Key insights in vendor management for organisations large and small

It is estimated that almost 60% of all assignment costs are associated with vendors. So how can you manage the process for maximum value and efficiency? Our expert panel at the London Chapter on 26th September shared key insights and tips for best practice in vendor management.

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At our London Chapter Meeting on 26th September, HSBC generously hosted more than 70 attendees at their London headquarters in Canary Wharf.

The panel was comprised of senior global mobility figures, all highly experienced in their field, but from  four very different companies.

Mark Derksen, Associate Director, Head of International Mobility at design and engineering firm, Arup and Mark O’Reilly, Global Mobility – Head of Vendor Management at HSBC Group Management Services both manage a huge number of contracts, while Kamila Griffin, International Mobility Manager at DigitasLBi and Khadeeja Islam, Senior Manager – Global Mobility at Aggreko have more recently moved from large multinationals to smaller, more specialised companies.

One size does not fit all

This contrast in size was also reflected in the differing culture of their organisations. So while Mark O’Reilly talked of managing more than 70 travel agencies, Kamila talked about the way that even a few hundred pounds made a huge difference to the decision making at the media company she now works at.

Having previously worked at firms such as Linklaters and Unilever, Kamila was used to working with huge RMCs but she quickly realised that they just didn’t fit with her new organisation. She noticed that the systems and processes and even the conversation and vocabulary they used was different. The decision-makers at Digitas LBI did not engage with the corporate language that is common currency among the big multinationals and so she set about finding vendors who could be more flexible and understand the particular needs of the business.

Khadeeja Islam whose previous experience includes roles at Colt Technology and Anglo American echoed some of these points. She too found that a different approach was needed by both her team and the vendors supplying the engineering firm that she now works at. She emphasised that her firm want the global mobility team to be the sole point of contact with suppliers and that in adjusting to changes, she has actively sought vendors who can be more agile and responsive to the business’ particular needs and culture.

Think about the scope

Mark Derksen outlined some of the key points necessary to create a robust vendor management framework and gave a brief outline of the ‘must-haves’ that organisations should ensure are built in to any agreement. Mark O’Reilly also spoke about the vital importance of ensuring that the scope of a brief is correct and warned global mobility professionals that they must be careful not to expect vendors to solve problems within organisations that are beyond their agreement or capabilities. Though Mark Derksen told the audience that when the relationship works well, it can feel much more like a partnership and that he has been able to work with suppliers who have been really creative in their approach.

Effective and careful use of data

Looking towards the future, Mark O’Reilly touched on the extraordinary pace of change in technology and how it may change mobility. Enormous amounts of data are being generated, but it is important to harness the power of the information and analyse it to the business’ advantage. Cloud-based programs and SaaS technology will revolutionise many of the processes he predicts, but he also touched on the difficulties of managing so much data – especially in relation to the coming changes in legislation with the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) due to be enforced in May 2018. (Which we will explore in further detail at our forthcoming  EMEA Summit).

Incisive questions from the attendees were followed by an informative presentation from Joe de Silva of HSBC on the future of expat banking and financial wellbeing. Guests then spent an hour or more networking over drinks and finger foods whilst enjoying the view of a glittering Canary Wharf.

FEM would like to thank all the members of our panel, attendees and of course HSBC for generously hosting this event.

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We will be holding another Chapter meeting on 5th December and will announce details soon, but in the meantime, we do hope to see you at our EMEA Summit and EMMAs Awards night on the 10th and 11th November, which this year will be held at the InterContinental, at the O2.

So many ways to engage

We encourage all those with an interest in global mobility to engage, not just at our Events and Chapter meetings but also on our website where we’re adding lots of new features and content, including two new channels: Travel, Health & Security Risk and Real Estate & Corporate Housing. We will be adding more in the coming weeks, so stay in touch.

If you are a member of FEM, please do come to our Chapter meetings which we hold in more that 30 locations across the world, or use our website to post an article, comment or upvote your favourite content.

To join FEM, just please email Marianne Aronsen who manages our Chapters on

Or register on our website and get in touch with me, if there are any topics that you'd like us to discuss at another London Chapter meeting.

Claire Tennant-Scull

Global Director, Content & Events, Forum for Expatriate Management

Claire Tennant-Scull is Global Director of Content & Events at the Forum for Expatriate Management (FEM). She produces and chairs all FEM’s Conferences and Summits in Amsterdam, the Americas, APAC and EMEA and oversees FEM's global awards (EMMAs). Claire works closely with key clients, leads FEM’s London Chapter and oversees the FEM website, reports and publications. In addition to her experience in Global Mobility, Claire has more than 20 years’ expertise in publishing, working as a managing editor, writer, journalist and broadcaster, both in the print and digital world. With thousands of contacts across the Global Mobility community, Claire is always keen to welcome new members and to broaden the FEM community.

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