Alan Rankin, Chief Procurement Officer at STADA, discusses his company’s journey to offering a best-in-class procurement function.

“We really affect lives for the good.”

Few industries can say that statement with certainty. But for the pharmaceutical industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, finding a solution quickly was non-negotiable. 

Indeed, Alan Rankin, Chief Procurement Officer at STADA, acknowledges the role his sector played in helping to combat one of the biggest health crises of all time. He says the COVID-19 period made him “extremely proud” to be part of the industry. “The pharmaceutical industry worked hard to come up with a solution during a time when governments struggled to cope with what happened,” he recalls. “The industry had a real impact on the world being able to handle the situation and not going into financial meltdown. That alone makes me so proud to be in this space.”

Today, STADA stands as a renowned manufacturer of high-quality pharmaceuticals. The firm operates with a three-pillar strategy consisting of consumer healthcare products, generics and specialty pharmaceuticals. Its consumer healthcare brands such as Hedrin, Nizoral, Grippostad and Zoflora are among the top sellers in their respective product categories.

The secret sauce

Rankin himself joined STADA in February 2019 after serving a number of different procurement roles with the likes of Sandoz, Novartis and Performance Health. Following his arrival, STADA decided to transition away from an operational and transactional approach to procurement while breaking down the traditional and fragmented nature of procurement through the business. This led Rankin to connecting the dots across disparate parts of the business to bring them together as One STADA. “I think that the holy grail of a procurement organisation is business partnering and being in tune with the business,” explains Rankin. “A lot of procurement people think that if they are able to manage the supply base and do a good job then they’re doing well. For me, the much more challenging part is about understanding their own business and how their demand is created in the first place.

“That’s the secret sauce. That comes through good quality business partnering, from being close with the business, as well as working closely with all functions. It’s about understanding business needs on a very granular level. If you can do that really well, I think the other part in terms of managing the supply base is fairly straightforward.”

The ultimate goal? A best-in-class procurement function. That begins with developing a business strategy before launching a vision on the practices needed to achieve it. A best-in-class procurement organisation aims for deep visibility into their upstream supply chain and drives suppliers to innovate. Rankin recognises that achieving it doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a process. “Being on the journey is about having a clear view of where the destination is,” he discusses. “And if you’re not on the journey and you decide to come off, then you’ve got a long way to catch up.”

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