Rising Star Interview: Joey Foster

Posted: 09/15/2019 - 22:24
Rising Star Interview: Joey Foster

This October, the Future of Sourcing Awards will celebrate individuals newer to the industry whose thought leadership and expertise have shown promise that is likely to have a lasting impact on the industry. Below, read about Rising Star Finalist Joey Foster. Joey is the Procurement Engagement Leader supporting the Technology Support Services (TSS) stakeholder at IBM. In addition to being both a project management and an engagement leader, Joey also assisted in leading IBM Procurement’s transition to an agile work environment.

How did you get into this field – was it purposeful or by accident?

My interest in sourcing sparked while studying Supply Chain Management at Michigan State University. Having just finished the introductory course on procurement, I began searching for internship opportunities focused on strategic sourcing.  
I was offered the opportunity to intern with Logitech’s Global Procurement Team in the Spring of 2015, so I packed my bags and headed to the beautiful Bay Area. During my internship, I primarily interacted with Large Server/Storage OEMs and Internal Stakeholders to drive impactful changes in supplier management and assorted procurement policies. The relationships established, and experiences gained at Logitech solidified my decision in pursuing a career in sourcing! 
In 2016, I met with IBM while attending MSU’s annual Supply Chain Career Fair. After finishing the interview process, I was hired onto the US IT Products Service and Maintenance Team. Because technology has always been a passion of mine, I was and continue to be grateful to work for an innovative company like IBM. So although my journey was a bit accidental, I have enjoyed being part of a diverse team with extensive knowledge in the category while having the opportunity to grow in my position! 

In what ways do you hope to influence or transform the industry?

IBM recently transformed the procurement organization to an Agile work environment. Throughout this transformation I’ve led as an Agile Champion and Iteration Manger. The responsibilities of these roles include hosting daily standups for a cross functional team, leading sprints, and the implementation of agile tools and practices. In 2Q19 I approached my manager about modifying our team’s structure to better align with and support our stakeholders within IBM. This restructuring has led to a better support model, improvements in efficiency and responsiveness, and teaming with our stakeholders has never been better! I am constantly asking for feedback from the team knowing that one size truly doesn’t fit all and any new idea deserves consideration. Within the procurement industry, companies are looking for professionals who are willing to test the status quo and deliver results! With a willingness to transform to practices that are best of breed for technology, tools, and supply chain management, anything is possible within Sourcing!  
In addition to transforming through Agile practices, I’m fortunate to work for a company that is a leader when it comes to introducing innovative and cognitive tools to the industry. Working in IBM’s Procurement Delivery Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, I have access to multiple product owners whose jobs are to raise a product from the ground up. I constantly ask product owners about the progression of their journey and have had them as  guest speakers in my squad’s iteration planning sessions. Most recently I asked the Cognitive Analytics Lead IBM’s Travel Manager (ITM) to provide a demonstration and overview on the tool for our squad. One of my growth goals in my career is to lead a product from concept, to development, to a successful go to market implementation! 

Who are the mentors or role models who have guided you in your career?

When establishing a mentor, first I would like to encourage not limiting yourself to your own organization. Having a mentor who can provide guidance from an outside perspective will open doors and viewpoints that you may have never considered! That being said, one of my mentors from IBM Procurement is Evan Davis who is the Strategic Sourcing Global Category Chair of Telecommunications. Having a Global Council Chair as a mentor in my organization has been exciting not only for his guidance for my current role, but for the progression of my career within IBM Procurement! Another mentor of mine is Rafa Frias who is the Procurement Manager of IBM Spain. Prior to running procurement operations for IBM Spain, Rafa was a Supplier Relationship Manager for various strategic IBM suppliers in the Technology Products space and I have been fortunate to worked with him on multiple projects leading pricing and SOW negotiations. His mentorship has been thoroughly beneficial in my time at IBM! 
In addition to my mentors within IBM procurement, Abram Mercedes is a mentor of mine who supports IBM Global Technology Services (GTS) as a Senior Project Executive. He has 25+ years of Executive experience at IBM having supported multiple areas of the business. My longest mentor relationship is my oldest brother. He is currently a Sales Account Executive at Software company and has a variety of professional experience within the Technology space. Mentors are key in being successful, so for that reason, I am constantly establishing new relationships and always on the lookout for new mentors.   

What is something you wish more people knew about the sourcing and procurement industry?

One of the most overlooked elements in sourcing and procurement are the terms and conditions that build a contract. Certain terminology can influence the strategy of an entire global business unit and having the ability to effectively negotiate those terms can prove invaluable when an organization is looking to transform! I would also say that in the sourcing industry the ability to effectively manage relationships not only with your supply base, but with your business unit can determine the success of your sourcing organization. As the Procurement Engagement Lead for IBM’s Technology Support Solutions I constantly look for new opportunities to align with our business and impact decisions on strategy. When procurement and the business are aligned on terms and conditions, price points, and overall strategy, the company is going to reap the benefits! 

Looking ahead, what trends do you think will emerge in the sourcing and procurement space?

Data Analytics. This topic is constantly discussed at the executive level within IBM as well as across the industry. There is incredible value from not only analyzing data, but most importantly, creating actionable insights from data. Not only do these actionable insights show any team their trends and pain-points, but they also show where and how to most impactfully improve. IBM has a cognitive capability called Pricing IQ that teams are constantly leveraging to expedite business processes and provide negotiation tactics. While Pricing IQ is focused on changing how the way IBM sources goods and services, the strategic vision of Product Owner Gavin Hough is to scale capabilities that will fundamentally change sourcing.   

What advice do you have for those who are considering a career in sourcing or procurement?

Think strategically. Begin with a smaller concept and immediately focus on how to scale or grow the idea. All commodities and/or categories have their own nuances, but once you understand the general concept of procurement, specifically the sourcing process, you can create a strategy for almost anything! I encourage all those new to the profession to be open-minded when approached with new categories or areas in the business; it’s important to have a diverse skillset and project exposure. Lastly, even if you’re introduced to an unfamiliar area, embrace the challenge and use your network!

About The Author

Joey Foster's picture

Joey is the Procurement Engagement Leader supporting the Technology Support Services (TSS) stakeholder at IBM. As an Engagement Leader, Joey has exposure to all areas of the business and has lead cross-functional groups in multiple project settings. In addition to being both a project management and an engagement leader, Joey also assisted in leading IBM Procurement’s transition to an agile work environment. Although the nature of agile is to constantly adapt and improve, he helped lay the foundation as an “Agile Champion” for the organization. Joey has been with IBM since 2016 after graduating from the Michigan State Eli Broad College of Business with a degree Supply Chain Management.