Procurement transformation is at the heart of our chat with Tod Cooper, Director Procurement at the Department of Corrections in New Zealand

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We chat with Tod Cooper, Director Procurement at the Department of Corrections in New Zealand, about the strategic restructure of the procurement function and the Department’s dedication to supporting Māori.

Most of us like to think that if we were presented with the chance to do something positive and societally significant for our country and its indigenous people, in particular, we would. And that’s exactly the opportunity Tod Cooper, Director Procurement at the Department of Corrections in New Zealand, has grasped with both hands, with the department’s dedication to supporting Māori. 

Business transformation through leadership has been a major part of Cooper’s working life, preparing him for the challenges he’s faced at the Department of Corrections.

“It’s a big personal passion for me,” he says. “I’m not a guy who likes to sit still. Continuous improvement is a big thing. I’m always asking myself how we can make things better, looking at new ways of re-engineering, and getting good people around me who can enact my vision of things. I’m a typical extrovert who’s easily distracted by the next thing, so it’s really important to have a good leadership team around me that understands the vision and can pull me back in.”

Tod Cooper, Director Procurement at the Department of Corrections in New Zealand

Procurement transformation is at the heart of our chat with Tod Cooper, Director Procurement at the Department of Corrections in New Zealand.

Procurement at the Department of Corrections when Cooper joined was, at best, fractured. For Cooper, as somebody who feels a sense of pride surrounding his profession, it pained him to see that the function was not seen as a value-add part of the business. Procurement itself, across the world, has changed a great deal in recent decades and gone from a function that simply exists to save the business money, to something much more technical that generates value and efficiencies in wide-ranging way. 

“We’ve watched procurement evolve into being strongly outcome-focused,” says Cooper. “But to do that, you need to be a business partner and understand the internal customers that you are supporting, which means getting out from behind your desk and being hands-on with the wider business.

It’s a major success for us when my team is invited to team meetings outside of procurement; I’m the salesman for procurement, I go out there and sell their capability and the benefits we bring to them, but they must go and deliver that, with full transparency. I’m only successful because of the people that are around me.” 

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