What did you procure when you worked at Diageo?
What is the most interesting procurement adventure you have had?
How do you contrast and compare direct & indirect spend?
I love doing the Procurement Adventurer interviews because not only do I get to hear about the Adventurer’s exciting story, but often there transpires to be some sort of a twist. In this case, we went to a cracking pub called The Fox & Pheasant tucked just behind Chelsea Football Ground. And it’s owned by none other than the singer James Blunt. Hats off to him as not only was he mucking in and serving customers, but he also cooks a mighty fine sticky toffee apple and crumble souffle.
Well worth a visit: (www.thefoxandpheasant.com).
But let’s not go off on a tangent - we’re here to talk about Mark Hunt, not James Blunt. Put simply, Mark is the consummate procurement professional – as European Procurement Operations Director at Mars he is laser focused on keeping all their factories supplied. And he has an effortless charm and sense of humour that’s infectious. Mark’s flying and ‘one to watch’.
Am I right in saying you started out as a consultant?
That’s right – I did 7 years at Accenture. I specialised in transformational IT projects, during which time my counterparts were the clients’ procurement teams. It was a great place to build up my commercial acumen but having worked through the night one too many times I knew I needed to make a change. My taster for procurement and my knowledge of contract law from my degree gave me the impetus I needed – I landed a role with Diageo in their Indirect spend Team. This set the course for my career in procurement.
As Mars' European Procurement Operations Director you must have been kept on your toes this last two years! What's it been like?
I sure have! I joined Mars in Feb 2020, when supply chains were already under huge pressure due to Brexit…then Covid kicked in. But if there is one way to learn about a business, it’s in a crisis.
It’s probably worth explaining how procurement is set up at Mars as this gives some context to my role. In large multi-nationals one of the challenges is often to balance long-term strategic procurement addressing things like market dynamics, supplier development and specification design with near term operational delivery such as a product non-conformance, factory fire or port strike. At Mars, Procurement is split into two interdependent parts: 1) the upstream strategic procurement that goes so far as closing the supplier contracts 2) the downstream execution of the contracts, delivery and troubleshooting. I head up the European Team for the downstream part.
We’ve had some tricky moments such as:
Consumer habits changed overnight from high impulse and on the go sales (railway stations, petrol stations etc) to retail home deliveries. So we had to match this with a rapid switch from singles to multipacks – a huge task for packaging suppliers and our factories.
Where does your Supply Security Strategy go from here?
As you know from the work we’ve done together, we’ve really strengthened our core supply security activities such as codifying and calibrating risks across categories and regions, prioritising key risks and then systematically working to mitigate them. We’ve now got into a rhythm whereby we update risk profiles and review progress on a quarterly basis.
We now want to raise the bar further. There are still some big holistic risks to think about such as cyber security, software failure and X. What we need to do for these is X, X, X. Also to watch are low spend items which can easily slip under the radar and just as easily cause a major problem. We had one such material that jolly nearly XXX. Clean accurate data continues to be important and so we’ll be XXXX
The implications of Covid have been a nightmare but there have been some notable upsides. Through necessity, we’ve broken some paradigms and had to adapt quickly. This can be difficult in a large organisation. For example, prior to Covid it could take X to develop a new spec. We managed to do it less than X months.
You're a stickler for robust supplier contracts - why's that?
What's the trick to buying IT software?
What's your greatest procurement achievement?
How can procurement use the energy from COP26 to be a positive driver for sustainability?
If you could give advise to your younger self, what would it be?
Living in London, what are your top 3 favourite haunts?