Procurement Debates: Is Category Management Obsolete?

By Susan Avery

December 29, 2016 at 10:52 AM

marla bradstock.jpg

Procurement and supply management professionals attending ProcureCon Indirect East in Orlando on March 6-8 will have the opportunity to listen to and weigh in on a debate on the relevancy of category management.

 Brian Kyle, Managing Director, Strategic Sourcing and Contracts Management at American Cancer Society, Inc., and  Garry Christie, Director, Procurement at Advanced Micro Devices, are scheduled to lead the session during the 10th annual event which focuses on procurement of complex service categories such as HR benefits, marketing, facilities management, information technology, travel and legal, among others. 

“The ProcureCon Indirect East agenda was created by procurement practitioners,” says Frank Musero, Executive Director, ProcureCon Events, in a note to prospective attendees. “Our advisory board of top sourcing professionals ensures we address top-of-mind issues, told from the point of view of the sourcing experts.”

On the agenda is a keynote presentation “Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of Procurement” by Marla Bradstock, Director - Product & New Business Sourcing at Verizon (Formerly). In the presentation, Bradstock plans to cover these topics: 

  • The impact of Robotics Process Automation on procurement processes and headcount. 
  • How will skill sets need to change for success when robots and algorithms are the norm, not the exception? 
  • Can Alexa replace your secretary, or Watson replace your lower-level analysts? 
  • Will bitcoin become an acceptable (and preferred) method of payment? 

Bradstock is pictured on left. 

Jack Shaw, Executive Director at the American Blockchain Council, is also scheduled to give a keynote presentation on “Digital Transformation of Procurement and Supply Chain at the Intersection of Emerging Technologies: Advanced Cognitive Systems, Big Data, Predictive Analytics, IoT, and Blockchain.” In it, he plans to cover how the confluence of these technologies is going to affect procurement and supply chain business processes and the talent required to manage them.

2016 EPIC Awards logo.jpgAnother presentation on the ProcureCon Indirect East agenda is “Building an Agile Procurement Organization to Manage Looming Disruption” by Wayne Evans, Vice President, Head of Procurement Americas and Global Sourcing Head – Transportation at Deutsche Post World Net (DP DHL). In it, he plans to help event attendees better understand the digital revolution and what it means for procurement. 

In addition to boasting of an agenda developed by procurement for procurement, ProcureCon events are unique in that they feature a variety of conference formats—debates, keynote presentations, working groups, interactive roundtables and case studies. There is a Solutions Zone where sponsoring suppliers demonstrate goods and services and meet with attendees and opportunities for networking such as a Women in Procurement dinner. 

ProcureCon Indirect East hosts the presentation of the 2017 Excellence in Purchasing Indirect Categories Awards (EPIC) which recognize achievement in indirect procurement. My Purchasing Center, a ProcureCon media partner, will be on hand to present the awards at the luncheon event. 

Influence and Negotiation

jim downey.jpg

Among the working groups on the agenda are sessions on “Mastering the Art of Influence and Negotiation” led by Eric Smith, Purchasing Manager at Straumann, and Jamie Crump, Director, Strategic Sourcing & Supplier Diversity at United Rentals, Inc.; and “Sourcing Diverse and Small Business Suppliers” by Jeffrey A Smith, Sourcing Director at DuPont, and Loren Hopkins Taylor, Sourcing Manager, Small Business /Supplier Diversity at DuPont.

Working groups also focus specifically on complex services categories such as marketing, led by  Brent Laffere, Vice President, Spend Management and Strategic Sourcing at Neiman Marcus Group, and Dawn Luttrell, Senior Director - Strategic Sourcing, Contract Administration and Logistics at Sea World Parks & Entertainment; and HR benefits and other professional services by Jim Downey, Healthcare and Benefits Sourcing Manager at Intel Corp. Downey is pictured on left. 

There will be interactive roundtable sessions on such topics as “Improving the Relationship Between AP and Purchasing” hosted by David Heichemer, Indirect Sourcing Manager at Milliken & Company.  

One interactive case study is by Ruppy Singh, Analytics and Intelligence Manager at BP. In it, he covers the topic, “Using Data Science and Predictive Modeling to Customize Analytics and Reports."

ProcureCon Indirect East also features these sessions: 

  • “Hitting Targets Without Asking Suppliers for Price Reductions” by Melissa Burkland, Corporate Purchasing Director EMEA / Americas at Federal-Mogul Motorparts. 
  • “Re-writing the Integration Rule Book to Maximize Value in a Merger” by Mike Owens, Vice President, Global Shared Services at Dell. 
  • “Building a Sustainable Indirect Supply Chain” by John Ruebush, Director, Procurement Sustainability & Conflict Minerals Program, at Johnson & Johnson, and Jason Pearson CEO at the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council. 
  • “Building a Successful Multigenerational Procurement Team,” a panel discussion with Michael Cygan, Senior Director, Strategic Sourcing at True Value Company, Steven Lee, Vice President – Global Procurement at Cabot Corporation, and Michael Jacobs, Chief Procurement Officer at Staples, Inc. 
  • “Selling It to Stakeholders—Improving Presentation Skills” hosted by Quave Burton, Vice President Global Expense Management & Services at Abercrombie & Fitch, and member of the My Purchasing Center Editorial Advisory Board.  

For more information and to register contact ProcureCon by email at or by phone at (888) 482-6012. 

Also see these My Purchasing Center articles on past ProcureCon events: 

2016 EPIC Awards Recognize Indirect Procurement Value

Procurement Positioned as Leader


Tags: purchasing MRO indirect Supply chain management Careers Procurement sourcing
Category: News Article

Susan Avery


Susan Avery is Editor-in-Chief at My Purchasing Center. She writes articles, blogs and white papers and manages and creates other content for the online procurement and supply management publication. She produces and moderates roundtable discussions, podcasts, webcasts and video interviews. Susan has 30 years experience covering procurement and supply management for Purchasing magazine and 

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