing, so it is important to be able to keep up with the latest trends and technologies. I would also recommend getting involved in professional organizations, such as the ISM. These organizations provide networking opportunities, educational resources, and advocacy for procurement professionals.
Here are some additional tips for a successful career in procurement:
- Develop strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
- Build relationships with key stakeholders, both within your company and with suppliers.
- Be able to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing.
- Stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies in procurement.
- Be proactive and innovative.
Procurement is a challenging but rewarding field. By following these tips, you can set yourself up for success in a career in procurement.