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Martin Smith

Martin Smith on driving integrity

By Martin Smith

MD at Talent Drive and Host/ Founder of the 'Talent Talks' Podcast

Founded upon his years of experience working in London for agencies and brands including Coca-Cola, Martin Smith set up his own company specialising in procurement and supply chain recruitment two years ago.

In 2019, the Dorsetine returned to his home county to establish Talent Drive – a modern and innovative recruitment company built upon integrity and collaboration. With a commendable commitment to have an impact extending beyond self-advancement, connecting with the procurement community to contribute towards a better future for the industry and its people.

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Is there something you are particularly passionate about that you advocate through your business?

My ethos is to do things with integrity and in an authentic way. I believe in building true and honest relationships that will really stand the test of time. I think the whole sales-driven approach is outdated, and it doesn't work anymore in recruitment. I try to build authentic relationships, both professionally and personally, with everyone I interact with.

The reason I set up the business is to have a wider social impact on the areas I work in. I'm very passionate about the Dorset area in which I live. I try to give back to the community through supporting a local children's hospice, and sponsoring a local football team.

It's about being empowered to give something back, and being able to look yourself in the mirror each day and think you're working with integrity and genuinely helping people. Money should be a by-product of success, and running my own business isn't just about wealth for me.

Your Talent Talks Podcast gives insight into industry issues. What’s topical in procurement and supply chain recruitment right now?

Diversity is a huge challenge in procurement at the moment because it's still very male-dominated. Diversification and creating a more inclusive workforce are currently very topical. It’s not just about gender, it’s also about ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and every aspect of diversity.

We talk a lot on the podcast about how we can diversify, get more people into procurement, and raise awareness about procurement as a career path rather than something people just fall into. The beauty of procurement is that it’s a sales role, it's a commercial role, it's a technical role - it covers all facets of business, and when people join it, they very rarely leave it.

Sustainability is also a massive topic in the market at the moment. Businesses ensure that they are sustainable in how they source products, making sure that the supply chain is sustainable, and working with SMEs and micro-businesses rather than just with big multi billion turnover businesses.

Technological advances such as AI, robotics, and automation, are also very topical in our industry, and feature regularly in the podcast.

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What are the ways in which Talent Drive, and the industry as a whole, are addressing these challenges?

By talking about them. The podcast highlights topics, addresses them, and shares them in a powerful way. It’s a platform for female and male procurement leaders to discuss their own experiences.

We did a double part podcast on diversity and inclusion, earlier in the year. One of our guests worked for the NHS; he emigrated to the UK from Nigeria about eight years ago, and he shared openly how he encountered discrimination throughout his recruitment process. It’s about bringing those case studies to life, and people sharing the inequalities that they’ve experienced.

We also do webinars and connect with up-and-coming procurement recruits. We’re looking to do some more work with universities to talk about procurement, and to help raise awareness for future generations.

"The podcast highlights topics, addresses them, and shares them in a powerful way. It’s a platform for procurement leaders to discuss their own experiences."

Martin Smith, MD at Talent Drive and Host/ Founder of the 'Talent Talks' Podcast

Are skills a challenge within your niche sectors? How is the talent pool evolving?

There’s definitely a skills shortage in the industry. When procurement functions are looking for a Head of Procurement or a Senior Leader, there’s plenty of talent out there. But there is a skills gap in the market for the Entry Level Buyers and Senior Buyers.

Businesses are trying to create their own academies and their own graduate schemes dedicated to procurement. We’re increasingly seeing more companies trying to promote internally from within the organisation.

What are the ways in which Talent Drive, and the industry as a whole, are addressing these challenges?

Football is a big passion of mine; I coach an under 18 team. I used to be a Bournemouth Academy player and I played at county level throughout my teenage years. I was Captain of the team at Loughborough University, and I still play today as well as coach.

I very recently got married, and my wife Elle and I enjoy travelling together when we can.

I also volunteer for local mental health charity Dorset Mind. I dedicate some time each week as a befriender.

Who is your inspiration?

My Dad is a big inspiration for me; he’s always been very supportive. I think I get a lot of my hard work ethic and tenacity from him. He’s the one who has inspired me, and he’s lovingly been married to my Mum for over 40 years.

More broadly from a business point of view, Richard Branson and more recently, Elon Musk. Business owners that have been able to innovate, find a gap in the market, and really drive it I think are amazing. I’ve got a lot of admiration for people who start with nothing, and build something using their own work ethic and ingenuity.

What principles govern your self-guidance in life?

I have four key principles – work hard, be humble, reward loyalty, and accept we’re all flawed.

The last one, accepting that we’re all flawed, I think is really key. Play to your strengths, and accept your weaknesses, and that will relieve some of the stress of running your own business.

"Play to your strengths, and accept your weaknesses, and that will relieve some of the stress of running your own business."

Martin Smith, MD at Talent Drive and Host/ Founder of the 'Talent Talks' Podcast