James, a Commercial Manager from Valpak, shares his career journey and gives advice for anyone wanting to pursue a career in Commercial Management.
Tell us about your role
My role in the Procurement Department is chiefly split into three areas: packaging, WEEE and batteries. The surrounding work in these sectors mainly involves sourcing recycling evidence for the respective schemes.
This means I’m constantly in contact with suppliers and customers, negotiating the best and most economical way to obtain the evidence Valpak’s members require. This often involves travelling to form the necessary relationships and agreements needed.
What does a typical day look like in your role?
For WEEE and batteries I manage and obtain the actual contracts where these waste materials are collected and recycled from clients’ sites - before being converted into evidence. This often presents service issues, such as contractors not doing their job properly. As such I am often ironing out problems to keep our clients happy. Alongside this I am trying to get the most cost efficient and reliable service possible, which means negotiating with suppliers.
Packaging is different. We buy this evidence in the form of PRNs (Packaging waste Recovery Notes), often having little to do with the waste contracts generating them. This chiefly involves negotiating with suppliers about PRN pricing, making sure I can hold my own to put forward strong arguments in these discussions. There are some very difficult characters to deal with!
All of the above also involves numerous meetings out of the office.
What's the best thing about your role?
The thing I most value is the sheer variety of things I get involved in. Aside from the day to day negotiations and pricing communications, I have been involved in school competitions, installing tracking devices to prevent theft and supporting WEEE re-use charities.
This is alongside visiting a whole host of recycling facilities that process everything from polystyrene to televisions.
What's your favourite thing about your team?
We all work well together and are equally supportive of each other. Even though we are based at opposite ends of the country, the distance doesn’t seem to matter. There is a genuine feeling of us all trying our best to resolve what are often complex matters.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting in this role?
Relationships are the most important aspect of this role. Suppliers simply won’t deal with you if they don’t like you or think you are being unfair. The longevity of these arrangements are critical, so you should always be thinking of the longer term.
If you screw someone down on their price for one month and they are unhappy, yes you have won a good price for that month but they probably won’t want to deal with you again!
Sound exciting? Discover where a career with Valpak could take you by exploring the profile here.