Procurement, business, people, independent consultants, terms, company, supply chain, interesting, moment, question, non exec, years, organisation, products, worked, industry, staff, cost, career, number.
Jamie Levy; founder pdnhub speaks with Oliver Mountain – experienced CPO, Co Founder Proctopus and Chartered Surveyor – about the following:
- How he got into procurement and why he moved from a line role into procurement.
- How has the world of procurement changed since he has moved into it
- Three pieces of advice for those moving into procurement today
- What is the difference in working for a company that makes money vs. one that doesn’t
- What are pain points in contracting today
- Finally quick fire round of questions
Related Article: Episode 2: Stuart Griffin Interview
Oliver Mountain, Jamie Levy
Jamie Levy 00:00
Good morning, Oliver. How are you? I’m good, Jamie, how are you? Oh, delightful. You’re in the sunny, sunny side of Harrogate. And I’m in the sunny side of Los Angeles a slightly different. Yeah, very different. Alright, so thanks for coming today. It’s really, really useful. And, and obviously, we wanted to just, you know, you’re the first of many in terms of podcasts and discussions that we’re gonna have. And obviously, the idea is to be tweaked around procurement and around you and this for everyone to understand who you are, and your background. And then we’ll talk about some of the kind of issues of the day that we’ve got that you and I both know about saying, and, you know, we’re back and forth, back and forth. And if you’ve got questions to ask me, let’s ask them. And then obviously, hopefully, we’ll spark some some interesting discussion as well. So Oliver, we worth understanding just a little bit about your background?
Oliver Mountain 00:59
Yeah, um, well, I started off life as a chartered surveyor, specialising in property development and investment, and then better professional rugby player, and then decided to concentrate more on my career and move towards procurement as a as an industry really. So I thought, I thought a change was a good thing, really, at that time.
Jamie Levy 01:33
So what made you make that change? It’s got to be an interesting question. Everyone here is out here. Because most people, you know, we all know you and I both know, we’ve talked about this many times that, you know, people tend to fall into procurement rather than actually choose to be in it. You know, you’ve given the role and somebody says, Hey, do you fancy managing this procurement department? They go, Oh, great. That sounds like a good job. And I’ll get some more money for it. How do you Why did you choose to actually go into it?
Oliver Mountain 02:01
And that’s a good, really good question. Actually, I think, when I was sort of Chartered surveyor, and still am really, we’ve spent a lot of time doing procurement and supplier management issues, really on major projects. So top tier contractors, for example, and top tier professional advisory, we spent a lot of time on procurement, contractual issues, and supplier management. So it was really kind of just a progression really, away from the technical side of the sort of construction and property development towards my the procurement side and supply management piece. I think it’s something I enjoyed more than the sort of technical side of our sort of construction and property development. So it was kind of a natural progression for me really. And sort of a slight movement away from the sort of construction industry as well.
Jamie Levy 03:04
How have you found? It’s interesting, because obviously, most people were noticed that listen to this, you and I have worked together on on in construction work and FM work before but how have you found it different in in the world, you wouldn’t be four versus the world you’re in today? And obviously, it’s changing as well. But how have you found? What are the big differences that you found?
Oliver Mountain 03:28
I think procurement as a whole is changed in the last sort of 1520 years. And also, since we were last worked together as well. I think the role of procurement has grown significantly from you know, it’s embracing the new, you know, new era where the supplier management over its four or five assets, you know, been contract management, performance management, and also this relationship side, but also now we have the risk management or third party risk management, which is really developing and has been particularly important in the last two years rarely, particularly around COVID. And, and that piece as well. And I think also, I’ve personally moved towards more it procurement. So the new technologies are particularly around AI and cloud based technologies are taking a taking a high level of interest from all companies around the world, but also that’s then leading to new opportunities for procurement people to specialise in those areas as well. So I think its procurement has evolved a lot over the last 20 years and I think it’s continuously evolving, really, as as industry changes, so you’ve got you know, big stuff. Supply Chain issues at the moment, for example, with COVID. But also you’ve got, you know, new technologies, artificial intelligence, etc, which, you know, sort of changing the landscape of sort of the technology side as well. So I think it’s something that will continuously evolve. And then for me, that’s really quite important for my career development and also interest level as well.
Jamie Levy 05:26
And it’s interesting, because, you know, you, you and I, we literally had two minutes on this before. And there was a conference that I attended, probably, this morning that was on for an hour or two, and it was talking to various couple of CPAs and various people from consultancies. And what was really interesting for me to hear was that, you know, what I was hearing back from those cpos was kind of technology works as long as it’s part of an overall change programme. So you’ve got to be able to build it into overall change programme to get it approved. But also, the view was kind of, okay. COVID, you know, has made some changes in terms of risk. But also, you know, there is this shift back again, back to cost as one of the drivers, one of the key drivers and I guess that’s that’s constantly been a conversation you and I have had over a long time. You know, this this procurement is about cost. procurement is about cost. And everyone has that we you know, many of the many this stuff we talk about in pbn is about cost to you, are you really seeing that change? Or do you think it might just be a bit of a bullet where we are for a year or so and then it goes back to cost. And
Oliver Mountain 06:40
I think the sort of COVID area era has highlighted a number of key weaknesses in in a number of supply chains for, you know, the large company through to SMEs. And the fragility of the supply chains, as well, you know, will be leading to people reviewing, you know, and I hope they are reviewing the risk in those supply chains, and looking at more backup planning alternatives you like nearshoring, as opposed to, you know, offshoring. And also, you know, looking at sort of maybe looking at, you know, sort of hot swapping the ability to develop products, you know, more of a regional base, as opposed to an international base. And, and probably more a, keeping higher levels of infantry as well, to look at that area. And I think, you know, I do hope that there still is a, you know, a keen focus on this supply chain, risk management, and also third party risk management piece as well.
Oliver Mountain 08:07
But, as business is always about numbers, I think, cost is just one of the value strings that can be brought into consideration in terms of procurement, delivering a value to a business, rather than just this set of financial savings. I think it’s just one of those key factors now that that, that businesses need to consider.
Jamie Levy 08:35
And I get that I, you know, I’m 100% on that wavelength. I’ve been in the world of large corporates where, you know, the reality is they have the money to be able to afford to do these things. Whereas, you know, you can have the smaller businesses just don’t have the cash to be able to do that. So the question, the question, I guess they’re still kind of I look at some of the examples I dealt with back 20 years ago, where supply chain risk was huge issues, you know, in the pharmaceutical world, you know, our history, I used to hear stories from packaging technologists that would say, you know, we had risk management issues that went on 20 years ago, 20 years ago, and that was even before I was involved. So you can it’s always been something in the background. I guess the question, the concern for me is it’s kind of you know, it’s a blip. And then we go back to day to day, and unless the maturity of the organisation moves up to such that it actually deals with these things, then we’ll constantly we don’t seem to have learned from the past. Does that make sense? Well, I suppose the question is then, is it a blip? Yeah, well, that’s what I don’t know. If it keeps happening every 20 years that we get a blip and then nobody really actually focuses on it as a core part then, is it something we really that interest, the business is generally that interested in you know, that That’s, I guess, the, the debate that we have.
Oliver Mountain 10:04
And I think the the mapping that needs to occur now is how key elements of the supply chain or products relate or proportionate to the turnover, or security of the turnover of that business. Right. And, and, and also, then how much of that product, right is relate relative to potential sort of value to that business as well. So that could be shared value. But equally, it could also be, you know, there’s a number of businesses over the summer that have been really hit with share value, you know, swinging all over the place, relative to, you know, shortages of supply, etc. And I think it’s a business that doesn’t look at where they’re Reliance’s in terms of, on core products, and ingredients, or key components of those products that relate to a highest percentage of turnover, sort of 1015 20% of your turnover is reliant on five or six key products or services. And then how much of your core business value so your share value, for example, is then relative to those key products as well. And that’s where I think the next generation of sort of risk management is going going to now. And I think cost is is a key value string, but I don’t think it’s the only value string that people should be considering nowadays. You know, supply chain certainty is, is a big issue at the moment in terms of the retail space. You know, there’s a number KFC for example, Nando’s, for example, their supply chain is relative to the availability of HGV drivers at the moment. And stuff like that. There’s a lot of key examples where there’s still this fragility in, in in the supply chain. arena, and also that knocks on obviously to procurement and third party risk management arena as well. And I think it’s, you know, businesses that just purely focus on cost at the moment, whilst it’s a key value chain is not necessarily the only value chain that they need to be considering. So I think that’s, you know, I think, thinking of it as a blip, is, is a bit short. It’s a bit short sighted, if I’m being honest, I think I think this is more of a longer term play now, rarely, because we have had COVID, we’ve had Brexit, now we’ve had scarcity of key, you know, materials and products, is going to take a while. Right? And no one’s really predicting how long this will take is going to take a while for things to get back to some form of the normality pre COVID, pre Brexit era. So I’m not sure it’s a blip. I think it’s more of a long term play now that people need to be considering.
Jamie Levy 13:41
I, you know, I don’t think we’re gonna get we’re not going to resolve the issue here. Not an alcohol, but I don’t think ever again, I don’t think, you know, my career of 25 years of doing this, you know, I’ve always said the same thing. I’ve always said, what you what you, you know, how we pay procurement people is how they’re going to respond. And, you know, what I always what I’ve always found historically, is that payment, payment or measurement of savings. And that tends to be the kind of the follow through. If you’re paying somebody a bonus on the basis of delivering their targets, of which the major proportion is cost, then that’s what you get. That’s what we’re going to have it be interesting to find out from some of the HR colleagues in procurement, if that measurement criteria has changed itself, or it or it or it’s not, and if it hasn’t, then really, it’s just going to go back to where it was previously. Does that make sense?
Oliver Mountain 14:42
Yes, I think there are, you know, as I said, wider issues at play, for example, the there was a well known clothing retailer who who shares price debt, massively as a result of their ethical or non ethical sourcing of products, for example, they devour a lot more at play where they now just purely at cost, you know, paying, I don’t know, five pounds for a T shirt, for example from a manufacturer you know, versus paying six pounds for the same t shirt from from an ethical perspective, you know, to, you know, to sort of drive better ethical values, you know, minimum wage values, etc ethical sourcing has to be taken into consideration now, because actually, the, the the press issue, and the and the value of the derogation of the the share value can be a much higher cost to the business, then just saving 50 p on the price of a T shirt. And I think I think there needs to be some, you know, more strategic thought about that about the way that sort of procurement can bring that additional value chain to, to the business, really, rather than just looking purely at the, you know, the 50 p saving on a T shirt, or, you know, and sort of savings as a whole.
Jamie Levy 16:27
And, yeah, okay, I get what you say, though, it’s interesting, because I remember many moons ago, you know, there was a, one of the first ones I heard about sourcing was Nike, and Nike, even when they had a bad issue over child labour over. I think it was trainers being made. It was child labour. And I remember reading the article about at the time and thinking, Oh, yeah, that’s really, really bad what they were doing, and they hadn’t validated the supply chain, but everything about that, but the net result of it was that their actual sales went up, it didn’t go down. So you know, it’s, it’s been an interesting one looking at that. And then on top of that, you know, we’ve now got these influencers out there who, you know, they’re selling products as influencers, but never actually using those products. So, you know, I don’t know the answer that we’re definitely not going to get an answer today on that one. with you and yours. In our conversation, it’s just been interesting to see how is it actually changing as a question from me? And I’m not quite sure. I’ve not seen the evidence to prove it yet. For me, if that makes sense.
Oliver Mountain 17:34
I think one piece of evidence really is what happened to boohoo in summer. Right, when when, you know, their share price came down significantly as a result of, of sort of non ethical sourcing. They had the press and stuff. So I think there are some pretty, you know, pretty good examples now where the, the decrease in the share price value can be disproportionately expensive to, you know, the, to what has occurred when sourcing is non ethically done, and it hits the press. So, I think, as I said, it really depends on where the company is at in terms of its its own cash flow status and stuff, and how financially stable that company is. But I’d say cost is just one, one lever, right in the value chain. Offering. It’s not the only lever. And I don’t think I don’t think personally, we should go back to that. But the only the only value offering that we give the business really, as a procurement industry as a whole.
Jamie Levy 19:01
I think I’m agreed with you. I just, you know, I I don’t think I disagree. I don’t think anyone out here listening to this would disagree with you. The question is, is is that what’s happening in reality? And I just don’t know right now. You know, I know there’s definitely a push as you’re saying, to move away, move away, you know, understand all the value leavers that there understand the fundamental requirements, the business but I’m not sure that cost being the driver of procurement half the time is not going to carry on I just don’t know that. I’m waiting to be convinced is the probably the level I’m on right now. You definitely seem to be more on the you’re already convinced.
Oliver Mountain 19:58
Yes, I am convinced that I I have to say, I think CPAs and, you know, and it really depends where procurement reports to in a business and, and how it’s seen within a business. But certainly when you know, if cost is king, right, and the business is not in such a financially stable position, then I can see cost costs been King for the period of time until, you know, that, that businesses, it’s either financially stable or, or, or shuts it store, sadly. And I think, you know, in, in businesses, which are in a much more comfortable position five, and financially stable and etc. You know, you can have different value strains and, you know, valid value strings to add to that, and the value in offering from procurement and supplier management is different, really. So I think it might be, might be horses for courses. Really.
Jamie Levy 21:07
Yeah. And I think let’s park that one, because I think we could keep going on on this one all day. Go round and serve going round. And this one. One of the questions is probably really interesting for people out there, especially I know you’ve got, you’ve got proc live and you’ve got practice that you work in working as part of what what one of the things is probably really useful for people out there to listen to, is what if I was to ask you for three pieces of advice for somebody that’s starting out or moving into procurement today? What would you give them? What three pieces of advice would you give them? And
Oliver Mountain 21:47
first thing research, what procurement and supply management is, have an idea of the the, secondly, have an idea of the area that that holds interest to you. And then thirdly, I would say undertake, you know, appropriate levels of study to get you to, to that to to that area, really, so sets or iaccm those arenas, and then I suppose fourthly, and apologies, I know, you asked me for three, no, it’s fine. I think fourthly, joining the right company, for you, that will help you progress your career. In the first five years of your career is very important. It’s very important. So joining a business that values procurement, and supply management is very important, and something that will and hopefully that company will invest in the in that younger generation to sort of help it thrive and survive, really.
Jamie Levy 23:12
And I love point four, I absolutely love that point. Because what’s been really interesting to me through my career, and the reason why I draw the analogies is looking at talking to some of the younger people I’ve spoken to today. It’s you know, in my career earlier on, you know, well, lots of promises made will give you this will give you that training on this, we’re training on that. And actually, none of that ever ended up being delivered. It was actually, you know, please carry on working and please deliver my delivery, my savings or rest, whatever it is that I had today. There seems to be and just tell me if you’re hearing the same thing, that demand from younger people is now being followed through with what we didn’t do in I’d say an earlier years was formative years. I hate saying earlier years makes you sound very old. His formative years was more of a you know, well, we’ll keep staying we’ll stay and we’ll carry on working because we’ll just keep going. I think you know, what I’m hearing more is that younger people now, the millennials who are coming through if those promises are made them not follow through, they will just leave and then we just move on. It’s and it’s a much quicker cut. You hearing the same thing?
Oliver Mountain 24:23
Yes. And I think the fifth piece I’m going to add in as well is to say that to progress at the procurement ladder in any of the categories or procurement operations, for example, you do need a level of experience and understanding and the experience does take a bit of time to deliver. So I would also say find the mentor. Right, and we run a product first we run product documental, which is a mentoring scheme, find a mentor that is maybe outside of the company that you join to help you access, a absolute impartial advice, but also beneficial advice for your career. And also, it could be beneficial advice for your your work related issue. So, mentors generally have a good network of other mentors across different categories. And areas. So accessing that is really quite important. And I think the other thing is, create a good network, or join a good network that will give you access to lots of different people. So pro octopus, which I set up with a number of other gentlemen, was set up purely to help people network from from the procurement and supply management arena across the world that has gone on to blossom, lots of connections from people with different categories. And it’s very, very useful. And I’d say, that would be very important for people in the sort of younger generation really to start networking with people and different experience levels. Because
Jamie Levy 26:38
no, no, no, that’s great. That’s obviously fantastic. Obviously, you know, I know we I know, we have like competition with brunch person. pbn, and we’ve got the, we’ve got the mentoring thing. And our focus is to try and bring in those people who are and that’s what we’re doing is bringing those people who are getting towards retirement have got the kind of 30 years experience 40 years 50 years experience, but don’t really want to do a full time job anymore. And that’s what we’re trying to bring, we are bringing to the, to the forefront of people. So you know, 100% get what you’re saying that, that that mentoring piece is huge. And I think, you know, I’ve personally had mentors as well, and some of them are very good. Fantastic. I’ve also had some really awful ones as well, which has been interesting for your career. But definitely, you know, you’re right, in terms of that mentoring, and how are you finding it in terms of retention? Because that’s the that’s the interesting one for me is that it’s about retaining the staff. The big problem at the moment is turnover of staff is skills and availability of those skills. And actually, you know, there’s comments around that, you know, procurement, procurement industry, you’ve got 30% more jobs and 30%, less staff, less jobs, and the we’re kind of two years ago. So, you know, how do we retain those people is that is mentoring part of it, there are other elements that we need to be doing to try and do that.
Oliver Mountain 28:07
I think we’ve got to appreciate that. Looking. After staff and developing staff starts day one. Right. And, and it’s a programme of, of apprenticeships, for example, you know, I run an apprenticeship scheme for for a university client of mine, that was very successful. And it was that sort of continuous development, right of, of non qualified staff, unqualified staff, that’s important. Because that’s, and that’s, you know, if you can start out day one, really with your staff and put in, you know, continuous development of the staff. That’s quite important, because there’s a number of other schemes out there, for example, tescos, currently one an apprenticeship, procurement apprentice scheme, at different levels. And that’s really successful. There’s also a number of pharmaceutical companies that are doing procurement, graduate training schemes now as well. And, but it needs to, to retain good quality staff for for a long period of time and I’d say a long period of time now at the moment is three to five years, by the way, but Stafford turning over generally, you need to give them something more than market leading salaries and benefits. There needs to be, you know, a continuous professional development and also a kind of trying to show them the future path that they could get to that’s quite important, particularly You know, with with the sort of the younger generation really to show that there is actually a path through, you know, an A path, a path of progression. And progression, excuse me. Because people become disillusioned really around about a two to three year mark, if they don’t think that they’re valued, really. And I think that’s really important. So it needs to be a sort of a day one thing rather than a, right at the end thing, when they’ve already said to people already disillusioned, really. And that’s…
Oliver Mountain 30:43
I don’t know. I think it’s, it’s something that’s evolving in the industry really, to say that, you need to do this to retain your, to retain your good quality staff, rather than the old fashioned way of, you know, people coming in, and, you know, they’re, they’re employed, and, you know, they should be thankful for that that’s not the case anymore. It needs to be that you, as a business are paying back, you know, in regular frequency to those employees, by the form of alternative benefits. So, you know, progression, training, access to mentors, access to mentors, who could be, you know, senior board directors, for example, you know, that’s, that’s where you see, you know, high levels of retainment, in that, in that ethos, really,
Jamie Levy 31:41
it’s interesting you pick upon the thing, it’s interesting, you pick up on that two to three year span. Because, you know, I kind of, you know, looking back and, and actually looking at people have worked for me, a number of times, two to three years just cannot stand when you’ve kind of done your job. In procurement you you’ve run a category, you’ve kind of, if you’re in a category, or if you’re in, in in a specific target for a programme, two years, three years is kind of when you’ve done your original objectives. And you kind of get into that point where things are a bit comfortable, and you’re the kind of person like I was that you want to keep, keep achieving two, three years always seems to be that kind of timeline. But it’s interesting, because it hasn’t really changed that two to three year timeline, it’s just the to the chance of somebody leaving at the end of two to three years is not is higher, that’s what it seems to be the you’re saying to me, is that, yeah, they will leave whether whether I will carry on doing a job for the rest of my life is kind of not the mentality anymore. But obviously, there is this growth of other companies or the newer businesses, not just the old behemoths that have been around for 5060 years, or 200 years, some of them, but these newer companies that are much younger, much flatter in structure, you look at some of the tech companies that have a much flatter structure. And on that basis, they can kind of move quite quickly. And it seems to be that those organisations seem to have a much, much more rigid structure in terms of HR policies and training, but actually follow through with them. Is that what you’re seeing as well? Yeah, I
Oliver Mountain 33:24
think a lot of the tech startup companies are you know, FinTech or bank tech, farmer tech. Businesses, either that have a startup mentality are very attractive, because they, obviously there’s in there sort of growth potential, both within the business but also having flatter structures is good, but they also generally invest in, in staff welfare, in the broadest sense of the word quite well, you know, in terms of how they look after their staff, it’s generally, you know, at a pretty high welfare level where they are, so they are attractive to you, too. You know, the sort of younger generation, he wants to progress quickly. So, I think, you know, there’s also a sort of sense of team as well been been a team of high performing individuals, you know, at a similar age, is, is quite attractive to the younger generation, you know, as well. So, that is a, I mean, it’s a blossoming industry really now, and as you say, you know, that the, that probably is leading towards people with sort of four or five years procurement experience to go When to those types of business, and may be shying away from the sort of the bigger, bigger, more established industries?
Jamie Levy 35:10
So let me ask you a question. And this is just an in it’s one I’ve pondered, I don’t have the answer to this, or any evidence to prove that way, shape or form, but go work for a company that makes good money. And you’ll have a better career go and work for a company that isn’t making good money. And you’ll have a much harder harder career in procurement. Do you agree or disagree? I agree. Okay, guys, it’s I’m sorry.
Oliver Mountain 35:42
It’s difficult for companies to pay. If the businesses in sort of, you know, a low margin industry, it’s unless they’re selling incredibly high volumes, it’s very difficult to pay high higher salaries, really, you know, or, also, it needs to be in the sort of, in mature markets, for example, that are high volume, low margin industries, then they’re going to struggle to pay the highest salary that I slightly less mature market industry, which is, you know, high volumes of, you know, but high margins, it’s going to be able to afford to pay higher salaries. It’s so it’s, it’s, but it might not, the other attraction is obviously he sort of share value, and share options, for example, that could be attractive, because some people would probably genuinely take a lesser salary package for the potential in Share Value gain of some seed shares, for example, in some of the businesses, so you’re seeing probably more towards the third of the developing industry, you know, so seed businesses, you know, giving away seed seed chairs, for example, that could blossom into, you know, high value chairs in the future. So people might take it as sort of a lesser salary package, you know, to gain in the future, rather than, rather than now, really. So I think there’s, I think there is a lot of sense in in joining a business that that makes sort of, you know, good margins, really, as a business, because generally, we’ll be able to afford to pay higher set higher salaries. But then, as I said, there’s this, you know, startup business mentality as well, where you take slightly less than the salary package for see Chad’s really.
Jamie Levy 38:02
And I’ve always had, and I’ve always had a dilemma, because it’s a kind of dichotomy in some ways, because they always say, You’ve never really worked for procurement until you’ve worked for an organisation that’s going bankrupt. Because you do things that you would never ever do anywhere else. And, yeah, at that point, that is where cost is number one. However, the best place we can assume summarising and saying is that the best place to actually be as a business is making money. So it’s kind of a dichotomy, isn’t it? Yeah,
Oliver Mountain 38:36
I think in your scenario, you just said that cash flow is king. So cost is is one, but, you know, cash flow is, is is king really, on that on that basis? So, yes, I have to say, and we’ve done this as well, probably is having to extend terms on supplier, for example, to you know, sort of 6090 days or 120 days or some, some organisation managed, you know, historically. It is it is a difficult conversation to be having with supplier versus, you know, one where the businesses is cash rich, you know, and it’s looking at alternative ways to drive value. So, but yeah, I think experiencing both is it is an interesting one. But yeah, I think most people would probably plumped for the latter rather than the former.
Jamie Levy 39:36
Yeah, I don’t think I’d go I wouldn’t choose to go into that organisation that’s going under. But but I’ve been, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a hard place to be. But you find yourself suddenly becoming creative in things that you would never have even thought of, in the normal world that you live in where you know, companies and maker I’ve worked for the large pharma, where they’re making good money, you know, big volume, it’s big products, you know, it’s some of them are very high volume, high value products, some of them are very high volume, low value products. And you know, your over the counter medicines that they keep very small margins. And you know, going from that to a company that’s going bankrupt is huge change, it’s a huge change. But you find when you go into that company that’s going up, you start to do a lot more of non procurement activity, you start to find that you’re, you’re pulled into other activity a lot more than you ever would have been pulled them to beforehand. And it’s just interesting that kind of, we’re at a point in the world where, you know, there we are coming up COVID, there’s a lot of companies that are going to go to the wall, you know, they are going to be going bankrupt, and they are going to be starting to pull on procurement people. And I’m hearing stories of that now I’m hearing people telling me, you know, hey, I’m having to negotiate I remember in my early career, going to speak to a cab company in the middle of somewhere in the UK, and we’d overspent about 2000 pounds, and I had to go and get that money back. That was the kind of level that was out, there was no cash. We weren’t paying, like staff weren’t being paid, and that kind of stuff. So two grants, made a huge difference to people. But it’s just a real, it’s a real dichotomy, isn’t it?
Oliver Mountain 41:23
Yeah. And as I said, I think it depends what sort of the company that that you’re in, I think if you’re, you know, in the high volume, low margin area, and then suddenly your volume drops off as the, you know, let’s say the feed producers, for example, you know, found in in the COVID time, you know, feed producers, food production, you know, etc, it’s dropped down, you suddenly left with a business that is that stop making a great deal of money. It’s a very difficult proposition to say different proposition to, you know, a company that’s, you know, got a lot of money in there looking at totally different areas. And I think it is hard one, I think, I think it would be interesting, if you, if you took people from, let’s say, high value, pharmaceutical industry, you know, procurement supply chain and put them into, you know, a feed manufacturer, they’d understand that, you know, the margins are totally different in feed manufacturing than they are to farmer. So you know, you got a you’ve got a different, you know, you’ve got a different value proposition that you need to bring to the new internal clients. But I think both of both have very good learning experiences.
Jamie Levy 42:54
Yeah, that’s what we call it, learning experiences a good way to put it. It could also be called grey hairs as great as a whisk is Yeah, I don’t know that. I know the feeling. Let me ask you one question. This is one we’ve talked, we’ve definitely had many conversations about this one. You know, I know you’ve worked in permanent, you’ve worked in contracts, and I’ve done the same as well. And obviously, you know, you’re in the contract world at the moment. What are your biggest pain points right now, in that world? Or what do you see as the biggest pain points in that world right now?
Oliver Mountain 43:32
Yeah, it’s an interesting one. I mean, I’ve been an independent consultant now. fourth, fifth, 15 years. So yeah, so it’s been, it’s been an interesting 18 months. But I have to say that it’s been fairly beneficial for myself, really. But I think if I had been starting out, in contracting in the last, you know, and only been in contracting for five years as an independent consultant, I think the last two years would have been somewhat different for for most people. And I think at the moment, I think that the markets coming back fairly strong as an independent consultant, but certainly the last 18 months has been pretty weak, genuinely. So I think a number of people, a number of sort of consultants or problem independent consultants have probably left the industry. And then I think what we’ll probably have now is, is sort of a number of new independent consultants hitting the market. So I think there’s there’s that this issue, I think, in the UK Obviously, ar 35 is an issue for some clients in terms of the way that they’re sort of managing their independent consultants, which could lead to, you know, alternative methods in terms of contracting with other consultancies, for example. So I think, I think it’s an interesting time in been an independent consultant at the moment. There are a few sort of, you know, changes to the way that consulting is occurring in the UK as well, generally. So
Jamie Levy 45:38
would you advise anyone to go into the sector right now, in terms of, you know, you’re probably not going to get, you know, we both know, you’re not going to get your 23 year olds who’s just graduated to get into contracting role. But you know, if you’re a 40 year old, and you are contracting, you know, what you’re permanent? would you advise people to go into that sector right now?
Oliver Mountain 46:03
I think it’s very much dependent on sort of personal circumstances, really a number of key factors, but probably not at this moment in time. In short,
Jamie Levy 46:17
is that limited to the UK? Or do you think worldwide?
Oliver Mountain 46:20
I think my view is probably just sort of really on the UK at the moment. I can’t really make comments really, in terms of what happens in in the US or, you know, Singapore, while other areas, for example, but I’d say in the UK at the moment for procurement supply chain and supplier managers, I wouldn’t say it was the best time to enter the market at the moment.
Jamie Levy 46:48
And I, you know, we both talked about this before that the there’s big issues right now, especially in the UK market. And I think it’s starting to happen elsewhere that the, you know, businesses need flexible results they need, they have booms and slumps. And that’s where they want that, that that kind of contract results. Because, you know, they’re growing, they’re expanding, they’re contracting, and contracting, we don’t need them, all we have major projects we need to do, and then they kind of have to disappear because the projects finished. And there’s a steady state resource, it’s going to be an interesting thing. When you think how that how businesses respond to that, and the next two years, especially in the UK?
Oliver Mountain 47:32
Yeah, I agree with you. And there’s a number of sort of flexible ways that can be, you know, independent consultants can be brought on board, the payment, say, you know, staying within, obviously, legislation as well. So, you know, I think the market will, will remain for independent consultants. But I think it will change over the next sort of two to three years. Again. So, you know, I think, I think it’d be an interesting one, really.
Jamie Levy 48:09
So I know, we’ll come in coming close to the end of the hour. And I want to do just want to ask you one more question. And then we’ll just have a very quick fire round of questions. But the, the one question, what’s next for you?
Oliver Mountain 48:28
think, well, I’ll be moving towards sort of becoming a non exec, really, about trustee of a number of trusts. So I’m going to move towards sort of non exec roles really. And, you know, and hopefully my, you know, my procurement by management and broader general business understanding as well will be a benefit to, to sort of clients in some non exec arena as well. So, I think that would be that’s what’s next for me as well. I think. I think that would be where I’d sort of had my career going forward really
Jamie Levy 49:20
sounds like a fantastic next step. And obviously, anyone out there is listening to this looking for a non exec Oliver mountain estimate is your man. You know, please, please get in touch with Oliver directly. Or you can contact us at PB n and we’ll put you in touch with Oliver. But you wanted to say thank you very much, I would just want to go through so what what we’re going to try and do is have like a quick fire round. And you may have seen this and things like Actor’s Studio, and it’s just some quickfire questions and it’s just just give me the answer off the top of your head. That’s all I need. And it’s it’s it’s nothing to do with, you know, any preferences it just what comes into town. have you had? What’s your favourite word? interesting one. Distinctive. What’s your least favourite word?
Oliver Mountain 50:24
Don’t know. I was two words, but people was like, I don’t know. You know? I don’t know.
Jamie Levy 50:31
What? What sound or noise do you love?
Oliver Mountain 50:40
Car Racing? Generally Porsches. What sound or noise? Do you hate? scratchy polystyrene? What’s your favourite curse word? Uh huh. I quite like the word. fac. But yeah. Yeah. Obviously that’s, that’s an Irish one. But yeah. What’s your greatest fear in life? Well, a quiet like doing adventure sport. So, I’d say probably doing a bungee jump and not coming back up again, as they say, for falling off the end of the bungee rope.
Jamie Levy 51:34
Which person living or dead do you most admire?
Oliver Mountain 51:41
Think Winston Churchill was quite quite a quite a character. So I’d say he was sort of a very interesting character. Now. I would have liked to have Matt really.
Jamie Levy 51:58
If you didn’t do procurement, what would you have done?
Oliver Mountain 52:06
If my eyesight hadn’t given in when I was a child, I probably would have been in a pilot. So. So yeah, I would have loved to have done a fast jet pilot Really?
Jamie Levy 52:18
And last, last but not least, if heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Well, Tim, you can enter basically. Okay, that’s great. Thank you very much, Oliver. And thanks for your time, and thanks for putting up with me for this for this call. And you know, I will. I will endeavour to share this with everyone. And then obviously, if you need to call Oliver then please let me know if you want to call him. Obviously he’s around at about but thank you very much, Oliver. Thanks for your time.
Brilliant. Thanks, Jamie. Thanks, bye.
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