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Perfecting the art of strategic sourcing - Dawn Tiura [Interview]

Perfecting the art of strategic sourcing - Dawn Tiura [Interview]

HR blogs
March 11, 2022
Human Resource Management Platform
Perfecting the art of strategic sourcing - Dawn Tiura [Interview] | peopleHum

About Dawn Tiura

Dawn Tiura is the President and CEO of Sourcing Industry Group. Dawn is passionate about raising the executive presence of sourcing, procurement, and outsourcing professionals. Dawn is frequently named as a "Pro to Know" by Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine and was listed as one of 2012's Top Female Supply Chain Leaders. She has contributed to and been quoted in dozens of magazines, white papers, and publications. We are happy and honored to have someone of her stature on our interview series today.

Ekta Mishra

Perfecting the art of strategic sourcing - Dawn Tiura [Interview] | peopleHum

We have the pleasure of welcoming Ekta today to our interview series. I’m Ekta Mishra from the peopleHum team. Before we begin, just a quick intro of PeopleHum -  peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work.

We run the peopleHum blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors a year and publish around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.


Welcome Dawn, we’re thrilled to have you.

So my first question to you is can you tell us a little bit about your journey that brought you to this success with the Sourcing Industry group?


Sure. So I didn't get here the normal way. I never planned to do what I do today. I started off as a CPA, which is a certified public accountant. Believe it or not, my graduate degree is in business with an accounting major. Then I went on and got a master's in international taxation. So from that, I then proceeded to have my own CPA firm in Palo Alto, California and I practiced that for about 10 years, working with a lot of companies that were in start-up bases in the early Silicon Valley days.

And during that time, strategic sourcing was born. And what happened is that one of my clients was a consulting firm and they said, 'We know we're driving significant change and value in the supply chain, but we can't prove it.' So they hired my firm to come in and build a cost model for them. And while I was doing that for a huge hospital chain here called Kaiser Permanente, I fell in love with sourcing, and I thought that I wanted to do that as my career.

So I sold my CPA firm and I went into consulting, and I did supply chain consulting with them for about three years. And then I decided that I don't make a good employee, so I decided to start my own company. And so I started a company called Denali Group, and we then expanded. I had a number of partners, and we grew to about 50 full-time consultants. Then we started Denali Sourcing Services, which now has several 1000 people. and then I had the opportunity to speak at SIG. So the Sourcing Industry Group. So they invited me to come in and talk about sourcing.

So while I was there, I had an opportunity to talk to the president frequently, and I said, you know, you're living my dream job. All you're doing is networking people and educating them, and that's what my passion is. So when he got ready to retire back in 2007, he called me up and said, 'Hey, would you like to take over SIG? I think you'd make a great CEO.' So it was about time I, you know, I had young children at home. I was on the road every single week and I thought this is a really great way to reinvent myself again.

So I took over SIG in November 2007 ironically, just before the 2008 financial crisis. And so it was a challenging few years because we lost about 40% of our members. And so I just took the time and thought, when we come out because I know the recession will eventually end, we're going to be stronger, bigger, more powerful than we were before. So I invested in those first 3 years. And lo and behold, as the recession started to loosen up and people were able to join, we were able to create this massive organization we have today.

And then about three years ago, we decided to start our education firm formally and we started SIG University and SIG University now has thousands of people in sourcing, third party risk management, automation in 17 countries. And we have just produced one of our programs in Latin America and Spanish and we're trying to create the global languages sourcing and bring sourcing professionals together worldwide.

So never did I realize that everything we had created was going to be so critically important as it is now during a pandemic, that our network of sourcing professionals and suppliers is so critical and our ability to train people to source on a global basis, how to select news suppliers, how to build resiliency in their supply chain is so important.

So, ironically, I never realized that my career was that important until I mean, I always knew it was absolutely critical to companies to differentiate themselves. Everybody in the world now knows what a supply chain is. They didn't before the pandemic. So it is getting so much more attention than we've ever had before, so it's an exciting place to be.


It's inspiring, you know, starting from there, and getting to lead this massive organization today.


Thank You. It's so rewarding. Every single day I get to meet new people. I get to talk to brilliant leaders of companies. You know, I get to talk to other CEOs. We have $17 trillion of spend in our member’s source. So we have an amazing amount of money that goes through the global economy. So it's yes, it's very rewarding.


Amazing. Coming to my next question. There’s offshoring and there is outsourcing. How would organizations choose to source the right work to the right people?


Well, there's offshoring and outsourcing, and you cannot source onshore and offshore and that's a differentiation that I always want people to understand. We've been outsourcing everybody, you, me. We've been outsourcing our entire lives. I don't grow my own food. I don't make my own clothes. I don't mow my own lawn. I didn't have to clean my own house before. You know things like that.

So we've been outsourcing since modern-day. The difference is that during the late eighties, really, we started to discover that there were low-cost options to outsource to and so to choose the right location I think it's going to be a different question now than it was before because we always looked for a location and we would make sure we had redundancy built-in. But you always thought that if one location or one area was affected by whether it be geopolitical or a weather crisis or something like that, we would be fine. We have redundancy.

Never did we think there could be something like a pandemic that would wrap around the world and impact all of our supply chains and all of our initiatives. So I think in the future, the way we're going to be offshoring is going to change based on the pandemic, based on the responsiveness of the governments, based on what countries are gonna keep their education systems at the status that they are today because we see a lot of folks that are really going to be struggling with keeping the education at the status it was.

So I think we'll discover new sources of supply that we hadn't had before. I think we're gonna see a lot more onshore, to be honest with you in the near future. I think people are going to want to have sources of supply and services done in areas that they could understand and dramatically and quickly discover if there are issues with it. And right now, with global trouble being restricted, I'm not gonna be able to go see a plant in China, I'm not gonna be able to go over and meet my team in Mumbai.

So will some of those jobs go back onshore is sort of where I'm waiting to watch. And so I think the difference before used to be the right people, the right leaders, the right education, the right delivery models. And now it's going to be a very different selection process as we move forward. 


My next question was tightly coupled with what exactly said about bringing jobs back. Do you believe offshoring will lose significance or morph into something different given the environment of bringing jobs back, and tighter immigration controls? Do you think the world starts looking at talent and sourcing differently?


Talent is going to be extremely important and we were short on talent in sourcing here to start with. But the talent, especially in India and the financial services, whether it is Costa Rica or other countries, you know, there are pockets of excellence all over the world, and I don't know how quickly we would be able to replicate those onshore and then with the immigration issue, it's not even as if we could ask everyone from our outsourced center in India to be moved to the United States. It would be possible because of immigration.

So I think in the future it's going to take a long time for people to start ramping up onshore capabilities. I think we're gonna rely a lot more on automation of a lot of the activities that we outsource today. If it's a team of people that it took to do something, if we can take the intuitive work and give it to human beings but automate all of the repetitive work or the non-strategic work, I think that's gonna be critical in the future.

"If it's a team of people that it took to do something, if we can take the intuitive work and give it to human beings but automate all of the repetitive work or the non-strategic work, I think that's gonna be critical in the future."

So I think the talent of automation, I think the challenge of separating critical versus non-critical offshore work and automating non-critical is going to be absolutely key to someone’s success. And so, you know, we're gonna be looking at a lot of that. So we have 30 million unemployed people as of today. They don't know how to do the work of the people that we've outsourced to.

You know, we're talking about people from all walks of life, very educated, but we also have a lot of people that were servers in restaurants and cooks and housekeepers. And you know, people like that aren't employed there, you can't immediately train them to do the work that you get now sent offshore.

So I think there'll be a lot of educational opportunities. We're seeing an uptick in people that are enrolling in SIG University right now, frankly, to get trained. I think there will be a lot more of that type of thing to try and train some of these out of work workers. But it can't do that overnight, you know. I mean, India has perfected they have offshored to the United States and it's going to take a long time to ever be able to replicate that anywhere else in the world.

I think our outsourced offshore events and engagements will still continue for the time being. But I do know that a lot of people are questioning the long term aspect of it. You were just rethinking everything these days.


Yeah, that's true. We were thinking about everything? Yes, the new normal. What people call it. 


Yes, it won't end. Most of the time when we set our strategies, we look to the past to create the future. There's no past to look to this time. You know, we've never faced this before. So we have got to get ourselves up and not at the 30,000-foot level, but the 100,000-foot level and really look at everything differently than we did before. The world is never going to go back to how it was in 2019 and 2020 and 2021 and probably 2022 are gonna be the years that we reinvent everything. And so I'm excited.

I hate the pandemic. Let me make that perfectly clear. I hate the losses. I hate the economic impact it's had around the world. But it's going to be an exciting time. Once the pandemic calms down and people really give themselves the permission to go over the 100,000-foot level and really start thinking strategically, we're gonna see some things come out of this that we could never even dream today. We thought we're innovating before, but that's nothing like what we're gonna have to do in the future.


What do you believe is the future of AI and automation in what you call work tech? What are the applications of advanced tech in people related technologies?


I am passionate that it is going to just skyrocket. It is going to be something that we will move more quickly on AI and automation than we have ever moved in any other technology. I still have global companies that don't have an e-procurement system after all these years, you know? So e-procurement took a long time to grab a foothold, and most major organizations have it but not all. I think AI started off as a lot of hype, I think it's gonna become such a reality in the future.

I think it's going to do so much more of the work and analytical part of our jobs. I just think it's such a promising future. And from all the data scientists I'm talking to and all the engineers I'm talking to, and with a mass amount of computing power, it's gonna really change dramatically the way we work today. It's gonna be exciting. So the post-pandemic world will be very different and it's gonna be exciting.


With the increase in the millennial workforce, the gig economy is gaining more prevalence. How do recruiters and human resources departments prepare for this scenario?


What I would have said before is the thought that 50% of our workforce would be gig, you know, by 2020 or 2025, I'm not sure that's gonna be true in the future. I think, at least from the United States perspective, the gig economy workers today are the ones who have been left out with the pandemic because there wasn't a safety net. Now they can get some federal support, but they're not gonna be the first workers called back in. The FTE's will be.

So I think there may be fewer. And I don't think we're gonna hit that 50% number. And I think that the millennials are going to see that having the security of working for a new organization might be better than being in the gig economy. But you know we just have to see, you know, the people that get called back in will be FTE's first who were laid off. Then you bring back in your gig economy workers. So until our economy returns to where it was pre-COVID, I'm not sure that the gig workers are going to be as prevalent in the workplace.

Now with that said, with the time that they have, hopefully, they'll be creating all kinds of new products and services and really being innovators. We're seeing more advances like some of the risk organizations that have really stepped up immediately to start tracking COVID and supply chain disruption. So I think that the gig workers are gonna be in for a long haul of unemployment or low employment.

And if you're a freelance reporter, you can't travel now to do your stories to the person who just comes in and does technology, unless you can do it remotely and you have a skill set that no one else has, you know, it's gonna be a lot tougher climate for the next couple of years for them. I have two millennials as children. They both wanted secure jobs. They wanted to work for large organizations, which is weird because I've always been self-employed, so I don't know.

I mean, I think it's gonna be more interesting to see what the COVID generation does. When my mother came through the great recession, it created a workforce that wanted to go to work for a company for a long time and have that security because of the recession.

If this becomes an even greater recession, I think the COVID workforce will see gig as potentially risky unless we have so much AI that we can then create the universal basic income. So it's hard to answer that right now. I would have had a totally different answer if you'd asked me three months ago.

And so everything I'm saying, these are things that we just don't know. And all the world's experts and I know we have so many workforce management companies that participate in SIG. They're all questioning, you know, What is it gonna look like for us in the future? We're gonna be so important because now you're managing people that you don't see.

It’s very important for us to build tracking metrics and to make sure these people are accountable there for doing the work. But are we going to need as many of them in the future? Because if AI takes up as quickly as I think it will, we're not gonna need as many workers, so I don’t know. I wish I had that crystal ball. I don't know.

I think the human to human connection will never be lost. I think that is probably the hardest thing that people are suffering right now is the lack of human to human and the free flow of people. So I don't think anyone will ever take that for granted again that you might have to be locked down by yourself or with very few people. I think we will learn how important that human connection was.

So humans are always going to need humans, even with AI there's still gonna be work that until we can make computers empathetic, we're never going to be able to replace for all of the humans, it will be interesting. As I said, the timing of this interview couldn’t be worse because I have no answer for you.

"So humans are always going to need humans, even with AI there's still gonna be work that until we can make computers empathetic, we're never going to be able to replace for all of the humans."

But I'm so excited to discover what it is because I don't have answers for a lot of things now that I thought I knew so well, you know, three months ago.


What is your opinion on the future of work, and tell us something about the future of recruitment?


I think normal working hours are going to change. A lot of people are going to stay remote. I think they're going to be a lot of large corporate buildings with huge vacancies. I'm actually right now working with somebody to do a big study on corporate real estate because you think of all of those high rises in New York that are now sitting empty and around the world. And if people are reluctant to want to go back to the workplace and they have proven that productivity for a lot of people is higher at home because they don't have to commute and their days have become longer and they've been more productive.

A lot of people are lonely working from home. So will they want to go back into an office and be co-located next to other people? I think office space is going to change dramatically. I think we went to such an open floor plan. At least in the United States, it was beautiful, and people would stand in groups and have meetings and nobody had an assigned work-station, and it was fantastic, and you could get together and you could collaborate with people.

That's the piece that is going to be heard. We were going to have to have additional tools besides Zoom. I have to schedule a zoom. I can't just go knock on your door and say, 'Hey, can we talk for a minute?' I have to ask you, 'Can you join me on a zoom?' So, the collaboration side of it and we're gonna need people to people contact to be able to do some of the innovations that we're looking for right now.

So while I think a lot of workers will remain remote, I think eventually a lot of workers are going to want to return to the workplace, especially the older workers who never worked from home before. I think a lot of the older generation will see the comfort of the office.

Now, with respect to recruitment, I definitely think fewer people are gonna fly in for interviews. I think people are going to use a lot more remote interviewing, a lot more zoom type technology for interviews. It has started to move that way. And I think they obviously had to do it immediately.

And I think people that work from home are gonna have to have a different resume to be able to prove your productivity and your ability to lead a team. My team has been fully remote for only a year, but half of my team has always been remote. And so I have a proven workforce. But I have to be honest with you, it was hard for me in the beginning. I'd always worked in an office with my team. And so when we went remote the first time, which was about 10 years ago, we would put about 75% of our team remote. It was hard for me. Are they really working? What's really happening? But then, as you see everything that they're producing, you grow a lot of trust.

We used to use slack, now we use teams. We've been using video meetings forever. So I know I can lead in this environment. I know I can keep my team together, but I have a proven track record. So when you're recruiting now, if you're looking for leaders, they're going to have to be able to prove that they can lead remotely if that's the situation.

So I think the resumes are gonna be different, the things we talked about will be different, and I think if nothing else, empathy in the workplace is going to make a huge difference in the future. Understanding that I have workers that suddenly don't have their kids in school. And so we've had to be very flexible with work hours.

So I think having that empathy, the ability to still get the work done and trust the people to get it done and prove that they're getting it done, as a leader is going to be extremely important when you're recruiting in the future because it's really hard to have a boss that you never talked to, never see, just trading emails with. And it's hard to be loyal to that person as well until you get that connection.

"Having that empathy, the ability to still get the work done and trust the people to get it done and prove that they're getting it done, as a leader is going to be extremely important when you're recruiting in the future because it's really hard to have a boss that you never talked to, never see, just trading emails with."


It's very difficult to build that connection. It is helping us because we have already worked with those people, and now we’re remote. But people are just starting now, it's difficult for them.


And a lot of people don't want to go on camera. But I just want to see your face and see your smile and look you in the eye makes a big difference in the workplace. And so as I'm looking at you, I have more rapport with you because I can see you.

We could have had a great phone conversation, but because we're looking at each other across the world, it changes the dynamic. And so I think people have to learn that and not be camera shy and realize it's gonna be really important. And I think when you get used to having business with cats and dogs and people knocking on doors and the noises that come from having children in homes, it has become a little more acceptable.

Where before, I would have been adamant, like none of that, you know. Don't you dare, you're talking to a Fortune 500 executive. You can't have your dog barking in the background. Now it's become part of the course, and so I think both sides are going to appreciate it. Whether you're in the office or at home, you're gonna understand why we have these interruptions and things like that.


Yeah. Okay, so I'm done with my questions.

Any other important sound bites you would like to leave our viewers with?


I think that the most important thing is we will get through this. And human beings are very resilient and we will get through this pandemic. And so I can't wait till we come on the other side with the excitement. When I talk to people who say when is it gonna go back to normal? We all have to accept It's not gonna be normal. And when you think about 9/11 you know, that's the closest thing we've had to a pandemic, we quickly adapted to three ounces of liquid in your carryon and taking your shoes off and taking your computer out. We fought it for a day or two, a trip or two, but we got used to it. We got used to people who couldn't come to your gates.

So we're gonna have those kinds of changes. They're going to take place. And while some people are going to resist it in the beginning, it's a fact of life.

Life is gonna be different post-pandemic. I'm hoping it wakes up people, the fact that we've moved into these animal kingdoms and into the wild. I'm hoping that maybe we realize that the air is a little cleaner, we can breathe a little easier. Why can't we learn from this and create a new future that is so much better than the one we left behind?

"Life is gonna be different post-pandemic. I'm hoping it wakes up people, the fact that we've moved into these animal kingdoms and into the wild. Why can't we learn from this and create a new future that is so much better than the one we left behind?"

So I'm excited about post-pandemic, to be honest with you. And I know we have a long haul for the economy, but I'm really excited to see the world that we're gonna create as a result of all of this. My parting comment is it's going to be fun, it is gonna be a wild ride. So get on the ride. Don't just watch it. Yeah, so yeah, so I'm excited about the future.


But that's the thing with excitement. We go on the other side excited rather than being gloomy about it. 


Yes, what good is that? So let's just leave with excitement and then just think I mean, my gosh, the opportunity to think about the world differently is so exciting. 


Yeah, do so much. It was

Well, so thank you so much. It was a great learning experience. And then, you know, as you said, most of the time, we talk about this pandemic with a sad face but after a very long time I someone spoke about it with a sense of excitement.


Yes. And believe me, I recognize the losses. But I'm more excited to think about the world on the other side. And that keeps me from being depressed about it. Stay safe and healthy and thank you for your time today. I know it's probably late for you, but I really appreciate getting to know you. Thank you so much.


Thank you so much for your time. 

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October 25, 2021

A very inspiring list. Thanks for putting this together


October 25, 2021

This is such a great list of women leaders! More power to you all

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