Stephen Turner - In the lime light
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Find out how, in just ten years, Stephen Turner MCIPS, has accelerated to the top of the facilities procurement department at Lockton Companies LLP, the world’s largest privately owned, independent insurance brokerage firm.
Now managing 20 major contracts for supplies and services for the UK and international operation, facilities procurement manager Steve is remarkably modest about his success. In this interview Steve reflects on the past ten years at Lockton.
Born in Maidstone, Kent, Steve went on to achieve a BA (Hons) in Classics and Archaeology studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury. It was while studying that Steve learnt how to analyse large amounts of data, a skill that has propelled him to where he is today.
Although passionate about archaeology, Steve quickly realised that a career in this field wasn’t right for him. Unsure of which path to take next, Steve began working for the NHS in the health informatics services department, where he stayed for two years, gaining experience in budget management, target monitoring and purchasing. Now living in Sidcup, London, with his wife of six years and two children, aged four and two, Steve has come a long way.
It was through a university friend that Steve first heard about the purchasing position at Lockton, then known as Alexander Forbes. Achieving the purchasing assistant position, Steve made his move to the big smoke and began his career in procurement.
Since that time Steve has developed his skills and demonstrated his procurement proficiency at Lockton, during which he studied for three years to become a fully qualified member of CIPS (The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply), achieving MCIPS status; the internationally recognised gold standard of achievement for procurement and supply professionals.
Riding the waves of financial uncertainty within the insurance sector as a whole, Steve has remained at Lockton and puts his success down to an ability to perform his role to an exceptionally high standard and keep up to date with current affairs and training within the procurement sector.
Develop, adapt and overcome
The role has changed considerably since Steve was promoted to procurement manager in 2010 due to periods of re-structuring. In addition to managing facilities procurement contracts, excluding IT, the role also includes property management. This could be viewed by some as a non-traditional and conflicting set up that adds an element of pressure, but it is a challenge Steve enjoys.
In fact, Steve cites one of his strongest qualities as functioning well under pressure, an attribute he draws on often and one he has developed with experience. The ability to listen is another skill high up there on the list of procurement professional requisites:
“Listen and understand what motivates your key stakeholders. Working with them to meet their objectives and not hindering them will ultimately enable you to meet your objectives and get your job done.”
Being a proficient communicator and establishing honest and strong relationships is also essential to success in procurement: “Things will always go wrong; generally people are reasonable if they’re made aware of a situation as it develops and you’ve managed their expectations. This is why communication is key.”
Recognising that procurement is not always about awarding contracts to the cheapest supplier, Steve recalls a contract that went to tender and was awarded to a supplier based solely on cost. The contract went live at a point when the supplier’s implementation team lost a number of experienced members of staff, which resulted in a challenging and rocky start to the contract, lurching them from one disaster to another.
There has been a marked improvement and the supplier is now turning things around, Steve’s preference is to consider the ‘bigger picture’ when awarding contracts to a supplier. Is there a dedicated account manager who is going to jump on requests or issues in an appropriate time frame? Is invoicing going to be smooth and how much of my time will be required to manage this supplier? These are all necessary questions during the tender process.
Steve views Banner as one supplier that is easy to work with and credits his account manager, Scott Ellis, for his efficiency, honesty and reliability.
Advice from the top
To those considering or starting a career in procurement, Steve’s advice is to “apply for a graduate entry position, as this will provide an ideal platform to learn the basics. Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid. To build confidence and learn the legal framework, theory and terminology complete the CIPS qualifications. Network. CIPS run a number of workshops throughout the year which offer the opportunity to hear about industry news and developments as well as make contacts.”
Working for an award winning company
Feeling valued, trusted and appreciated goes far with any employee and Steve certainly values the benefits of working for a company that in 2015 was awarded the ‘Best Place To Work In Insurance’ for the six consecutive year. Steve describes Lockton as a good and understanding employer that provides him with the flexibility to be a father as well as a successful facilities procurement manager, benefits that are priceless.