With 2016 nearly upon us, all of us at Astra are looking forward to an exciting year packed with stellar matchmaking events to help you grow your corporate connections and prosper. Getting the proverbial foot in the door is, of course, the first step in unlocking the significant business opportunities relationships with global corporations can bring. But even with an initial introduction in place, there can be a long road ahead before contracts have been signed and work as a supplier is under way – an often intensive process taking up tons of the one thing all of us WBE’s need more of – time.
So as we head into a new year, we thought this was the ideal time to look at how we can all become more efficient – and successful – in establishing fruitful relationships and becoming valued suppliers. Barbara Wichmann, CEO of ARTEMIA Communications, and current Chair of the Astra Northern California Leadership Forum, caught up recently with Caroline Gladding, Director, NA Region, IT Procurement, at Johnson & Johnson to gain her insights into what her and her team look for from their suppliers, as well as the challenges they face as a global corporation with thousands of moving parts and the steps they are taking to become more efficient in the supplier selection process.
But first a brief overview of Johnson & Johnson. In their own words, they “are the world’s most broadly based global health care business serving customers, patients and medical professionals through more than 275 companies in over 60 countries.” Those companies are split into three business segments — Consumer, Pharmaceuticals, and Medical Devices and collectively employ over 125,000 people worldwide. Inevitably, a corporation of this scale works with thousands of suppliers and has global procurement spend of over $30B.
For Caroline, this means she and her team attend dozens of matchmaking events and shows each year hoping to identify potential suppliers that can contribute to their goal to having an inclusive supply chain. The Supplier Diversity Program at Johnson & Johnson was inspired by the company’s Credo to meet objectives which include: To support the communities in which they live and work through wealth and job creation; To reflect the diversity of the consumers and patients who benefit from their products; To respond to the requirements of their customers who expect Johnson & Johnson companies to share their values; and To partner with superior, small and diverse firms that can provide value to their businesses and throughout their supply chain.Attending so many events presents its own challenge for the Johnson & Johnson procurement staff – and one she told Barbara, they are working to improve, like how to ensure that the representatives they send are fully briefed on the supplier opportunities available to make the conversations more fruitful and less general on both sides.
Particularly within the US, Caroline advised that Johnson & Johnson has established clear, publicly available criteria to help educate potential suppliers, and on a basic level, check if they are a good fit. There are also a number of tools and programs Johnson &Johnson has created, such as the Sustainability Tool Kit for Suppliers and – important for WBEs – the Johnson &Johnson Supplier Diversity Program which Caroline pointed to as one of the fundamentals in
becoming a supplier – do your research. Do you have a clear understanding of the criteria set to become a supplier? Do you have enough understanding of the corporation’s strategic direction to align your own company’s offerings?
Secondly, Caroline shared with Barbara that it’s important to be realistic: “The fact is that sometimes some companies just aren’t a good match for us. It’s about the fit of the operational models and often we aren’t the ideal customer for these types of businesses either.” The good news is, that doesn’t necessarily mean SMBs are out of the running. The strategy instead might be to work with Johnson &Johnson ‘Prime Suppliers’ and suppliers at the tier 2 and tier 3 levels. Everyone wants a direct relationship with Johnson & Johnson, however they have to recognize that the company has established and rationalized its supply base over time and have a full bench of suppliers, many of them diverse. Often the need has been filled and the company is developing those relationships for growth which is appropriate. If the dialogue starts with that understanding, they can spend time working to explore possibilities for suppliers to start relationships with the primes and partnerships with existing suppliers, which has much more potential for new entries.
Lastly, Johnson &Johnson is always challenging themselves on finding new innovations and look to work with equally innovative companies who are experts in their fields. From a potential supplier point of view, this means pinpointing exactly what your unique offering delivers against Johnson &Johnson’s strategic goals. So with these insights in mind, here’s to smarter networking in 2016.
If you’d like to connect directly with Barbara to discuss your strategic objectives for 2016, and how her agency can help, please feel free to get in touch.