We speak to Vodafone NZ Chief Procurement Officer Rajat Sarna to see how he’s transforming procurement into a strategic and sustainable business partner at the telco through a start-up mentality.
“For me, the future of procurement is two things: digital and sustainability,” says Rajat Sarna, and these two themes are the thread that runs through everything he’s put into place since he took over the reins of the procurement function at Vodafone New Zealand in October 2020.
The role was a huge one to take on, too – the telco employs 2,000 people, serves 2.4m customers and is a $2bn revenue company. The scale of its operations is huge with customers consuming over 3 billion minutes, 4,500 terabytes of mobile data and 55,000 terabytes of fixed line data every month. A key part of his mandate was to transform procurement into a market-leading operating partner to the business that would “ultimately improve the value that we deliver to our customers”.
Sarna went back to basics initially, thinking about what the future capability of Vodafone New Zealand would look like, and what its procurement operation needed to be to support this. He says: “It was very critical for me to have a purpose and it cannot just be better savings or improved cost position. That’s not purpose; purpose is: what are we doing in terms of how we align with the future of procurement?”
A rising star awarded by the industry
A previous nominee in the Rising Star category at the European Supply Chain Excellence Awards, Sarna has had a phenomenal 2022 with two coveted awards added to his name, “New Zealand Procurement Professional of the Year” and “The Most Improved Procurement Team of the Year in Australasia”. Sarna says his approach to the job when he took it on was to treat his procurement team like a startup, albeit embedded within one of the largest companies in New Zealand. This, he says, gave his team an incredible energy: “Building procurement from scratch, a brand-new operating model and going fully digital meant that the whole team is coming together backed by the feeling of purpose. It’s not just what they earn as an employee of the company, but what really drives them is being a part of something bigger. It’s really powerful.”