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By Leah Montebello
Sarah Scudder, Chief Marketing Officer at US-based SourceDay, discusses how she fell in love with procurement and how she is using tech and relationships to build a stronger tomorrow.
The Last Dollar
“While cost saving is important, procurement needs to think beyond [this] to the entire supply chain when making any supplier decisions. Many procurement leaders forget about this when negotiating the last dollar out of a deal. Supplier collaboration and innovation is important”
With 13,000+ followers on LinkedIn, Sarah Scudder, former Chief Revenue Officer of Real Sourcing Network (RSN), is clearly a beacon for ‘all things procurement’, from new trends to the complex relationship with marketing.
Scudder’s passion for procurement started with her love of fashion.
However, as she explains, it wasn’t always this way: “I used to do runway modelling in high school and I was planning a career in fashion. My plan after graduating was to work for a company that produced fashion shows and then, after gaining knowledge and experience, go out on my own.”
As fate would have it, after running her Sonoma State University Sorority’s annual philanthropy event with Golden Pacific Systems (acquired by The Sourcing Group), Scudder got her first glimpse into marketing procurement.
She worked well with their team – so well that they offered her a graduate position within their sales and marketing department. Sarah’s competence motivated the leadership at Golden Pacific to hire more young women in their procurement space.
Despite a bit of pessimism (“There goes my career in the modelling industry”), Scudder decided to take the job: “I figured that because I was entrepreneurial, working for a small business would be good for me. I knew that I could learn all the facets of starting my own business.”
Working with the start-up, Scudder was able to help them pivot and incorporate new technology to drive growth. Describing herself as a builder rather than a maintainer, Scudder has worked in different start-ups ever since. And plans to spend the rest of her career working with emerging brands.
Golden Pacific Systems was eventually acquired by The Sourcing Group and Scudder stayed on to become the Chief Growth Officer, responsible for the sales and marketing strategy.
As someone who is constantly looking for the next challenge, Scudder recently moved from her role of Chief Revenue Officer at RSN to become Chief Marketing Officer at US-based SourceDay, a supply chain technology software provider that automates purchase order (PO) changes and enables supplier collaboration.
Love for procurement and technology
As Chief Revenue Officer, Scudder runs growth, strategy and marketing. She is responsible for developing and implementing a unique content-driven marketing and sales strategy for a print sourcing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application. The software application saves between 14- 22% annually for RSN clients. It also unlocks the power of technology in this space.
RSN helps clients to be strategic about their spending and, through their global supplier base, will outsource the process for them: “We have a global supplier base. We will go out and bid for the specific type of work. If a client is needing a label, we will send it to the best printer for that label. We run bids for the best suppliers for those projects,” she explains.
RSN leverages a proprietary software internally that automates competitive bidding and tracks and manages all the data. Whilst their client base is primarily US focused at the moment, they have expanded to Canada, with eventual plans to manage print procurement throughout Europe.
Scudder works with clients in a broad array of industries, but remains niche and focused on print and packaging. “It is a crucial area. Sometimes companies don’t even think about the print and packaging spend categories at all,” Scudder explained.
Her interest in providing value for her clients is palpable, and she believes procurement is an exciting place to be. “I think the role of procurement is becoming more important in the USA. I think smarter companies are understanding the value of procurement, and they are seeing that they can make procurement generate revenue for their company,” she stated.
The recent shift to technology (capturing real time data), has meant that procurement is leading the charge and leading the change. As such, marketing procurement experts are framed as innovators rather than purely cost savers: “While cost saving is important, procurement needs to think beyond procurement to the entire supply chain when making any supplier decisions. Many procurement leaders forget about this when negotiating the last dollar out of a deal. Supplier collaboration and innovation is important.”
As such, there needs to be a shift towards a collaborative relationship between procurement and their suppliers, and in Scudder’s words, “move towards a WE statement instead of I buy from YOU”.
Sustainable packaging on the rise
The pandemic has had an enormous impact on the state of marketing procurement. There has also been a noticeable trend where companies are combining print and digital. “Print is powerful because it gives someone something to touch and hold. The digital component allows you to tell a story and capture customer data via QR codes and Augmented Reality”, Scudder says.
Furthermore, Scudder notes an enhanced emphasis on packaging, and specifically sustainable packaging. For example, packaging produced from new materials such as sugarcane, popcorn, or reusable packaging is making the packaging world more sustainable.
“I think consumers started realizing how much waste they generated once they were stuck inside for a year and half, especially because they have been buying more things online. They are seeing how their garbage and recycling cans are overflowing. It becomes a problem once people see it,” she says.
In Scudder’s view, this consumer pressure, especially from millennials, is an incredible opportunity for marketing procurement to incorporate sustainability into their purchasing practices. For instance, sustainability can be embedded into RFPs and supplier management, revolutionizing the industry, and ultimately increasing sales, boosting revenue and reducing costs.
On a personal level, Scudder prioritizes sustainability when making consumer decisions. She is excited to see dedicated roles emerging in the industry, which are environmentally specific. She believes sustainability concerns will shape the industry in the years to come.
Lessons for marketing procurement and marketing
For Scudder, success for marketing procurement hinges on their relationship with marketing.
Because procurement historically clashes with marketing, focusing on innovation and driving revenue can bridge the gap between the two. Scudder sees that there needs to be more hybrid roles within organizations.
The likelihood of this happening has become more promising during the pandemic as marketing is increasingly dependent on procurement to help make budgets stretch, negotiate new contracts, and collaborate more effectively. Scudder praises the WFA Project Spring for acknowledging the need to embed value into cost-saving and for driving more meaningful relationships.
However, she also urges that procurement needs to start thinking about the entire supply chain when making any supplier decisions. “Many procurement leaders forget about this when negotiating the last dollar out of a deal,” Scudder said.
Scudder has traced the increased turnover of procurement talent and believes it is largely due to a loss of work culture and pandemic uncertainties. She believes it is on procurement to work out how to retain talent and build equity into working remotely full-time, as well as catering for those who have a more blended approach.
Procurement will need to grapple with this new model, and take a step back, alongside marketing, in a post-pandemic world to establish how they can bring more value.
The Real Sarah
Though she deems her leadership style as hands off, Scudder has been keen to build her own personal brand, which she states was a key piece of advice she was given when she first started out in the industry.
As contributor to Thinkers360, the creator of ProcuremenTalks, and as an open procurement enthusiast, it is hard to see where Scudder gets the time to do much else. She said, “I’m not sure I ever really relax. I have a hyperactive brain. It doesn’t seem to shut off or stop thinking of new marketing ideas.”
Not only does this make her a self-confessed workaholic, but it also seeps into her personal life and ambition to succeed. In fact, Scudder has multiple real estate side hustles: “As a teenager I studied successful people. I noticed a pattern: they all had multiple income streams. As soon as I graduated from college, I started investing,” she explained.
So, as an incredibly dedicated and vivacious woman, it is no surprise that when asked what her TED talk topic of choice would be, she answered, “The correlation between humor and business success.”
Sarah Scudder is Chief Marketing Officer at SourceDay.
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