Episode 10: Doing Better Deals with Robert Wright

By Katherine McCleery | November 16, 2020

Time after time you hear from procurement leaders that what is needed most is education. ICN, led by Robert Wright, provides education, training, access to documents, and tools that are leading the way! Robert joins us on The Sourcing Hero to share his journey from negotiating sponsored research agreements for the University of Louisville to becoming a Principal at ICN. He talks about lessons learned and how changing his mindset impacted both what he brings to the table and others’ desire to have him at that table. He has much insight to offer so be sure to check out the episode!

Listening Guide

[1:13] How ICN is doing through the pandemic.

[3:58] A little about Robert’s background.

[5:51] How Humana led to ICN.

[7:28] Becoming an owner.

[8:57] ICN’s primary drivers.

[10:22] Championing the industry.

[11:35] What is a sourcing hero to Robert?

[12:22] Changing your mindset

[15:18] Summing up a professional journey.

[18:24] Advice for the up and coming procurement professional.

[20:56] What’s going on over at ICN?


Good deals are good for everyone

What does a good deal look like? Robert says he is a big believer that every negotiation ultimately boils down to money and risk and moving those back and forth between the purchaser and the supplier. That doesn’t mean that it has to be adversarial. There is a nice balance between paying a fair cost and being able to make a profit and taking on some risks because you should but not being completely one-sided. Developing that, crafting that, manifesting that with people that have different personalities, different interests, and different backgrounds— that’s what makes a good deal. 

Shifting your mindset to transform relationships

It’s an old saying that you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar. Robert says he changed his mindset away from forcing people into his process to bringing them into it and showing them what he’s doing. Empower people by educating them. Show them what you’re looking at in a deal and then ask what is the most important aspect of it to them? What are some things that they’d like to have? Be happy to drive the car because that’s your job as a procurement professional, but let them know you want them riding shotgun with you because this is a journey that you’re both on together. That simple mindset shift transformed the relationships that he’s had with stakeholders. Learn more when you listen to the show!

It takes a village of experience to make the best deals

ICN does some consulting work but the primary drivers are education and training, which can happen in public workshops or private workshops for a particular group. However, Robert is most proud of the membership organization. 

Robert believes that it takes a village and that the worst deal that you can possibly do is one in developed a vacuum where it’s just you working on the deal. The more people you get in your organization whether it’s legal, risk, privacy, compliance, or finance, whoever it is, you need all of those voices at the table to be able to do the best deal possible. As a procurement professional, you also need voices from other organizations. Tap into people that are doing deals for fortune fifties, in the academic setting, for government nonprofit, in the insurance space, or in the woodworking space. You need a cross-functional group of people that collectively can draw from experience on demand. It’s important. It’s powerful.


Host: Katherine McCleery, Head of Marketing

Special Guest: Robert Wright, Principal, ICN

ICN’s membership community 

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