Robert Copeland is a name that you may already know if you are in the procurement and supply scene; the Group Procurement Director of G4S has been at the forefront of the industry for two decades, now, with procurement roles for companies ranging from PSA Peugeot Citroen to, Danone, and the Royal Mail.
“Since joining G4S in 2015, it's been a challenging, but successful journey, from managing procurement in the UK through to leading the global function since late 2018. Over the last six years, procurement has undertaken a major transformation, from a group of decentralised tactical buyers, to a fully unified global function, able to deliver cost leadership and re-engineer complex supply chains.
However, one should never be complacent, and like G4S, which has repositioned itself with a focus on technology and integrated security; Procurement is changing to align with the newly refocused business, rebalancing traditional sourcing areas such as fleet with new categories such as electronic security systems and technology (ESS), which will underpin a significant proportion of G4S’s future growth.
The digitisation of procurement at G4S has allowed my teams to focus more time on front-line projects and business growth and allowing us to accelerate our important supply ESG agenda.”
Currently, Robert holds the reins of a complex and global supply chain network, and his job is to safely navigate it through the present and future challenges facing the Group. G4S’s procurement and supply chain management is a function of over 250 people accountable for over 40,000 suppliers with a spend of £1.8 billion. Copeland saw a need for greater central focus in the key areas of expenditure; with our fleet management team, we are now accountable for the operational performance of 12,000 vehicles globally, along with work-wear supplies for around 500,000 employees and other inventory and distribution management aspects of the business.
My role as Group Procurement & Supply Chain Director is to ensure G4S has the capability, capacity and vision in procurement to optimise and develop the G4S’s supply base, delivering cost leadership and operational excellence. The way we manage our supply chain can make a huge positive impact in meeting the emerging needs of our customers and in turn play a big part in customer retention and growth. The Pandemic has exposed weaknesses in some of our competitors’ supply chains and we work hard to ensure G4S is poised to take full advantage of that by putting the customer first.”
We asked Copeland about his leadership style and what the biggest influence was in driving the ‘leadership & strategy’ of G4S’s global procurement operations.
“A lot of my leadership style has been influenced from my time working in the FMCG sector. That environment taught me the importance of taking ownership of a problem and being entrepreneurial in delivering credible commercial and operational solutions to the business.
It is important to take the time to engage with the business and suppliers at all levels to find opportunities that are often known of, but not acted upon.
The FMCG supply chain teams I worked with often only had a few years’ experience under their belts, but they were highly motivated and passionate about what they did and the impact they could deliver. I was inspired by their ability to overcome adversity to create and embed new solutions that truly helped the business.
G4S is a great place for people to develop and flourish with the right approach and I feel strongly we should develop our people by giving them the platform and the exposure to grow. I also want people to get away from their desks and truly understand why things are the way they are, and to pinpoint the problems we are trying to solve.”
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