Head of Global Procurement at TransUnion
Starting out in risk management at HSBC, Damon Ascolani, Head of Global Procurement at TransUnion, explains that as part of that role he was responsible for data management used in risk analysis. “By nature contracts and procurement were an element of that, and when the company combined its procurement into one function, it was at this point I was brought into the procurement team. From there, I moved up the ranks to the point where I was running the entire US procurement team which managed roughly $6B per year in vendor spend,” he says.
“Information services and financial services is a very exciting place to be. It may not sound like it, but the data that we work with is the lubricant for the engine that is our economy. We pride ourselves on providing people with access to financial products that they might not have had before, we call this: ‘information for good’. So it is exciting to provide opportunities to people who may not have had those opportunities in the economy or in their personal life.”
Ascolani is inspired by his mission to get to the ‘holy grail of procurement’: “Which, for me, is providing value in a way that is impactful enough to hit the earnings per share of our organisation, making it into the annual report. I am inspired to provide enough value through the function that our senior executive team recognises the value.”
He adds: “My proudest achievement at TransUnion has been taking on the first ever role as Global Head of Procurement. I built this team from a handful of IT sourcing specialists that was primarily US-based to a global organisation on five continents with teams that not only do sourcing, but manage procurement systems, vendor risk, supplier performance, reporting, and supplier diversity. Today, we have a fully functioning and mature procurement team made up of talent from all over the world that are highly skilled in their craft and a pleasure to work with.”
Future trends in the procurement industry
When it comes to procurement, Ascolani reflects: “There is a lot of talk about automation, AI and RPA. While they have their place, I do think that procurement is still a people driven business. I have found that one of the most basic but challenging questions to answer is: what do you want to buy?
“Often, organisations know they need things, but they’re not sure what type, where they need it, or how much to deliver their service. There are many elements to the process, and getting to the correct solution often requires a very nuanced conversation that an advanced automated approach could not solve. You might have slick automation, but is the automation actually streamlining the most effective process to solve the problem? So while there will be a drive for automation, I think that in the bigger relationships, it will still be a people business.”
Another interesting trend for Ascolani will be the industry’s approach to real estate and changes to the work environment. “Like many other organisations, we hired people from all over the world during the pandemic. We're getting excellent talent, but they are all over the place, so there is no longer a common hub. Another trend will be the management of real estate, and ensuring that our employees have the right work-from-home environment.”
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