Future Procurement Podcast – Interview of David Rajakovich

Robert Freeman from Future Procurement interviewed David Rajakovich – managing partner at Procurement Academy and Supply Chain Academy. Below is the transcript and podcast of the interview, highlighting the innovative solutions of Procurement and Supply Chain Academy.

Future Procurement Podcast - Interview of David Rajakovich


Listen to the full interview here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ek0ef0d160zgal5/038-podcast-with-interview-David1_v2.mp3?dl=0


  1. Tell a little bit about your background and your current role at Procurement Academy.

I have had quite a varied background starting my career as a US Army officer, leading Patriot Missile Batteries. I’ve worked in manufacturing for Alcoa and then began in Procurement as a consultant almost 10 years ago. Today, I’m the Head of Research and Development for Procurement Academy, Supply chain Academy, and the soon to be unveiled Sales Academy.


2. Tell about Procurement Academy and Supply Chain Academy. What kind of Knowledge and Skills can the listeners get from your platform? What are the benefits of online education? Are there any negative sides of it?

Procurement and Supply Chain academy are built specifically for the corporate market as opposed to a more academic individual education. We provide scenario-based, application-based training which means taking out the jargon, buzzwords and high-sounding principles to really show people how to apply what we teach. For instance, instead of saying that we need to reduce WIP inventory, we show people how to implement a Kanban system that achieves it.

Digital training is great because you can train your entire department in all the skills they need to the level that is needed for their job at a manageable cost. Imagine training a procurement practitioner in negotiation, supplier relationship management, category management, cost management, finance and legal by taking them out of work for a few days, flying them to a training course, and putting them up in a hotel for a few days for each skill…it’ll never happen. Digital training can be just as effective if not more than a classroom session…it can be spaced out over time so that when you start to forget what you’ve learned, your training plan presents the next piece of content that asks you to apply what you’ve learned before. Of course, there’s a place for classroom training…once you’ve got the fundamentals covered, targeted classroom training that dives into a learner’s particular challenges where they are applying what they’ve learned previously with an experienced trainer has its place…as in, where the learner needs to become an expert in a particular skill. Digital learning however, takes away the reliance on the quality of the trainer – all the examples are well-thought-out in digital learning where the examples in a classroom depend on who the trainer is and how they’re feeling that day.


3. What is the need in procurement and supply chain education on the market? What are the professionals looking for? What are your most popular courses? How the things are changing over the years?

Professionals want something that makes them better at their job and cuts out all the fluff. The corporate professional hates when you waste their time. I once saw a training video that spent 20 minutes talking about how to make spaghetti Bolognese. That’s not what they want…get to the point, and show me how to really apply it by putting it in a real example that I can relate to. Our most popular courses tend to be our advanced negotiation courses…it’s a sexy topic that everyone likes. However, our cost management courses, like those on Total Cost of Ownership, and Value Engineering are popular and arguably more valuable. Also, our series on category management is in high demand and our relatively new courses on sustainability are a hit…they take out the fluff and show you how to deliver results. On the supply chain side, our Lean Warehousing and Manufacturing courses are a hit. We’ve gotten great reviews on everything from our ‘Warehouse safety’ and ‘The importance of warehouse operations’ courses for associates on the warehouse floor to network optimization and advanced quantitative analysis courses for senior supply chain personnel.


In terms of change over the years, the improvement in technology allows you to do lots of cool stuff…things like simulations, and serious games are a cost effective way to make training plans even more effective. Once they have the fundamentals down – don’t forget that part – It’s all about putting people in ever more real situations –– that allows them to gain experience faster than just relying on real-world experience alone.


4. How can you make sure that the education you are receiving will be really applied in real work situations? 

We ask our learners to give us examples for one – that’s part of the feedback they provide after every high impact eLearning course. If a learner can’t give an example of how it is applied, it means one of three things; we either need to improve that piece of content, remove it from the training plan for the role that that learner is in for a particular corporate client, or we get with managers to help guide the learner in to ensure it is applied. We do all three and in fact, we’ve got one particular innovation in the pipeline that will help with that in an even more practical way.


5. How do you see professional education of the future? What is the role of procurement Academy there?

In the future, there will still be a need for teaching the practical fundamentals of the job…imagine a corporation in which all their buyers were as skilled as they needed to be in all procurement competences! What will change is the technology that will allow us to put learners in ever more real situations from which they’ll gain experience. We’ll also need to continue to develop innovative ways to put people in real situations and learn from it faster and more effectively. As I see it, corporations can focus on getting talented people in the door rather than focus on particular bits of experience, and through Procurement, Supply Chain and Sales academy, get them up to speed quickly. That way, you’ve got a pipeline of talented people – with the potential to grow in the organization – continuing to flow into the organization. When you’ve got holes to fill, you’ll have a high potential, well-trained person ready to step in. At the moment, we’re ahead of the market in allowing corporations to do this, but my job is to ensure we continue improving so that it stays that way.


6. Give to our listeners top 3 advice how to choose the course for themselves?

If I’m a procurement or supply chain executive, real briefly, here’s what I’m going to ask:

  • Can your solution help me demonstrate the value it provides both in terms of reporting and in terms of making sure all my learners get the most out of the program?
  • Does your training show (pause) practically how a concept is applied in real life rather than say, describe, for example, the difference between price and cost?
  • How can I most quickly and effectively get my global team up to the required skill level in all procurement and supply chain skills?

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