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Cristian Lienas, presidente de AERCE

Since its foundation in 1981, AERCE’s main objective has been to professionalise the Procurement profile and endow it with relevance, to the extent that it’s become a key factor in driving the profitability and competitiveness of any organisation. In this regard, the Procurement professional is a vital player in the strategic management of packaging. Procurement Day Catalunya 2022 will be held within the framework of Hispack from 24 to 27 May at the Gran Via venue. The aims of the event will be to introduce the latest news and trends within the sector to the Procurement professionals to enable them to broaden their knowledge, promote inter-connection and generate networking. With this partnership Hispack will seek to give greater visibility to this professional group by bringing together some of the most important procurement managers from the different sectors. We spoke to AERCE President Cristian Lienas about the synergies and business opportunities liable to stem from this agreement.

AERCE is a non-profit professional association whose goal is to promote sustainable Procurement management, allowing companies to optimise their costs and increase their productivity. How does your activity unfold to achieve this?

The association carries out different actions: it provides ongoing and high-quality training, it facilitates the exchange of knowledge, it promotes collaborative work involving companies and professionals, it offers organisations tools to mitigate risks and become more efficient, it provides resources for career development, it establishes partnerships with strategic partners and, above all, it advances at the same pace as society, in other words, we aren’t content to be mere spectators, we want to become the architects of change.

For example, a few years ago we couldn’t have imagined that the incorporation of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria into the strategy of organisations would be essential. Today AERCE promotes and endorses two standards, UNE 15896 on Value Added Purchasing Management and ISO 20400 on Sustainable Purchasing, to which an increasing number of companies are turning to certify their good practices in the Procurement area.

How many members do you have? Are all the sectors represented within AERCE?

AERCE currently has more than 7,000 members, including IBEX 35 firms, companies from the public sector, SMEs and professionals associated on a personal scale. All the productive sectors are represented within the association.

Are there similar associations in other countries?

AERCE is a member of the International Federation of Purchasing and Supply Management (IFPSM), which brings together 44 national Procurement associations from different countries around the world.

How do you operate with multinational companies that work in Spain but also abroad?

The relationship we have with multinationals operating inside and beyond our borders is no different from that we have with any other organisation, as our contacts are usually limited to the teams and professionals of the Spanish branches.

What role does the Procurement manager play in the structure of a company?

Procurement management is a fundamental element of a company. Bearing in mind that the procurement of goods and services can account for up to 75% of its total expenditure, any cost savings can have a significant impact on its profits.

The Procurement manager provides solutions by means of specific tools and methodologies. In this respect, he/she develops supplier ecosystems by managing supply risks, prospecting, searching for and negotiating with suppliers and leading ESG strategies with an efficient and sustainable procurement policy. He/she must also have a model to evaluate these suppliers to guarantee good practices, respect for the environment and transparent management.

To what extent can the profile of the Procurement manager contribute to generating a higher volume of business for the company?

As I mentioned earlier, by making cost savings, efficient and sustainable procurement can bring greater benefits to a company in economic terms. However, beyond what’s reflected in the income statement, good Procurement management also provides an intangible benefit of incalculable value for the growth of a company: its corporate reputation.

Do you think that the Procurement profile is generally recognised by companies?

Definitely. Procurement has become a strategic area within organisations, with its presence significantly increasing on management committees, not only in multinationals and large corporations. SMEs now regard the role of Procurement manager as essential and, if they don’t have one yet, they turn to AERCE for training in this field.

What changes do you think should be made to increase the visibility and decision-making power of Procurement managers in organisations?

As the architects of change that we want to be, the visibility of Procurement managers is clearly on the rise and they will become increasingly important. Our way of contributing to this visibility, in addition to the specialised training we provide and the resources and tools we make available to Procurement professionals, is to acknowledge their work with the AERCE Awards. These awards recognise best practices in Procurement in as many as nine categories and provide a source of inspiration and a magnificent showcase for demonstrating the importance of this work in any organisation.

Do Procurement managers have the same profile in all sectors? In other words, do they have cross-disciplinary features or do they have particular ones depending on the sector in which they operate?

Although it’s true so say that each production sector has its own peculiarities, a professional in this field, regardless of his/her qualifications, usually specialises in it thanks to courses focused on Procurement and the supply chain. But that isn’t enough; a good Procurement professional must be inquiring and well-informed and keep track of economic, legislative and political issues. In a globalised world, any variable may affect the market for the procurement of products and services.

Looking into the near future, what changes do you envisage in these profiles and what challenges do you think lie ahead for them?

Since the onset of the pandemic, the Procurement professional has faced an uncertain environment, with a lack of visibility, difficult planning and limited time for analysis. All this has an impact on the income statement.

Although organisations are beginning to see an increase in their commercial activity, we must minimise the impact of the current scenario, with a downturn in income in some lines of business, the effect of the supply shortages, the increases in energy costs and the transport costs and issues, to which we must add the record increase in operating expenses and the costs of products and services. This situation is due to the increase in prices, which have risen for more than twelve months in a row, with inflation expected to double to 7.5% and upturns that may exceed double digits. Not to mention the impact of the war in Ukraine and the Zero Covid policy of China, the global factory.

What does the agreement with Hispack bring to AERCE?

For us it’s an opportunity we couldn’t allow to pass by. With this agreement we want to provide our members with access to the latest trends in wrapping and packaging and give them the opportunity to enter into contact with new suppliers and more efficient and sustainable solutions. We hope we can help lots of Procurement professionals to find a response to one of the key strategies of many of their companies: the circular economy. In fact, we’re extremely confident that the response from our members will be excellent.

Cristian Lienas, President of AERCE, with Xavier Pascual, Director of Hispack.

Cristina Benavides, Hispack contributor