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Written by Marijn Overvest | Reviewed by Sjoerd Goedhart | Fact Checked by Ruud Emonds | Our editorial policy

8 Procurement Experts You Should Follow in 2024

Key takeaways

  • Aspiring procurement managers benefit from following experienced experts, learning from their journeys and insights.
  • Procurement professionals purchase goods and services, adding value while minimizing risk in various roles.
  • Notable experts like Sebastian Bals, Martha Buffington, and Stephen Cobham offer valuable procurement insights.

Most aspiring procurement managers are often told to follow the exploits of procurement experts. This may sound old, but it is nevertheless effective. Nowadays, you can safely follow people either on Facebook or Twitter, so you can do just that!

For this article, we are not going to teach you how to stalk people. We are going to discuss who these famous procurement experts are instead. You’ll read and discover who they are and what are the things they did that made them experts in procurement.

By the end of this article, you’ll emulate their examples and soon become a procurement expert yourself too! 

What is a Procurement Professional or Expert?

The procurement industry will not thrive without procurement professionals or experts. However, not many people know their value in procurement. 

For starters, the procurement professional is the one who purchases goods and services for an organization that creates value at the lowest risk. 

Their work involves establishing the needs of the organization, knowing the supply market, sourcing and vetting providers, negotiating contracts and pricing, and monitoring supplier performance. 

The following are the common roles of a procurement professional in a procurement department:

  • CPO

    The CPO is the head of the procurement department.

  • Category Leads

    The people in the category leads run big spend categories such as marketing, IT, HR, etc.

  • Sourcing Specialist

    These are the people in the procurement that analyzes spending data, create requirements and specifications, and negotiate with the suppliers. 

  • Contract Administration

    This role is commonly found in large businesses. These people ensure that all contracts are loaded onto the supplier management system.

  • Procurement Administration

    This is often looked after matching issues, supplier queries, and purchase orders.

Who are Procurement Experts?

If there is one thing that the Internet has taught all of us, it’d be that the word coming from authority is king. This is why for the aspiring procurement manager, procurement experts are his/her inspiration. They become the target that he/she wants to pursue. 

While that has always been the case even before the Internet was born, nowadays, authority figures now have a way to reach out to those who are in need of their advice or counsel. 

Even the procurement industry is not exempted. Because of the rising numbers of people who want to explore a career in procurement, there is also the need to know who are the best and brightest when it comes to procurement. 

Now, we are going to talk about 7 procurement experts that you should definitely follow.

1. Sebastian Bals

Current Role: Vice President of Global Procurement and Chief Procurement Officer of UCB

Starting Role: Senior Director Global Purchasing – Professional Services and IT & Telecom, UCB

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sebastienbals/ 

Why You Should Follow Him: CPO of UCB for 6 years, Sebastian Bals is indeed one of the best when it comes to procurement. Currently leading a team of passionate and dedicated procurement officials, this is also the same team that managed to give UCB an external spend of +2,5 bio EUR across both direct and indirect procurement.

During his journey savings contribution was boosted by 20%, working capital has improved by 8.8%, and the end-to-end procurement process NPS enhanced from -64 to +14.

2. Martha Buffington

Current Role: Chief Procurement Officer, DSM

Starting Role: Manager, Global Procurement, Coca Cola

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martha-s-buffington/

Why You Should Follow Her: The CPO of SC Johnson. Martha Buffington has come a long way from her starting position. Before SC Johnson, Even yet, being the Global Procurement Manager for one of the biggest soft drink companies in the world says something about her skills in negotiating and procurement!

3. Stephen Cobham

Current Role: Chief Procurement Officer, Sanofi

Starting Role: Senior Auditor, Price Waterhouse Coopers

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephen-cobham-85083717/

Why You Should Follow Him: Stephen Cobham’s years of experience in the field of negotiations and procurement are enough to make him an authority figure among procurement managers. He also traveled all over the world, thanks to executive roles that he landed while working with Sanofi, another global science-based company. 

He believes that anyone can become a procurement expert too, provided that they undergo special training that will unlock the potential to become an expert procurement manager. One such course is the Negotiation Gamechanger course. 

4. Bertrand Conqueret

Current Role: Chief Procurement Officer, Henkel; President of Henkel Global Supply Chain B.V

Starting Role: Purchasing Manager, Henkel France

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bertrand-conqueret/

Why You Should Follow Him: His 20-year stint with Henkel has made him one of the best in the company. Bertrand Conqueret continues to lead Henkel’s procurement team with a passion for leadership and transformation. A firm believer of continuous learning, you’ll do well to follow his exploits and learn more about a successful career in procurement.

5. Sebastian Chua

Current Role: Head of Procurement,Health Promotion Board 

Starting Role: Country Manager, Hewlett Packard/Agilent Technologies

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sebastian-chua

Why You Should Follow Him: His procurement journey started in Hewlett Packard/Agilent Technologies as a country manager for Singapore, India, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Many procurement professionals look up to him due to his highly driven and passionate professional aim for procurement transformation to achieve innovation, growth, and sustainability in procurement.

Also, his credentials and experience are a testament to his mastery of procurement. Because of his expertise, many professionals recognize him as one of the best go-to pieces of advice when it comes to procurement. Thus, the reason why many people follow him.

6. Paula Davila Martinez

Current Role: Chief Procurement Officer at Novartis

Starting Role: Implementation Manager, Exel-DHL Supply Chain

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paula-davila-martinez-558957/

Why You Should Follow Her: With over 20 years of experience in procurement, sourcing, and negotiations, Paula Davila Martinez deserves to be recognized as one of the best procurement experts. Currently managing the procurement department of Novartis, she always makes it a point to push her team to excellence at all times. She is the former CPO of Adidas.

7. John Dickson

Current Role: Chief Procurement Officer, AstraZeneca

Starting Role: Vice President, Production Procurement, GSK

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-dickson-8719273a/

Why You Should Follow Him: An authority in procurement management and currently the CPO of AstraZeneca, one of the companies that are giving the world a fighting chance against the COVID-19 pandemic, it is only fitting that John Dickson should be followed by many upcoming procurement managers worldwide.

His tireless work in guiding his procurement team is just one of the many achievements he garnered during his career in procurement management.

8. Marijn Overvest

Current Role: Founder of Procurement Tactics

Starting Role: Sourcing Manager, Albert Heijn

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marijn-overvest-60683315/

Why You Should Follow Him: He has upskilled over 200 procurement teams from around the world, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses. His expertise in negotiations, sustainability, and strategy building makes him a valuable resource for procurement professionals.

His passion for procurement and dedication to helping professionals close better deals, secure the supply, and advance their careers make him a compelling figure to follow.

His commitment to sharing his experiences and lessons learned to contribute to the professional development of procurement experts provides valuable opportunities for professionals to expand their skills and thrive.

Conclusion

To become a true procurement expert, you need to be a decisive, tactical, and very analytical person. You also need to love a good challenge because procurement is all about challenges and negotiation. 

Make sure that you’re calm enough in the face of your opponents during negotiations but at the same time, have the courage to put your suggestions to the table and back it up with information and confidence.

Frequentlyasked questions

What is a procurement expert?

A procurement expert is someone who has extensive knowledge of procurement and procurement processes.

How do I become a procurement expert?

To become a procurement expert, one has to reach executive-level in the procurement department and must have years of experience in handling or leading procurement for a well-known company.

Who are the best procurement experts?

The best procurement experts include director-level procurement personalities from well-known businesses and companies.

About the author

My name is Marijn Overvest, I’m the founder of Procurement Tactics. I have a deep passion for procurement, and I’ve upskilled over 200 procurement teams from all over the world. When I’m not working, I love running and cycling.

Marijn Overvest Procurement Tactics