Travel and Meetings Procurement Manager
For building a cost-neutral SMMP in under 20 months and finding 25 percent savings on over 40 meetings a year
When I joined Informatica, procurement was decentralized and they hired me to straighten out agreements. I created a database of all the agreements and I noticed all the stakeholders were using different event management companies and vendors so there was no alignment. Also, there were people signing agreements who didn’t have authority to sign. I centralized all the agreements and made them go through DocuSign. There was no budget to implement an strategic meetings management program so I put out an RFP for a provider asking for a cost-neutral model and we were able to partner with American Express Meetings & Events.
I launched the program for North America in 2017, then Asia Pacific/Japan, and I am focusing on India next, then EMEA, and LatAm. I am also looking at faster payment systems.
At my first procurement job, the CEO told me that I was her top negotiator but I needed to build my credibility because I was young and a woman. I was extra prepared, diligent, and always followed up. You have to show people you will get the job done.
I emigrated at a young age from Iran and I have memories of the Iran-Iraq war and violent protests, so I want to see a brighter future and use my freedom in a positive way. I look at all perspectives; you have to have an open mind.
I study yoga and my teacher always says it is best to think you’re a novice because if you think you are an expert you close the door on new ideas. You always need to learn.
Advice for Peers
From a procurement perspective, I would recommend a gap analysis for the department to see what you are trying to achieve. Align your goals with the company’s goals: Do they want to save money? Do they want to go global?
My older brother Nader Ghaffari is the co-founder and CEO of Venture Scanner and he is my role model. He helps me to see past my limits. He is only three years older, but he’s an old soul. I was worried about this position because of the long commute and the title, and he said don’t look at the name of the role, but look at the opportunity you have to learn.
Your Best Advice for Change
Be open and help people through the process. I put all the information on the intranet. Also, be available. One time I was helping someone on the phone and I didn’t realize they were in an office on the other side of the country and I said, “I’ll just come over.”
You will find me doing yoga or swimming. I am based in the Bay Area and I love to swim in the sea.
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