Through the Storms and Stars: Noemie Chetty’s Trailblazing Procurement Odyssey

Noemie Chetty MCIPS (Procurement Director)
Noemie Chetty MCIPS (Procurement Director)

In the picturesque archipelago of the Republic of Seychelles, a small island nation known for its breathtaking landscapes and pristine waters, lies the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC). This remarkable company, one of the largest in Seychelles, holds a crucial responsibility—to provide electricity, water and sewerage services to the islands in a safe and sustainable manner. As a wholly government-owned entity, PUC operates as a separate and independent organization, driven by its mission to ensure the well-being and comfort of the people it serves.

Amidst the various departments that contribute to the smooth functioning of PUC, Noemie Chetty MCIPS (Procurement Director) holds expertise and leadership which have been instrumental in navigating the complex landscape of procurement.

Noemie with her comprehensive understanding of supply chain management and her prestigious MCIPS certification, stands at the helm of PUC’s procurement activities. As the Procurement Director, she shoulders the responsibility of overseeing the acquisition of vital resources, essential equipment and innovative technologies that drive the organization forward.

As the Procurement Director of Public Utilities Corporation, Noemie’s remarkable journey and commitment to excellence in procurement management have not only positioned her as a respected professional within her organization but also exemplify the potential for success that hard work, integrity and vision can unlock. Her unwavering dedication to the mission of PUC, coupled with her drive to embrace innovative solutions, signifies a bright and promising future for the company’s role in the sustainable development of Seychelles.

Let’s delve into the course of action Noemie paved her way through to be embracing the bright future of the company and its customers.

Tales of Triumph and Perseverance

Over the course of the past two decades, Noemie has navigated a rewarding and demanding journey as the Procurement Director at Public Utilities Corporation, a prominent State-Owned Enterprise (SOE). Throughout her tenure, she has encountered numerous opportunities and challenges that have shaped her expertise in the industry.

Significantly shaped by the stringent regulatory environment that governs SOEs, Noemie has paved her way through all the hardships with a smiling face. Such regulations have a profound impact on the development and progress of the industry, necessitating a carefully tailored approach to Supply Chain Management (SCM) that adheres to the prescribed rules while ensuring uninterrupted operational efficiency and impeccable service delivery to customers.

Operating in a public enterprise, particularly in the utilities sector, presents Noemie with one of the most demanding tasks in the industry—procurement. As the network and infrastructure continue to expand, the role of Procurement becomes pivotal in maintaining transparency throughout the process and securing the best value for money on behalf of the corporation.

Amidst the dynamic landscape of the utilities sector, Noemie finds herself at the forefront of embracing continuous innovations in energy-efficient equipment and SMART technology. These advancements offer exciting opportunities to drive sustainability and simultaneously reduce operational expenses, creating a win-win situation for the corporation and its customers. By harnessing the potential of these modern technologies, Noemie aims to lead her team toward a greener and more cost-effective future for Public Utilities Corporation.

Steering the Ship of Procurement

Noemie currently serves as the Procurement Director at Public Utilities Corporation (PUC), but her journey in the organization began back in 2003 when she first joined as a secretary in the Water and Sewerage Division. Over the years, Noemie’s career path underwent several transformations as the organization adapted to new regulations and demands.

In 2008, the implementation of the Public Procurement Act brought significant changes, integrating procurement processes into Noemie’s daily duties. Despite the challenges of juggling multiple responsibilities, she proved to be efficient and competent in handling the procurement aspects alongside her secretarial role.

Recognizing Noemie’s capabilities, in 2010, she assumed the position of Administrative Assistant, encompassing the combined functions of Procurement that she had been undertaking. During this period, there were no specific positions directly related to procurement available, but Noemie’s dedication and skill set made her a perfect fit to bridge the gap.

The year 2011 marked a turning point in Noemie’s career when a centralized Procurement Unit was established within the organization. Due to her experience and knowledge, she was entrusted with the crucial role of Procurement Planner, responsible for strategizing and coordinating procurement activities across the corporation.

Continuing to excel in her work, Noemie’s efforts were rewarded in 2014 when she earned a promotion to the role of Procurement Manager. Her leadership skills and dedication to the organization’s procurement function made her an invaluable asset to the team. In 2021, whist managing work and family life, Noemie successfully completed her Master’s degree in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management via online platform from the University of Salford.

In 2022, Noemie’s exceptional performance and commitment to her work culminated in her appointment to the prestigious position of Procurement Director. As the head of the procurement department, she now holds the responsibility of steering the organization’s procurement strategies and operations to greater heights.

Noemie’s impressive journey from a secretary to the Procurement Director is a testament to her perseverance, adaptability and determination to grow professionally within the Public Utilities Corporation. Her unwavering dedication to procurement excellence has been recognized and rewarded at every stage of her career, making her an influential figure in the organization’s procurement landscape.

Navigating Choppy Waters

As Noemie assumed the role of Procurement Director, she found herself facing the lingering impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine, both of which had unleashed disruptions upon supply chains worldwide. However, the challenges were particularly intensified for the Public Utilities Corporation, situated in a sea-locked small island state with limited shipment connectivity. The unique geographical constraints of Seychelles further exacerbated the situation, making it imperative for Noemie to navigate through these difficulties with ingenuity and collaboration.

To combat the crisis, Noemie understood the critical role that supplier relationships played in defying the challenges posed by the disrupted supply chains. She recognized that fostering strong partnerships with key suppliers was vital in ensuring seamless shipment coordination and constant availability of essential equipment and tools, guaranteeing uninterrupted service delivery.

Emphasizing collaboration and treating suppliers as valued partners became a cornerstone of Noemie’s procurement strategy. This approach not only fostered a win-win situation for all parties involved but also facilitated a smoother flow of communication, enabling prompt and practical solutions to be found in times of crisis. By working closely with suppliers and viewing them as integral stakeholders, Noemie’s team could quickly respond to any unforeseen events and mitigate the risks of supply chain disruptions.

In light of the geographical remoteness of the Seychelles, the connectivity with international trade routes remained a constraint for procurement activities. To address this, Noemie placed great emphasis on establishing robust partnerships with logistics partners. By closely collaborating with these experts, the Procurement Director ensured proper monitoring and tracking of consignments during transshipment. This vigilance allowed them to swiftly respond to any black swan events and, if necessary, divert consignments to alternative routes, ensuring the timely arrival of essential goods.

Noemie’s proactive and collaborative approach to procurement management not only steered the Public Utilities Corporation through the challenges posed by the pandemic and geopolitical disruptions but also established the foundation for a resilient and agile supply chain system. By placing a strong emphasis on supplier relationships and logistics partnerships, she successfully navigated the constraints of operating in a sea-locked small island state, safeguarding the organization’s ability to provide continuous and reliable service to its customers.

Riding the Wave

Noemie says, “Our engineers are at the forefront on follow up on the latest developments in their respective areas of operation.” From the Procurement side, use social media platforms and websites and subscribe to suppliers’ newsletters to keep up to date on trends and innovation in the industry and forward it to the end users for review.

Turning the Tide

In 2015, the PUC implemented an ERP system (Microsoft AX Dynamics) that has dramatically improved operational efficiency by removing functional silos, especially for an organization with a dynamic and complex operations.

It has provided the required visibility across all functions with easy access to data that helps to achieve better planning and forecasting to remain agile amidst all the SC disruption. The system has helped to minimize manual processes and improve workflow.

Steering Clear of Storms

At the organizational level, the PUC fully ensures safety compliance in all workspace areas. Through the Health and Safety Policy, communication is the primary source of promoting a safe environment. As an industry operating many sensitive pieces of equipment, the safety of the staff and the assets is critical. There are sign boards at all sites keeping staff informed, based on their working environment, all the measures and precautions to abide by and what to do in any case of an emergency.

Training is an aspect that helps maintain the organization’s awareness level. Training of new recruits and refresher courses for employees who have been in the organization for years provides up-to-date best practices and new approaches to doing things as the industry keeps evolving.

The safety culture is not only limited to unsafe environments and accidents in the workplace; it goes far beyond the physical mindset to the well-being of the staff. With the demanding nature of the work in the industry, mental health plays a significant role in the organization’s development. Work satisfaction goes beyond a salary at the end of the month to the feeling of inclusion and appreciation. Social gatherings bring staff across all levels of the organization to meet and bond in another more relaxed atmosphere.

To maintain compliance, each department has its operation manual which mitigates room for errors on any undertakings, ensuring efficiency in line with the rules and regulations the entity has to follow. The standardized practice ensures process flow and provides clear guidelines to new recruits, making the learning curve easier and faster.

Riding the Same Wave With Uniting Forces

Monthly news bulletins with insights and updates on what is happening across the organization are shared via available forms of communication platforms. Noemie says, “Although the organization is heavily regulated, from the procurement side we try to simplify processes so that despite the many red tapes, the flow of processing requests is efficient.” Additional levels of checks and balances and segregation of duties ensure the avoidance of duplication or going astray from set-out procedures in place.

Team members can access centralized stored data and group emails, keeping everyone in the loop and on top of things.

Using communication platforms like WhatsApp groups to share real-time operation updates helps boost collaboration in resolving issues promptly.

Rising with the Tide

As a small island state with a small population, procurement undertakings are at a disadvantage given the low trade volume and no economies of scale. Whilst being dependent on imports, trade imbalances due to low export volume and lack of natural resources, bring about high freight costs on imports.

Noemie shares, “I aspire to see us move towards a Circular Economy, whereby equipment, after its end of life, instead of being thrown out into the environment, can be returned to the manufacturer where parts can be refurbished or recycled.” It will help achieve sustainable objectives to increase export volume and implement closed-loop supply chains.

Set the Stage

Each team member is different in their personality. The first step is to get to know each individual; their capabilities, knowledge and weaknesses, and use it to motivate them to strive to improve themselves. Noemie states, “Once an employee has learned the basics, I allow him/her to work independently and give him/her opportunities to be part of any strategic decision-making.”

Encouraging professional development and growth is another strategy for motivating the team, driving them to enhance their knowledge further and keeping up to date with changes in the field. Through fostering development and professional growth, performances improve and bring more decision-making self-confidence.

Noemie believes in empowering staff through delegation of duties and encouraging them to try and attend to problem-solving as much as possible before escalating the issue to her level. Setting clear measurable targets to evaluate performance at the end of the year also drives motivation and push for better performance.

Reaching the Summit

Reflecting on her journey from where she began to the esteemed position she holds today; Noemie recognizes it as a remarkable milestone—one that she could not have envisioned a decade ago. Her path to success has been paved by unwavering dedication, discipline and a commitment to upholding high ethical values, principles that have not only earned her recognition within her workplace but also among her peers in the field of supply chain management.

Noemie’s journey is a testament to the power of hard work and integrity and her accomplishments stand as a testament to the impact of perseverance and ethical conduct in the professional world.