“What I love best about procurement is delivering value in all sorts of guises and seeing how that value improves organisations, customers, and the broader community.”

Get to know Fiona Nissen, Director (NZ)

How did you end up here? What is your professional background? 

I’ve been working a little while now (I’ve just worked it out and am horrified to find it is closer to 40 years than 30 years) and have had 3 distinctive careers.

My first career included audit and compliance roles and then I spent over 10 years in the travel and hospitality industry working my way up the ladder from being a part time wait staff to a senior manager running a hotel and onto relationship manager and sales in a travel agency.

I made the conscious decision to move into Procurement. I did not “fall” into it!

My career started by working for the NZ Police buying exciting things and learning about procurement. I studied for my MCIPS while I worked and had a great foundation for my career. I have worked for a number of organisations before I came to ArcBlue across many sectors. One of my favourites and most challenging roles was working for a newly formed team endeavouring to create value and efficiency through refined process, enhanced technology solutions and foundational governance. Frustratingly exciting!

I have to say all the skills I learned in my first 2 careers have really been well utilised in my Procurement career. For example, my robust process, discipline, and curiosity acquired at IR is countered with my relationship and negotiation skills learned in travel.


How do you spend most of your days?

As much as I would like to say swanning round meeting people for coffee, the truth is…. I am often on the phone checking in with current clients and our team to ensure everyone has what they need to deliver outstanding service for our clients.

I also have responsibility for leading the business development in NZ (that’s where the coffee comes in).

One of the things I enjoy at ArcBlue is the collaboration across our regions trying to solve a problem. I often find my day includes chatting about resource capacity, technology solutions and how to facilitate a training session with others in our regions.


What are you working on at the moment?

Our clients are asking us to help them simplify stuff! Maybe it’s a framework or policy; maybe it’s providing refresher training and we have also recently been helping clients with simplifying their technology solutions by providing an indicative roadmap of current state and where gaps may be.

Often, we find technology is not being used as well as it could be, and we find that by adjusting behaviour with current systems it solves the client’s problem instead of going out and buying something new.


What trends do you see in your work?

Finding good resources has been a struggle for procurement in NZ for some time. It’s been exasperated because of Covid border restrictions. I encourage everyone to think about their abilities and strengthen their skill set to be able to work in a variety of environments and across a range of roles in Procurement.


What do you enjoy about working in consulting? 

I really enjoy the opportunity to work with clients to solve a problem for them. My goal is always to leave a client in a better way than when we started. At ArcBlue we have such a collaborative mindset that any question or challenge can often be resolved with someone in the team who has similar experience previously.


What do you love best about procurement?

Delivering value in all sorts of guises and seeing how that value improves organisations, customers, and the broader community.

For me, value can be efficiency, cost savings but more importantly social and sustainable outcomes such as employment or environmental benefits. Being able to work with clients and their wider supply chain to help deliver that value is satisfying every day.


What is the one thing you wish everyone would understand about procurement?

It’s not about best price or professional shopping (my left eye twitches when people say that!)

Procurement genuinely is about delivering more. I have seen procurement come into its own in recent years in NZ and we need to be proud of what we do and the value we bring. It may not be the most exciting job at the BBQ to talk about, but we do really amazing things and we should celebrate that!

And we do have great stories to tell; ask me about Police Boats and Cars!


How long have you been at ArcBlue? What made you join us?  

Chris and Dan made me!

I started with ArcBlue in 2018. I had known the ArcBlue team for a while and honestly one of the reasons I joined was I really liked the passion and culture created by Dan and Chris. They had one thing in mind: to help procurement deliver more value to organisations.

I could relate to the passionate intent and the outward focus. I really like the idea of finding a solution together that works.


What project has been the most fun / the meatiest to work on at ArcBlue?

I am really proud of the work we did on the Waka Kotahi Broader Outcome Framework. For so many reasons.

Firstly, it was a collaboration of many groups within NZ government that came together to develop this framework towards a focus on delivering great value to our communities.

Secondly, I really enjoyed how the entire ArcBlue social and sustainable team worked on this to bring such a range of expertise and experience together to develop the document to be easily read, relatable and actually practical in implementation.

Finally, I discovered a passion I didn’t know I had! The drive to make a difference and consider differently about how we do procurement.


What’s the reason you love to work at ArcBlue?  

I love how every day I can see things we’re doing that make a difference.

I thoroughly enjoy calling the team and supporting them in the projects they are working on. They are all so good at what they do, and I love being able to hear how they are doing and what they are learning and what they are sharing with our clients.

I think one of the most fun nights I have ever had a workplace function was in the middle of Lockdown for everyone (Asia/Australia and NZ) we had a Quiz night where we all turned up on Zoom with drinks in hand and got very competitive with each other! Some of these people we have never met in person, but we all laughed so hard and as much I would like to claim honours, I was well down the ladder of success!


What’s something not many people know about you?

I started at NZ Inland Revenue as an auditor with the intention of working while I studied for my law and accountancy degrees. So: that didn’t happen~! The move from IR to hotels meant I became someone people wanted to talk to – a “goodie” not a “baddie”!


Do you have any pets? 

We keep saying we want to get a dog but our lifestyle would not be fair to puppy so that will have to wait until retirement (come on lottery win!)


Want to know more? Reach out to Fiona

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