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The Business Spend Management Spendsetters

Al Williams, chief procurement officer at Barclays, thrives when he’s facing pressure from all sides.

High stress situations and complex challenges may intimidate many of us, but this is where Al is at his best. Al’s experiences playing competitive sports like American football greatly influenced his views about teamwork and achievement.

Barclays Al Williams Barclays Al Williams

“You can see disruption as a reason to step back,

or as an opportunity to press ahead.”

When Al Williams came into Barclays, it was a financial institution on the edge of a major technological transformation. As fintech startups, big data, and regulations have continued to disrupt the banking industry, Barclays—the pioneer of the ATM and the credit card—was facing industry pressure to stay innovative.

Transforming procurement was a critical piece of the puzzle, since many of Barclays’ partners are fintech companies that are used to modern, technology-driven processes. It was up to Al to assemble a team that could rise to the challenge. Drawing from his experiences playing sports, Al reshaped the Barclays procurement organization into one that thrived on a sense of competition. “I think it’s healthy to have a competitive mindset,” Al says. “It means you’re not just competing against the task in front of you, you’re competing against your own perceived limitations."

"I think it’s healthy to have a competitive mindset... you’re competing against your own perceived limitations.”

Al coached his team to act like they were facing off against a best-in-class procurement organization, and encouraged them to push the limits of what they could achieve. The playbook: look to the future while also focusing on obtaining value today.

Barclays Al Williams
Barclays Al Williams

As Barclays continues to evolve, its procurement team will continue to look for ways to grow through technology.

Al’s vision is to have Barclays build a system of “frictionless procurement” — one where procurement processes are smooth, seamless, and intuitive for everyone involved, and where the procurement team can focus on driving innovative partnerships with Barclays’ diverse and high tech suppliers.

Al Williams is
COMPETITIVE.

“I want our procurement organization to be not just the best in the industry, but one of the best procurement organizations on the planet,” he says. Al knows what it takes to achieve that, and with a strong team in place, he knows that no matter what pressures arise, his organization will be ready to tackle them head on.

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Barclays Al Williams
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