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Chief Procurement Officer and Director
Central Procurement Office

Procuring a pathway to change

For someone whose job requires him to traverse the globe regularly, it must have been tough for Mr Pang Chong Ning, the University’s Chief Procurement Officer, to put away his passport and settle for a staid job back in Singapore after 21 years.  “Not really,” laughed Chong Ning. “To me, it is like National Service all over again, and I stand ready to contribute back home where I can lead a team and train local talents in the area of procurement.”

Chong Ning was previously a regional procurement director/global buyer at Givaudan, the world’s leading flavour and fragrances company, and prior to that, a similar company Symrise headquartered in Germany. In an intoxicating world of scents and flavours, Chong Ning’s work brought him behind-the-scenes – from audit checks on the authenticity of materials used to countless negotiations with suppliers that brought him to many parts of the world. 

China (960x593)Givaudan days: Chong Ning (3rd from right) with American and European colleagues during a sourcing trip to a factory which produces natural extracts and essential oils in Guangxi, China 

In 2019, Chong Ning joined NUS, and now leads a team of 65 staff under the umbrella of the Central Procurement Office (CPO). With his years of knowledge and experience in procurement and supply chain, he has plans to change the landscape of procurement at the University in tandem with the changes brought about by Organisational Excellence.

While many abhor the tedious formalities one has to go through for good and services procurement, the strict protocol in place is necessary to ensure transparency and compliance, and also prevent illicit practices and irregularities. However, Chong Ning believes that the procurement processes can be further improved, without compromising governance and compliance. He attributes the pain points of procurement to legacy issues and promises to streamline processes, bringing in best practices from the commercial world, and removing unnecessary procedures which hinder the process. “We now live in a fast-paced and digital-enabled world and many mundane and repetitive tasks can be eliminated for efficacy,” explained Chong Ning.  “Introducing a highly automated procurement system will change the way we do purchasing work in future and improve the perception of procurement.”

For Chong Ning, the change is essential in firing up engines for a much-needed overhaul. Last July, CPO flagged off with the Policy Reform 2.0 task force to initiate the change process. This reformation process will overlap with another major development – the sourcing and implementation of a new and robust digital procurement system which will employ data analytics to enhance procurement performance and mitigate risk at the same time. 

Exciting times are ahead as Chong Ning shares his ambitious plan for procurement in NUS. With a simple transformation framework, he intends to move the traditional procurement operating model to one that will reap business benefits and improve user experience via four stages – Policy Review, Process and Technology, People Management and Performance Measurement. He hopes to secure approval for policy refinements from the NUS Management by November this year which will set the wheels in motion to bring other plans to fruition by 2022.   

Audits checks and procurement protocol aside, dealing with people remains the most satisfying part of the job, revealed Chong Ning. “People are our greatest assets but they are also the hardest to manage,” he shared. “I never underestimate the ever-changing supply chain scenario that may upset deliverables in NUS and many times it is the relationship we have with both our internal stakeholders and external supply chains that resolve many of the hitches.”

CPO (960x540)
A people person, Chong Ning believes building relationships is essential in overcoming work problems 


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