Alumni Success Story: Samuel Gradín, ZLOG 2010, Marketing, Logistics and Corporate Procurement Manager at Pan American Energy. See profile on Linkedin
Flicking through your resume, we see that you are currently the Marketing, Logistics and Corporate Procurement Manager of Pan American Energy, the leading global energy company in Argentina. What are the main challenges facing oil and gas companies in their supply chains today?
I think the main challenge for O&G companies today is to reduce their costs, this is due to the fact that the sector has entered a period of low prices, in which only fields that can provide a benefit will be exploded. This changes a paradigm, where companies tried to maximize the production volumes, to a new period were cost will prevail, not taking risk in high cost oil fields. Therefore, a company that reduces their costs will have a broader of options to exploit.
This won’t happen only by procuring the same materials/services at a lower price, but with innovation and efficiencies utilizing today’s technologies.
You have been commended for your team-building skills; managing a diverse team made up of more than 20 people it’s not a piece of cake! How much importance would you place on a team’s efficiency in terms of the success of a project?
Efficiency is undoubtedly very relevant, but the difficult issue is how to get each person to achieve their maximum potential in a coordinated way and with a common goal.
For this, I think there are 3 fundamental aspects: i. Clear objectives, ii. trust and iii. freedom to act (empowerment).
The first is point is to set a challenging objective, something that pushes the team in a good way, and it is clear water to everybody. For the two other items, which are related, it is important to achieve a space where everyone feels confident to act, and at the same time to delegate as much as possible as each one is up to. This last one is key, since each one will take on different responsibilities according to their career moment and potential.
Earlier in your career, you have beaten a steady professional path in the procurement field working for more than eight years at Exiros, a global company that offers integral procurement solutions. What do you like the most and the least about procurement?
Good one. I’m going to start with what I like the most, which is how procurement being a critical part in Supply Chain can make any area of a company to become better. As a service area, the professionals who work in purchasing must have a mix between a vocation for service and a mentality to do everything in a better way. Supply chain, and therefore purchasing, is not just buying something at a lower cost, but also assuring that the information flows efficiently, to make faster and better decisions, and keeping and eye on how the different options impact the company finance.
What I don’t like about procurement is not whether something related to the field, but that today still many companies don’t given to the area the importance it has, and it is limited to a transactional role that adds little value to the organization. But luckily, I believe that this is changing rapidly, and in all companies the Supply Chain area will be critical.
At one point in your professional career you decided to go for the journey and see what it was like across the international fence. How do you look back on your experience studying the master degree at ZLC? What did you gain in terms of personal growth?
I have the best memories of my year lived in Zaragoza, it was a year of many important things in my life, it was a year where I got married, made great friends and got a world class vision on supply chain, all framed in a picture of great teachers and staff.
I really loved living in a different city such as Zaragoza and its inhabitants!
A couple of years back and thanks to you, your company sponsored a thesis project for our master students. How was the experience of being on the other side?
It was a great experience, not only for being able to work with the university, but also for the professionalism and dedication the students and teachers put into it.
Even today, I still use and share the final report (thesis) when I want to show some specifics on the logistic problem we studied.
I only realize the quality and depth of the program when I returned to my professional career, so I knew I could trust blindfolded the students and teachers.
What is your main message to those candidates who are thinking about embarking on the “back to school” adventure?
If someone wishes to take the adventure, I can only say one thing: don’t be afraid of any cost or risk that you may be considering, they are absolutely not relevant with everything that you will gain, such as world class knowledge, global networking, life friends and overall a wonderful life experience!