One reason that I so enjoyed my years with the then blue-chip ICI is that it developed its business recruits across a spectrum of practical, challenging commercial roles.

I was tested and matured marketing a product called ethylene glycol, which is the raw material for polyester fibre and anti-freeze. Then I was tested further as export sales manager for commodity petrochemicals into the Americas and then spent a full month on the road five times a year for three years all over North and South America. And then I became the procurer of ICI's energy (natural gas, fuel oils and coal) in Europe. Ten magic years.

Of all the jobs I filled in 27 years at ICI, that procurement role was the one I enjoyed the most. On the one hand I was working the commodity fuel oil market with competitive tenders and eyeball-to-eyeball quarterly negotiations with the likes of BP and Shell; on the other, delivering a creative strategic investment initiative that converted one of ICI's largest power stations onto coal - and without touching the ICI balance sheet. At the core of that success was no competitive tender, but a carefully crafted business partnership with the National Coal Board.

So I came to respect and value procurement as a key strategic discipline. What then shook me when I moved into ICT in the early 1990s was its commercial culture. Best described as aggressive deal-making, it exploded towards its peak as a business phenomenon during the decade. I spent most of my time and business experience as ICI's group VP of IT doing my best to counter it with equal aggression. The legacy of this is a sour one: adversarial ICT procurement processes in the public and private sectors in which the name of the game is to place all the risk on the opponents' shoulders.

So I note with real interest that the UK Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has now published ‘A Formula for Success', mapping significant elements of a potentially transformational journey towards a higher quality of procurement effectiveness for major project delivery.