Interview with Pauline Rolfe, Procurement Operations Associate Manager at Accenture“Gosh, lucky I wasn’t waiting for anyone to nominate me because I would never be here!” thought Pauline Rolfe as she accepted her CIPS Award for Young Procurement and Supply Chain Professional of the Year.
The 31-year-old Procurement Delivery Lead at Accenture had nominated herself for the award and said that it was a turning point both in her career and her attitude to succeeding in business.
“For a long time I thought it was up to my manager to decide on my career and whether I would grow,” she said. “But it’s not up to your manager, your partner or whoever to decide on what your career will look like. It is up to you. Don't wait to be asked. Don’t wait to be nominated, just step up and lead.”
Winning the award boosted the mum-of-three’s confidence and increased her visibility and credibility within Accenture.
“When you win an award it means you take your career seriously, you are proud of what you have achieved and you are ambitious. This was recognised at Accenture,” she said.
Rolfe kicked off her procurement career in Australia in 2011 with oil and gas giant Chevron as a contracts assistant. She moved to Accenture in 2015 overseeing the procurement services for major clients – including strategic sourcing, supplier performance management, spend analytics and invoice processing.
“Working in procurement you witness how much value-add is derived from developing long-term win win relationships with key suppliers,” she said.
Why choose a career in procurement?
A career in procurement wasn’t always Rolfe’s dream and while studying her Master of Science in Management in France she did not envisage that career path.
“Perhaps it did not feel exciting enough back then,” she said.
But her mind has since changed. The opportunity of working on amazing projects has made it a career Rolfe is very much passionate about.
“Procurement is about procuring goods and services from third parties but what I like about it is building long term relationships with suppliers, being strategic and figuring out how to best leverage that relationship to add value to your organisation and theirs,” she said.
“For example, while working with one large multi-national organisation we partnered with a local supplier of a niche product that had less than 50 staff – but thanks to the partnership that small business went on to win awards and global contracts in China and Brazil. And it all started with that one contract that local supplier secured with a larger organisation.”
This kind of opportunity to add value to the community and support local industries has made procurement a fulfilling career for Rolfe.
World Procurement Conference
Rolfe’s true passion for procurement saw her shortlisted for the Future Leader Award at the World Procurement Conference in London, which Accenture sent her to for five days.
“Accenture has always been my dream company to work for and getting the opportunity to attend this conference, be shortlisted for the award and meet some amazing people has probably been the highlight of my career so far,” she said.
“It was so inspiring to hear from senior leaders in procurement globally talking about their views on the future of the profession, disruption and innovation in the profession, block chain and robotics,” she said.
“And the networking was invaluable. Networking both within your company and outside is critical to your career and it’s something I think many women don’t do particularly well.”
Women in Procurement
Although Operations can be a male dominated industry, Rolfe has found working within the Operations department at Accenture with three children under the age of five, “crazy busy but really good”.
But the flexibility Accenture offers has made it possible.
“We always talk about the inconvenience of having kids; how do you manage the workload, how do you manage the childcare, the stress, the no sleep – we always highlight the inconvenience,” she said.
“Maybe we need to change the language and focus on the positives and the learnings that come with having children. I’m really privileged to have children and they give me a sense of responsibility and purpose and energy.”
Having said that Rolfe highlighted some of the challenges including having to take maternity leave and feeling isolated from the workplace for eight months. But initiatives such as Accenture’s “keep in touch” program combat this and really sends the message that the organisation will accommodate you when you return to work.
“I know one woman who was promoted to MD while she was on maternity leave – that’s a strong message Accenture is sending,” she said. “Also I know MDs working 4 days a week which is great message for younger employees to have role models that show it’s possible to achieve those roles while raising a family.”
Between the opportunity to add value to the community and the promising future of the profession - a career in procurement seems like an interesting option. And for Rolfe, it's just the beginning of what looks likely to be a successful and rewarding career. Interested in finding more about Accenture Operations – click here.