Meet the buyer: Karen Gay

The Business Travel Magazine - - Contents -

The Shaw Trust’s Na­tional Pro­cure­ment Man­ager talks about her role at the char­ity that helps young peo­ple and adults en­ter work and de­velop a ca­reer

Shaw Trust helps young peo­ple and adults gain an ed­u­ca­tion, en­ter work, de­velop a ca­reer or re­build their lives, both in the UK and in­ter­na­tion­ally – we’re prob­a­bly the big­gest char­ity you’ve never heard of! I’ve worked in pro­cure­ment for more than 25 years for a range of in­ter­na­tional busi­nesses, buy­ing ev­ery­thing from toilet pa­per to fire en­gines. I joined Shaw Trust nearly 12 years ago as its first ever Na­tional Pro­cure­ment Man­ager. The or­gan­i­sa­tion was rapidly ex­pand­ing and needed a pro­cure­ment spe­cial­ist to pro­vide a fo­cused ap­proach to its spend­ing.

We want our team to be em­pow­ered, so the ma­jor­ity of ar­rang­ing and pur­chas­ing travel is han­dled by in­di­vid­ual trav­ellers. How­ever, as the num­ber of com­pa­nies sit­ting within the Shaw Trust con­tin­ues to ex­pand, I’m help­ing to man­age that growth in travel re­quire­ments. Other than spend­ing time analysing all money spent by the char­ity, one of my main re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is to train our staff to make good pur­chas­ing de­ci­sions.

We don’t have travel book­ers as such. We pre­fer to rely on an in­tu­itive end-user tool that al­lows our staff to make their own ar­range­ments, which is why Click Travel’s self-book­ing sys­tem is ideal. It works like a one-stop shop for all our travel ar­range­ments, sav­ing us time and money.

Shaw Trust em­ploys 3,500 peo­ple and 1,400 vol­un­teers across the UK, but only around 20 per cent of those reg­u­larly travel. That said, we are rolling out to more com­pa­nies as the Shaw Trust ex­pands, so the num­ber of users will eas­ily dou­ble in the next six months. We try and en­cour­age our em­ploy­ees to travel in the most en­vi­ron­men­tal­lyfriendly way pos­si­ble, which pre­dom­i­nantly means by rail. We don’t make many in­ter­na­tional flights, but we do fly within the UK when re­quired. Most of the trips we make are for com­pany or client meet­ings, so overnight ho­tel book­ings form a large part of our travel needs. As we’re a char­ity, ev­ery em­ployee un­der­stands the im­por­tance of spend­ing money ef­fec­tively and ap­pro­pri­ately. Our pol­icy stip­u­lates clearly-de­fined thresh­olds on spend for ho­tels and travel. The pol­icy is hard-wired into the book­ing sys­tem so staff can eas­ily iden­tify what falls within the pol­icy when search­ing for op­tions, and there­fore they know they’re mak­ing the right choice. There’s also a re­port­ing sys­tem which means we can eas­ily drill down into ex­actly what is be­ing spent and by whom, so we can ef­fec­tively track bud­gets.

We want to get the best value for money from our travel, so we tend to book as early in ad­vance as pos­si­ble. How­ever, as with any busi­ness, meet­ings can change or be can­celled at the last minute, so we need to be flex­i­ble – some­thing that the TMC helps us man­age.

OUT OF THE OF­FICE I’m a PADI Dive Master and love to travel and dive across the world. I’m a big fan of ship­wrecks and sharks and love to dive in Egypt, where I’ve been prob­a­bly more than 30 times As we’re a char­ity, ev­ery em­ployee un­der­stands the im­por­tance of spend­ing money ef­fec­tively and ap­pro­pri­ately. Our travel pol­icy stip­u­lates clearly de­fined thresh­olds on spend”

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