Inside the procurement transformation of Laureate International Universities

Inside the procurement transformation of Laureate International Universities

With a mission to make learning accessible to all, Laureate International Universities enables students to unlock their potential and further their careers.

Spanning more than 20 countries, its multifaceted approach has been enhanced through its procurement transformation. Providing world-class sourcing, supplier, product and service capabilities, Laureate’s procurement team enforces the organisation’s global mission to promote accessibility and works to create further value as a strategic partner.

“At Laureate, procurement is organised in two regions, the Americas and Europe, Middle East, Africa & Asia (EMEAA). I lead the strategic sourcing across EMEAA, guiding a team of high-performance professionals in each country who are responsible for supporting more than 60 institutions that are part of the Laureate network,” explains Francisco Zuriguel, VP Procurement.

“I devise and enforce strategic sourcing plans to assure adherence to procurement policies, processes, ethics and supplier relationship management guidelines by all procurement staff. Additionally, I interact and build relationships with internal stakeholders, countries and regional C-suite professionals to understand the needs of the business.”

Procurement transformation

Throughout his tenure, Zuriguel has continually sought to bring detailed visibility and essential processes to the table at Laureate.

“The procurement division was completely decentralised, with a focus on tactical sourcing, with no standardised global processes, policies, or visibility into spending – that could result in inefficiencies or further opportunities for improved controls,” he says.

Taking on the challenge with gusto, and with support from Chief Executive Officer Eilif Serck-Hanssen (who previously held the role of Chief Finance Officer) and Apollon Fanzeres, Chief Procurement Officer, Zuriguel has created a world class regional procurement team to serve the needs of its students.

“Apollon has been instrumental in building and establishing Laureate’s global procurement team. His leadership and guidance allowed us to successfully execute on the objectives identified within the procurement division. Without him nothing would have happened the way it finally occurred,” says Zuriguel.

“He brought expertise in both procurement and in global companies at the Senior Executive level, as well as an enormous influx of energy that influences everyone from the top, down.”

Implementing an increasingly effective organisation structure as a result of the Excellence in Process (EiP) global initiative, the procurement division has developed into a Procurement Centre of Expertise (CoE), incorporating policies, processes and procedures to professionalise its functions.

“Today, we operate on a geographical and category expertise basis. We have country procurement CoEs and global category leaders providing strategy, guidance and category expertise. Two Regional Vice-Presidents then look after the country Procurement CoEs, as well as build and maintain relationships with the business and C-level executives,” adds Zuriguel.

“A series of shared service centres (SSCs) were also built to oversee transactional operations and tactical purchasing, which enable the Procurement CoE to focus on strategic sourcing.”

Team resilience

A key focus within Laureate’s procurement operations has been the development of its procurement team. Adhering to a five-year roadmap, incorporating the implementation of business intelligence (BI) and e-sourcing tools, strategic sourcing initiatives, a savings methodology and much more, it is clear that the organisation continues to place procurement at the centre, in order to provide student-focused solutions.

“With the contribution of our country teams, global category directors and peers in the Americas, today we can better serve our students. It is a truly collaborative environment within the procurement organisation,” says Zuriguel.

“I work closely with my colleague in the Americas, Jose Mello, where we are constantly sharing best practices and helping each other. He is an experienced and humble professional from which I continuously learn.”

With up to 50 employees within the procurement organisation, Zuriguel has sought to eradicate certain obstacles in order to allow for the development of key sourcing strategies. Professional development is also encouraged throughout a number of initiatives.

“Laureate has embarked on a new programme called Positive Leadership, where we invest in training and energising our teams, while encouraging best practice sharing throughout the organisation. We provide face to face training, as well as online training, where employees can develop expertise in areas such as strategic planning, change management or leadership. We also facilitate certifications, if they are interested, like CPSM,” Zuriguel explains.

“We also encourage mobility when possible and we always recognise success. It is important to acknowledge others, to make your team to feel recognised. It doesn’t have to be a monetary recognition, but many times a sincere thank you note is much more appreciated.”

Supplier diversity

Leveraging its supplier partners for quality, innovation, growth and total cost of ownership, Laureate has unlocked increased quality and educational services across its entire portfolio.

“Apollon decided that we had to have a motto in procurement, which is: ‘World Class, World Wide,’ and we won’t stop until we get there,” adds Zuriguel.

“Consequently, our supplier base is quite diverse, where we have an interesting mix of global, regional and local vendors due to our many different geographies, as well as a strong base of local suppliers.”

With a number of specific services in certain markets, working with local suppliers has supported Laureate’s mission to promote educational accessibility. Its B-Corp certification also cements its drive to work with local vendors.

“We work on a global and regional basis with IT and facilities management (FM) vendors, as well as for specific medical equipment. Other than this, we rely on local vendors,” reflects Zuriguel.

“In FM and food services, Ferrovial has been crucial for our FM operations in Spain and Portugal as well as Sodexo that supports us in a number of geographies, working closely with Jose Verdejo, our Category Director for FM. Both companies have helped us to standardise processes.

“GE is also working with us on a global lighting project to help us become more efficient in our energy usage, and to become more sustainable, something which is increasingly important for students,” he continues.

“With regards to medical equipment or printing, Laerdal, Konica Minolta, 3B Scientific and Ricoh are all working closely with Andre Khoury, our Category Director for Administrative and Professional Services, as well as Telefonica, HP, or Optus on the IT side, who are working with Randy Estep our IT Category lead.

“We also have good relationships with consultancy firms like KPMG, EY and Accenture that have been supporting us in different projects.”

As the industry increasingly moves to put the student at the centre, Laureate will continue to enforce and drive high-level education, but at the right cost for its students.

“Nowadays, students have more information than before and want to have the control and flexibility to study at their own pace. They also want to participate more and be more involved in everything regarding their education and want to take advantage of new technologies as much as possible,” concludes Zuriguel.

“Online and hybrid education will become more and more important in the upcoming years to cater to this growing market.”