Purchasing Implementation Project Team Member

Job Title: Purchasing Implementation Project Team Member

Name: Helen Wells

Company: Kraft Foods

Professional Qualification(s): 

BA (Hons) Business Studies (high 2:2)

2 A levels, 1 AO level

9 O levels IGD Post Graduate Certificate in Food and Grocery Management, Institute of Personnel

Degree studied at: University of East London

Brief job description.

SAP R/3 Purchasing implementation project team member.

On this assignment I am responsible for implementing SAP R/3 (IT system) total business enterprise system into European Purchasing within Kraft. Working with IT consultants to design and implement a fully integrated business system into the business across it’s operating countries within Europe.

My career so far…

Graduating in July 1992, my first job was working in the purchasing department of Nissan. Having a desire to work within the food industry, I joined Kraft 8 months later as an assistant buyer; purchasing packaging and raw materials for a frozen food factory and organising promotional co-packing activities. After 2 years I left to work as general manager of a co-packing plant, gaining a year’s experience of production factory management, supply chain and sales activities.

I rejoined Kraft as a buyer and upon reorganisation of the company’s purchasing activities. In 1996 I was promoted to Senior Buyer managing total UK external manufacturing purchasing activities. As Kraft purchasing was reorganised on a European level, I was promoted to purchasing manager in May 1999, and had the additional responsibility of improving Kraft’s co-packing operations across Europe. My current position (since February 2001) involves working on a two year assignment, implementing SAP R/3 business enterprise system within the purchasing arena (focusing on external manufacturing) within Kraft Europe. This means integrating Kraft European operating countries under one business management system, harmonising processes and facilitating purchasing across these countries in line with European purchasing strategies.

What does your job involve in a typical day? 

Within the project I am working on separate tasks so there is no typical day. I am responsible for managing my own workload, managing workshops with purchasing representatives to discuss best practice processes and identify solutions for harmonising multiple countries’ purchasing systems under the SAP R/3 system.

I am responsible for ensuring that the standard programme and the specific amends are designed correctly to ensure that the process works for all countries and the overall business. This includes all business units reporting requirements, daily purchasing business needs and controls. This includes the interface between purchasing and other business functions such as inventory management supply chain and finance.

Some days I will b working with consultants designing processes on SAP R/3. I may be travelling to a ‘customer’s’ location, for example Brussels, to understand their current processes and systems and ensure that the SAP system that we are implementing works for that local business.

What do like most about your job?

I enjoy the decision making responsibility this task offers, improving the efficiency of Kraft’s purchasing activities in Europe and the knowledge that I can make a real difference to the company.

I love to work on a project with global importance and cultural diversity and enjoy the travel and new experiences that this position offers.

What skills are required in your job?

  • Expert knowledge of purchasing of external manufacturing – processes and requirements from a multi country, multi cultural perspective.
  • Strategic thinking
  • Creative thought solution processes
  • Good understanding of other business functions e.g. supply chain, finance, and their integration with purchasing
  • Realistic, smart thinking
  • Accuracy of work – written and in calculations
  • Ability to handle multiple projects at one time
  • Good time management
  • Self management skills
  • Excellent presentation skills

How many people work for you?

None currently. In my past role as manager for external manufacturing UK+ and European co-packing, six people reported to me.

What is your advice to people looking for a career in the food and grocery industry?

While academic knowledge and learning processes are essential, general business awareness is invaluable to initiate an understanding of how one function interacts within a total business.

Take every opportunity to view the total grocery supply chain and to understand how changes within your chosen function may implicate the total chain of supply and demand.

Be ready for an enormous challenge as exactly as it is described – FAST MOVING CONSUMER GOODS. This is a highly competitive constant change environment, where suppliers’ and retailers’ goal is to ensure that the customer gets the product he wants at the best quality and best price and always at the right time. This means that everyone working within this environment must be adaptable to change and be able to react fast to new demands, and also predict the future.