Sarah Scudder has a Message for Marketing and Procurement Teams – Oh, and Bradley Cooper

Even through the current supply chain disruption, women leaders are making fearless moves to shake up the supply chain and build it back smarter. At Let’s Talk Supply Chain, we believe we can only make progress when women empower each other. That’s why every month we’re proud to feature the bold women leaders who are changing the face of supply chain.

Our Women In Supply Chain™ series introduces you to the female thought leaders who you need to know about now. We share their achievements and what brought them here, and what they want you to know about breaking through the glass ceilings in your career and across the supply chain.

Read on for best practices and career advice to keep you powering through your workweek—inspired.

This month, we’re proud to highlight Sarah Scudder, a marketing, procurement, and technology executive with almost two decades of experience. Sarah is the president at Real Sourcing Network. She is known throughout the industry for her thought leadership and passion in bringing the supply chain to the boardroom.

How did your supply chain journey start?

Basically, on another planet with my love for design, creativity, and all things fashion. I dabbled in modeling and went to college to pursue a career in the industry. But my aspirations changed abruptly my senior year. I had just chaired a diabetes fundraising event and had hired Golden Pacific Systems (GPS)—a local outsourced print management firm—for sourcing and buying print and marketing materials.

So, imagine my surprise when they offered me a job afterward. GPS was small then and was looking for new ideas—big ideas. Leadership was ready to grow nationally and hire up-and-comers with fresh perspectives and new approaches to accelerate their expansion. Despite knowing little to nothing about print, procurement, or marketing—needing a job—I accepted the offer.

GPS provided a hands-on, entrepreneurial environment to quickly learn all the areas of running the business, including accounting, operations, leadership, technology, marketing, and sourcing. That’s how I discovered my purpose as a professional driven by my core passions, marketing, and sourcing. I built and managed a team of marketing services buyers.

During my eight years at GPS, I learned to navigate the deep intricacies of sourcing print and marketing services and how to use marketing to rapidly expand a business. I supported GPS in tripling the organization in size.

In 2013, GPS was acquired by The Sourcing Group (TSG), a print management firm. I agreed to stay on to serve as the company’s Chief Growth Officer. I joined Real Sourcing Network (RSN) August 2018 where I serve as the President and oversee growth, strategy, and marketing.

What was your breakthrough moment?

I studied the market in depth in my role as Chief Growth Officer. I learned that many marketers don’t believe in outsourcing print and some didn’t have a large enough spend to justify outsourcing. And then I quickly identified an emerging trend: companies that spend $1-5M in print and marketing services didn’t have a centralized solution, or a single source.

I also discovered that procurement and marketing weren’t collaborating. Typically, marketing teams controlled the marketing budget and didn’t want to integrate procurement into the process.

That’s when I had a breakthrough. Develop a print and marketing services sourcing tool geared towards procurement and marketing. Then stakeholders could agree on the solution together—collaboratively.

The tool would make it easier to:

  • Integrate with third-party systems since most companies already have ERP systems and/or sourcing solutions
  • Guide buying for building a print RFQ
  • Automate a competitive five-bid process for each job
  • Capture local, sustainable, and diversity spend
  • Track savings and data
  • Allow companies to setup their own print suppliers
  • Provide a built-in supplier base

What has your greatest challenge been?

The biggest challenge facing the print and marketing services category is the lack of a supply chain’s control and influence on marketing spend. In 70–80% of organizations, marketing dominates that spend.

Translation? Supply chain has little to no influence.

But there’s a solution. When supply chain and marketing work together on sourcing processes and systems there’s plenty of time, money, and resources to save.

My challenge was getting marketing and procurement leaders invested enough in their print spend to put a central solution in place. Many organizations use the same two print suppliers they have for decades. So, there is no competitive bidding, no diversity-spend awareness, and zero tracking or data. I was determined to shift mindsets to open the idea of managing spend differently.

I actively educate professionals in the industry to overcome this mindset to seek more thoughtful collaboration and results. I am constantly leveraging social media, digital thought leadership initiatives, events, and other media outlets to accelerate momentum and visibility around this move forward.

What achievements are you most proud of?

First, building my team. I work with incredible people who are on a mission to help organizations better manage their print spend. Our success at RSN is due to their hard work, creativity, and innovation.

Also, making the shift from traditional sales outreach to content-driven marketing. I learned that adding value by providing helpful information is a much stronger way to build a brand. Supply chain professionals don’t want to be sold. They want to learn. They are looking for new approaches to efficiency and driving change.

And finally, implementing 15 RSN clients over two years. My team and I have built a solid pipeline of companies making a significant investment in print that are open to a technology-driven print category solution.

Tell us about your mentors along the way:

I owe everything to my parents for teaching me the importance of kindness, treating everyone with respect, and making the world a better place.

I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors in other areas of my life: leadership, real estate, investing, procurement, marketing, and writing. I seek out outgoing, inquisitive innovators who learn from their experiences. It’s also important to me to learn from others outside of procurement. There’s so much knowledge out there to gain from eCommerce, retail, and technology trends.

How did you find your voice?

I’ve never been good at “fitting in,” I’m weird and quirky. I found my voice about two years ago when I accepted that not everyone is going to like or agree with me. I have trolls, and I’m O.K. with it.

LinkedIn is my platform of choice for brand building. If the networking platform were a person, she’d be my best friend. (We spend a lot of quality time together!) I’ve actively invested in building my brand as a thought leader an subject matter expert in print and marketing procurement.

I want to continue increasing awareness around the benefits of using technology to implement strategic print category solutions. So, we can bring together company leaders to see the value of procurement and marketing working in collaboration.

What skills do you need to stay relevant in supply chain?

  1. Be a great salesperson.
  2. Be passionate about change and disruption.
  3. Love research and data analysis.

What do you see for the future of supply chain?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that healthy supply chains are essential for healthy communities and global economies. Supply chain is no longer just about cutting costs and writing POs. Now, the supply chain plays a strategic, visionary, and creative role that is a critical part of a company’s (and our nation’s) success.

Supply chain still doesn’t have a seat at the executive table in many organizations. However, with the right leadership in place, supply chain has the potential to emerge as a more visible and valued revenue-generating function.

Getting there is a challenge. It’s also a great reason for ambitious people to pursue procurement over other more well-known careers. I have a bias towards marketing services procurement. It’s challenging, fun, and has maximum potential for making an impact.

My hope for the future is that more organizations will hire supply chain professionals with interpersonal skills who can build relationships, sell, and drive change. These people skills are more valuable than technical sourcing skills. Technical skills can be learned.

Companies need to implement more niche-category solutions (like our Sourceit tool for sourcing print and marketing services) versus using one general system to do everything. Niche-category solutions enable buyers to go deeper into a category with tools that solve specific needs. These solutions can work with broader systems to cut PO’s, manage AP, and track data.

What do you see for your future?

  1. Enjoying a dinner date with Bradley Cooper.
  2. Expanding my Ted Baker wardrobe.
  3. Becoming a better vegan cook (I almost burned my house down cooking tofu, so I’ve got a long way to go).
  4. Reading more books, (I’ve never liked reading or listening to books).
  5. Making more of an impact through daily acts of kindness.
  6. Being a better friend, daughter, and life partner to Paul.
  7. Honing my brand to gain global recognition as a print and marketing procurement thought leader.
  8. Building RSN to be the leading technology-driven print category solution.

Meet Our Sponsor

This Women In Supply Chain™ feature was made possible by our sponsor, Apex Logistics. Apex Logistics International Inc is deeply rooted in diversity and culture, led by our own “Woman in Supply Chain” CEO, Elsie Qian; these values are why we partnered with Let’s Talk Supply Chain for the Women In Supply Chain™ series. Apex is recognized as one of the fastest-growing Top 25 airfreight forwarders in the world, with a network of over 2500 global employees in more than 70 countries.

About The Author:

Naomi Garnice is the Director of Marketing for MicroAge where she leads the marketing team and creative strategy. Naomi has been a content marketer for 14 years and is passionate about creating engaging content that matters. Throughout her career in marketing for technology, healthcare and supply chain organizations, Naomi has advocated to highlight female thought leaders in male-dominated industries.


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