Juggling MTC’s N$ 600 million

By Theresia Tjihenuna
December 2012 - January 2013
Women in Business
When it comes to negotiating and striking deals with suppliers, Efaishe Nghiidipa, Procurement Manager at the giant Mobile Telecommunications (MTC) calls the shots. This ambitious, confident young team leader and former Oshigambo learner, has fine-tuned the art and science of negotiations while staying on budget and managing costs.

Efaishe has a huge responsibility for negotiations and reviewing purchase agreements as well as sale and lease agreements for the company.

Before sitting at the negotiation table with suppliers, she prepares herself mentally and does market research. This includes understanding the value of the item, prices and budget limits.

The entire MTC team relies on Efaishe and her team of four to strike the best bargains with suppliers at reasonable prices. This comes with an annual budget of N$600 million while overseeing more than 7,600 purchase orders annually, every year she has risen to the occasion in handling the procurement dynamics.

“It doesn’t matter how much the supplier comes up with - I always end up paying what I want to pay at the end of every negotiation,” Efaishe boasts with a confident smile.

In her wildest dreams the procurement business never featured in her career path- a field she says she entered by chance.

Efaishe has studied Masters in Business Leadership at the UNISA Business School, a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Namibia (Unam and completed a Senior Management programme at the University of Stellenbosch.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce in 2000 from the University of Namibia, a year later in 2001, she started work at Telecom Namibia as Procurement Officer, thus paving way for a lucrative profession she passionately undertakes. By the time she left Telecom in 2005, she had risen to the position of Assistant Procurement Manager.

According to Efaishe, Telecom sharpened her teeth in the procurement profession as she learnt the nuts and bolts of procurement.

In 2005, she took up a position as Procurement Manager at MTC. Her hard work and determination did not go unrecognised as she walked away with the PanAvest Procurement Award for supply chain professional development by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CI
PS).

“What fascinates me most about this job (procurement), is the negotiation power and the rewarding benefits that I bring to my company (MTC), something that I have learned to master over the years,” she says.
She admits that a lot of people shy away from negotiating and see it as a ‘greedy’ trait to possess, but she says there is nothing wrong with possessing negotiation skills as long as it is a mutually beneficial situation and the negotiations are reasonable.

“The purpose is not to rip off the suppliers but to create a win-win situation. In life, you have to negotiate for what you want. Whether you are investing in a house or a car, it is important that you get value for your money and do market research before you dig your heels into any long-term purchase,” she advises.

Another misconception that Efaishe wants to clear is the fact that people often think that procurement is simply about capturing data and placing orders with suppliers.

“Procurement is about creating and maintaining a relationship with suppliers and winning their trust and loyalty towards the business. Your supplier should be your strategic partner in helping you to achieve your ultimate goal and control your cash flow,” she clarifies, adding that “Many companies do not realise how much money they can save through procurement if the right steps are taken.”

She says that the procurement landscape has changed a lot over the past ten years. “Back then, negotiations were done within the departments that required the purchases, while the procurement departments were solely responsible for data capturing. Now, most procurement departments are responsible for the company’s overall price negotiations and purchasing,” she says.

She added that things are looking good on the academic front, as educational institutions like the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) and UNAM have now introduced short courses that cover procurement like the Namibian German Centre for Logistics which offers degrees and honours in Supply-Chain management of which procurement is part of.

Efaishe says MTC is one of the pioneers of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) in the country. “We give preference to BEE suppliers. We work with the Namibian Procurement Preference Council (NPPC), which closely evaluates organisations in terms of their BEE status. Depending on the points given by NPPC, we then give the preference to the business whose scores are good,” she explains.

She says some organisations use unscrupulous means to benefit from the preference policy by either using disabled or female representatives at negotiation meetings to gain preferential benefits even when the said individuals have little or no knowledge about negotiations.

“The company may benefit from this, but usually the used individual gets nothing in return,” she says.

As a woman, Efaishe feels that women in management have a better advantage than their male counterparts because of their intuition. “Women tend to understand other people better than the opposite sex. People feel appreciated when they are understood and recognised, and in turn, perform better in a workplace where they are valued and treated as equals,” she says.

She says that sometimes she sits at negotiation meetings where she is the only female present, but it does not intimidate her. “I believe I’m as capable as the next person; if anyone questions my managerial capabilities simply because I’m a woman, they are in for a surprise,” she says confidently.

Efaishe says she plans on remaining in the procurement business for the next few years and hopefully venture into her own business when the time is right. With so much confidence oozing from her veins, it is clear Efaishe is on top of her game. PF