18 MARCH 2016

An interview with Rhonda McSweeney, Group Manager, Procurement & Contract Management at CS Energy. 

In the lead-up to the 2016 Women in Procurement conference taking place from 21–23 March, The Faculty has interviewed some of the leading female members of the CPO Roundtable.

Brisbane-based Rhonda McSweeney has nearly 20 years’ experience in the corporate sector across a number of industries, including energy and resources, global retail, healthcare and manufacturing. Over the past 14 years she has held GM-level positions for ASX-listed entities in the areas of procurement and contract management, property and infrastructure, corporate services, global acquisition and integration, sales and marketing.

Rhonda, the upcoming Women in Procurement conference is all about empowering female leaders to reach the highest echelons of a male-dominated profession. What barriers have you had to overcome as a female procurement professional? 

Personally, I haven’t experienced any barriers based on my gender during my career to date. As a manager I’ve always judged people on their capability, irrespective of their gender, and I expect people to assess me in the same way. When I walk into a room and meet someone for the first time, I judge them on whether they can demonstrate capability – not on whether they are male or female.

In terms of workplace sexism, do you believe things have improved over the course of your 20-year career?

I think you’ll get a different answer to this question depending on who you ask and what their unique experience is in the workplace. From my own perspective, I have always been sure to investigate potential employers from a cultural, behavioural and commercial stand point. If you perform this due-diligence up front, in effect you’ll have ‘pre-qualified’ the company (and the leadership specifically). Think of it as investigating the organisation as they, in turn, investigate you.  By following this strategy I’ve been very fortunate to work for companies that match my cultural views and philosophies.

Who is your most inspirational female leader?

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has always inspired me. From gaining her PhD while raising a young family to becoming the first female US Secretary of State, she has had a stellar career. But above all that, I admire her most for her integrity, grace and unassuming manner.

What’s your advice for young female graduates looking to enter the procurement profession?

I would recommend that young graduates gain as much experience as possible through rotations in commercial and operational functions to gain a broad view of the business. I’ve spent time on the other side of the desk in sales and marketing functions which I’ve found absolutely invaluable – it gave me a better understanding of both sides of any business proposition, enabling me to draw out a better return on investment for subsequent partnerships. To summarise my advice for young professional women in a single sentence - put in the hard yards and don’t doubt yourself.

Read more about Women in Procurement 2016: Inspiring leadership, advancing careers and driving innovation in procurement and supply chain function and practice.

The Faculty Roundtable comprises of an influential group of procurement leaders who gather to share their experiences and insights, to achieve greater commercial success for their organisations. Through The Roundtable, members have access to leading-edge thought leadership and commentators, a ready supply of valuable expertise through exclusive market intelligence, as well as networking and professional development opportunities for themselves and their team members.

The Asia-Pacific CPO Forum is the region’s premier procurement event dedicated to accelerating commercial leadership at the highest level. It is a once-a-year opportunity for leading Chief Procurement Officers to engage with peers and like-minded business leaders in an intimate and interactive setting. The Forum is designed for delegates to facilitate the sharing of best practice strategies, develop innovative and responsive procurement approaches, and hear from a compelling speaker line-up of influential thinkers, eminent business leaders and commercially creative minds.

In 2016, The 9th Annual Asia-Pacific CPO Forum will held on 18th and 19th May in Melbourne, Australia. For more information contact Program Manager, Belinda Toohey, on +61 3 9654 4900 or via email.​