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Tata Steel reclaims a piece of history
A section of the first steel rail track rolled that from the Tata Steel (then the Tata Iron & Steel Co. Ltd, Sakchi), Jamshedpur on March 18th 1912 has been reclaimed by the company.

The item was set up for sale at the Sotheby’s in London. As per their records, this was cut to be used as a desk weight, and was presented to Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquis of Crewe (1858-1947) by Tata Steel. This “desk weight” became part of “The Duchess” Indian collection consisting of property and precious objects from the Estate of Mary, the Duchess of Roxburghe.

The engraved text on it says “FIRST RAIL ROLLED FROM TATA STEEL BY THE TATA IRON & STEEL CO. LTD. / SAKCHI. INDIA/ MARCH 18TH 1912 / THE RIGHT HONOURABLE MARQUIS OF CREWE K. G.” — possibly done when it was gifted by the Tatas to Robert Crewe-Milnes.

Sotheby’s website mentions “LOT SOLD. 9,375 GBP (919,970 INR) (Hammer Price with Buyer’s Premium)“; the press release from the company does not mention the price, though.

India--Early Rail and Steel Industry; ''First Rail Rolled From Tata Steel" dated 1912
India–Early Rail and Steel Industry; ”First Rail Rolled From Tata Steel” dated 1912

Established in 1907 as Asia’s first integrated private sector steel company, Tata Steel is among the top global steel companies with a crude steel capacity of nearly 30 million tonnes per annum (MnTPA).

It is now the world’s second-most geographically diversified steel producer, with operations in 26 countries and a commercial presence in over 50 countries.

Want To Shape The Future Of Procurement? Be A Coach – Or Assign One...
No one, including its new coach, thinks the US national team will win the soccer World Cup, the competition which begins later this week in Brazil. But most fans, at least in the US, are watching closely how coach Jürgen Klinsmann, imported from Germany, molds the team for this and future competitions. For, as good (or bad) as athletes in any sport may be, it’s often the coaching, or mentoring, that can make the difference between a winning record or losing record.
 
It’s an art, really: identifying individual talent, nurturing young players, molding them into a team, motivating them, providing guidance, setting expectations. Actually, it’s the same in business, whether the function is procurement, marketing, engineering, or any other endeavor. Too often, though, managers ignore the potential of mentoring, figuring it takes too much time. Of course it does, but it’s necessary to mold the next generation of procurement talent.
 
Mentoring is gaining popularity in many businesses. But, mentoring, or coaching, is not something that everyone is good at. Yet, as the Harvard Business Review says, those who are good coaches, or mentors, develop staffs that are more committed and engaged. There are several CPOs who are inspirational coaches and mentors. Shelley Stewart, Jr., vice president for sourcing and logistics and CPO for DuPont, is one of them. He works with young college students as well as new recruits.
 
What does mentoring do for young professionals? Here are the thoughts of one of the winners of the scholarships funded by The R. Gene and Nancy D. Richter Foundation, formed in honor of the legendary CPO Gene Richter, and which includes a strong mentoring program: "Early exposure through the scholarship to high-level professionals taught me quickly how to communicate clearly, establish relationships, and respect the experience and knowledge of those established in their careers. I still carry with me many of the axioms and advice that my mentors passed on to me ... I also learned the clear importance of unwavering ethics at both a personal and business level. This manifests itself not only in legal or moral dealings, but in traits like loyalty and commitment."
 
That’s a good testimonial to the value of mentoring – and a good reason why you should start your own mentoring or coaching program. Think you might not have the right personality yourself to be a coach? Then select one of your direct reports to take on the role. It’s too important a talent-development strategy to ignore.
Paul Teague  Paul Teague is US contributing editor for Procurement Leaders. He is the former editor-in-chief of Purchasing Magazine and has provided quality journalism to the US purchasing community for more than a decade.

Managing risk is never far from the minds of CPOs. Risk management frequently stands out in Procurement Leaders’ Procurement Intentions Reports as a major concern. The latest Report highlights operational risk as a major focus for CPOs this year.
 
Some external risks are obvious, such as supplier financial failure, infrastructure-damaging climate events, inadequate building codes or working practices in local or far-flung factories, or geopolitical upheaval, all of which can disrupt supply, and some of which can damage corporate image. There are even obvious internal risks that are easy for astute CPOs to spot, such as internal system inefficiencies that disrupt procurement operations.
 
But there’s another less obvious risk that procurement needs to manage: the risk of losing an opportunity for savings or for establishing a new supplier relationship. That risk comes from not digging deeply enough into a supplier’s capabilities or business model. Jack Daniels, president of Boston-based EastBridge Engineering, which helps companies find suppliers and manage manufacturing in Asia, has a few good examples of that risk.
 
Recently, he writes, his team sourced a complex machine part that was to be made of tungsten alloy and be required to meet very tight tolerances. The team went to several machine shops and expected all quotes to be close, within a plus-or-minus 5% range, he says. One quote was more than twice as high as some of the others, and so the sourcing team discarded it. Another was incredibly low, about 12% lower than the next lowest bid. The temptation was to throw out that bid too, figuring the supplier was low-balling the quote to get the contract and either would ask for an adjustment later or not be able to fulfill its commitments.
 
But after digging, the sourcing team learned that the low-ball supplier had its own source of the material and also controlled all the operations prior to machining, as well as the machining itself. That not only accounted for the lower price, but also took away a good deal of risk since that tungsten alloy is hard to get. Cost savings and risk mitigation all at the same time, thanks to avoiding a knee-jerk reaction and doing some extra research.
 
CFO Magazine recently published a piece on how many firms are following a risk strategy of reinforcing their supply chains with business-interruption insurance. That’s not a bad idea. But, as one person who commented on the article said, risk mitigation is more important than insurance. And, as the machine shop case illustrates, risk mitigation is about more than avoiding disasters: It’s also about the risk of making quick decisions that lead to missed opportunities. No insurance will cover that.
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