Exness: Building a best-in-class procurement process

Exness: Building a best-in-class procurement process

Daniyar Zhantilessov, Global Head of Procurement at Exness, delves into building a world-class procurement team, the role of mentorship, and digitalisation

Exness is an international, award-winning multi-asset broker founded in 2008. With a deep understanding of traders’ needs, the company provides accessible, stable, and reliable brokerage services through the use of modern trading and investment technologies.

Heading up its procurement function is Daniyar Zhantilessov, who with over 12 years of experience across diverse roles in various markets, has acquired strong knowledge in the procurement field. 

“My career journey so far has led me to my current position as Global Head of Procurement at Exness,” says Zhantilessov, who has a finance degree and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Chain Management (CIPS). “When I joined Exness at the beginning of 2020, I started as a Procurement Manager and built the procurement process in the company from scratch. This earned me numerous promotions over the years, until I became the head of the department. 

“Within my role, I have enhanced procurement productivity, devised effective sourcing strategies, and implemented best-in-class procurement processes. I am also responsible for vendor risk management, due diligence, and process optimisation.”

The road to procurement

Zhantilessov's career started at a juncture where he had to choose between a role as a financial analyst or a procurement specialist in the banking industry. As he explains, he chose the latter. “I like to connect and interact with people, so I felt it was a more fitting career. Despite excellent knowledge of finance, which also enables me to do my current job best, I prefer working with people instead of numbers.

“The procurement sphere has allowed me to maximise my skills and use them properly,” Zhantilessov adds. “It is an integrated part of my life and approach at large, to constantly compare and select the best value things price/quality wise.”

This approach even applies to things like family holidays. “I am the one investigating everything about our destination,” Zhantilessov laughs, “from the best sights to the best restaurants, a full comparison of accommodation options, constantly checking reviews online and asking friends and acquaintances what their own experience was.”

All of this shows how seriously Zhantilessov takes the procurement world. “Procurement is my passion and part of my life,” he says. “Our job allows us to meet many different people and build strong relationships and networks worldwide. From my point of view, it is one of the best fields to realise your negotiation and communication skills and make significant cost savings for the organisation. 

“We have a definition of five rights in procurement: right price, right quality, right time, right place and right quantity. This is my approach in my professional and personal life too.”

Building Exness’ procurement function

Having worked for global giants like Philip Morris, Huawei, and HomeCredit Bank, upon joining Exness at the beginning of 2020 Zhantilessov was tasked with building its procurement process from the ground up. The absence of any existing procurement framework was, in his words, “one of the reasons I accepted an offer from Exness, as it gave me this great opportunity and freedom to build a best-in-class procurement process from scratch.”

Today, he describes the process as one of his proudest professional experiences. “I treat every professional challenge as an opportunity,” Zhantilessov says. 

“We started by creating a new procurement policy, and after that, it was a change management with all key internal stakeholders. I gradually built a base and using that base, we created and implemented a new procurement service desk and vendor on-boarding process in our ERP system, synchronised with relevant departments.”

Along with the procurement procedure, Zhantilessov also built a new multinational procurement team, based in two core offices: Cyprus and Malaysia. 

The Exness Procurement Team is a multinational team based in two core offices: Cyprus and Malaysia. Collectively, the team members speak eight languages. With varying backgrounds from industries such as IT and Telecom, Professional Services, Construction, Consulting, Security, HR & Admin, and Travel, the team boasts vast expertise in multiple procurement fields.

The team comprises: Senior Procurement Specialists Anastasia Koroleva and Yiannis Vassiliou; Procurement Specialists Nicholas Tan and Angelina Vryonidou; and Procurement Officers, Chee Hong Tham and Angelina Papachristoforou.

“Collectively, my team members speak eight languages. It is important to speak English, Chinese, Russian, Greek, and Malay with our vendors and partners. Understanding them better removes the culture wall and also builds a strong relationship with our strategic and important vendors.”

Today, Exness’ procurement team looks like an international family, speaking many languages, supporting each other and demanding high-quality standards. “We have various experience in different fields like IT and telecom, professional services, construction, consulting, security, HR and admin and Travel,” Zhantilessov describes.

“One of the most significant advantages of our team is that operating globally helps us to improve our hard and soft skills, achieve significant cost savings for the company, and make sure that we are cooperating with the best third party providers to be able to provide the best possible service for our customers.”

The benefits of digitisation to Exness’ procurement function

In an increasingly digital world, Zhantilessov has embraced technological innovation in the procurement sector. 

He highlights that digital procurement is about “opting for digital technologies to improve the procurement function of the business.” The benefits of this transformation, according to Zhantilessov, range from improved efficiency and transparency to significant cost savings, and even enhanced work culture.

“In simple words, digital procurement can be defined as an act of incorporating business tasks with the latest technological advances,” he adds. “Automation, for example, helps save a substantial amount of money for a company.”

With the comprehensive revamping of Exness's procurement function, the company has also enhanced its vendor risk management. “The rebuilding of the procurement function and ongoing digital transformation has allowed us to implement vendor risk management that helped us mitigate our risks in many fields,” Zhantilessov explains.

“Vendor management in an organisation increases visibility, which helps identify hidden costs. Strong vendor relationships also enable buyers to negotiate better rates through discounts and incentives that increase profit margins. 

“A vendor risk management program reduces the frequency and severity of data breaches, data leaks and cyber attacks involving third and fourth parties, protecting sensitive data and intellectual property, and ensuring business continuity.”

The Exness Mentor Program: Driving collaboration

The Exness Mentorship Program is an internal programme through which employees who meet a certain set of criteria, are given the unique opportunity to be personally mentored by key members of management. As Zhantilessov explains, the mentorship programme at Exness exemplifies the company’s commitment to fostering leadership and facilitating knowledge transfer.

“The purpose of this programme is to create opportunities for closer collaboration between people on different job levels and with different job responsibilities, to help participants identify and achieve professional growth goals that support business objectives, and to generally build a mentorship community of Exness leaders who can impart their knowledge, skills and abilities to help other employees who may drive the success of the business in the future.”

Zhantilessov credits Elena Krutova, Exness’ Chief Administrative Officer, as a mentor within the programme who “always pushes you to grow further and reach your full potential.”

“I couldn’t have been luckier to have one of the best experts in management to take on my personal journey,” he says. “Elena brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the company and has to me personally. She is a mentor who always pushes you to grow further and reach your full potential, and I am delighted to have had her constant support and to have such an inspiring manager in my corner.”

Zhantilessov’s journey has also been influenced by the company's Chief Finance Officer, Alexis Alichanidis, who as his direct manager contributed significantly to his development. “I am grateful for his ongoing support and the fact that he gave me the freedom to show my potential and realise my ideas into fruition. Alexis is a strong manager who not only pushes for achievements within the company but also ensures there is space for individual professional growth. He is the true definition of ‘the difference between a boss and a leader’.”

Importance of partnerships: Exellyn

Exness considers partnerships like the one with Exellyn pivotal for the growth and operational efficiency of the company. An expert in centralised procurement and IT infrastructure standardisation solutions, Exellyn helps its multinational clients manage their global IT infrastructure easily and securely by providing global solutions for their offices worldwide.

“Standardisation in IT infrastructure is an essential condition to solve today's challenges of manageability, stability and security,” comments Zhantilessov. 

A Dell Technologies Titanium partner, Exellyn is focused on providing hardware deployment, professional services and IT infrastructure management on a global scale. “More than a decade into our journey of redefining global IT fulfillment, they are now a highly-respected partner for their multinational clients,” Zhantilessov adds. “At Exness, Exellyn is one of our strategic partners and has delivered many projects related to Dell products.”

Ambitious future plans for Exness’ procurement process

Looking ahead, Zhantilessov has ambitious plans for Exness’ procurement function.

“We will continue improving our procure-to-pay process to make our internal procedures more efficient. We will also implement a new vendor portal next year, which will help us automate bidding processes,” he explains.

Zhantilessov also describes two ambitious plans related to its new procurement community in Cyprus and the global vendor marketplace that Exness co-partners can use. 

“As a part of the CIPS, I would like to build a procurement community in Cyprus and promote sustainable and ethical procurement on the island. It is a long-term goal that will take more than one year and can benefit the industry. 

“Regarding the vendor B2B marketplace, we can consider the benefits of better prices, improved quality levels, multi-vendor inventory management, efficient logistics, and better customer service.”

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