When Jan Falkenberg joined Oras Group in 2008, he never thought he’d stay this long – but he’s still learning something new every day.
Jan Falkenberg doesn’t understand why people aren’t crazy about purchasing. How come not everyone wants to make purchases for a living?
“I always ask people that,” he tells laughingly, “and they often reply: ‘Really? No way!’ But to me, the world of purchasing is incredibly interesting.”
As a purchasing manager at Oras Group, Jan is living the dream – or at least working in his dream job. His enthusiasm can’t be explained with novelty, as he has been studying international business in Germany and the US and working in the field for well over a decade.
His career at Oras Group began at then Hansa in 2008 amidst a global financial crisis. Just after he had finished his master’s thesis, his previous employer offered him a position as a purchasing consultant, but he decided to learn the job in practice before teaching anyone else and took up the position of a buyer of brass parts at Hansa.
However, Jan never thought he would still be working for Oras Group 13 years later. Yet there he is, managing an international team of 10 buyers based in three countries.
“That’s one of the things I love most about this job. We operate totally internationally.”
Technical yet all about business
What intrigues Jan so much about purchasing is how, whilst being very technically oriented, it’s also business-related. He says that the basis of the team’s work is to secure that production sites receive everything they need, in correct quantity and quality, for agreed prices and conditions and at requested schedules.
“But there is so much more besides this,” he adds. “One part of the strategic work is, for example, to identify new potential technologies, materials, or suppliers, while also developing relationships with the existing supply base and negotiating the best prices. Another part is to participate in new product development projects to include not only our own but also our suppliers’ know-how.”
A lot of work has to be done in the background, too. Jan says that Oras Group emphasizes the importance of sustainability and responsibility and demands similar commitments from its suppliers as well.
“It has always been a part of our onboarding with new suppliers,” he says. “However, in recent years, there has certainly been a rising number of requests from the customers’ side for us to show our sustainability work.”
On top of this, regulations regarding things like energy saving, environmental protection, and safety are ever-changing and often region-specific, which adds to the team’s to-do list in its cooperation with suppliers.
Finding time for future plans
Although day-to-day tasks can sometimes bite a big chunk of Jan’s working hours, he makes sure he finds the time to prepare for the future.
“It’s easy enough to fill up your time with operational and strategic projects, but it’s important – and a challenge – to look ahead, and to make sure that we are constantly developing further our processes, our tools, and also our own skills,” he notes. “In our job, it is very important to be able to be a real discussion partner for our internal departments like R&D and production, as well as to be at eye level with our suppliers.”
Jan also needs to dedicate time to his team. Being based in different countries by default, the pandemic hasn’t really changed much; and Jan has always made sure that although he expects his team members to be able to make independent decisions, he’s always there if extra support or a sparring partner is needed.
“We are challenging our suppliers and are getting challenged from internal departments,” he says. “Sometimes we need to get creative to solve tricky market or supply situations, and sometimes we need to travel the world to identify the right partners which bring the best added value for Oras Group. We definitely are learning something new every single day.”