Focussed on purchasing performance

Vanilla Electronics’ senior buyer, Sarah Davies Electronics Sourcing asked Vanilla Electronics’ senior buyer, Sarah Davies, what day-to-day challenges she faces as a purchasing professional.

What are your main responsibilities?

Managing the procurement team and overseeing all orders and kitting projects procured through the department. I work with suppliers to achieve the best procurement strategy for Vanilla, while also working with the sales team to monitor projects and plan strategies to fulfil customers’ needs. I also ensure the company is working to achieve the 5 Rights of Procurement: right price, place, time, quantity and quality.

How does your average day start?

I wouldn’t say there is an average day, it all depends on the day before. Review list of priorities from previous day and make a plan of action. Review current workload to be actioned and monitor progress of projects due for imminent completion.

What is your favourite part of your job?

We have a varied customer base and requirements which are rarely the same, keeping life very interesting. Communicating directly with the end customers is always satisfying, making sure that our goals align with their strategic requirements. Each customer and project present a new challenge, be it a new product launch, or a sudden spike in demand. We have a great relationship with all our customers and regularly get together to proactively review product lead times, availability and upcoming obsolescence. This close contact adds a great deal of value to both our staff and customers, as we all get to understand each other’s challenges.

I also enjoy the culture within Vanilla. We have a wide variety of ages, experience and backgrounds but we all share the same vison, have a great work ethic and most importantly a great sense of humour.

What is the most fulfilling part of your job?

Achieving goals for the department and Vanilla. Whether it’s a short or long term project there is a great sense of achievement to plan a project and collaborate with my team, other departments, customers and suppliers, to see it to fruition.

What is the most difficult part of your job?

Products availability,, especially given recent global events. As a large proportion of our business is kitting, we have to manage anywhere from 50 to 5000 lines for each customer. Sourcing issues on just one part will impact the whole kit so we must be innovative and knowledgeable on resolving the problem

How and why did you get started in your profession?

I started my electronics career as an internal sales account manager. After two years I switched to product marketing manager for several franchises. I was interested in procurement and started as a buyer at Vanilla six years ago.

Are you a CIPS member and if so, how has it helped you in your career?

Yes, I’m a CIPS member and am currently studying for my Diploma in Procurement and Supply. During my nine years in the electronics industry I have grown into different roles through experience but I think it’s important to continue to educate yourself, learn from available sources and explore other procurement methods. CIP’s has really helped me in my role at Vanilla in becoming a more strategic buyer and manager. Any new ideas are always welcomed by our directors, especially if they benefit the business and our customers.

How does your role contribute to the Vanilla’s success?

Continuous improvement. Managing the procurement team, I feel it’s important to focus on regular analysis and reflection of performance and processes. This is important for growth of individuals and the company. Conversations about what we have done well and what can be improved are integral to customer service and supplier relationships. Every customer is different which helps Vanilla learn and broaden its knowledge. I really look forward to further progressing my role in this exciting and growing company.