Supplier Relationship Management Spotlight Focus Areas

Daniel Haloukas

VP of Procurement at Discovery Inc.

Learning Objectives

Join us for an Executive Interview with the Vice President of Procurement at Discovery Inc. We will discuss how to build and maintain relationships with your suppliers and why it is important to do so.


Key Takeaways:



  • Why is it important to have strong relationships with suppliers?

  • How do you build relationships with suppliers from the onset?

  • How do you fix broken supplier relationships?

  • How do you start off training professionals new to the industry in supplier relationship management?

  • What has been your greatest learning from supplier relationship management over the years?


"It's really about setting that foundation level of trust that has to be established from the onset."

Daniel Haloukas

VP of Procurement at Discovery Inc.

Transcript

Britt Erler

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Scope Procurement Virtual Summit hosted on Quartz Network. My name is Britt Erler, QN Executive Correspondent. Thank you for joining us. I am thrilled to welcome our Executive Speaker, Daniel Haloukas, Vice President of Procurement at Discovery. Welcome, Daniel.


Daniel Haloukas

Hey, Britt. How are you doing?


Britt Erler

Pleasure to have you here, and really excited to dive into this topic today to discuss Supplier Relationship Management, and why you believe it is so crucial to an organization’s success. Before we dive in, if you wouldn’t mind giving the audience a quick background about your current role with Discovery and what your team focuses on?


Daniel Haloukas

Sure. I’m the Vice President of Global Procurement for basically Global Technology and Operations, so anything related to broadcasting, equipment, software, hardware, cloud services—all that’s under my purview. My team is within the US and abroad in Europe as well.


Britt Erler

Fantastic. I’m sure that your team has seen a lot of changes this past year in the Supply Chain industry alone. What have you noticed professionally has changed in the Supplier Relationship Management space, especially in this new virtual world?


Daniel Haloukas

It really needs to be more—I like to call it Karen feeding. More personal attention, sensitivity to suppliers’ situations, what they might be as far as being more flexible. We also have to do, and over communicating really—communicate more than you normally would. More meetings—can’t do them in person—so, more zoom meetings where you can make more calls. More writing communications, but really keeping those communication lines open frequently. Trying to be more flexible, understanding, even when it comes to different situations that suppliers and headwinds that they’re facing given today’s challenging times.


Britt Erler

I think the main focus of that is the humanity aspects that we really started to adapt in all of the industries across the board. As you mentioned, keeping those lines of communication open, and also realizing that not everyone’s going through the same thing at home. Some people have kids screaming in the background, kids they’re having to home school, maybe their home space isn’t set up for the virtual workplace, as well as others. I think that’s such a crucial component. Is that something you’ve always put in to your supplier relationships or is that kind of a new aspect and a new strategy your team has added in?


Daniel Haloukas

We’ve always done that. I’ve done it in the past a lot. Like I said, there’s a higher sensitivity now than there was—to your point, people’s personal situations, what they’re juggling. There’s more of that going on. There’s more patience, I believe, to a certain degree with getting contracts done whatever there may be than there was in the past. I think it’s more paternalistic, with a lot of relationships now, in general, than there were in the past. I see that happening as a new dynamic, even more than previously.


Britt Erler

Right. It may seem like common sense to a lot of people to build strong supplier relationships but why, really, is it so important?


Daniel Haloukas

It’s important for the fact that you want to maintain those relationships due to preventing business disruption, you have certain suppliers that are very critical to your business. You want to have anything happen when it comes to that, as well as street credit, is what I like to call it, where if suppliers isn’t happy with you, and there’s issues in their situations, and you part ways on bad terms, that could ruin your street credit with other suppliers that may potentially work with you, as well. Ultimately, be able to pick up that phone at 2 in the morning if you need something from help, as far as a bow, that’s one of your pieces of equipment that needs to be changed. Someone will pick up the phone and help you out. If you have to have an executive fly from a different country overnight as an emergency situation, you could pick up the phone and that supplier would help you out in that situation. It’s really about emergency, but it’s also about that relationship that’s ongoing, that’s continuous.


Britt Erler

It’s definitely a two way street. Right? You know, you have to help them out for them to help you. And it’s so much more I think, than just getting to know them on a professional level. I think it’s getting to know them personally, as well. So when you do pick up that phone, it’s not always business. It’s to see how they’re doing. It’s to continually build that relationship that you have with them that I think is so important. Now, this obviously doesn’t always happen overnight. So how do you build these relationships from the onset?


Daniel Haloukas

It’s really about setting that foundation level of trust that has to be established from the onset. When you’re working with suppliers, it’s spending the time, like you said, getting to know them, as far as what are you doing for the weekend, family plans, having conversations to build a relationship. It comes down to that, without that trust, without that foundation upfront, it’s going to be difficult to depend on them for something and a time of need. Having that built upfront, as best you can, and spending the time, caring about what’s going on in their world and the pressures they face is critical, and having that be a mutual back and forth when it comes down to it.


Britt Erler

Absolutely. Of course, no relationship is perfect, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, is a lot of supplier relationships that go sour for whatever the reasons are. How do you fix a broken supplier relationship?


Daniel Haloukas

I’ll give you the Attorney’s answer, which is, it depends. Essentially, you might have some that are beyond repair, where there’s really nothing you could do. You tried everything, unfortunately, you might have to part ways. I’ve been through that before. That’s the last resort. That’s what you don’t have to get to, but I wanted to bring that up first.


Daniel Haloukas

Obviously, you want to try to figure it out. Putting together an action plan on opportunities that you both can work together to fix in a quick manner, is something you want to do. Working together on identifying problems that occurred on maybe both sides, not just with the supplier, but what could we have done better as a client, that should also be considered. When something goes wrong, instead of pointing the finger, we need to look in the mirror first, and say, “Could we have provided a clear direction?” Did you not have enough time to get that done? Then, understand from their perspective, what went wrong. Was there enough communication, and really putting it together. When you put the plan together, hopefully, it’s a collaborative effort. Both sides are trying very hard to make sure that it gets back on the right track. If you’re both in it for that reason, and the partnership is valued on both sides, you should be able to work it out. Hopefully, relatively quickly. It really depends on the level of commitment from both sides.


Britt Erler

Completely agree. In your experience, what are some of the obstacles that you faced in supplier relationships?


Daniel Haloukas

Right now, as you know, it’s about the face to face. One of the things that is important is going out there, going to the offices, having conversations with the people and understanding how the operations are working on the floor. Making sure that when you’re there, your presence is known, they know who you are, they have that interaction where you’re not just a name on an email, keeping those relationships going. Also, trying to find solutions, possibly to issues on the floor, in the offices, from a physical standpoint as you’re there, from an observational standpoint, that you’re not going to be able to do behind the screen. Looking to do that as much as you can, and now that we don’t have that, obviously, it’s more difficult. That’s where you’re depending on more meetings. Like I said, more communications, to try to bridge that gap as much as possible and willfully keep the lines of communication more open, maybe than in the past. Hopefully, when we come out of this, we’ll have the best of both worlds. We’ll be able to do face to face and our communication skills will be even better than they were in the past. Hopefully, the relationships could even be stronger.


Britt Erler

With that being said, do you believe that we’ll always have this hybrid approach of communication virtual and in-person?


Daniel Haloukas

I see it happening because people are more productive now to a certain degree. What I mean is the people that aren’t commuting as much, they have more hours, so they’re actually working more, yet their work life balance is increased because they’re spending more time with their family as well because they’re not commuting. You’ve got happier employees from that perspective. What’s missing is that face to face interaction, the impromptu meetings in the break areas, jumping into somebody’s office quickly between meetings for a catch up—that’s what’s missing. I see it as it could be two or three times a week from a hybrid approach and having that blend, which allows employees in a way to recharge yet work more, and still have the interaction that’s needed. I do see that continuing.


Britt Erler

I agree with you. I think it’s an approach, now that we’ve realized a lot of people can work just as effectively from home, but that still doesn’t mean that face to face interaction isn’t so crucial and so important. I don’t care what you tell me, I think meeting face to face and really building that relationship from non set that way, is the most important part of it. I agree with you. I think really cutting it half in half, and making sure that you’re getting the best of both worlds will be the best way for us to do this moving forward.


Britt Erler

Now, this skill of relationship building does not come naturally to a lot of people. It is not second nature for a lot of professionals. For new professionals that are coming into this industry, how do you train them on how to build the supplier relationship?


Daniel Haloukas

It really is going to come down to effort. I can give you an example of a bad relationship that I had to fix. There was someone that I used to work with that, in a previous lifetime, we just couldn’t get along. I was relatively new, coming into the organization. He was established. Maybe it was territorial at that point, but there was definitely some friction. We couldn’t connect on anything to the point where it got combative at times. I decided I’m going to try to defuse this. I noticed that, every morning, he came in early and would have a cup of coffee with cream and he would have a plain bagel toasted. I was one of the only ones I got in early as well, so I took it upon myself to put that on his desk before he got it in the morning. When he got it, he came over and said, “Did you do that?” I said, “Yeah.” “That was really thoughtful.” I said, “Not a problem.” That was all it took. After that, we were on the right path, we were connected, and we became pretty close, ironically, after that.


Daniel Haloukas

It’s really about taking the time. I realized that that was something that he had as part of his routine. I wanted to help, do something supportive, and show that I’m willing to put that all a branch out there and connect. That’s really what it takes it. If you do that with people and you show that you’re willing to put the effort in, like I said, that can be all it takes to smooth out the rough waters. As you’re coming in new, you’re going to have to do that more than anyone else. There’s relationships that have been established for years as alliances that have been formed with certain people on certain sets of mindset. You have to come in there, and you have to prove yourself, but also show that you’re a team player. Show that you’re willing to blend in to the situation in the environment and be a contributor, and be someone that’s likable that they can trust.


Britt Erler

I think that’s such a great example because it really shows that, sometimes, it doesn’t take a whole lot to get to know someone and to really make that switch. Like you said something as simple as coffee and a bagel for a relationship that seems pretty chaotic at times. I also think it’s important to mention as well, not everybody’s going to get along, but being able to find a way, a silver lining, professionally to be able to work together is the best way to do it. I think that’s such a great example for a lot of people and not even just for supplier relationships, but relationships in all industries across the board.


Britt Erler

Based on what you’ve seen, not just during the pandemic years, but in years past as well. What’s probably your greatest learning in the Supplier Relationship Management space?


Daniel Haloukas

For me, it’s really the level of understanding and flexibility, like I said before. I think it’s kind of taught myself and, hopefully, a lot of others to step back. It’s not just about the numbers and tenants in the contract, but it’s about the people. It’s people’s situations and pressures, and companies’ pressures and situations. Not every company is doing well, so we’re doing better than others. It’s about understanding that and working together to achieve both goals.


Daniel Haloukas

From a client standpoint, obviously, you’re looking to get the most effective, efficient pricing, the best quality and service, but you also want to make sure that both sides are happy with the relationship, just like a marriage or any relationship. People of both sides have to be happy in order for it to work. You’re never truly going to get that win-win as much as people say, but both sides have to feel good about the relationship. What it’s taught me more than anything is to be more understanding when it comes to that. There’s ways you can work around different situations when it comes to contract management, when it comes to relationships, where both sides are feeling good about it and want to continue those relationships past the contract term, and they’re advocates for the company. They’re going out and telling everybody, “Hey, this is a great company. Working for this client was fantastic. They really were sensitive to our needs.” You want to have that advocacy in every way. If you can do that, to me that’s successful.


Britt Erler

Of course. Now, this strategy and approach that you have in place that you try to instill in your team, obviously, discovery is global, you are the Global Procurement Vice President. How do you make sure that it’s aligned across all of your teams?


Daniel Haloukas

It really comes down to mission and vision. Discovery is a phenomenal company. They really care about their people. Out of any company I’ve worked for, I think they’re the best. I’m not just saying that because I work there, but it’s really how I feel. When you hear the word team, sometimes it’s a lot of corporate speak. In this case, with this company, it’s truly not. People are out there trying to help each other, like nothing I’ve ever seen, especially in this time.


Daniel Haloukas

When it comes down to it, we have agreed upon objectives. Those objectives get cascaded down to the different levels of the organization, and they’re obviously refined based on different functions, but they’re all they have that that resounding message of doing the right thing for the company. The typical fundamental parts of the business are there, of course, but it’s also personal development. It’s what you do to be to be more efficient, effective, and continue your own education, continue your own training. You use that not only for the job, but for your career. There’s more of a stress on that than I’ve ever seen at any other corporation I’ve been at. That’s one of the things that also really impresses me is the focus on the individual, and their success, and their development more than ever.


Britt Erler

That’s fantastic. I think that is so crucial, really focusing on the people of an organization. Something that I feel like a lot of companies have steered away from, especially during the pandemic, because they’re just struggling to survive, and so they have other priorities on their plate. As you mentioned, it’s the people in your organization, those individuals that truly make the difference and make sure that the goals happen for all of your teams across the board. I completely agree with you there. Any final pieces of advice for other leaders and a similar role such as yourself?


Daniel Haloukas

Something I was going to add right there, it’s really important, and I’ve had it informally with a lot of companies. We have it formalized here where there’s a mentor-mentee type of program. I can’t stress it enough when it comes down to it, especially if you’re doing both, which optimally you want to do, where you can be there to guide other folks, but then people are going to be guiding you. To have that program in a company is critical and to have it supported at the highest levels, and have reoccurring is something that’s been really refreshing for me to be a part of. Learning about different parts of the company that you wouldn’t have learned on your own, or you might have been, you’re not going to get that type of perspective. Companies can do that to make people more well rounded, have more of a robust experience. I believe that’s also going to help them in supplier relationships because if you understand more about the company, more about the products, more about the services, more about the vision and direction, you’re going to be able to communicate that much clear to suppliers. Hopefully, that’ll help bridge a lot of gaps.


Britt Erler

Absolutely, and provide them with exactly what they’re looking for. I remember back in the day when I used to do sales, it was always get to know them and what their pain points are. Until you’ve gotten to know that, you really haven’t gotten to know them at all. You can’t build that relationship from there and provide them for what their company really needs. I completely agree with you. Getting to know the company, getting to know their motto, what it is they’re trying to achieve as a whole.


Daniel Haloukas

A lot of times what’s going on right now, especially with supplier diversity, which is something that is at the forefront and shouldn’t be. It has been an objective, but I don’t think it’s been as much of a strategic pillar as it is now, which is it’s about time that it is. I think it’s great because now, companies are lying to your point with company’s mission statements, and based on sustainability, and based on supplier diversity. Companies are looking for like-minded companies to work with, and their subcontractors and third parties as well. Having that as something that’s connecting everybody has a unified goal is something that I think is critical.


Britt Erler

I completely agree with you. I think that is so crucial. As you mentioned, there’s sometimes more to relationships than cost and profit back and forth. As you mentioned, making sure that your visions align across the board such as sustainability. Inclusion is another huge one that’s starting to really take place, which is amazing in all the industries. I think that’s a fantastic point on your end. For other leaders, everyone is struggling right now, roles have expanded, changed drastically, teams have changed. What other pieces of advice do you have for them to help them make it through this time?


Daniel Haloukas

Put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand where they’re coming from, what their pressures and stresses are. When you’re having these conversations, you’re going through the relationship building, and that’s something that has benefited me. Just trying to take a step back, like I said before, but really understand where are they coming from, and where do they fit with, and how can we work together better moving forward. It could be great, you could think that it’s perfect, that everything’s great, but there’s always room for improvement.


Daniel Haloukas

I always say, when you’re talking a lot, you’re not able to listen. Sometimes, you really need to hear what people are saying and listen from their perspectives. Again, it’s got to be something where both parties feel good about the relationships and are walking away as happy as they can be. Spend the time, like I said, with the folks that are joining, that are new. Put the effort in as well, even if you’re not new, to building and maintaining those relationships as much as you can. It could be a friendly note on a Friday saying, “Hey, just checking in. What are your plans for the weekend?” Or coming back on Monday and say, “How did the weekend go?”


Daniel Haloukas

I noticed that there’s a lot more of that now than I’ve noticed before, which is great. I think, especially people, what do you do when you have to stay home with the pandemic? It’s also about caring about enough to say, “Hey, how did the weekend go? You do anything fun with the family?” There’s definitely more of that, and I think that’s adding that personal touch. Years ago, we had that in the industry that I went away. Now, it’s back for other reasons, obviously, but I’m glad it’s back, and I hope it stays.


Britt Erler

Definitely. I think a silver lining through everything that we’ve seen. I agree with you. Just my team alone, not even with outside organizations. I have my team members, they check in with me periodically just for a wellness check, just to see how you’re doing because sometimes you get so caught up in your daily tasks and making sure you’re hitting deadlines that you forget just to talk to somebody and see how they’re doing. As you mentioned, that’s just so crucial for anyone coming in whether you’re new to the industry or you’re a veteran, for that matter.


Britt Erler

Fantastic advice. Daniel. Thank you so much for sharing and, hopefully, a lot of companies can use those strategies moving forward for their supplier relationships. I want to thank you again for being here, and thank you to everyone who has joined us today. If you have any final questions for Daniel, there will be a discussion forum underneath this presentation. Please stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy the rest of the summit.


Daniel Haloukas

Thank you, Britt.


Get full Q/N Access

Sign up to Q/N with a few details to watch this presentation.

  • Hidden
  • Hidden