Interview: Meet Caroline Walsh iDDea’s Procurement lead

Why did you choose to work in Procurement?

I’m not sure I chose Procurement, more that Procurement chose me! I am a people person and I love to learn new things. With a penchant for too much detail I fit in well to the job. To work in Procurement you need to have an eye for detail, a dogged nature to never give up until you’ve found that solution that works. I enjoy learning from other people and teaching them about possibility, even if the most probable is right there in front of your face.

What do you like about iDDea?

I like that iDDea as a brand is so strong through its team. Each person is a compliment to the greater team and brings not just different skills but a different way of seeing things. Each one of us is part of the cog that makes the wheel turn and even a five minute conversation can give so much clarity when seen through someone else’s eyes. As a small company, it’s important that, even when we aren’t working together day to day, as a team, we are all pulling in the same direction. It is almost instinct. The vision is always growing and so together we continue to move forward. iDDea is Passion, it is Hard-Working and it is Innovation. For me personally going to work every day isn’t a chore, it’s an opportunity to achieve something I am passionate about and to work with people that teach me something every time we talk.

What’s been your biggest challenge in iDDea so far?

Stepping out of my comfort zone is by far the most challenging thing iDDea has given me. In previous roles, I’ve had surety of my role and while always known as a “fire fighter” and always flexible, it has been within a boundary. As the first employee of a start-up, in a not so well known market, under the not so loved term “Procurement”, I’ve had to learn, adapt and develop and do it all quickly. Internally I’ve had to learn about growing a team, training people, not always being right and then the hard things like letting go, delegating and trusting people that have been trained. I’ve had to find out the hard way how to “fail fast” and get comfortable with the fact that time spend learning and developing is a good investment and therefore a good investment in the business. So many times, I felt I wasn’t achieving anything when I wasn’t operationally focused on a project and was researching or networking or just thinking.  Working in iDDea means I need to really stand up for the Value and Voice of Procurement and this means so much more than Excel and Word and hiding behind emails!

What do you like to do outside of work?

I spend most of my free time at home. In typical style, I like to keep things simple and so we have 5 dogs, 2 cats, 2 hens (down from 6) almost 3 children under 3 and a polytunnel that’s given us some Marrows, Peppers and way too much mint this year. I love the garden and don’t get half enough time out there but on those days when the sun is shining, all the pets / children / partner and others are behaving and I’m up to my elbows in soil and fertiliser aka POOP from the neighbouring farmer, then this for me is bliss. I love the time spend planning, then seeding and I get like a little child when things start to sprout and grow. I’m so naturally impatient for things to happen, nature is a great way to just sit back and wait and one day maybe I’ll figure out how to bring that lesson into the rest of my days.

 What are the top qualities necessary for procurement professionals?

The top essential qualities for procurement professionals are;

  • Resilience and persistence
  • Be detail orientated. Facts are critical and help you to build your business case.
  • Focus on your stakeholders. They are your customers not adversaries.
  • Want to learn and to teach. As a procurement professional, you are in a unique position to take learnings from experts in the market back to the business across a board range of categories. You can bring learnings from one area into another where they don’t ordinarily cross over.
  • Finally – and it’s a hard one, be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day but it could fall down in a day so you should just keep doing things for the right reason, and do it right. Change takes time and procurement, when done well, is the best bringer of change. Here’s the thing so many people don’t say out loud, there are always Hiccups when there is change. If I change my internet provider tomorrow, it will frustrate me as there will be downtime. That is normal with change. It doesn’t mean I won’t get a cheaper, faster, better service. It means the pain is worth the gain and I need to engage those around me to understand why it is the right thing to do, so work with me.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve gotten?

A wonderful colleague that I have worked with for many many years once told me to look after myself. That I am a person, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend and an employee. One doesn’t outweigh the other and all should be given the same attention. I find myself always coming back to that in my head and it grounds me to remember that if I neglect one, the others suffer. If I don’t take time for my family, my friends, myself then I don’t give my best in work as I don’t have it to give.

Have you had any unusual jobs before working in iDDea?

Oh, where to start. I have had a lot of unusual jobs however I worked for a small start-up Call Centre many moons ago. I will always credit it with the business that moulded me, made me resilient and while I still need a lot of help here, it did teach me that I should think before I speak.

One of the projects I worked on was to support a company to make appointments for their consultants to meet with clients in their locality to provide hearing tests. I go back to this being a call centre. Basically, I had to phone hard of hearing people, who found it hard to hear me, to talk to them about scheduling a hearing test. I was very successful of course!


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