Daniele Gorla, director of strategic sourcing, Canadian Pacific
[April 2014 print edition]
How did you get into the procurement field?
One of my first jobs in university involved procurement. I helped quoting materials, in preparation for bid proposals, at my father’s engineering firm. After graduating with a business degree and a major in marketing and communications, I worked in marketing and continued for many years, even after my MBA. It wasn’t until I joined Canadian Pacific, almost 15 years ago, that I pursued an opportunity in strategic sourcing. My intent was to broaden my knowledge of the business, but before long, sourcing and procurement became a passion.
Describe a typical workday.
I lead all sourcing, procurement, contract and supplier performance management activities for a wide variety of portfolios at Canadian Pacific, including corporate services, office services, corporate travel and MRO (maintenance repair & operations). I could be working with finance seeking new payable solutions, negotiating our benefits or pension plans with HR, or mechanical and engineering groups implementing a vendor managed inventory process. I work with risk management in developing new policies and with legal services in creating new contract templates. My internal customers include almost every department in the organization.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the wide variety of industries and the diverse nature of the projects I am involved with. There is a sense of achievement working on a deal that is quantifiable, has KPIs and an impact on the company’s bottom line. Even more fulfilling, to me, is the opportunity to manage the ambiguity of sourcing and procuring services, when risk mitigation is often a major driver and process improvement is the underlying value.
What event/highlight of your career stands out the most?
The risk I took that most affected my career was moving to Canada. Leaving a job and a life to learn English was just the beginning, and what started with an opportunity after my MBA paved the path to a fantastic journey; taking me from Sao Paulo, to Halifax and then Calgary.
What are your future educational/professional plans?
I try to stay involved with planning committees for industry related events and, at times, with teaching, which is a great learning exercise. Anyone’s career development should be grounded in building connections and exercising leadership. The way you lead and inspire people is the secret to building high performance teams and driving results. My next goal is to contribute what I have learned in the private sector and give it back to the community; I believe joining a not-for-profit board will accomplish that objective.
Tell us something about yourself outside of the procurement field.
I am still trying to adapt my work-life balance with golf. I have been playing (if I can truly say that I play the game) for a few years, and I am far from having a handicap (or sharing one). There is something about the game that slows my fast-paced mind and brings me back to the reality of imperfection. I will keep trying and, if nothing else, enjoy the sun and the friendships while playing. Again, it’s all about relationships, whether at work or the golf course!
What advice would you give to those new to the field or planning to enter it soon?
Take risks. Be in charge of your career and invest in yourself. Opportunities will come but it’s up to you to identify them. If you believe a qualification will better prepare you for supply chain challenges, put in the effort. Career development is about building confidence, developing leadership style and being passionate.