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Tuesday 10 September 2019
by Angela Hankey

Meet the Member - Mark Parker of Aspire Procurement Training Ltd

Name of Business?  Aspire Procurement Training Ltd

Who are you?  We train buyers in their professional qualification (MCIPS) providing them with best practice tips and tools in negotiation, sourcing, supplier performance management and a full range of procurement techniques. We train people in purchasing, supply chain, contract management buying and procurement roles to achieve MCIPS, their professional license to practice. We are accredited by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) and run the CIPS Centre of Excellence for Warrington. We have 7 training centres/centre of excellence around UK in Liverpool, Leeds, York, Hull, London & Carlisle, and Warrington is our head office. Aspire run the CIPS exam centres for Warrington, Hull and Carlisle.

What sets you apart from the competition?  All of our tutors are MCIPS qualified and have at least 20 years of global experience in industry. Our courses are loaded with real world examples of when procurement goes right, and also a few horror stories of when people got it wrong. We bring an academic course to life with our public & private sector industry examples and ensure delegates take the learning, apply in their job role and therefore add value to their organisation by driving better deals with suppliers and developing improved procurement processes. We take negotiators and turn them into Procurement Professionals.

How did the business come about?   It was driven by a need for better job satisfaction. After working in the Chemicals sector, Aerospace & Defence industry, Food sector, United Nations, Automotive sector and public sector (NHS) I decided it would be great to share 25+ years of experience and stories with younger people under a banner (CIPS) which would also provide them with a professional qualification and help their career progression. Most people end up in purchasing/buying roles because they are good negotiators, but there is much more to it than that, and that is what the course is about.  

What are your main target markets?   90% of buyers have no formal training, however companies are now recognising that they should be training the people who spend a significant proportion of the cost base of the business (supplier spend). Therefore, we mainly target medium to large companies with purchasing/procurement teams. Our clients come from a range of sectors which include NHS, Automotive, Nuclear, Housing, Construction, Food, Councils, Pharma, Chemicals, Rail and a host of other manufacturing industries. Location wise, clients are near to our study centres, but we also run skype tutorials with a personal tutor, so we also have clients around the world, one of which is The World Bank in Washington DC as an example. We can deliver the CIPS training globally.

• How long has your business been in existence?  We incorporated in September 2012 and have just completed our 7th year of delivering CIPS training courses.

• How many staff do you employ?  3 people in our head office and 11 tutors.

What job or achievement makes you most proud?  Achieving CIPS Centre of Excellence status after 5 years of developing the business to a point where we could be awarded this highest level of accreditation for a CIPS study centre.

Where do you see the business being in five years?  We have a business plan to treble our turnover by 2024. By increasing the number of apprenticeships we run for buyers and by increasing the number of study centres and exam centres across the UK we can achieve this. We have the capacity and expertise in place and have just been approved to be on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP). As we expand I look forward to the day we open our Barbados CIPS Centre of Excellence, and why not. CIPS is global, so you never know.

• Why Warrington?   There was no CIPS training provision in Warrington and buyers/aspiring procurement professionals were having to travel to Liverpool or Manchester to study for their professional qualification and sit their exams. A rush hour journey down the M62 for a 9am exam is not the best preparation. I have lived in Warrington for over 40 years and so decided to set up a local CIPS study centre and CIPS exam centre to provide a local venue for the local market.

• Tell us one interesting thing about the business that might surprise us?  Our clients include The World Bank in Washington DC and Harrods, London, so we have a wider reach than just Warrington.

• Tell us one interesting thing about you that people might not know? (ie, hobbies, amusing fact, etc)  I attended an event about 15 years ago where Gorbachov (former President of the Soviet Union) was the speaker, and as he could not attend they sent Rory Bremner instead. Neil Armstrong (Yes, the Astronaut) appeared at the end to close the event. You just couldn’t make it up.

•  Brexit – good, bad, opportunity?  As a business we have waited to hear the economic benefits Brexit will bring, however, the Govt or Leave campaign have failed to come up with any. The Conservative Government’s Brexit Office impact analysis, Bank of England, CBI, British Chambers of Commerce and most economists tell us we will be worse off with a disorderly Brexit for many years, and a No Deal or leaving the Single Market will bring extensive business disruption. This would have a negative impact on our business. Therefore, we logically go with the multiple expert opinions that Brexit will be bad for business and the economy because there has not been any evidence to counter this. As a business we want economic growth and business growth, and see the best way to achieve this is as part of the EU. The £39 billion we pay each year gives us access to an export market worth approximately £350 billion, so good value. As we sit on the cusp of a recession, this is no time to be ripping up our biggest trade deal. As we train buyers who have been at the forefront of stocking up for a No Deal we have seen (through discussions on our courses) the excessive costs business has already incurred due to Brexit. We already trade with the world and would be in a weaker negation position as a stand alone nation. I would like to ask David Cameron if he would have done things differently if he could go back to 2016.

• Fantasy dinner party – which six people alive or dead would you invite?  My Great Uncle Rupert (killed in WW1 on his first day in the trenches), Richard Branson, John F Kennedy, John Power (Lead Singer – Cast), John Lennon, David Cameron (What would you do different David if you could go back to 2016?).