Solutions aren't just found in the lab

Posted on: by Racheal Broomfield

Tim Jennett, Procurement and IT manager at NE Procurement, has spent more than a decade working in the procurement sector. But he started out his career in a very different setting… 

Everything in life is an experiment. If you don’t experiment, how will you find a solution to a problem? There’s never just one way of doing anything.

An interest in chemical science often means you like to experiment to find different ways of doing things. That’s why my experience of working as a research scientist at Imperial Chemical Industries is so useful to me now, more than 30 years later, in my current role here at NE Procurement.

The first time I was exposed to the procurement industry was when I was working as part of a research team on a UV protection project which required a lot more than just the research I specialised in. After circumstances changed mid-way through the project, I had to become a lot more involved in the technical development of the product than I had been before. The resulting product range was a great success, but it was this wearing of ‘multiple hats’, and my exposure to the procurement side of things, that lead to me taking an interest in procurement so much so that, not long after, I became the procurement manager within the company.

After working on projects alongside the corporate teams in the business, the time to move from private to public procurement seemed right- I wanted to move into a different environment, a challenging one at that, but an environment that meant I could work on projects I wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to. I worked with various local authorities across the region, before I became part of the NE Procurement team back in 2015.

I originally joined the team with the aim of supporting and developing the IT systems that were in place. However, since then I’ve found myself working alongside the procurement team supporting them with the development of bespoke procurement solutions, whilst implementing and developing the IT and tendering systems we have.

I’m always looking for new ways of working and as a team, we like to continuously develop the way we do things to ensure we always achieve the most efficient outcome for our members. My scientific background has taught me to never just stick to the tried and tested ways of doing things and that there’s not always just one end result. Yes, some may say ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’, but I don’t believe that doing things how they’ve always been done, just because it feels safe or because it’s easier is the most efficient way of working. It’s amazing to see how just changing a few small things in a process can have such an impact on the end result.

Most of our members are North East housing organisations and the word ‘procurement’ is something that’s been thrown around a lot in the housing industry over the past few years. People tend to associate the word with a team of people who look at how much money can be saved on a particular project or purchase. Actually, effective procurement is about so much more than that. It’s about finding a solution which is cost-effective in the long-term, not just the here and now; involving procurement in everyday operational activities can have positive impacts on the business far beyond saving money in the short-term.

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