Interview: Ability to Tell Data-based Stories will be a Key Asset


By: Sakthi Prasad -- Director - Content

01 January, 2017


Michelle Baker, the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) of Dutch telecom giant KPN, has an undergraduate degree in Dramatic Arts. She concedes in a humorous manner that it is unusual for a CPO to have such a degree.

After her degree in Dramatics, she became interested in advertising and marketing before going on to become a specialist in the field of Information Technology.

From drama to IT is quite a journey. Not just that, she also equipped herself with degrees in Law and Finance. Did she take any specialized courses to become proficient in IT systems?

“Back then I got trained in RPG (Report Program Generator), a programming language used in IBM’s AS/400 computer system, which I believe is still kicking around in many large organizations,” Michelle Baker told Beroe.

Since then, for the last 20 years or so, her strong IT background and digital understanding have been the backbone of her career progression. She had previously worked with marquee brands such as SAB Miller and Rio Tinto. Even though she did not start her career in purchasing, she eventually switched over when a frustrated CPO insisted to a CIO that IT needed a procurement team, which is when Michelle was tapped on the shoulder.

From purchasing to strategic sourcing and category management, Michelle developed her skills over many years amidst the increasing professionalism of the function. Then came the opportunity with KPN.

What sets KPN apart from other companies is that IT usually falls under the category of “Indirect” in many organizations, but for the Dutch telecom major, IT is considered to be in the direct category, according to her. Furthermore, even though a majority of the company’s suppliers are based in the Netherlands, they are not necessarily Dutch companies; several of them are Dutch entities of multinational companies.


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