Sara Hay, General Manager for Procurement at Auckland Council, has been named one of the country’s top leaders at the industry’s annual awards.
The New Zealand Procurement Excellence Awards were held 19 May in downtown Auckland, where Ms Hay was named Procurement Leader of the Year.
The awards are run by the New Zealand Procurement Excellence Forum, support by EY, and was attended by more than 150 industry leaders.
Since arriving at the council in February 2015, Ms Hay has transformed the council’s procurement work as well as taking a lead role in negotiating a saving of $33 million for the ratepayer over the council’s Long-Term Plan on SAP software and maintenance.
Auckland Council Group Chief Financial Officer, Sue Tindal, says Ms Hay is an inspiring leader to the entire council family.
“It was a pleasure to be at the event with Sara, members of her leadership team, our colleagues from Auckland Transport and Watercare, and to see her fantastic work here at Auckland Council recognised by the industry,” Ms Tindal says.
The new approach
Ms Hay explains the department’s new way of working in the procurement environment has been a collaboration within the team.
“After mapping the current state - where the processes literally covered full walls - we took a co-design approach where our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders helped us shape an outcome,” explains Ms Hay.
The new approach considers not only the value but any risks associated, seeking to deliver multiple positive outcomes to Auckland. The approach was launched with a symbolic shredding of the old procurement manual (pictured).
“By moving away from the rigid, rules-based approach the team is naturally empowered because team members must bring their own knowledge and experiences to every project to deliver a fit-for-purpose service to our customers.
“I challenge the team to avoid saying ‘no’ to a customer” and instead evaluate each option available, Ms Hay says.
Ms Hay says she is most proud of her team, including their individual development paths and the benefits they have delivered on.
“As we mature, the team is going through many changes and the resilience they have shown is impressive.
“I’m also proud to work for the council where procurement is a varied, complex and interesting challenge.
“Procurement is seen as critically important and relevant and our Executive Leadership Team sees the potential for Auckland through a high-performing procurement function. Not all procurement teams have the luxury of support from senior leaders."
“On June 1, we go live with a new structure which is more efficient and better reflects our customers’ needs," Ms Hay says.
“Through this more aligned and efficient approach we will continue to be a part of the solution to council’s financial challenges over the LTP. There will also be a big focus on unlocking the procurement process to deliver multiple outcomes outside of just great value for money that include broader social, economic and sustainability opportunities,” she says.