I met with Gareth Hughes, Head of Procurement at Whistl (the new TNT Post), to discuss his career to date, what attracted him to Whistl and his thoughts on the procurement function.
Lives - London, married, two kids, no dog… yet
Educated - Not particularly well
Pastimes - Music, cooking, motorbikes, football
“I’ve had the pleasure of working for 20 years in various procurement roles. I started out in a buying house supporting Coca-Cola’s global operations and packaging industries. As a career start, with the opportunities and experiences this presented, I think I was very lucky. I then took up ‘head of’ roles at Bupa and Legal & General, most recently focused on change and transformation. It’s the ‘How can we make this better?’ question that really drives me on. I joined Whistl in March with this very much in mind.”
What attracted you to Whistl and how mature was the procurement function when you joined?
“Whistl is a growing company with huge ambition. I was impressed by the leadership team, their goals and the importance they place on shaping the supply chain to achieve those goals. I was also keen to get into something more tangible than FS. I cut my teeth in Coke bottling and I think I missed attributes like engines and equipment and the noise that goes with them. Ours is a greenfield site so there’s been no infrastructure and an enormous amount to do. This is by no means an exaggeration but it’s very stimulating and exciting. I liken it to climbing Everest; we’ll need to keep pausing for breath and looking back on how far we’ve come if we’re to reach the summit!”
Is procurement high on the agenda?
“Procurement has backing and support right from the top. I report directly to the CEO, which helps. But we have to improve engagement at all levels, as that’s what will
give traction. Senior sponsorship opens doors but it won’t deliver results.”
Tell us about Whistl and your plans for growth and investment
“Whistl is part of the Post NL Group, which owns the TNT brand. We’re the UK’s second largest postal provider handling letters, packets and parcels. To give you a feel for the volume, we handle more than 3.6 billion items a year. The business has a terrific track record and is growing year on year. We’re now taking steps to accelerate things through extra investment,
which will help us grow our end to end postal service (delivering to your door with our own posties), our packets and parcels business (to support e-tailers) and a few other growth strategies.”
What are your objectives for the procurement function?
“Quite simply to make sure we have the right supply base and environment (I’m also responsible for property & FM) to ensure we can achieve our aspirations. We need to assess and develop the models not just the suppliers. What has worked in the past may not be scalable or sustainable for the future. As this is greenfield, we have a roadmap for quality, technology, risk and SRM, as well as the usual programme of work. The need for clear priorities is critical or we’ll overstretch ourselves.”
Why would someone look to join a business like Whistl?
“Ours is a tremendously rewarding environment to work in, where it’s easy to identify your purpose and connect with people because the same ambition runs through the lifeblood of the company. We’re building something fresh with new people coming on board, each with different ideas and ways of thinking. Decision making is more accessible and faster here than anywhere else I’ve worked and this creates energy and momentum. Ultimately it’s an opportunity to contribute to a new function and to the success of a really ambitious business.”
This article was featured in the first Issue of INSIGHT, Investigo’s procurement industry newsletter. To read the full Issue please click here.