Daniel Cameron CA: Taking procurement to a new level
Daniel discusses the highs and lows of the route to being Senior VP, Global Procurement at Pearson plc.
When did you qualify as a CA and who did you train with?
I qualified in 2001 and trained with Mazars.
Brief career history
After Mazars, I worked at SL Corporate Finance before moving into procurement with Cable & Wireless and then Royal Mail. After a spell as Global Head of Procurement at Goldman Sachs, I joined Pearson in April this year.
What does your job involve?
I am responsible for global engagements with third-party suppliers for Pearson, the world’s largest learning company. My team identifies suppliers, runs tenders, negotiates contracts and governs ongoing relationships with the aim of getting the best value for Pearson. We need a range of skills from influencing to project management, as well as commercial acumen.
Who do you report to?
I report to the Chief Operations Officer.
The broad commercial remit of procurement appeals to me as it requires my core accountancy knowledge as well as an operational perspective. Secondly, the opportunity to be the ‘conduit’ to external suppliers and therefore new ideas/innovation was interesting.
Many of the organisations I have worked in have wrestled with a digital agenda and relied on suppliers to help shape and deliver their future strategy.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The breadth of activity is fascinating; from implementing new systems to shaping company-wide policy, dealing with a range of suppliers across the business. I see my role as promoting procurement as an exciting career, enabling us to attract and retain some great talent.
…and the worst?
The large volume of sales calls I receive.
Proudest moment so far?
The teams I have helped build have delivered huge amounts of value in terms of cost reduction, risk management, innovation and service improvement. They focus on collaboration and I am particularly proud of creating an environment in which suppliers work together for the benefit of the customer.
What’s your next goal?
Our goal is to turn an already strong team into a world-class function by 2020. This will require hard work, and our best influencing, negotiating and creative skills.
How’s your work/life balance?
My approach is to recognise the ‘peaks’ of activity when I need to work longer hours or to travel, and the ‘troughs’, when I can work from home and take the children to school.
What do you do to relax?
Doing anything sporty or watching my children in their activities helps me unwind.
Where do you think your present role might lead?
Building a world-class procurement team will bring me into contact with all areas of our business and a spectrum of suppliers. Longer term, this should provide a great platform to explore broader commercial or leadership roles in the organisation.
How has your training as a CA prepared you for this role?
The training and qualification give you credibility with senior leaders and especially CFOs. The financial literacy of colleagues outside finance is not always strong, so being able to combine the technical aspects of my training with broader operational and commercial experience is very powerful. Finally, having a good financial understanding is a great asset at the negotiating table.
What advice would you give a CA looking to pursue this career?
Seize the day, and specifically an opportunity when it comes along. The CA qualification provides a credible foundation for a career and gives you confidence to try a range of career experiences. This might include getting involved in a charity or becoming a non-executive director. All of these adventures have given me an extra perspective on how I do my day job.