Meet TUCO Category Manager Kim AshleyWritten by Shamari Steele
Tell us about the frameworks you look after and what you enjoy about them.
I look after the Meat & Poultry, Sandwiches and Kitchen Equipment Maintenance categories. I’m also currently working on developing a new framework agreement for Kitchen Deep Clean & Ventilation. Being relatively new, I’ve inherited all the categories, so I’m looking forward to re-tendering each of the agreements so that I have the chance to meet with the members, understand their needs and build these requirements into the new deals.
When did you join TUCO?
Late April 2016.
Tell us a little bit about your working background.
I’ve been working in procurement for the past 16 years, 15 years of which has been the procurement of Food, Drink and associated catering services. My career began buying food for the NHS. I loved this job as the achievement of savings as well as quality improvement had an immediate and positive impact on patient care.
I moved on from the NHS to being the buying manager for the National Union of Students. This was a fascinating role due to the influence that the student movement had on the procurement of goods. Understanding ethical and reputational risks within the supply chain was paramount! Also, working directly with students was invaluable to ensure that products purchased and sold in store were on trend and in line with their budget.
In between the health and education sectors, I worked for a micro sized business which supplied into the education sector; gaining the experience of working for a small supplier has really opened my eyes to the challenges they face when completing OJEU tenders.
What are the major benefits of buying from the TUCO frameworks?
In addition to all the usual benefits of buying from a purchasing consortia (internal time and cost savings, procurement support and expertise, EU compliant tenders, national/regional purchasing power, sustainability, back-up when you’re experiencing issues….), I believe that the greatest benefit is the time that TUCO staff are afforded to spend directly with their members.
The regional meetings for example, are invaluable both to the procurement team here and I hope to the members. Without that direct link as a sounding board, we would struggle to create deals that reflect our members requirements.
Members of the regional groups also volunteer to work with the Category Managers throughout the tender process, so that our frameworks can be truly shaped by our members.
Do you have a tip or piece of advice to members on choosing a framework supplier?
Unfortunately, as our members all know, it’s not as simple as that. ‘Choosing’ a supplier isn’t an option when it comes to EU Procurement. When you have a requirement, I would suggest visiting the TUCO web site and downloading and reading through the buyer’s guide to see how best to call off from the agreement. Though to be more proactive, I would suggest completing our category research surveys, attending regional meetings and sharing your wants with us in advance of the tender so that we can try to incorporate these into the framework. This would make the job of calling-off from the agreement much more satisfying!