The Definition of a Sourcing Hero | Part Two

Past guests from The Sourcing Hero podcast provide the definition of a sourcing hero and give examples of heroism in a business context.

By Mackenzie Oakley | November 22, 2023

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The goal of The Sourcing Hero podcast is to capture the epic stories of people beating the odds and rising up in procurement. The individuals featured on the show openly share how they are creating exceptional value for their organizations and offer first-hand experiences and lessons learned throughout their careers. The conversations, guided by our host, Kelly Barner with Art of Procurement, are always full of industry insight and knowledge and touch on various topics impacting procurement.

Now with over 140 episodes and more than 20,000 downloads, the show has naturally evolved. In addition to procurement practitioners and supply chain professionals, The Sourcing Hero features guests from a variety of industries and career paths, each with a narrative that is relatable and relevant.

The definition of a sourcing hero

At the close of every episode, Kelly traditionally asks each guest a question. There is no right or wrong answer and the responses we’ve received have been vastly different and truly fascinating:

“What does the idea of a sourcing hero mean to you?”

“What does heroism look like in a business context?”

How would you define a sourcing hero? Have you experienced heroism in the workplace? Below, we’re recapping some of our favorite responses from recent episodes of The Sourcing Hero podcast.  

"What does the idea of a sourcing hero mean to you?"

Episode 139

A sourcing hero in particular doesn’t rush to judgment. They take time to think before reacting which – let’s be honest – can be incredibly difficult for all to do. We are all human. I’m super passionate about emotional intelligence for procurement professionals.

This unique complex situation we’re in, with all of these different stakeholder requirements plus the issues that we’ve had over the last three or four years in particular with supply chain, creates a very tense and reactive atmosphere. Any individual that operates in a strategic proactive way, that is self-aware, that has the ability to read others and lead with empathy and compassion really is my definition of a hero.

Listen to the full episode here.

Episode 140

What we usually expect from procurement managers is to make sure products come in and also to keep costs down. [When we] have to add this extra variable [like reducing carbon emissions], it’s basically somebody taking the lead.

[Sourcing heroes] have to start implementing actual tools [and] reach out to suppliers, ask them to report, collect data from their products, track progress year over year. I think it’s this very difficult equation that people need to solve. What I think is heroic is starting it and making it basically a process that people will carry out on and again. Make it normal, basically.

Listen to the full episode here.

Episode 136

For me, I guess a sourcing hero is a buyer that makes the impossible possible. We find suppliers on the other side of the world. We get low-first cost. We stay in control of quality. That is very important despite the distance.

We get on-time delivery. We talk about three essentials – price, quality, and delivery. We confirm the products are made in a sustainable way. I think a sourcing hero recognizes the challenge. Sourcing overseas is very complex. There are a lot of layers to it. But at the same time, they are not afraid of it. You know what to expect at each step of the way, and you know how to conquer any challenges.

Overall, a sourcing hero is going to deliver from the inception of the plan through to completion.

Listen to the full episode here.

Episode 135

I think the hero is the one that transitions to this proactive world and really forces and pushes the organization to kill the silos, work uniformly, understand the value that procurement can have on the company’s top-line, and how it really is an integral part to the business – not just an afterthought or a must-do piece.

Again, the champion is the one that really can transition through this amazing time period we are in and really get on the proactive side and help drive the business as a leader.

Listen to the full episode here.

Episode 131

A sourcing hero is someone that challenges the status quo and then executes for the business. In my view, the people that we’ve seen drive the most value for an organization are the ones that sometimes are the contrarian. There’s a negative view on that, but it’s more that they realize that things can always get better.

You can always improve if you shake things up. [But] the more important part is then executing for the business because it’s one thing to have a great idea – to want to shake things up – but if you can’t provide the business value, then you just created a swell for nothing.

The sourcing heroes that we see have the ability to do both, and they have the ability to influence the rest of the organization to understand why it’s so important and why it drives meaningful value all the way aligned to top-line goals and OKRs for the overall business.

Listen to the full episode here.

Episode 133

I think the idea of a sourcing hero is simply care – care about processes, care about people, care about projects, care about your category, care about how you show up. Just care. I think that’s what a sourcing hero means to me.

Listen to the full episode here.

Episode 127

In my opinion, I think a sourcing hero looks like someone who confronts their own humanity in this journey of trying to create whatever is the product of their story, if you will. In doing so, becomes a steward and a champion – not only of one’s customer story but our whole global story. I guess it boils down to remembering that you are sourcing for a purpose and that purpose is not just for a dollar.

Listen to the full episode here.

"What does heroism look like in a business context?"

Episode 137

Heroism from a business perspective looks like serving all of the consumers of that software or that service or those products. In an organization, it is really showing and delivering value – not only to your providers or your suppliers but also to your consumers – down all of the tiers as far as you can reach. Those things that sometimes we don’t think make an impact [can actually] make a dramatic impact. Enabling that in an organization is true heroism.

Listen to the full episode here.

Episode 126

I think a sourcing hero or heroism in the [business] environment is leadership. Whether you are managing a team and you are leading people, and you are building their skills and their competence, and you are creating their confidence to be of greater value to the organization, or you are managing stakeholders and building the relationships to be truly effective working with the other functions in the company, or you’re managing your supplier.

A supplier is not a sign on the side of a building. Suppliers are people. How is that organization serving you? How are they working with you, collaborating, finding innovation, getting things done, shortening lead time, whatever it is?

A sourcing hero is somebody who is a great leader and who is polishing those people who need a little polishing, finding those diamonds in the rough and standing them up, or building a great supplier relationship or building a great stakeholder relationship. In my mind, that’s a hero.

Listen to the full episode here.

Episode 128

What I always tell people that work for me [is] do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. To me, heroism really is the integrity of what we do. Integrity matters. It’s not always an easy thing to do. You’re often put in tough positions, especially in procurement. I think when a hero in procurement comes across those, they stay true to who they are. They keep integrity at the core, and they do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Listen to the full episode here.

Episode 129

To be a hero in the business context probably boils down to three things for me. The first one would be to be a team player. Oftentimes, you find yourself in situations where it hasn’t been directly defined what everyone’s role is. If you’re leading forward and you’re a team player, you’re helping other people while you’re also getting your things done. It’s about what the group can get done.

The second one is to make the group dynamic better. I think we’ve all been in situations where there are four or five people in a group and you’re like, “Wow! If that person maybe changed their orientation, this would go a lot better.” The people that are leaning forward on their front foot create gravitas and people want to follow those people. Thinking about making the group dynamic better is really important.

Lastly, very pragmatically said, just get things done. There are times where people are looking around and they’re not sure and they haven’t been anointed as the person, but the people that grab things and get things done are really valuable. To me, I like having people on my team that have all of those things – or at least two of the three – and it really makes the workplace a wonderful place to be.

Listen to the full episode here.

For more definitions of a sourcing hero, and for real-life examples of heroism in a business context, check out more episodes of The Sourcing Hero podcast.

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