Supply Chain Now Episode 527

“The psychological aspect of negotiations isn’t nearly as important as it was before. What counts now are the facts.”

– Rod Sherkin, President of ProPurchaser


2020 has been destabilizing in a number of ways, one of which is in terms of professional disruption. Many qualified professionals now find themselves looking for new jobs in a tight market and without the opportunity of face time to distinguish themselves as candidates.

Rod Sherkin, President of ProPurchaser, has seen a number of ups and downs in his career, and he has come up with ways to handle many of them. He also knows better than most the free resources that are available to procurement and supply chain professionals who want to stay connected to industry developments and material trends so that they are ready when an opportunity arises.

In this conversation, Rod shares his supply chain career advice with Supply Chain Now Host Scott Luton:

· His ‘trick’ for getting a hiring manager’s attention by demonstrating how well you already understand his business

· How to stand out from a crowd of applicants and how to know (for sure) what you want before you start looking for openings

· Why tried-and-true procurement skills never go out of style, even in post-pandemic procurement organizations

Intro (00:05):

It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world, supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things, supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts. Good morning, Scott Luton here. Welcome.

Scott Luton (00:33):

Well, in this episode, we’re discussing one of our most asked about topics. How can I optimize my job search and truly stand out amongst the crowd, stay tuned as we’re gonna be offering some sound advice, tried and true. Been there and done that. Hey, quick programming before we get started. If you enjoyed today’s conversation, be sure to find it’s wherever you get your podcasts and subscribe. So you don’t miss a single thing. Okay. With no further ado, let’s bring in our featured guests. They repeat guests, multiple appearances here on supply chain. Now our dear friend, rod Scherchen founder and president of properties, a trusted resource. That’s grown to serve thousands of procurement professionals since 2001 rod. How are you doing find Scott? Thanks for asking, how are you doing, doing, doing great. Great to have you back. It’s been too long. We really enjoyed the webinar that you and I and Kelly Barner did, uh, a few months back that that seemed to resonate.

Scott Luton (01:30):

And I’m really excited about the topic. We’re gonna be talking with you here today. Okay. Me too. It’s something that’s close to my heart. I guess we’ve all been there with all that to find jobs in our careers and, uh, it’s kind of fun to share, uh, share what, you know, I find it interesting and fun to share what I’ve learned. So agreed. I think you can help a ton of people with what we’re going to share here today. So, but know, Hey, we’re going to have a little bit of fun before we dive into the work, right. Um, you know, we’ve been playing around with this lightning round approach to getting to know rod circuit a little bit better, and we’re going to, we’re going to do the latest installment of the lightning round with rod Scherchen here today. So a couple of fun questions just to get to know you a little better.

Scott Luton (02:11):

Let’s start your game for the lightning round rod. Are you ready? You buckled in ready to go? I can’t promise much, but go for it. Yeah. All right. So let’s start with this. So I know that Canada celebrated Thanksgiving in October and of course right here in the States, we just celebrated it last week. So what is one famous food dish in your family during Thanksgiving and who makes it?

Rod Sherkin (02:35):

Oh, well, my wife makes it, it’s a breaded eggplant casserole doesn’t sound exciting, but it is her mother was Italian. So it’s a, it’s made with tomato sauce and cheese and um, she takes those big purple eggplants and slices them about a quarter inch thick and fries them and batters them. And it takes a long time, but she winds up with his delicious casserole that everybody fights for on the table.

Rod Sherkin (03:01):

And then whatever’s leftover is eaten the next day and sandwiches. So that’s, that’s our, uh, one of our most, one of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes. For sure.

Scott Luton (03:10):

Love it. Love it. You you’ve just made me hungry. Thanks so much, rod sounds like your wife is very talented in the kitchen, which is wonderful. All right. So second question. What is one hobby or habit that you picked up here in 2020? And you’re glad that you’ve picked it up

Rod Sherkin (03:27):

An easy one, a long, early morning walks, you know, with the pandemic, it’s hard to get exercise, you know, we can’t, you can certainly can’t go to, you know, spin classes or anything like that. So I’m lucky I live, um, near on the North shore of Lake Ontario. That’s for Toronto is. And so I get up in the morning and if it’s a clear morning, I’ll walk down to the Lake and as luck would have it, you can usually see the sunrise this time of year, cause it’s arising to the styles. And if it’s a cloudy day, there’s a park nearby. And I walk around the park. I do, I don’t know, 45 minutes to an hour and come back. And it’s amazing how much better you feeling? A lot of the problems, whether they’re business or personnel or, or if not, problem so much as, you know, issues you’ve got to resolve, it’s amazing how they get resolved quite naturally on the walk you come back feeling energized and, and you’ve kind of planned your day out a lot better. So yeah, I think even after COVID is over, which it looks like it will be soon. Um, I’ll stick, stick to those early morning walks. Uh, that’s one thing I’ve done in 2020,

Scott Luton (04:31):

It sounds very therapeutic, uh, and getting some exercise. Um, all right. So the final lightning round question we’re going to pose to you is if we were to ask your immediate family members about things they’ve heard rod, Scherchen say thousands of times, what would the consensus number one answer be Ron.

Rod Sherkin (04:54):

Wow. Thousands, probably hundreds. Um, I’m not sure I’ve got well, the, my, my favorite one and I’m not sure I say it the most is it’s kind of a Ziggy, you know, the cartoon character, Ziggy Ziggy expression. It says the secret to happiness is not to get too personally involved in your own life. I know that sounds crazy, but really when you think about, it’s really saying, you know, you should just, you know, sit back, listen to other people. Don’t take yourself too seriously and you’ll have a much happier life. And I probably say that quite a bit, but if I really think about it, probably a Covey expression, Stephen Covey, which is begin with the end in mind and always said that to my kids and you know, and my wife and I have projects and stuff to do, what is it we want to accomplish? And so if you begin with the end in mind and we don’t always agree by the way, my wife and I, but, uh, if we do then the end comes a lot faster. And, um, if we don’t and it takes a lot longer to get somewhere when we actually wind not exactly where I want it to go. But, uh, though between those two expressions, I guess, you know, I’m not sure which is more popular, but I shared one of those would make it make, make the hit parade. For sure.

Scott Luton (06:10):

Love it. You know, uh, rod, I have not thought about Ziggy that comic and forever and forever. It was everywhere when I was, when I was growing up and I haven’t even, it is such a blast from the past. So I owe you a walk down memory lane here today, but I love the second getting aside. I love in particular the second one. And, and, and as always as a case, we have a lot of kindred spirits on this discussion here, that phrase, and that sentiment is going to, uh, be a part of our conversation here. Again, just a moment. Um, so good stuff. I appreciate you being a good sport and walking through our lightning round rod, I imagine we’ve had a plethora of new subscribers since the last time you appeared on supply chain now. So let’s, let’s just refresh our audience’s memory of your background. So tell some more about rod Scherchen.

Rod Sherkin (07:00):

Well, uh, I’m an engineer by training, uh, though I didn’t have never really done much engineering. One of my first jobs out of school, and this is a long time ago back like goodness in the seventies, I was with a big consulting firm and, uh, by accident, I wound up doing a lot of consulting work in supply chain. In those days, we called it materials management, but it was the same thing. I noticed that my favorite part of supply chain was the, the negotiating with suppliers part. So, um, after about eight years of doing that, I will wound up going to work for a client. It was Pillsbury green giant. And I worked my way up to vice president materials management or supply chain did that for seven, eight, nine years actually. And then moved over to ball. Packaging, did the same thing there. Uh, and then that took me towards the end of the nineties.

Rod Sherkin (07:49):

And, and that’s when the, uh, the internet came along. And, uh, it just seemed a perfect medium for, for a profession because, you know, one thing I noticed in, in my 20 years or so as a supply chain professionals, CPO is that we’re always behind the eight ball when it came to negotiating with suppliers, because they always knew more. They always had more information about, you know, raw material costs, what was going on in the marketplace. And in those days they were just magazines. I mean, you could subscribe to magazines, but it was really almost impossible to keep up with what was going on. And you certainly were normally at a disadvantage with, uh, with the suppliers, but with the internet, my goodness, you know, you’ve got graphical information, it’s instant. You don’t have to wait for the subscription to arrive by mail. And so, um, I started the website, um, started building it in the year 2000 and by 2001, we were commercial and haven’t really looked back since we’ve just kept, um, you know, adding, uh, features and data to help the procurement profession kind of level the playing field with the supply profession, with the sales sales reps,

Scott Luton (08:51):

Love it, arming the markets with information, good, timely information that they can make better decisions with. I love that rod. All right. So kind of shifting gears a little bit here, as we talked on the front end of today’s episode, I bet you get the question a lot. Goodness knows we get it all the time from, from members of our global community, especially folks that are looking to make a splash and get into the supply chain industry. And then once they’re there, we get a lot of questions around advancement and how to stand out. So we’re going to kind of tackle this as a one-two punch rod, as we talked about, right? I’m going to share some things that we have picked up in a proven manner over the years that helps people find jobs. And then you’re going to kind of fine tune it a bit and really talk about how to stand out in the hiring manager’s mind, especially from a procurement standpoint.

Scott Luton (09:43):

So we’ll start on the broader side. So Rodan and of course is always a welcome. You I’m going to share four key points as to really answer the question, how can I boost my job prospects in supply chain and for that matter, otherwise for other sectors. So I’m going to offer four tips and of course, rod feel free to weigh in on any of these that stick out in your mind. Okay. You ready? Right. Ready? All right. So first off. So I mentioned that what you shared earlier in the lightning round is going to kind of reappear. And that, that starts with the, my first tip here, which is you’ve got to upfront define success in your objective. We have found over the years that so many folks in transition, or maybe they have a current job and they’re not happy, and they’re looking for something else w regardless of the situation.

Scott Luton (10:34):

So often as a case that they don’t know what they want. And that is the most important starting point I have found, and know what you want, know where you want to work, know what sector, Hey, even build a list of top 25 companies you want to work for that comes in handy, because that allows you, uh, when you get, when the candidate gets the question from members of your network, Hey, how can I help? If you’ve got a list of 25 companies you want to work for, especially if you’ve got the job within each company. I mean, you really, uh, not only do you enable folks with a stronger ability to help you, but more importantly, you can build a plan that’s much more targeted, which will help you determine where to put your, your time, energy and resources into finding that particular job.

Scott Luton (11:24):

You know, it’s about building that plan, like is like, is the case so often in life, right, rod, right? No, that’s for sure. I agree with that. Totally. All right. So that’s first number two. So this is, again, this is opinionated. This is just my opinion. A lot of folks don’t believe in the good old resume writers, but I, I believe, I believe in one, I used it, it, it made my life easier years and years ago. There’s still so many great resources that build. So my suggestion is to, is to work with one of these professional, well recommended resume writers to build a resume. And then when you’ve got it, you haven’t crossed the finish line rod. So no celebration, no ribbons, proudly worn or anything. You’ve got to make that resume a living and breathing document, right? As you, you know, after you get the resume done right away, as you’re starting to accumulate additional experiences or accolades, Hey, add that to the resume.

Scott Luton (12:23):

You know, once you’ve got that, that target list of companies and positions, of course, big piece of advice here, customize that resume for each of those positions and those companies. Uh, Rod’s gonna talk here shortly about a cover letter. Hey, there’s key phrases in the job description that is baked into the automation that’s used in the recruiting industry these days, you know, they, they’ve got bots that are scanning cover letters and resumes, looking for those key phrases and words, make sure your resume has that once you know what you want to do, but also know there’s no perfect resume. And, and even if you had the proverbial perfect resume, your job search can not start and stop with solely resume. Or I guess it can rod, if you’re comfortable with mediocre results. And I know that the two of us here are not comfortable with mediocrity, right?

Scott Luton (13:17):

Correct. All right. So point number three is volunteer blessed, be the volunteers. I, something, someone said that on Mt. One time everyone needs them. Every organization needs them. Leaders need them. Uh, they’re very valuable resources, especially those that are not lip service volunteers, but that those that take action, what’s in it for you. That’s an important question to ask well, to the job seeker, you’re going to gain skills and experiences and network colleagues of volunteering. And you’re also going to do something really important for anything you do in life. And that’s creating your own luck, which is a really important thing, leverage in any job hunt. Does that make sense on your end rod?

Rod Sherkin (13:56):

Totally. I think you could get more out of volunteering than, um, than people think it’s, it is those networks. You make, people will get to see what you really like. They get to see your talents. They get to appreciate you. They like you. I mean, people want to help people. They like, um, and if you be, if you know, there’s no question, we’re all emotional. So if somebody comes across an opportunity, the first thing person they’re going to think about is the person people that they like, um, and who they’ve seen in action. And so the volunteering, I think helps volunteer in many cases more than it helps the people there they’re volunteering to help. I totally,

Scott Luton (14:33):

Yeah. Great. Excellent. Yes. Excellent point. And you know, one surefire way to increase your likability factor, which is important like it or not. It’s an important factor is by giving back or as Greg white is coined, you know, giving forward you do for others really is a sure fire way to improve your likability factor. And then finally, something I’ve greatly valued in this, this fourth tip here, rod is invest really meaningfully and deliberately invest in your digital brand, LinkedIn, especially, well, it’s no secret that LinkedIn is a, is a shortlist topless. Go-to for the recruiting, uh, functions in so many companies. So you use LinkedIn to showcase your expertise and your knowledge. One simple idea that I’ve seen done really well is find an article that’s relevant to what you want to do and where you want to be and what company you want to work for, what sector you want to be in, post it, and then add your commentary or your take home with articles about, you know, that’s a simple, tried and true.

Scott Luton (15:34):

You can also use a V uh, take, uh, LinkedIn and, and share some of your most relevant, maybe your volunteer experiences we’re talking about or recent honors or recent projects that you’ve led and accomplished or, or other good news. You know, you really want to, you, you want that digital brand working for you when you’re sleeping at night and you really want it to demonstrate not only your expertise and your skillsets, but your leadership in your action based leadership in the course, it doesn’t hurt to continue to build out that digital network with, uh, LinkedIn and others as well.

Rod Sherkin (16:08):

Yeah, I think I was just going to say, Scott, I agree with you. And, and maybe accomplishments, like, you know, we handed out 110,000 meals over three months or whatever the, if they’re measurable accomplishments, I’ve always found as a hiring manager. I always gravitated towards that. What were the results of these efforts rather than, you know, it’s nice to network and all that, but Oh, this person can actually get things done. That was always something that I looked for.

Scott Luton (16:34):

Excellent point excellent point. All right. So to recap those real quick rod, you got it. You got to know what you want to do to find that success near objective upfront. Secondly, Hey, lean on a resume pro knock out that resume and then make it living and breathing. Number three, volunteer, volunteer, and volunteer. Number four, make sure to invest in your digital brand. From there, rod, we’re going to kind of switch gears a bit. We’re going to, we’re going to dial it in as we want to offer up some tips for how to stand out in the hiring manager’s mind, especially in the wild world of procurement. Is that right? Correct. Absolutely. Well, let’s dive right in.

Rod Sherkin (17:11):

Okay. So, um, I’m going to begin with the end in mind. So the end is your resume with, with a terrific covering letter and whether a bots reading it or human being is reading it, uh, it’s important that you get noticed. So let’s look from the point of view of the human being. So I’m going to read a really draft version of, of, uh, what I would consider, uh, a covering letter that I would have noticed as a hiring manager. Dear sir, I took the Liberty of researching some price trends on a few products. Your company likely purchases. My goal was to demonstrate some of the cost containment techniques I’ve been trained to use. For example, I found that now there’s a blank here could be steel fasteners, pallets, you know, injection molded plastic bars. It really depends. We’ll talk about that in a minute on what the company does, but I found that on this case, I’ll use steel.

Rod Sherkin (18:03):

Fastener prices should be five to 10% lower now than they were two years ago. Despite the recent increase in steel prices see attachment, I’m sure your procurement part department already knows this second paragraph would be research and other items, exact example of injection, molded, plastic parts yielded similar results. I E prices should be down. See attachment. I would be pleased to share more findings with you if there were interest. So that’s a draft of a cover letter that does two things. It sets sets you apart because you’re, you’re, you’re going to intrigue the person who’s reading this w wait a second. This person’s done the research and they’re telling me I’m paying too much for pallets or injection molded plastic parts or steel fasteners. And then you’re saying your procurement part, they’re not being arrogant about it because they’re saying, I’m sure your procurement department already knows this.

Rod Sherkin (18:59):

So, okay, I’m the hiring manager, a there’s probably at least a 50% chance. Maybe even more that you, you are, you are not paying less for the steel fasteners or the injection molded plastic parts, because in many cases there are B or C items and most purchasing departments don’t focus on those. So they often subject to something called price crew, which I’m sure everyone’s familiar with. So that’s, if that’s true, it’s going to tweak some interest in the hiring manager’s mind. Geez, aren’t we still, so they’re going to check it out, right? And if it turns out you are still, they are still paying the same amount that you’re going to definitely be noticed. And the fact you’re saying, I’m sure your procurement department already knows. This means that you’re humble. You’re not trying to, you know, come across as, you know, lording it over anyone.

Rod Sherkin (19:50):

And even if this is the interesting thing is even if the procurement department knows these tricks knows that following suppliers costs, input costs this way to keep the prices down, uh, it’s in there and they are, and they’re paying five to 10% less safe for the steel fasteners. You’ve just proven that you’d hit the ground running that you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re kind of trained already. You’re going to be a valuable asset from day one. So either way, whether they are still paying the same amount or they have gotten a decrease, it’s going to make you stand out. And then when you in the second paragraph, um, researching other items and be pleased to share more findings, what you’re really saying is, Hey, it’s this isn’t a, you know, um, a fluke that I found this I’ve actually got, uh, the cost containment techniques in my bag of tricks in my tool bag that allows me to do this for many different things.

Rod Sherkin (20:41):

And I’m more than happy to share it. So the first paragraph catches, or it was intriguing, it catches their interest in the second one is kind of shows them that it’s not that you can actually, but it gets you the interview, basically, because they’re going to want to know what else, you know, and what else you can do for them. So that’s beginning with the end in mind. So let’s talk about how to get there. How do you find that stuff out? There’s a little there’s, um, something called we call as a silent slope. What a silent slope is. Um, if you think of a, the raw material costs that go into buying something, uh, let’s use pallet system, make it easy. So hardwood pallets, they’re returnable. And if you think about a pallet, let’s say you’re paying $20 for the pallet, probably about $10 or $12 even would be the Heartwood that the pallet supplier makes.

Rod Sherkin (21:31):

And the other $8 is the labor and the, you know, the nails and fasteners that go into it. But more importantly, the overheads and profit that he needs to make. So some people call that gross margin. So just to make the math easy, say it’s half wood and half gross margin. And so when the price of wood goes up, uh, you’re going to get an increase in I’m looking at a graph that you’re, unfortunately, I’ll try to describe what I’m seeing, but it’s about three years ago, the price of hardwood started to rise quite dramatically from a $300 thousand board feet to about 500. So everybody who bought returnable, pallets, quite understandably, got an increase in the price of their hardwood, pallets because the suppliers needed to recover their raw material costs, which is fair enough. But what’s happened since then. And I’m looking at the graph, it’s come back down to where it was three years ago. So it lets you phoned your pallet supplier and said, geez, I’m wondering why I’m still paying $20. When you know, when the price of hardware was three 50, I was paying 17. You raised $3 when it went from three 50 to 500. Now it’s back at three 50. You know, why, you know, why am I still paying that much? So it’s a silent slope because unless you phone up, you’re going to hear all about the price of hardwood on the upside, right. But you’re not going to hear it on the downside and

Scott Luton (22:50):

Really quick, what, as you’re describing the silent slope and how price group works, uh, two quick points, number one, we’re going to have, uh, the visuals behind it, uh, a couple of nice visuals in the show notes of today’s episode. And secondly, uh, the greater point here is, as it has been said so many so often in life, if you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you ask for. And that’s, that’s why the silent that’s one of the biggest reasons why the silent scope is because folks aren’t asking for those, uh, those pricing changes,

Rod Sherkin (23:23):

Right? Absolutely. Especially on B and C items, especially on things like pallets and fasteners and injection molded, plastic parts that, you know, maybe if you worked for Ford and you buy fenders, that’s your job, you know, so you, you work with a steel stamping company. You’re probably really in tune with the price of steel because you’re spending millions of dollars on those metal parts. You’re probably not as focused on the fasteners or as focused on the palace that the fasteners come in or the pallets that you buy to move the stuff around. So you’re right. You know, there’s a 90, in my experience, there’s a 90% chance that, uh, there is a price there. It has been priced creep for, there’s always price creep. If the procurement professional, isn’t looking out for silence slopes, isn’t forcing the supplier to play fair. When the costs go up, we’ll, we’ll pay him or your costs go up, that’s fair.

Rod Sherkin (24:19):

But when your raw material costs go down, we expect you to reduce your price because it’s, you know, it certainly fits exactly the same logic you’re using when you raise the price. But you’re saying you’re right, Scott. If, if you don’t ask, you can’t expect them to lower it. And it’s not their fault. I mean, we’re all in business to make all the money we can. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just how our system works. So you can’t expect your supplier to phone you up and say, Oh, you know, my palate, my hardwood pricing costs are down. I’m going to reduce the price of the pallet to $17, but that $3 price creep is there. And if you and your covering letter say, you know, we, you should be paying $3 less for those pallets. It’s easy for the hiring manager to check that out. And if they’re still paying the 20 bucks and haven’t had a decrease, then you’ve just proven that you can hit the ground running and make a difference. So

Scott Luton (25:08):

I think one other, I think, helpful context that I’m sure folks, especially in the manufacturing industry will appreciate, because I can remember my days in the manufacturing industry, sitting in the seat, you’ve got a thousand different things going on thousand different fires, perhaps tens of thousands of different components, raw materials. You’re constantly negotiating. You know, it’s, it’s easy, I think, to lose sight of a particular item and, and not, and completely forget to ask the question, you know, six months after a price increase has been implemented in the market’s changed and you you’ve forgotten to circle back. I think that probably happens a lot in the many it across industry, but especially any factory, right?

Rod Sherkin (25:49):

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. We don’t, everybody’s busy. We don’t have time to do everything everybody’s prioritizing, you know, you’ve got, it’s the top pieces of paper on your desk or the top files in your computer, your laptop that get addressed, you nobody has time to do everything. So how do you research it while there are lots of, um, you know, lots of free, good sources of this kind of information, the London metal exchange will tell you what aluminum and copper led and sync all these metals prices are. They’ll give you histories, it’s all in their database. And there are lots of good free sources. In fact, that’s, um, I think in the show notes as well, Scott, isn’t it, the, uh, we’re making available a source of information. So once you’ve found a company that you think you want to work for, are you going to send a resume to go on the internet, check them out, find out what they make you can.

Rod Sherkin (26:39):

It’s really fairly easy to figure out, Oh, do you know there’s some plastic parts in this? There are some metal parts or, um, Oh, they use a lot of packaging. There was a lot of corrugated boxes. So they use paper, find out, you know, take an educated guess at what they purchase. And then, um, find a source of information, go back, you know, graph two or three years worth and say really good chance. You’ll find a silent slope. Everything fluctuates, you think are commodities, whether they’re paper steel or wood or whatever that they fluctuate just by nature. So every time they go up, you know, there’s probably going to be an increase every time they go down, there’s a silent slope. And when there are silence slopes, then there’s probably price creep. And that’s what you’re looking for. So when you find that, that’s what you put in into the, into the covering letter

Scott Luton (27:25):

And customization, which you’re speaking to really important. And of course that, that points back to that key element that you and I both mentioned earlier is knowing what you want to do and building that game plan around it. So that you’ll know how to customize these pieces of communication. Right,

Rod Sherkin (27:42):

Right, right. You’ve got it. You’ve got to begin with the end in mind. Right. You’ve got to say, I want to, I want to work for Ford great company. And I wanna work in the procurement department. Then you can figure out from that what Ford likely buys. And then you can look for a silent slopes in the B and C items. And you can, um, put those into your covering letter. And, and, uh, just to repeat myself, if it happens that they haven’t noticed the price creep, you’re going to be able to save them money just with your, with your letter. And even if they have noticed, they’ll know that, you know, these techniques and they’re not that common, you know what we’re talking about? Isn’t something that everybody does. If, if it did, then you know, you, you wouldn’t be standing out in the cover letter. Um, so you stand out either way, you know, hopefully they, you know, you’ve kind of helped them save some money, but even if you haven’t, even, if you haven’t, you’ve certainly helped yourself by proving that you’ve got some really valuable skills that will make you valuable from that.

Scott Luton (28:43):

Love it. Now, rod, I thought for sure you would have used the 2019 NBA champions, Toronto Raptors as an organization. Someone wouldn’t want to work for somebody run basketballs or something. Right.

Rod Sherkin (28:56):

Right. Well, yeah. They’re either not doing they didn’t. Yeah. Well, the Raptors, I guess if you went to work for, uh, the heck they are owned by maple leaf sports, I think is really good. Yeah. They’re their own. I think so they’re the blue Jays and the Raptors are owned by a big holding company. And um, yeah. So let’s say you worked for the Raptors and you sourced the, all of their outfits, their uniforms, and they were made from cotton and Dacron. Okay. So you would check out cotton prices, which I have no idea, but again, that’s all knowable, that’s traded in the New York commodity exchange. So all of that’s available and, uh, whatever the polyester might be. So it’s probably one of the plastics spin to be knowable. It’s what I’ll sell this, uh, lots of there’s a magazine called plastics news, I think. And they are like, yeah, yeah, you can track most the basic plastics in that as well.

Scott Luton (29:53):

Well, I, I love it. It it’s universally applicable to any organization that, uh, purchases and acquires raw materials. You just need to, you’ve got to have a, a great game plan and know what you’re doing. And you’ve got to have a great source of information where some of the stuff we’re going to put in the show notes as well as for that matter, pro purchaser comes into play. So really I liked this, this targeted approach.

Rod Sherkin (30:16):

It sounds simple. It’s a bit of work, but like you say, Scott, if you’ve, if you know what you want, that’s how you go after it. You go after it through networking. Like it’s always better to have somebody recommend you then your cover letter against red, for sure. Uh, even if they don’t, you still have a much better chance of getting noticed. If you’re, you’re able to put something in there that’s noteworthy that’s different and showing somebody how to save money without ever having met them is usually quite different in a good way.

Scott Luton (30:45):

All right. So what else, anything else we want to share in this more targeted segment here? Oh, 81. Smelly,

Rod Sherkin (30:52):

Not as important. I think the main thing is go for cost containment, show them your skills, especially nowadays coming out of COVID, everybody’s going to be, um, very focused on, on the cashflow and saving money, but if you’ve got a good referral, so if they followed your advice and, um, you know, volunteered, however, he came up with, uh, a good network and then they got a call one day from a friend said, Hey, there’s a job going in our company that, uh, I think you might suit you. Uh, do you want me to put your name in the, in the hat? And you say, yeah. And then next thing you know, you’ve, you’ve, you’ve got to weigh in. So then, then the other way to stand out I found is to ask really intelligent questions and fights insightful questions because sometimes a good question is worth more than 10 or 15 good answers.

Rod Sherkin (31:40):

That’s an old expression. So if you do get a chance to ask a question before you actually meet the hiring manager through your contact, think about the questions, you know, things like, you know, what procurement issues are most pressing right now with the company, you know, is it cost containment? Is it lead time? Reliability? Is it security of supply? You know, our supply chains have certainly been through a lot lately, you know, do they have long distance supply chains that, uh, that are vulnerable, do that? Do they, um, use just-in-time delivery that makes them quite vulnerable as well. And you can ask what products are most important duty and their direct spend category. So that’s the other bit of advice is if you’re fortunate enough to actually get a referral, then use that referral to, um, to ask intelligent questions. Because as a hiring manager, if you hear these questions from a candidate, it’s usually very encouraging. You makes you think my goodness, this person’s got their thinking cap on. And that’s the kinds of, that’s exactly where we need to focus our efforts. We’ve got a cost containment issue and let’s, let’s go for it. So then you can, of course tailor your cover letter to, to match whatever it is they’re they’re looking for.

Scott Luton (32:52):

Right. And if the individual is a quick study in this pain point, I wonder what they could do with these five other needs. Once they get studied up and have access information. I think that’s one of the natural kind of where the mind goes with, with business leaders that are looking for capable and that stand out town. And you’re speaking to, I want to mention one of the things before we kind of shift gears and start to wind down the interview and rod, you’re talking about how powerful a great question is and how it can be worth dozens or scores maybe even of, of of good comments. Uh, I participated in a, uh, hostile internship virtual internship program here in 2020, a few months back. And it was hosted by my good friend, Alison, uh, crikey Giddens. Um, there’s a manufacturer that’s always given back Allison’s salt of the earth.

Scott Luton (33:41):

And she assembled, I want to say we had about 20 students that I was kind of sharing some supply chain thoughts with. And when I wrapped up my few comments and a few slides, it opened up Q and a and you know, maybe we all do. We all probably underestimate just how bright our students are. And our young people are rod opera. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a presentation or I was posed with incredibly thoughtful and smart and articulate questions. I was, I was glad that I ate my Wheaties that morning.

Rod Sherkin (34:16):

That’s right. Yeah. He got a good night’s sleep too.

Scott Luton (34:19):

Make sure I brought it with, with, you know, capable answers. I’ve kept that with me for so long because it really, you make such a great point. Those really thought, well thought out, researched, articulate own point. Been there, done that questions are worth their weight in gold. And then some, and this is this process that you’re kind of laying out will help candidates put together the silver bullet question. So I love it. Great stuff here. So to our audience, again, you’re, we’re gonna put, we’re gonna have two attachments in the show notes. One is going to kind of illustrate how price creep works and you know, that bigger picture procurement outlook that rod has speaking to. So look for that, it’ll include a rough cover sheet kind of template of sorts that rod also shared. And in a second attachment, we’re going to share some resources that might be helpful as you, uh, look for, uh, sources of, of good sound information.

Scott Luton (35:14):

Thankfully, rod we’re almost in December, uh, will, it will certainly be in December when that we publish this, we’re getting closer and closer at calling 20, 20 a year and put it in the books. I think, goodness, goodness gracious. He can’t be too sin. Yeah, you’re right. And, and you, you, you said you shared earlier, you know, how much burden has been placed on at supply feet from a year like 2020, amen. To that. However know when you think of a couple of key observations, you know, because the flip side of this historically challenging year, and one of the silver linings here is just how much better that global supply chains will be once we get through, because it’s uncover winkling, it’s uncovered blind spots is it’s uncovered just how not resilient, but fragile. So many different components of global supply chain can be that’s good news. That’s going to make the industry better and stronger for the next big crisis. But in what’s a couple of key observations you have in general from the year 2020.

Rod Sherkin (36:17):

I think that the way buyers and sellers relate has changed significantly that everything’s being done in writing, you know, through email. And, and so the, the psychological aspect of negotiations isn’t nearly as important as it was before. And what counts now are the facts. So you, you know, let’s just go back to the silent slope. You send a graph to a supplier and say, Hey, your pallet, you know, your hardwood costs are down 30%. Why are you still charging me so much for pallets? And this supplier sales rep can’t come and kind of try to smooth it over. They can’t take you to lunch. Not that lunch matters that much, but this, this whole kind of emotional aspect that goes along with buying and selling is kind of disappeared, its own being done in writing. And I think that favors the procurement profession. I think the buyer is better off if facts do the talking, because guess when the costs go up, buyers are always listening and allowing suppliers to raise the price because they’ve got to cover the raw materials.

Rod Sherkin (37:22):

And when they go down, of course it was silent. But now that people are more digital, they’re more graphical. Then they have to do the research with, without the influence of the sales rep in the office, telling them, you know, how lucky they are. They’re not raising the price, but wait a second. You know, now that the costs are down because you’ve done your research and you’re doing it because there’s no other way to negotiate anymore, you can’t do it other than by, um, you know, email. And so it’s, um, I think it’s really been a boon for our profession because we’re becoming much more, much less influenced by things other than facts. So fact-based procurement is almost always to the benefit of the buyer. I think that’s one thing. The other thing that’s different too, is I think the focus on cost containment is going to be more, it’s always been there.

Rod Sherkin (38:12):

I mean, clearly everyone strives to be low cost producer, but now with, you know, cashflow being King, uh, margins being squeezed, especially, you know, there are extra overheads when you’re running factories with COVID, you know, PPE and things like that. And just and saying, I think that is as strong as it was before, is this focus on costs is going to be even stronger. So I think what companies are going to be looking for senior managers will be looking for hiring managers will be looking for are people who can drive down costs and do it in a systematic and dependable way. And so those are the two things I think that are different that the 2020, these are good things at 2020. Um, well, they’re not both good. The first thing is good because to the advantage of the buyers, the second thing is just a warning that you be prepared for even stronger emphasis on cost containment from senior management.

Scott Luton (39:12):

I agree with you. I think, you know, we’ve seen in recent years, rod, how supply chain has had a seat at the table, uh, in a, in a very recognized manner for the, for the first time perhaps ever, you know, which that began several years back and now here lately, it seems like the procurement profession is getting a lot, a lot more respect and recognition and, and luster, uh, which is also really neat to see, you know, because I think many organizations are, are, are realizing the strategic nature when procurement and sourcing and, and, and I don’t really, I don’t want to get you going, but th these, these things that kind of fall under this greater procurement sourcing umbrella of the strategic role that can play in and real in a huge impact they can make. And that sounds yes. Yes.

Rod Sherkin (40:02):

I, I think presidents are looking for really good talent now, before we had to have really good operations, talent, and great sales and marketing, which they still do need, but now they’re saying be I better have equally good talent equally effective people, and that means they’ll pay for it. And once you start paying what senior management decides to budget the same kind of money for supply chain professionals, as you do say for marketing professionals. And I think it’s, um, it’s that that’s really, what’s going to change things. It’s going to attract much brighter and better people into our profession. And it’s going to raise the status and profile of her profession. It measurably will be equal to marketing, I think can finance and operations. Excellent. We are, we are really in reality, like you say, but I don’t know if I’ll see your M L presidents or senior managers quite understood it as much as they do now.

Scott Luton (40:52):

Yeah. Great point. All right. So, well, so much good stuff on this latest episode with rod shirk and really have enjoyed this, appreciate your willingness to, to, to really give back and help people. Uh, you know, there’s so many folks that, that beyond the struggles related to the pandemic, you know, the core struggles don’t go away and that includes finding, finding a job or advancing your career. So I really appreciate your approach here. Let’s make sure our audience knows how to get in touch with you and pro So, so give us some information there

Rod Sherkin (41:23):

Just it’s pro Um, and, and, you know, anyone can just go to it when you get there. If you do go, there’s a resources tab that says on demand webinars. And I think the seventh on-demand webinars is actually called boost boost your career prospects, something like that. And it just fleshes out a lot of things we’ve been talking. You can see the graphs and charts. It’s a, it’s a webinar that was a PowerPoint, which was more graphs and charts than talking. It’s a little tough in a podcast or kind of paint these pictures as vividly as you can with them with a PowerPoint. So, and there’s, there’s no cost. So people are more than welcome to go to the website, go to resources and then go to on-demand webinars. And I think there eight of them, the seventh one is on this topic. And if you want it to access, uh, we have, um, a 30 day free trial.

Rod Sherkin (42:15):

So if you couldn’t find the information, you need it in the free, a handout that, you know, the free information descriptions, that is part of the, um, the notes that, uh, you’ll be handing out Scott, then Nick, you just, just click get started, take out a 30 day trial. There’s no obligation and there’s no, you don’t even need a credit card. And there are all kinds of graphs and charts in there that you can use, uh, for your job hunting. And some matter of fact, if you’re between jobs, there’s like I say, there’s two things quick. If you’re between jobs where it says company, just put the word bridge, we have this unofficial bridge membership, which is we, if people are between jobs, we give them actually a limited access to pro purchaser for free. And when, until they get the new job, at least if you’re going for promotion within your company. So you’re really not between jobs, but you want to use these same techniques to, you know, promote your career inside internally. Then when you just put your company name and then put dash bridge and we’ll know that those are there, Sarah, you know why you’re doing it. And again, what the advantage to that is that it doesn’t terminate in 30 days. You basically can use the website until you, you get to promotion.

Scott Luton (43:27):

Wow, what a, uh, incredible gesture. I really appreciate you sharing that. And, and, you know, to our audience, that’s a huge value. And that’s, you know, I think one other important distinction as it relates to pro is not only do you have, uh, what I’ll call shippers, um, you know, the folks that, that acquire and procure the raw materials using, uh, the resource and the platform, but you’re also having really savvy BizDev professionals that, that need that to build their cases as well. Is that right?

Rod Sherkin (43:58):

Yep, absolutely

Scott Luton (44:00):

Outstanding. We’re really appreciate this really admire this approach and what you’re offering to the market, uh, rod, and we’ll make sure we’ll make it as easy as possibly of course you’ll find links to what rod has shared in the show notes. We will really like making a rafter, the one-click rod one, one click of the mouse button to get to the resources that folks hear about here at supply chain now.

Rod Sherkin (44:23):

Well, thanks. That’s I really appreciate the, your you’re helping out as well. Scott, thank you. All right.

Scott Luton (44:30):

So to our audience, they been talking with rod Scherchen founder and president of pro Be sure to check him out there and, uh, check out the show notes. And one of the big things that we’ve come across rod, uh, especially as relates to folks seeking out their next job or seeking out that advancement is you got to take proven best practices and act on them and put them, put them in place and get them working for you. So really want to challenge your audience, do just that take advantage of these resources that Ron has shared. And, um, and we wish you all the best in the months ahead, but also we hope you’ve enjoyed this conversation as much as I have. Hey, we, we revisited Ziggy for the first time. That’s worth the price of admission, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed it. Of course, you can learn more about what we find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcast from. Hey, on behalf of the entire team here at supply chain. Now Scott Luton wishing all of our listeners, nothing but the best. Hey, we challenge you. Like we challenge our own team. Do good, give forward and be the change that’s needed.

Rod Sherkin is the founder and president of Prior to entering cyberspace, he was the senior executive responsible for supply chain for both Pillsbury and Ball Packaging, where, for 15 years, he honed his negotiating skills with suppliers. Rod has spent the last 20 years sharing what he learned with other procurement professionals. Learn more about the company here:

Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now, the voice of supply chain. Supply Chain Now digital media brings together thought-leaders, influencers and practitioners to spotlight the people, technology, best practices, critical issues, and new opportunities impacting global supply chain performance today and tomorrow. Our leaders are frequently sourced to provide insights into supply chain news, technology, disruption and innovation, and rank in the top 25 on multiple industry thought-leadership lists. Supply Chain Now digital media content includes podcasts, livestreaming, vlogs, virtual events, and articles that have accumulated millions of views, plays and reads since 2017 and continue to reach a growing global audience.

Scott has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He’s also been named a top industry influencer by groups such as Thinkers360, ISCEA and others.

Having served as President of APICS Atlanta from 2009 to 2011, Scott has also served on a variety of boards and has led a number of initiatives to support the local business community & global industry. Scott is also a United States Air Force Veteran and has led a variety of efforts to give back to his fellow Veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.


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