CPO of Santander UK
Few procurement professionals have a career as broad and diverse as Nick Jenkinson, currently driving transformation at Santander UK. While using the word ‘currently’ may seem odd, like referring to your ‘current partner’, Jenkinson is the first to admit that he is constantly striving to make himself surplus to requirements
“I've worked in procurement for more years than I wish to remember and I've got a slightly strange CV in that I've worked across seven companies and seven industries for more than 20 years,” he says.
“I've learned a lot over 13 years of doing transformation activities, but being able to walk away and know that you have truly left something in a better place than where you found it that's recognised within the organisation,that's recognised within the team, I guess that’s my perfect scenario. I can walk off into the sunset knowing I've created a great team. I've created the strong leadership. I've created the next step up for people within that team and then I’ll be able to move on to another challenge.”
Jenkinson makes references to the New Zealand rugby team and its ethos that made them one of the greatest sporting teams of all time – ‘sweeping the sheds’. The simple act of cleaning the dressing rooms after a game, having that personal discipline and not considering you are above a task and someone else should do it just because you are one of the best players on the planet.
“I'm not hierarchical in the slightest from a leadership perspective, so I like to get involved,” says Jenkinson. “But in those early stages of driving transformation, you will often look around and you haven't got all the people that you want or need within the organisation and therefore you have to look in the mirror or it doesn't happen.”
Twenty years is a long time in procurement, and the rapid digitisation in recent years has only accelerated that. So has the function changed beyond recognition in Jenkinson’s time? He says both yes and no. He started his career in the automotive industry which he admits was probably more advanced than most at that point in time.
Jenkinson was in direct materials and says services and indirect materials were seen very much as the poor relation. It is only since he moved into the world of services procurement where Jenkinson says he recognised a difference as the function and use of technology has evolved.
“I'm not going to say it's more complex as there are just different types of complexity in indirect and direct, and because I've been able to move across different industries, I've been able to see what different industries do well and also, not so well,” says Jenkinson.
So the big question may well be, when is Jenkinson expecting to move to the next challenge?
“Being able to leave a legacy behind that you're proud of is crucial. I'm very self-aware and self-critical and so I ask myself have I delivered something that I can truly, hand-on-heart say is a great solution I'm proud of. The teams you leave behind are also critical – have I created an environment where they can flourish for the future.. It’s about putting the right people in place, doing the right things, with the right enablers and right positioning and the success will follow .”
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