Interview with DIO’s Commercial Director, Jacqui Rock

BiP DPRTE 2018

As part of our our preview of Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability (DPRTE) 2020, Defence Online caught up with DIO Commercial Director, Jacqui Rock, ahead of the event taking place on 3rd September at Farnborough International Exhibition Centre.

DPRTE is the UK’s leading annual defence procurement and supply chain event, bringing together over 2000 key decision makers from across the UK’s £20 billion-plus annual defence acquisition and supply chain marketplace.

This one-day event, officially supported by DIO and a wealth of leading defence procurement and support organisations, provides a unique platform for both buyers and suppliers at all levels to engage across a range of interactive and educational features, designed specifically to enhance knowledge, collaboration and opportunity.

This year DPRTE is set to feature for the first time, an Infrastructure and Estates Pavilion, which will allow both buyers and suppliers to connect with key Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) personnel and gain an insight into the latest initiatives, developments and opportunities within defence infrastructure.

DIO plays a vital role in supporting the UK’s Armed Forces by building, maintaining and servicing the infrastructure needed to support defence and is responsible for enabling defence people to live, work, train and deploy at home and overseas.

Jacqui was appointed DIO Commercial Director in December 2017. She is leading her team through significant transformation and management of a defence infrastructure and construction contract portfolio with a value of £3 billion.

So, what is it that sets DPRTE out from other events? Jacqui explains: “It’s the opportunity to demonstrate we are one defence. There will be representation from all areas of the MOD and the opportunity to engage with us in the knowledge zone and Pavilion.

“There is the opportunity for us to meet with suppliers regardless of category, whether it be infrastructure, construction or technology, all functions of defence.”

For those companies looking to engage with the infrastructure marketplace, the DIO-supported Infrastructure and Estates Pavilion will allow both buyers and suppliers to connect with key DIO personnel and gain an insight into the latest initiatives, developments and opportunities within defence infrastructure.

Jacqui says:

“Visitors can expect to gain a better understanding of the opportunities to work with DIO across defence on some very exciting and innovative projects. They can learn how to engage and do business with DIO and Defence and meet important points of contact from our supplier management and category management teams.”

The Pavilion will also include a Knowledge Transfer Zone, which will see a range of topical educational and interactive sessions designed specifically to enhance attendees’ knowledge and ability to contribute to the future direction and delivery of the ongoing defence infrastructure and estates procurement programme.

The speakers include a number of leading experts from DIO and the wider defence infrastructure marketplace.

The sessions will include a look at the role of DIO, its projects and building design. Jacqui herself will also take to the stage and talk about how to do business with DIO.

DIO is undergoing a commercial transformation following last year’s launch of DIO’s Commercial Strategy, which outlined the steps to be taken to make it easier for the supply chain to engage with the organisation.

Likewise, DIO’s Procurement Plan outlines its strategy on construction and infrastructure. This marks the first time the organisation has outlined its priorities to existing and potential suppliers.

DIO’s appearance at last year’s DPRTE coincided with the recent update to its commercial strategy.  So what success stories can Jacqui share that have emerged from the last 12 months? Jacqui says:

“In the last year we have stood up the category management and supplier management functions. We have held multiple industry days that have focused on collaboration and early market engagement with suppliers.

“DIO are procuring with a focus on value and not price and we are now engaging as one MOD and one government.”

Jacqui is keen for DIO’s suppliers to give feedback on their experience of working with DIO to provide a measurement of the organisation’s progress. So far, the response has been positive. She explains:

“We’ve had a very good response from suppliers. I get a lot of comments such as ‘a breath of fresh air’ and ‘it feels different now’ but of course I want tangible evidence, so we have recently issued a supplier reputation survey with the headline findings from the first phase of research expected before the DPRTE event in April.

“I think it’s really important that we have that document evidence to chart our progress.”

The political uncertainty over the last few years has made for some difficult market conditions across a number of industries. For DIO and defence, it has been no different and presented a number of challenges to be overcome. Jacqui says:

“We are still in a fragile infrastructure and construction market and DIO, along with government, have been careful as to how we have engaged with those markets. We are very much supporting those suppliers in what have been a really difficult last few years.”

This has seen the implementation of a number of measures to help companies do business with DIO.

“In the past year, we have redesigned commercial to better align DIO with our frontline customers. DIO has transformed to become a commissioning agent for the procurement and management of defence infrastructure for its customers.

“These changes have helped DIO become the advisor of the estate and the delivery partner of choice.”

DIO spend around £3 billion every year buying infrastructure services for the Armed Forces in the UK and overseas. DIO have been cultivating a closer collaboration with other government commercial teams such as Crown Commercial Services (CCS) to help improve engagement with suppliers.

“Procuring contracts through CCS allows DIO access to a more diverse supplier base whilst improving value for money for the taxpayer by leveraging government buying power.

“It’s also the case that this will open up access to a wider supplier base including both large multi-national companies and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).”

This closer collaboration is part of a wider effort across government departments to function as one unit. Jacqui explains:

“We are all part of the government commercial function whose ambition is to be the best commercial function in the country.  It’s that collaboration across the whole of government that ensures we are constantly monitoring market impacts and working on our strategic supplier partnership.”

Looking ahead, DIO are set to move into new headquarters, leaving the Sutton Coldfield Office and will move to a new purpose-built building, DMS Whittington.

Jacqui is enthused by this move and the benefits it will bring. She says: “We are closing DIO Sutton Coldfield office and intend to move our staff to a new purpose-built building, DMS Whittington. We plan to dispose of the Sutton Coldfield site, which will save money in the long term and support the MOD’s contribution to meeting the government’s housing targets.

“Moving to the base on an existing military site demonstrates our commitment to reducing the size of the defence estate. Co-locating on an operational defence site will bring us closer to our customers and allow us to experience the defence estate in use every day.”

Strategically, Jacqui has ambitions to accelerate the procurement life cycle and deliver the transformation that DIO have been striving for over the last few years.

“Ultimately, I want to provide my four greats:  great contracts, great supplier collaboration, great innovation and a great team.”

There will also be the release of DIO’s Procurement Plan for 2020, which is due to be published shortly.

As for DIO’s Commercial Strategy, Jacqui says this will updated and embedded into the defence commercial strategy, in line with the rest of the one defence strategy.

Turning attention back to DPRTE, Jacqui is keen to engage with businesses from across the defence spectrum and learn more about their push for innovation. She says:

“I really enjoy meeting up with both the key prime suppliers and the opportunity to meet with new SME organisations. I’m looking forward to hearing about innovation, social value and sustainability ideas.

I’m also keen to get feedback from our suppliers as to how DIO are doing. People are very direct with me at DPRTE – which is great!

And for the defence supply chain, is there a message Jacqui is keen to get out?

“We are open for business with a very robust pipeline. Any supplier who wants to speak to us or work with us, is actively encouraged to reach out.”

Don’t miss out on the chance to visit DIO’s the Infrastructure & Estates Pavilion and hear from leading experts in infrastructure on how to do business with DIO.

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