8 November 2012 | Rebecca Ellinor
Francisca Nyamukapa’s unique road trip has seen her travel across Zimbabwe to share her passion for procurement with students. Rebecca Ellinor hears her story.
Some people’s energy, ambition and enthusiasm knows no bounds. Francisca Nyamukapa is one such individual.
At the end of 2011, the procurement officer at sugar processing company Tongaat Hulett in Zimbabwe decided that she wanted to give something back to the profession. She resolved to visit the country’s higher education institutions to raise awareness of procurement and supply.
“I wanted to share with others the experience I’ve had in the profession, having worked in it for more than 20 years. Little did I know at that point that former CIPS president David Smith would call on professionals to do that very thing.”
Over the course of the past 10 months, Nyamukapa has taken a number of days of annual leave and covered around 4,000km paying for her own fuel and hotel stays to visit institutions and inspire their students. A number of her trips have involved traversing the Harare-Beitbridge Road, which has a reputation as a death trap for motorists.
“I have a passion for this job and I wanted to give back. If I can share with around 350 students a year it will make a difference,” she tells SM.
The six polytechnics she has targeted in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, Kwekwe and Masvingo offer a Higher National Diploma in purchasing and supply and Chinhoyi University offers an international purchasing and logistics qualification. While students may be learning about what’s involved in procurement and supply, many simply chose it because the course was offered, rather than because they intend to make a career out of it.
“One thing that shocked me was that very few students I spoke to had left home to study procurement. Most came through the polytechnic and were told they could take the procurement programme – so they just fell into it by accident. They didn’t really understand the significance or dynamics of procurement – that around 60 per cent of transactions that go on in an organisation are procurement,” she says.
Another problem was while the university offers a four-year programme, including a year in industry, many students cannot get procurement placements, so are lost to other functions.
Tongaat Hulett, where Nyamukapa is responsible for purchasing associated with fleet, offers placements to a number of students and has supported her project, which is ongoing. “I couldn’t have done this without the support of my boss Ian Carruthers-Smith and colleagues. I still have other places I want to visit and I’ve run out of leave days, so I’m now hoping to do some during the weekends.” She hopes to have visited all her targeted institutions by mid-2013.
Ethics in practice
In addition to visiting higher education establishments, Nyamukapa also spoke to pupils at St Francis Nhema School in Shurugwi. “I realised they don’t even know about procurement as a profession, but when I asked them for feedback and whether I’ve convinced them to go into procurement as a career, they told me I have.”
Nyamukapa, who is also heavily involved with the CIPS Zimbabwe branch, also took the opportunity to discuss the importance of ethics, using the CIPS code, and talk about what is an acceptable level of gifts. She demonstrated this by rewarding those who had done particularly well with T-shirts and pens supplied by some of her own vendors, including Tyre Treads, Large Data, Search Tyres and Trentyre.
Wondering how she could reach yet more people, she called a Zimbabwean TV station and was interviewed on air about procurement. “I spoke about the dynamics of the profession and explained the role of CIPS. I also highlighted the importance of good procurement practice.”
Nyamukapa won the ‘industrially relevant professional development initiative’ at the CIPS Pan-Africa Awards and further recognition came at this year’s CIPS Supply Management Awards, when she was ‘highly commended’ for her entry in the CIPS Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year category. Paula Gildert, chair of the judges, said: “Francisca impressed us with her passion and commitment to raising the profile of a profession that makes a difference.
“She has gone above and beyond what would be expected, role modelling and in her own words ‘holding the baton’ for the value and contribution procurement can make and to leave a legacy for the future.”
In addition to a full-time job and this project, Nyamukapa recently completed an MBA and plans to do a doctorate next year. She also has eight children ranging from 12 to 35 years old. “I make sure I give everyone around me time. I work hard and I’m ambitious.”
Her hope is that Zimbabwe will appoint a minister of procurement to oversee government purchasing – a position she would throw her name in the ring to get.
“The country currently has a procurement board that reports to the finance department. In the private sector we’ve realised that procurement should stand on its own. It’s someone spending your money, so you need someone qualified doing it. If the government realises the importance of procurement, it should have someone reporting to the vice-president.”