MarPro - The Marketing Procurement Podcast

Ashish Gupta | Clorox

January 23, 2022 Rusty Pepper & Dana Small & Ashish Gupta Episode 16
Ashish Gupta | Clorox
MarPro - The Marketing Procurement Podcast
More Info
MarPro - The Marketing Procurement Podcast
Ashish Gupta | Clorox
Jan 23, 2022 Episode 16
Rusty Pepper & Dana Small & Ashish Gupta

On this episode of MarPro - The Marketing Procurement Podcast we visit with Ashish Gupta, the Group Manager of Global Strategic Sourcing at consumer product giant Clorox.  
 
Key topics discussed in this episode:

  • Mindset to value vendors as partners
    • RFP = Request for Partnership
    • RFC = Request for Collaboration
  • Importance of communicating like a marketer
  • Earning a seat at the marketing table
  • Managing Reviews & Pitches when everyone is working remotely
  • Working with partners to manage/limit supply chain disruptions
  • Hiring & Managing workforce
  • Ashishism's - You're going to love them!


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Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of MarPro - The Marketing Procurement Podcast we visit with Ashish Gupta, the Group Manager of Global Strategic Sourcing at consumer product giant Clorox.  
 
Key topics discussed in this episode:

  • Mindset to value vendors as partners
    • RFP = Request for Partnership
    • RFC = Request for Collaboration
  • Importance of communicating like a marketer
  • Earning a seat at the marketing table
  • Managing Reviews & Pitches when everyone is working remotely
  • Working with partners to manage/limit supply chain disruptions
  • Hiring & Managing workforce
  • Ashishism's - You're going to love them!


LIKE-FOLLOW-SHARE


Dana:

Hey everybody. This is Dana small,

Rusty:

and this is rusty pepper.

Dana:

Welcome to a new year and a new episode of my pro

Rusty:

the marketing procurement podcast.

Dana:

Well rusting 2020 to bring it in.

Rusty:

We are here. We arrived. It is bright new year. When you look at the year ahead, what are some of the big initiatives or goals that you're focus?

Dana:

Um, so we have a couple of short, a couple of people right now. And so we're all like slammed. And so getting somebody in, um, other than that, I think some of the big initiatives we've had, um, kind of this it's interesting. It's like a. You know, fit for growth. Like we're, we're growing as a company, we're changing different disease states. So I'm trying to understand, you know, what's the right path. What's the right expenses had got all that good stuff. So there's huge initiatives for us to make sure, you know, we're just doing the right thing, I would say at the end of the day financially. Um, and all those things, but it's interesting because now sourcing has become highlighted, right? Because it's like, Hey. Look, we all of the stuff we've done and look at how we've saved here and look at what we've done there and look the analysis. And so a lot of the things that they were looking for has already been done, and I think they're realizing that they have sourcing functions. So that's fun.

Ashish:

Yay.

Rusty:

That's always good to get your.

Dana:

Yeah, no, I think we're definitely, you know, we've got a, hopefully a big product launch this year and so lot going on a lot, just making sure, you know, we're doing the right thing. I think everybody has the same thing everybody's doing. Right. Um, but I think there's definitely a huge focus on it for us where I don't think it was such a huge focus in the past. Um,

Rusty:

I mean, you look at the supply chain issues and all the hiring, all the different problems that are out there right out plugged in all these organizations I've seen. I think 20, 22 is going to be a big year for procurement groups as a whole, because there is a big spotlight on them and there's a big need and companies are realizing the value. They can get this done. Right. I think it's a lot of fuel and great topics that we're going to be able to dive into throughout the year this year. So I'm pretty excited about that with the podcast. So we've got. Really good guests kicking off a year for us. So why don't we get them introduced? I'll let you do the honors of doing that.

Dana:

Sure. Is this a she's from Clorox and I don't want to delve your background. I'll let you kind of give us an overview of your career, what you've done and sourcing

Ashish:

and stand up and rusty. Um, I'm grateful to be here and I like. You know, uh, the focus has shifted from what is peculiar mental. This is peculiar, man. Now nobody's talking about what is peculiar, they're saying, Hey, this is peculiar, man. So, uh, let me just give you a brief background about myself. So, um, um, I have been associated with products for many, many years first as a consumer and last three years as a proud employee and a. I lead marketing and sales, strategic sourcing. Uh, and you know, I've got an additional role recently where I'm leading the digital excellence center. So, uh, my background is very diverse. So I have started my cardio, not RMB. Uh, they moved to a program management business operations and, uh, work across various procurement categories, mostly on the indirect. Uh, across the globe. And if I think of my procurement experience storyline, uh, it'll be from washing machine to a self-driving car, uh, procurement journey from, uh, cleaning to collaboration. And I think, you know, many of the procurement professionals have experienced these phases. Um, you know, there have been days when I walked to my laundry. And I looked at my washing machine, you know, the, my washing machine laughs at me and I asked, why are you laughing at me and the responses, Hey, I'm just working two hours and I'm cleaning your clothes, but you're working nonstop. So it's time to take a break, you know? And then the next phases you are working like a rental car, you know? So you are more in the execution mode, somebody else's driving. But eventually, you know, which all of us, big government professionals aspire to as, to a truly collaborative mode where, where businesses saying, Hey, this is, this is where, you know, this is my destinations. And just take me there. You know, you, you decide how do we want to go? Uh, so that's kind of, you know, my, my, my background and I'm very, very passionate about procurement. If I scan my body. So you will see like particular man, you know, sourcing negotiations, networking. So. The fact that we here,

Rusty:

well, we're glad you're here and looking at your background, you've got a lot of international experience working in sourcing. You worked in India for 10 years, Singapore for a year, England, a couple of years, fin then a few years. And then I think around 2016, you came to the U S uh, where you've been working, uh, on the market recruitment side since about that time as well. So got a really wide range of experience across procurement, but also. We're working in different regions around the world. How do you think that experience has helped prepare you for the current role that you're in and everything that you're now seeing on a day-to-day basis across the listing?

Ashish:

Absolutely. I think it has immensely helped me, um, to really understand and appreciate that diversity in terms of, you know, country, culture, organization, culture, uh, and, and different functions, uh, Uh, you know, and let me, let me just give you an example. Let me ask, you know, when I moved to us, the first culture shock, which I got was when I looked at my offer letter, which says employment at will, and which means that company can, uh, you know, practically fire you in one day and you can leave the company one day and you can imagine somebody coming from Europe where it takes forever to fire somebody. Uh, it was a big culture shock. And I asked from my HR manager, you know, why this employment at will? And she said, this is not like a thumbnail policy. This is how, you know, the, this is how us works. And this really bothered me for a couple of days. You know why us works the way it works. And there, there are reasons. But let me ask you this question. And, you know, I came out with this analogy, why this works. And there is no right or wrong answer, you know, just let me know whatever comes to your mind. So you are in the middle of C, you are with your spouse, with your mom, like parent and with your care. So spouse, parent, and care, you are the only one who knows swimming and suddenly a storm comes. And in addition, like other than you, you can save one person. So whom you are going to save and there is no right or wrong answer.

Dana:

That's my kid.

Rusty:

Absolutely. I

Dana:

mean, I try to help my mom with the other arm. My husband can stay.

Ashish:

Yeah. I would have to then care. Uh, if you look at, um, and again, I'm talking about average. If you ask this question from issues, they will choose payday mom because, you know, we give a lot of value to the past. Interesting. We haven't done in the past. Gaddy's with you all the time. Uh, if you would have chosen a K, which means its future Kate represents future. And you know, most of the Europeans would answer that question and I'm not generalizing. This is just an average. So for example, when I vote in Europe, in R and D, we hired somebody who didn't have any programming language experience, but he had pretty good logic. So we thought like, you know, this person will be very, very good in programming in the future. If you ask this question in us, probably they will choose spouse because spouse represents. So, what do you bring to the table today is the most important thing. What you have done in the past is great, or what you are going to do in the future will be great. So it's more about present it's about today and that's sort of like helped me. Maybe that's the reason why, you know, we have this employment at will because today is the most important thing. So, uh, so long answer to your questions, but I think it does. To really understand why people behave the way they behave, why organizations works the way they. But of course the fundamentals remain same location.

Dana:

I just want to know if you've ever asked that question and somebody is like, yeah, I'm not going to save anybody. I'm just going to start a

Ashish:

new life. I finally get peace and

Rusty:

quiet.

Ashish:

I'm

Rusty:

like,

Dana:

no, actually that's a godsend. Yeah, exactly. Where I see peace and quiet, bro. I'd love to hear somebody go choice D no, but it's a good analogy. I think it's, it's, you know, um, it's very interesting when you've worked in, you know, obviously you've gotten. International experience. Would you say sourcing a marketing source, a marketing, no matter where you are or would you say there are definitely some nuances that you would need to learn if you wanted to take an international role?

Ashish:

Like I said, I think the fundamentals remains the same, you know, it's at the end of the day it's sourcing, but of course there are some nuances, you know, depending on the, on the country, you know, some places as we talk about, uh, they are very relationship oriented. Some are more rule-oriented culture. For example, originally I'm from India. And we, you know, I joke that we have learned to negotiate even if the straightened fixed price. Uh, so when I moved to land, uh, I negotiated, uh, at a place and the guy told me, you are the first person ever, who has asked, you know, like, Hey, you know, can I get a better price? You know, because we always give like fixed price. And I said, I'm, for some reason, I'm feeling. Uh, so yes, I think there are some nuances, you know, depending on which environment, which country you are operating or otherwise, you know, more or less it's the same.

Dana:

That's interesting. Right. I guess that does make sense from a negotiation standpoint of view. Um, you're not gonna, you know, negotiate the same, somebody who value something differently than you do. And I guess, you know, part of your negotiation process is looking across the table and seeing what they're doing and you know, what values to them and what's going to be their priority. So I think it was a really good one that, uh, I don't think I thought about prior to this, but I think that would be a huge, huge difference too. Right. And then culturally, too, if. Typically, we just don't ask, you know, for pricing or, you know, I know when I went to Japan and did seven Japan, it was a whole different culture. He had to learn about to be able to, you know, really work and, um, operate there. So that's actually a really good one, uh, for, I think people to know maybe from shop on right brush up on your negotiation skills and people assessment. I mean, we need that anyways. I think within our roles, but yeah, I think that's a really good one. What do you think then is the one thing sourcing people probably should be doing that they're not in their roles or that you've seen across, or maybe in your current role or previously, what do you think is one thing we're always kind of missing that we should be doing

Ashish:

for me? The biggest learning is what should I all know? And that's where I think, you know, we need to. We really need to work hard, like all learn and relearn. And let me give you a few examples. So when I moved to marketing sourcing, my first ever experience, uh, interactions with a marketing director, you know, I went to her with a bunch of flights, you know, this is what sourcing does and so forth. And she said in marketing, we communicate in one line. Okay. And. And she said, okay, tell me, you know, what, what is your role? And I was with like bunch of flights and she said, you just need to tell me in one line, you know, what is your role? And I thought about it. I looked at my flights and then I replied, I will convert your PowerPoint into reality. And at that moment itself, I realized whatever I have learned in my previous procurement world. I need to learn. You know, uh, the second question is which, you know, which is often asked from the sourcing people, how do you get feed at the marketing table? Right? And by the way, you know, most of my procurement learnings are from my washing machine, from my car, from my TV. Uh, so this is, you know, I'll give you a short story and, uh, this is like what sourcing needs to learn and probably how do you get cheated? The marketing. So once I was, you know, I was on my bag and I was talking to my bedroom door. Okay. Don't be surprised. You know, this is how I do very often. So it was a long conversation, but let me just summarize that. So we asked my bedroom door, you know, how do I get cheated at the marketing table? You know, what should I learn? You know, what should I do differently? So my door said like, let's assume that in the living room, there is a dining table on the first. If you imagine that's a marketing table, what you will do now, if you want to sit there, I said, that's pretty simple. I'll just get up, walk there and just sit there. And the door said, you capture two important steps, but you're missing the most important step. And I asked, what, what am I missing? I mean, that's pretty simple. And the door replied, you need to open me. So when you are getting up, you need to open the door and then go there. And that was like an aha moment for them. And those were my learnings. Like, so first when I say get up, it means you need to be very passionate and believe in yourself that you can do it. Number three, and I'll come to number two step, which is the most interesting is number three is it's a step wise approach. You cannot jump on the seat of the table. Uh, look at the high jumpers. You know, I have watched many videos of the high chambers. They never jump immediately. They take nine to 10 steps before actually they make a whole. Yeah, but the most important piece where I think, you know, your point, you need to be a gate opener. You traditionally, we have been a gatekeepers. You need to be a gate opener. That's the, I think the biggest thing, which we need to learn as a sourcing professionals. So it's passionate gate openers and taking. So let's dive

Rusty:

in number two. I love the story. I love the way that you framed that, but let's talk about number two specific because I think that's where a lot of German folks struggle when it comes to working with markers is how do you get that door open? How do you get that seat at the table? What are some of the tools of the trade that I've helped you?

Ashish:

Be successful with that. Okay. So few things, as you know, I focused on PPD and by PPD, I didn't mean PowerPoint. It's like people process and technology. So let me start with first people itself, which is a building relationship and trust. You know, I have studied science and math in my school and college, but in procurement, what I have learned is if you work hard on chemistry, you will score. And it's very important as sourcing professionals. We need to understand, uh, our stakeholders and by the way, I don't call them stakeholders. I call them partners. What I have done is I have actually data fire, data, behavior, and expectations. So it is an example, like, I don't know if we have realized unconsciously, we have adopted to different social platforms. So let's say if I love. So on Twitter, maybe I like, I will say I like hashtag green tea on Facebook. I will say, uh, uh, you know, I liked the, or in LinkedIn, I will say that, you know, these are my new tea drinking skills. So unconsciously, we are adapting based on different social medias. So similarly, what we have done is based on stakeholders, expectations and behaviors, we are communicating. Second is, and this is how you build the trust. And, you know, everybody talks about trust and I always say trust, trusted something, which is high in demand, but very low in supply. And I think as sourcing professionals, we are in a unique position to supply that trust. You know, so we have very like metrics also, Hey, which stakeholders have the highest influence, which. I'd like to be more involved, you know, there are stakeholders wants to know each and everything about the whole process. There are some they say, Hey, just give me a high level summary. So there is no one solution. Okay. So that's the first one. The second is the process. I think we have a illusion in the sourcing that we have a six or seven step sourcing process. And I call our process as a simplex process. It looks pretty simple on the top. And when you start deep diving into it, it is very common. Um, you know, it goes into all directions, you know, so my sort of thing, people will not love me, but that's the hard struggle.

Dana:

So, you know, it's interesting because rusty, what you took away from, I want to go back to the opening, the door analogy, right? And then going and sitting down at the table, you just don't jump on it. What resi took away was the door opening. What I actually took away as a sourcing person was you saying it takes money? To actually sit down, you got to pull out the chair, you got to get in front of you. It takes a lot of steps. So to me, that speaks to the patients and the amount of work that you have to do to be able to get at the table. Um, and that, it's just not a simple thing, right. It takes a lot of steps and it takes a lot of patients, especially patients. And dealing with business partners to be able to get that and earn that trust to be able to sit there. Yes, you need the door openers, but if you don't have the patients knocking down Sony's door, beating it down is just not going to work. Right. You're jumping on the table and people are like, get out of here. So I think that's one of the interesting things I think. Also, you can kind of take back from the analogy is it is many steps to get there and we do need to recognize that and not try to rush it. I know a lot of people from other, you know, um, backgrounds, and maybe you can talk to, to like R and D too. They just have a different type of focus. Or if they're from direct, they're just like, let's get in there. Do this X, Y, and Z. Let's do it quickly where I don't think when you're in marketing procurement, it's, it's that straightforward and simple. And if you try to push it that way, Right.

Ashish:

Absolutely. In last two years, you know, we have more pilers than in some of the airlines now, just imagine do it as a pilot, which is for three months, you know, and our process, for example, if takes two to three months, like end to end process. So how do you ensure why you are following your process? You are still able to support marketing to do that pilot, which is only for three months. You just need to look at your process. Uh, and that's what I was talking about. Adaptability and learning, you know, new process and new skills. Yeah.

Dana:

So it's really, so you're saying more of the flexibility, right? We don't have to be so rigid in our process and we can make it flexible to be able to work for. Marketing since marketing's real time, I find the best responses I've gotten back from some of my business partners is, do we have to, I always get, do we have to do this long out process? And when I say no, we can adapt it to whatever makes sense and how quickly we need to do. Then it kind of, there's a spark there like, oh, okay. Then I'm willing to kind of do this. I think there's this kind of notion that we have to stick to the super rigid process and. You know, a sourcing person has been around enough that there is some flexibility to the way you can do things and still get things done, right. In a efficient manager, you can still get the vetting done. You can still make sure, you know, all the due diligence is done while remaining flexible. I mean, there was somethings you can't, you know, kind of take off the table, but I still think that flexibility is really key and working with business partners. Would you agree?

Ashish:

Yes. That's not a choice that's sort of coming back, you know, back to my earlier point on gate opener versus gatekeeper. I think historically sourcing is seen as a compliance functions, especially from the stakeholder's eyes. But what I have learned again from SAS, which is software as a service, why don't we think ourselves sourcing as a service? Where we are offering different types of services. So we have this categorization internally, which, which I use very often. If you go outside, you know, if you are, if you're driving, if you are in a residential place, you will drive with a speed of 25. If you go on a city, you will increase the speed with 45 and then you are going in previous 65, 6. Right. The same car, but you know, different speeds. So similarly, what we have, you know, categorize different projects as, is it like a residential project? Is it a city project? Is it a freebie project? Sometimes we get like project. So, so, Hey listen. New, stupid, done. Uh, but, uh, but yeah, to your point, the flexibility is, is the needle for enough?

Rusty:

What are some of the different struggles that you're seeing out there for marketing procurement, as it relates to hiring and managing your team, his staff in this current environment, working remote, hiring, building careers as a business leader, how are you working through that and managing.

Ashish:

I think first is, you know, it's been like almost two years now, people are working remote. I think people have adapted and get used to remote environment. If you would have asked this questions from me two years back, it was a different story. Uh, in 2020 stress was the most commonly used word. And back then we started a campaign. Let's give stress to stress and we did some small things. You know, we said like, physically, we are a part, but digitally we are very close. So yes, I think remote wise, I, I, I mean, of course, yes, people are looking for opportunities to meet together. So that's, uh, I would say that that's a huge challenge, but obviously, uh, keeping people motivated and making sure that there is a career part, uh, as a company, uh, one of our core value is putting people at the center and. What I have also learned is in last two years, as you know, by having this core value has moved me from human being, to being human of whatever I do. And, uh, somebody asked me like how you are doing negotiations in the last year. And I said, I have moved from my brain from here to here. I mean, whatever actions we are doing, we are, you know, putting people at the center, whether it's our own people, whether it's our consumers or customers, Uh, so there is a huge, uh, investment, uh, and focus in terms of like employees, Bellevue. Uh, which is our purpose also, you know, champion people to be a felon tried each and every day, I would say, you know, so far, I mean, of course I'm not talking about like market dynamics. Everybody knows, you know, people are talking about rate resignations. People are moving around. Uh, but as a company and as functions, yes, there has been a focus on, on individuals about their wellbeing as well as about the.

Dana:

Yeah. So staying on that topic and thinking about sourcing, right? So I know personally from marketing sourcing, I really miss some of the in house agency pitches, and I loved those things and getting the people in the room and suppliers in the room. And I honestly, I've gone through an RFP. I do that good, because I miss it. I missed their chotchkies. Okay. Uh, I miss doing it, but I really do. I miss that in person interaction. I mean, I, I don't know that I ever see us going back to that, which kind of makes me nervous. Do you see us going back to that? I feel like there's such value in bringing suppliers and agencies in-house to pitch, to see the team and how it works together and how you kind of work together with them in the same room. Being in family is completely different than being on zoom. Right. Do you see us getting back to that eventually? Or like, what's your thought process on, you know, like what have you seen during the pandemic? Have you done an RFP? I know my experience has been so different with an agency on zoom. It's just not the same. Right. Um, what's kind of your thought process, or what are your thoughts about, you know, getting back on site or agency pitches, you know, not being in person or on zoom, you know, what's your experience been?

Ashish:

Yeah, I think, I think all of us are missing going back to have those in-person discussions, you know, uh, having those lobby discussions. So, and of course, you know, uh, I think we need to be optimistic. There will be a day. You know, we will go back. We will have like similar kinds of discussions. And last two years, we have done many big RFPs, you know, remotely, but I think everybody understood, you know, this is the, this is the reality. And, you know, we need to make the best out of her, but we try to be very innovative during that, Peter. So I tell you one thing, like when we talk about RFP, you know, in the industry, we call requests for proposed. And what I'm trying to change is to call RFP from requests, for proposal to request for partnership. So especially in marketing, it's no longer all we are saying RFC request for collaboration, and which also involves, Hey, if you're other than the services, if we are not like, you know, in-person, you know, how do we really work together as, as partners? So I wish, you know, we could, you know, go to office like, uh, tomorrow, but I think it's going to take some time, but we just need to live like water, go with. Uh, but yes, I think all of us miss those mistakes. I

Dana:

like that idea of the requests for partnership. Right. I really think from sourcing standpoint of view, I would typically get there later on and like negotiations of like, we want this to be a long-term partnership, things of that sort. But I think by bringing that to the forefront, it's actually a really good idea versus just kind of maybe making people feel like they're pegged against somebody. Versus like, look, we're looking for a long-term partnership and, you know, put your best foot forward. I think another thing interesting about being remote is again, kind of back to an earlier point is like negotiation. So I don't know about you when I first started, it was always like, if you can get the people in the room, you always want to negotiate. Right. It was somebody in the room. Cause it's totally different. Like. Give rusty in the middle finger right now. But if I'm in the room with them

Rusty:

all the time,

Dana:

well then that's underneath the table. So you can't really get rusty. No, but it's true, right. Things you wouldn't do in person, you might do on zoom and especially with negotiations, that is so tough. To me, that was always a huge swing point for me as a sourcing person. I'm like, okay, I need you guys to be onsite and in the room, because I always felt like I could have more persuasion and they wouldn't be asked. Tough. Um, do you, you kind of miss that too? Or did you, or have you not been raised with that kind of negotiations school of thought presses always get them in the room to negotiate.

Ashish:

Yeah. I mean, in room negotiations, as you know, is, is definitely, uh, you would prefer, I think initially we hired, um, while we had like people, you know, under like one zoom or teams call, but it was hard. Uh, and we learned to, you know, capture the language of silence or language of different expressions, you know, which is, which is very, very different. But at the same time, uh, you know, we hired, uh, we, we really pushed for that. Like, you know, have less off email communications. So the rule of thumb was if your email is more than a tweet. Yeah. Then, uh, have our team scholar. I was in scope, uh, because email could have different conversations. I mean, different interpretations. I might be saying you are driving very fast and the response was no, I'm flying slowly. Uh, so we made that rule. Hey, let's jump into a zoom call. So yes. It was difficult, but I think we have added a few more languages into our creating. Like now we understand, like I said, language of silence or different expressions

Dana:

rusty, from your point of view though, would you say, um, when the agencies coming to negotiate with the business partners, is it something you think of too? Like, is it something where you're like, I don't want to be in person or I do want to be in person because I feel like I might have an advantage.

Rusty:

Let's go thought at anytime you can be sitting down with somebody the better, because if you're really truly getting into an engagement where you're your partner. Cause I think from the marketing sales side, you're always looking at it as we're trying to partner, we want to partner a lot of times, it doesn't always feel that way. It feels like, okay, they want to treat us like a spiral. Well, maybe we don't really don't want to be a part of them with it's not the right fit, but fear those situations, you can sit down with you personalize that relationship that. I mean, you're getting there and you're working through some really hard conversations and that sometime is when you can really get a true sense of how they're going to be working as a. And then how we're going to be able to respond as a vendor partner. So, yeah, I'd rather be in the room. I think we've talked about this before Dan I'm I'm not a natural on zoom. I'm not that bubbly. Hey, this is not me. I rather just go on mute and listen and get everything I need to move on. But in person it's a lot different. I grew up being in person, not on video. I think this next generation. It's going to be the opposite. I think they're way more comfortable on their handhelds and on these types of conversations than in person. Yeah. That's

Dana:

interesting. I think I'm, I guess I'm on the cusp of being, um, under gen X, but I do, I would rather be in person. I'd rather there's body language. There's so many things that you. When you don't have it. And to me that it always, you know, we train a lot on negotiations or at least I have, um, from a sourcing standpoint, right. We're supposed to be master negotiators. And to me, one of the number one rules was get the person in the room with you because. Again, I'm not flipping you off or hitting you over the head with something I'm going to, I'm going to be a lot stronger here on zoom or an email or on the phone versus in-person people just don't have kind of the Gusto or the guts. So I think it will be interesting too, to see how the younger generation who is accustomed to zoom. If we did get them in person, how all that would play out in negotiations, right?

Ashish:

You don't know, everybody talks about. Yeah. I always say that use AI, but let's not forget. And I, which is natural intelligence. So yes, a human, the human piece, the human element has to be there.

Rusty:

When you look out at 2022, what are some of the big initiatives that you feel like marketing procurement folks need to be focused on this?

Ashish:

I think as a, as a company, we are doing whatever it can help, you know, consumers, you know, they feel like healthy and we want to sell them in every moment. And marketing procurement is fully aligned to that purpose, to those initiatives. Uh, other than that very specific on the procurement side, you know, how do we move to the next level? You know, everybody talks about like, you know, value add. So there are certain initiatives which we have taken. One is before actually we, we talked about value, add, uh, we are trying to identify the value leakage. We are building some metrics around where is the value leakage. So as a concrete example, You know, what's the lead time between procurement is contacted and the project start date, number two, you know, if there is a delay from the procurement side itself, uh, so we are trying to build those metrics and then how do we convert those value leakage into, uh, into value adding opportunities? Number two is I'm very passionate about like marketing peculiar man. And somebody asks me like, what, what, what do you want to do differently in 2022? And I said, we should stop calling ourselves marketing procurement. We should call ourselves something like value creators. So connectors or deal makers are, like I said, shaped, uh, you know, uh, shameless learners, you know? So, uh, so that's, uh, other piece. Yeah. Uh, people talk about like capturing, like this is the share of the pie. And I think baking the pie is important before sharing the pie. You know, you need to create the value before you start capturing, uh, the value. So, so again, coming back to my original unit point PPT, so we are focusing on people. We are focusing on process and we are focusing on, on context.

Dana:

So I do have one last question to you because you have been in different organizations under procurement or sourcing. What would you say in your experience, um, is a one kind of key fundamental, like that has made you successful? What do you think is been, you know, the one thing that has made you be able to go successfully from R and D and all these different locations, what is really, you know, you think supported you the best in your career that maybe other people could be.

Ashish:

You asked one thing, there are many things, but I think one is, you know, like I said, you know, I have learned to online very quickly and relearn. Uh, I have been comfortable in uncomfortable situations. And maybe I'll just give one more. Sorry, you ask one, but I'm giving you three examples. The third one is very important, which is our team so, uh, I think it's okay to be imperfect, but. And you know why, because imperfection makes a home and perfection makes a hotel. I love hotels, but eventually you want to stay at home. So sometimes we kind of stretch ourselves too much for the perfection. It's okay to be imperfect, but very important is video, you know, be yourself. Be human,

Dana:

that stuff. You guys eat it up rusty. You know what,

Rusty:

if you look over the last couple years, what has been with the central themes in all advertising camp is a humanization it's humanized, everything being real authentic. I mean, those are, those are just buzzwords. Those are reality. People want to see. I got a dog runs to the back park and kids. I mean, we've gotten to do really interesting glimpse inside of people that we work with, partners, clients, vendors, into their home environments, a very personal part of their life. It's now been opened and exposed and you know, somebody. Now as a real look into who these folks are. And I think that's probably one of the, a good takeaway from all this, the fact that we have been able to humanize our relationships with folks, and it's not this false sense of what we always wanted to have is that this is our facade. Stuff's going to happen. Things are gonna fall. Things are gonna break. It is not going

Dana:

to work Coco running across the room. Exactly.

Ashish:

And so. And let's do it. Like I, yes, it's being human. And you know, one of the initiative which we are taking in a sourcing level is focusing on PX. Have you heard about this? Don't be explicable is partner experience, you know, so, and when we say about partner experiences about like, uh, business partners, as well as like our external partners. So expedience is, is very, very critical. Yeah, it

Dana:

was like you guys and CPG are kind of ahead of the curve in some of your business partnering and thought processing that I've seen. Do you think you guys are ahead of the curve in your industry for procurement?

Ashish:

Well,

Dana:

at least you are right.

Ashish:

You can stop and talk process at least in the thought process. Yes. You know, we have really like forward-looking and. Uh, again, you know, like I always joke, we like to use more brains than our hands, so that's what we are trying to do. And, and we give break from strategic sourcing. We grip give break to sourcing one day a week. So we only think about Saturday.

Dana:

It's just interesting to see it from that perspective. I just think, you know, obviously I haven't been in that industry. And so, you know, are you guys typically, you know, the leaders and I know I've seen some market research where you guys typically are a little bit ahead of the curve, but. The thought process, like you said, it seems like the partnership, the, where we should be going as a sourcing person with marketing is ahead of the curve where we've seen, uh, I think with other people, would

Rusty:

you agree? It's an interesting pickup.

Dana:

I think you should make a book of all of your analogies. I absolutely love them and want to steal some of them, but you have so many of them. I really think they're really good though. They're really useful. Usually have like a short little

Rusty:

book with a sheesh.

Ashish:

I love it. Um, you know, I have sessions, they call. And anybody who feels like down, you know, they set up a call with me. So, uh, um, you know, yesterday somebody was like, Hey, you know, I'm getting this heat from this person, this person. And I said, Hey, just remember if you're out in the kitchen, if you're cooking something you need to sell. So

Dana:

be.

Ashish:

So, but, but yeah, I think, I think it's all about stories, but it's about like, you know, you need to be a thinker. You need to be really, really passionate. And, and I'll tell you, uh, the interesting feedback which I've got from my marketing folks that you are unfit for procurement. That's the number one? Uh, I felt good, but I felt bad also because the kind of perceptions, you know, pick them. And the second is, they said you are. Marketing person in procurement, not procurement person in marketing. Um, so yeah, uh, I think we just need to change their perception. So, uh, when I started, you know, I was like more and more at the last state, but now they are involving in when actually they're thinking not when they actually started doing things. Yeah. So, yeah, I mean, uh, these are all my learnings, which I have actually implemented. So

Dana:

shisha is coming at the end of a 2022. I'm looking forward to that publication. I'll be using it in my

Rusty:

meetings. That's actually a strong call. So maybe we can actually have like a quarterly Shiism that we put on the podcast. I'm telling you or

Dana:

everyone let's talk about the, I liked the washing machine too. I'd like that. Yeah. Like, it's just, they're perfect. The analogies are just dead on. I think you need to write a book, I'm just saying, oh, it looks more to,

Ashish:

I look forward to, well, if you like the discussion, it, um, you know, it just came from the heart, you know, it was, oh

Dana:

God, it's great. I think it's a great way of viewing things. And I think anytime you can kind of separate the person from what's going on and have that type of. Secondary view it kind of depersonalized and you're like, oh, okay. I can view things more objectively. So I think she could really take off this. Just gonna throw that out.

Ashish:

Well, you know, I'm your promoter right there. Crazy person. You know, you remember in 2020, I mean, products in the Harris poll, you know, about Harris poll. So in the top essential company's products was number two, the first ones United States, postal service. So basically I went to the postal office and I observed there. Y you know, postal services are number one, why we are number two, I'm actually going to write an article. What I have learned from the post office, which can be in procurement. And one of the things which I told to my entire team, we need to work like a postage stamp. We need to work like a postage stamp. And they asked why I said the job of the postage stamp is when you paste on the envelope, it sticks with them. Then it reaches its destination, irrespective of who is holding it, where it is kept, where it is delivered in sourcing. Our motivation is very high when we start the project and it goes down in the end, you don't stick to like end to end. So in 2020, my team team was like, work like a postage.

Rusty:

That could apply to a lot of different roles as well. Yeah.

Ashish:

Yeah.

Rusty:

I love it. No, this is great. I really seriously great job your conversation. We appreciate you. Guys' time to share some of your sheets with us.

Ashish:

Thank you so much. Thank you.