As recruiters specialized within Procurement, we consider it part of our mission to connect with the most exciting people in the space – the people who are making an effort to move the field forward. In Canada, Procurement is somewhat of a siloed field. It’s rapidly evolving, but it’s sometimes difficult to find opportunities to connect with other professionals in real life – to network, exchange notes about best practices and tell stories from the front lines.
That’s why were excited to learn about the Toronto Procurement Network (TPN). TPN is an organization that seeks to create learning and networking opportunities for Procurement professionals by hosting free After Work events downtown, as well as workshops with some of the luminaries of the field.
We got in touch with Benoit Constanty, the co-founder of TPN, to ask him about his goals for the organization, and its potential to help advance the Procurement profession in Canada.
Thanks for speaking with us, Benoit. Could you start by telling us a little bit of your background, how you ended up in the world of Procurement, and what led you to start the Toronto Procurement Network?
My name is Benoit Constanty, I’m co-founder of TPN (Toronto Procurement Network) as well as Director of Market Development at Sourcing Force.
Prior to that, I have been in sales and marketing for over 10 years, in different sectors, travelling the world for the most part. More recently I was CEO at my own tech-startup back in 2015, in Paris, France. An incredibly rewarding and successful experience where I’ve learned a tremendous amount about management, human relations and business operations.
In the meantime, I’ve met my better half who is a native of Toronto. On account of that, we were frequently flying back and forth between Europe and North America for over 2 years which allowed me to explore closely Toronto and other Canadian cities every time I was visiting.
In 2018, I was lucky enough to meet Olivier Audino, founder and CEO at Sourcing Force. Olivier has a PHD in Procurement and Supply Chain management and has been teaching procurement at European and Chinese schools for over a decade now. He’s really passionate about the topic.
Olivier was already settled in Toronto at the time, and I was still living in Paris.
We discussed the possibility of working together in North America and I thought it was a great opportunity to finally make the move to Toronto.
So, I dived right in.
Being part of the procurement and supply chain world has been exciting in every aspect for me. I love the complexity of it all and its restless community’s involvement worldwide. I’ve learned extensively the major issues encountered by organizations from various sectors. Some are similar, and some are utterly relative to one industry. That’s where the challenge is.
When we first started looking at the procurement and supply chain community in Canada, we found it kind of hard to connect with procurement professionals generally speaking.
I remember browsing the Internet to find procurement and supply chain-related events in Ontario, but really nothing much was there to be found. As opposed to the US or Europe.
The only events I came across were either quite costly and rare, or simply too far from Toronto.
So based on that, we detected an opportunity for Toronto to have its own procurement and supply chain network so that people can meet their peers, share best practices and find opportunities.
What are the major goals of the Toronto Procurement Network, and how do you see it developing in the next several years in a dream scenario?
We wanted to give the procurement and supply chain community of Toronto an association they can feel part of and relate to. Whether they come to share their experience or find a job opportunity.
I’ve received several requests from motivated procurement practitioners to join our board, and to be honest it’s been more hectic recently and we might need to use some help soon!
Ideally, we’d like to expand the concept to Vancouver, Montreal and why not New York.
What kind of attendees have you had to these events, and what kind of response have you seen from them so far?
CPOs, procurement managers, consultants, financial experts, CTOs…
We’ve polled our community a couple of times and their responses are extremely encouraging. Some of them have connected with key people to achieve their objectives, some have nailed job interviews and started a new career, we also have a lot of collaborations coming up with CPOs from leading companies regarding TPN’s new podcast and our physical events. Stay tuned!
I think we’ve found that often people in the profession don’t have a ton of opportunities to interact, network and learn best practices in a personable way – without paying a lot for specialized conferences. What advantages do you think a fee-free organization offers for the profession, and what particular benefit do you see in creating an opportunity for Procurement professionals to interact in person (instead of just online, over the phone, etc.)?
The 0 entry fee is clearly a great advantage. The purchasing function can be improved just by 2 things: knowledge and practice. I realized that people share a lot of valuable information as they’re really keen on the subject but also relaxed by the casualness of the events. Anyone who comes can leave with new tricks up their sleeves.
What do you see in terms of how the Procurement profession has evolved over the past 5 years? Where do you see it going in the next 5 years, and what part do you hope that TPN plays in that continued development of the profession?
Over the past 5 years, procurement executives and managers have measured success chiefly on their ability to drive savings out of the value chain. I think reducing costs remain a crucial factor. But in the last few years, we’ve seen a bigger opportunity to create value through digital technology. Cloud-based apps, AI and the Internet of things are changing up the way buyers see and manage data. We’re moving away from spreadsheets and paper invoices and all those improvements will benefit the balance sheet.
TPN is established now. We have around 1200 members and it keeps growing everyday due to its straightforwardness. I believe that in the next 5 years, our community’s involvement will be even more active and structured allowing us to provide our members with the best information and experience.
A big thank you to Benoit Constanty for taking the time to do this interview, and if you’re in Procurement and in Toronto, check out TPN! It’s a great opportunity to meet fellow Procurement professionals, and even if you’re not looking to make a career move, you’ll be able to leave with some new tricks up your sleeve.