Julia BrownIn the newly created position of chief procurement officer (CPO) at Carnival Corporation, Julia Brown is overseeing everything Carnival spends money on from products to services.

“The goal is to drive value that can be reinvested in the brands,” she explained. “And to take out costs of things that guests do not want, while at the same time ensuring the best possible guest experience. “I am also concentrating on how we can leverage our scale for goods and services and working in partnership with our brands.”

Brown described her new role to Cruise Industry News as a culmination of her many previous procurement experiences, including logistics, warehousing and transportation. While she most recently came from the food industry, her procurement background includes buying everything from mascara to printed circuit boards, and now “for 101 floating cities,” she said.

“Last week, there was a mattress summit. We brought sourcing management from the brands here. We laid out mattresses from each brand, and we took them apart, not only looking at how they were made, but also at the cost structure.”

She explained that the purpose was to come up with mattress specifications for each brand and be able to go to a manufacturer as one company.

“One size does not fit all,” she said. “Passengers aboard Carnival and Seabourn, for example, may have different sleep and relaxation requirements, needing different specifications.

“This (mattress summit) can serve as a role model for how we can work with other products and services.”

What products and services will she be targeting first? “That is a matter of prioritization,” Brown answered. “We are focusing on the areas where we are spending the largest sums of money. These include some not so obvious areas too, like medical equipment, which requires significant spending.”

Named to her position in March, Brown spent much of her first weeks at Carnival getting to know the organization, touring the ships, and gaining an understanding of their needs.

“Understanding our requirements is key,” she said, “and matching those with supplier capabilities.”

While there are challenges, Brown said: “I am a firm believer in mutual win-win situations. It may not necessarily be obvious at first, but we all come to work to make the best possible guest experience. Keeping guests in mind will help us create mutual wins.”

Brown described procurement as really being about selling and marketing what the company does. “We need to fully understand all that we require,” she said, “and think through the lifecycle of what we do; what makes sense for the different spend categories; and to understand the marketplace.”

At Carnival, her over-riding goal is to effectively leverage the company’s scale while exceeding guest expectations. She also wants Carnival to be the customer of choice for its suppliers.

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Summer 2015