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Fireside chat with Henning Hatje

Who is Henning?

Henning Hatje is one of the three founders of Lhotse, a procurement solution for all non-strategic spend. Together with his co-founders Can Akin and Jan Berssenbruegge, he founded Lhotse in 2020.

Before that, Henning was a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group for 4 years, where he advised DAX30 companies and corporations on strategic topics in procurement, compliance and digitalisation. Henning studied at the London Business School and Maastricht University.

Tell us more about your role in Lhotse.

At Lhotse, I’m responsible for building connections with clients and driving partnerships.

What is the most difficult part of your job? But the most rewarding one?

As a start-up founder, you often want to move quickly and drive change, but you also need to have a lot of patience because things often take longer than you might have originally expected. This is why, it feels so rewarding when you persevere and the projects you and your team have been working on for a long time finally come to fruition and you get to see all your hard work paying off.

Is there anything that you would change about your professional path?

I wouldn’t change anything, because my professional path and the experience I gained from my previous roles is what led me to be where I am today. At BCG, I worked very closely on topics related to procurement but also compliance and digitalisation and I saw first-hand a lot of the challenges that big organisations are facing today.

A lot of these issues come from the lack of proper process or in some cases processes which are outdated, too complex or no longer efficient. Procurement as an industry is extremely process reliant, so the potential for improvement and optimisation is huge. But as an outsider to procurement, I would never have known about all of this if it wasn’t for all the procurement focussed projects I was consulting on at BCG.

The same applies for my co-founders Jan and Can, whose past career experience helped them gain the knowledge and insights needed to make Lhotse what it is today.

What’s your key strategy for the development of your company?

Procurement is still considered a very traditional industry, but in reality it is a very closely-knit community with a lot of hard-working, ambitious people who are looking for ways to introduce innovation in a sustainable way. This is why for us it’s very important to be an active part of this community and to connect to procurement experts and business leaders who can share real-life examples of their biggest challenges. Talking to our customers and taking every possible opportunity to learn from them and from other industry leaders has been the driving force for developing our company.

Everything we do at Lhotse ties back to our customers and the ways that we can help them supercharge their procurement processes.

What do you think about the next period of time, keeping in mind the pandemic and the new business climate? How will your industry be affected?

The procurement industry has already been affected dramatically in recent years. From supply chain disruptions to capacity and material shortages, the industry has been through a lot. When we talk to our customers, we also see a big shift in priorities.

Digitalisation is now a must-have for most CPOs and many procurement leaders are looking for ways to automate a lot of their admin and manual work, so that they can free up much needed capacity for more strategic topics. This is why the need for easy-to-use tools such as Lhotse is on the rise – procurement leaders can no longer afford to have their team spend countless hours on manual tasks when there are more urgent topics at stake.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

At Lhotse, we are massive fans of OpenSearch – one of the technological superpowers out there that can be used to supercharge procurement processes. In procurement, well structured, usable data can be extremely beneficial.

For example, a quickly searchable index of past purchase orders has the potential to remove siloed knowledge in an organization. The problem is that the required data is usually hidden in various systems and has a fragmented format. This is where OpenSearch comes in – we use it to help optimize procurement workflows and increase transparency.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

I really enjoyed reading “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker – it helped us better understand and adapt to the personal preferences of our Lhotse teammates of when they are doing their best work and being the most productive.

I also love everything written by Haruki Murakami – I’m currently reading “Kafka on the Shore”. This book is something else!

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