Interview headlines Hamza Kamal shares his experience.

Lakshita Boora

Hamza, you have progressed from handling sales and stores to becoming a category manager. How did you manage this progression?

It starts with an attitude that you bring to your work; every day is a challenge. It does not matter what role you are in. While working in stores, I always had a sense of responsibility within my role. I still remember my first day of packing boxes. Someone looking from the outside can only think of boxes being transferred, but for me, it was the contribution towards patient care. That effort, if looked deeply, can prove that my role was very crucial. There is learning in everything, so I made the most of the opportunity of working in stores by building on a strong foundation of principles of the supply chain, inventory, materials management, and order.

Secondly, I had a vision when I migrated to Australia. Having a view is essential, if you set your vision straight, you can achieve anything in life. My vision was to work at a big organization one day, so when I started working for Alfred, I ticked one part of it. The next goal was to be in a role that could challenge my abilities, and the role of category management completed that. I also believe in getting the right advice. I listened to people who were doing great in their jobs, and took advantage of any help that can assist me in getting to where I am at the moment. I represented my department in the Finance Forum by discussing “how we have improved efficiency within our department”.

It gave me the confidence to speak in front of a big crowd. I worked hard for it. My management trusted me to represent the department so there was a lot at stake and I had to give everything I had learned in it. In addition, I completed courses like Category Management, Contract Management, Effective business writing to familiarise myself on how I can use those resources at work. I made notes on things I can use from the principles of Category Management and utilise them in every project. It does not matter where you are; if you work hard and learn every day, anything is possible!

Lakshita Boora

Through this progression, what skill sets did you acquire or improve in becoming a category leader from a sales job?

My director once told me, “your sales experience will help you a lot in procurement. Utilize it to the maximum potential”. Sales experience is a must-have in Procurement; “Stakeholder Engagement/skills” is key, and experience in sales will help you understand your stakeholders well. Additionally, I also believe, being adaptable and pragmatic is necessary. An effective category manager should analyse the data which relates to how the customer behaves. I also interacted with industry leaders who have done great in their careers.

I attended conferences and saw how their skills could give me a direction on where to go and what skills I would require to become a category leader. We can find all the reading materials and resources on the Internet. For example, I like the fact that at Procurement League, we can connect with other professionals and learn from their experiences by asking them any question.

It’s how you make use of it stands you out from the crowd. Most of us work 9-5 jobs, its what you do 5-9 that will bring the impact.

Lakshita Boora

Healthcare is a constantly evolving sector especially with increasing lifespan and changing demographics. What specific challenges and opportunities do you see for Procurement in Healthcare?

Growing budget constraints is always a point of discussion within public health. Many of this sector’s systems are complicated or outdated with increasing cost and delays for stakeholders. While there have been many attempts to reform, they have not been effective, especially within Australian Public Health care. Most of the public health decisions are undertaken by states to lower cost and improve efficiency. However, efforts to maximize value are often obstructed due to high costs involved in tendering and arbitrary funding cycles.

Healthcare will evolve more with time; people are getting sick every day; new studies are coming up for ways to improve life span. Which means for us, there will always be something new to discover in the market. Within Healthcare, the focus is still patient care. The life expectancy level has increased. Therefore, the systems should evolve to cater to their changing needs. Purchasing decisions must be made on long- term data-based projections of population needs.

The Healthcare sector needs to base their decisions on long-term population planning and holistic needs of the ageing population. There is an increase in efficiency and better outcomes, and an opportunity to standardize the data to anticipate future shifts in demand. The government should not only ensure transparency and probity but also allow cooperation between health care providers and suppliers to explore modern solutions.

Lakshita Boora

What is the state of supply and demand for trained procurement resources in Australia?

Historically, in Australia, there has been a lack of skilled procurement and supply chain resources. In recent years, we have seen an upward trend in resources and skills, so I am positive about what is yet to come. I would highly suggest that upcoming students explore procurement as their career and get the necessary education. They should know how to obtain information from trained professionals by volunteering to assist in projects and always have a “Can do” attitude. Management sees the attitude and willingness; experience will come with time, but attitude is key.

Have mentors who are willing to assist you in the career, especially for recent graduates. Connect with them through social platforms like Procurement league, LinkedIn, etc.; there are people out there who want to help the community by giving back because they have been through the same road so their experience will be helpful. There is a male dominance within procurement, so I would be interested to see a balance of both genders coming up the chain. Procurement is undoubtedly a rewarding career and will challenge you the way you will drive your approach. It throws you in the deep end and tests your ability to create value, and once the value is created; you will achieve great results.

Lakshita Boora

Digital technologies such as AI and blockchain continue are a hot topic of interest for Procurement. In your view, what are the use cases for AI and blockchain in Procurement?

Block chain is a unique technology being used in many sectors. In Supply Chain, it can be used to track a consumable from the supplier to the hospital and its end use- the patient. Blockchain gives visibility into item’s movement, and it has the potential to streamline the supply chain. According to an article published in 2018; the Australian Department of Health is working on a concept that uses Blockchain to record who is accessing its medical data. They are also researching on ways that support research on health data while maintaining privacy. This data would be made available for health researchers as there could be cures for cancer. While quite a bit is happening in this sector, but it will take time to adopt new practices.

However, with the abovementioned advantages, there is a risk associated like patient data information which will be kept in silos and can be accessible. Research also says that Block chain is “unhackable”, but history has proven almost nothing is unhackable. That will potentially open a series of concerns with information exposed to the block chain.

The Block chain represents a forward push, especially in procurement. Therefore, organizations should not ignore its value and make decisions after carefully testing its effectiveness.

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