Mariam Saad, Director, IT, Technology Services & TELUS Health, Procurement at TELUS, gained extensive experience in information technology (IT) sales and all facets of procurement, after completing a degree in business at Concordia University and working across different industries, such as IT, natural resources, and telecommunications. As she has grown in her career over the last 20 years, and anytime she has changed roles or moved industries, her focus has always remained on maximizing value creation for her customers.
Mariam’s current role in procurement at TELUS is heavily focused on transformational initiatives to continually focus on advancing and growing the company’s capabilities. Her primary focus is on information technology software and hardware, the cloud, technology services, and professional services. She states, “Right now I’m working on establishing a centre of excellence—a governance model—for software as a service (SaaS) to ensure we have a model in place to govern the economics of the deal and also how we govern end-to-end from the life cycle management of SaaS.”
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between World’s Leaders and Mariam Saad:
Describe TELUS offerings that address the needs of your customers.
Outside of providing leading telecommunications services to our customers such as mobility and the internet, we are also committed to leveraging our world-leading technology and compassion to drive social change and enable remarkable human outcomes—a value that sets us apart from other service providers. We always strive to put our customers first, and every aspect of our business works with this focus in mind. We believe in making a difference in the communities we serve, and our social purpose is underpinned by four key pillars: empowering Canadians with connectivity, transforming healthcare, caring for the planet for future generations, and, naturally, giving back to our communities. Whether through our leading virtual health offerings, our commitment to supporting sustainable agriculture with state-of-the-art technology, or our corporate impact funds investing in purpose-driven start-ups, TELUS is committed to connecting people, resources, and information that can make our lives better across Canada. Our team has contributed more than $900 million and 1.8 million days of service since 2000 to support our passion for connecting people for good and giving where we live.
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in this industry through your expertise in the industry?
I think it is all about sharing and collaborating, which is a big part of continuous learning and personal growth. I’m a big proponent of educating myself, whether by attending a webinar, reading a whitepaper, or participating in a round table discussion. I’m a fervent advocate of giving back: whether it’s through supporting supplier diversity by sitting on the Women’s Business Enterprises Canada Council’s (WBE) Business Development Committee to help them attract more corporate members, mentoring WBEs to pitch their offerings to corporates, or participating in supplier diversity events like the 2021 WBE Annual Conference. I speak at various procurement and supply chain events such as Supply Chain Digital, most recently at the CIO Summit roundtable to discuss the effect of the pandemic on digital transformation and how it will evolve our workplaces. I value being a contributor and sharing my opinions on the important discussion around cloud transformation, SaaS, and sustainability.
What are the challenges you and your team at TELUS come across in your day-to-day operations?
I like to think of our different daily challenges as opportunities. As we face a difficult situation and find a solution, we all grow and learn. In my field, we tackle supply chain risk issues, price increases due to the current pandemic, reliability issues, and labour shortages, but we need to keep our focus on ensuring we are driving value to our customers and delivering the right products and/or solutions on time while negotiating the best cost and mitigating all risks.
Our current focus is on digital transformation, process automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) enablement to reduce cycle-time in data analytics, strategic sourcing, and contracting. Our goal is to drive end-to-end integration across all of our platforms and reduce the source-to-pay processes. This will help create whitespace for our procurement teams to drive incremental value, shortening the cycle time for what consumes most of our time: contracting. This improves getting to the right template, understanding what redlines we should or shouldn’t be making (based on thousands of historical agreements), reducing risk, leveraging more innovation from our supplier partnerships, and, of course, driving incremental value.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives TELUS.
We have five key pillars from a cultural evolution focus at TELUS around innovation, growth, change, teamwork, and risk. TELUS drives a collaborative work environment that fosters both growth and development, not only in individual and team culture but also from an innovation perspective, encouraging team members to look for new possibilities while approaching risk taking with an opportunity and experimentation mindset. Everyday innovation is focused on nurturing the mindset, behaviours, and environment required to inspire our teams to have the courage to make everyday innovation a cultural standard across all levels and value chains at TELUS.
Where do you envision yourself being in the long run and what are your future goals for TELUS?
I love what I do, and I want to constantly learn and grow in this space, helping to shape and advance the supply chain industry to solve real world concerns. I’m so inspired by the fact that I’m working on some of the greatest challenges we face today, including improving the quality, safety, distribution, and sustainability of food and consumer goods by leveraging our world-leading technology and human compassion. Also, by improving access to health and wellness services and information for all Canadians, I love the fact that I can be part of all this and make an impact.
My goals are to also continue to mentor supply chain professionals and foster a culture of diversity and inclusiveness in this space, lead a procurement or supply chain organization.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs?
This is the most exciting time to be part of the greatest evolution in this space: we are witnessing the fourth industrial revolution that will challenge current ways of working; also the need to tackle some of the most pressing issues in the world, such as sustainability and reducing our impact on our planet. This is where entrepreneurs can apply their experience and drive the greatest changes in our industry by building solutions with sustainability by design.