Pros to Know: Canoo Technologies’ Joseph DiClemente Named Overall Top Procurement Pro

Joseph DiClemente, senior director, IT purchasing, vendor portfolio management, internal process and strategy for Canoo Technologies, was named an overall winner of the Top Procurement Pros category for this year’s Pros to Know award.

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Joseph DiClemente, senior director, IT purchasing, vendor portfolio management, internal process and strategy for Canoo Technologies, was named an overall winner of the Top Procurement Pros category for this year’s Pros to Know award, presented by Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

We talk exclusively with DiClemente about his journey, his goals, what he would tell his future and past self and why renegotiating contracts is so important in today’s environment.


Supply & Demand Chain Executive: Let’s first talk about you. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey to get to this current stage in your career?

Joseph DiClemente: Passion and diligence are two traits that I believe most reflect me as an individual. I learned from a very young age that I could see things differently than most people. I am driven by a genuine passion for understanding where individuals, groups, and companies are current state, where they want to be, and guiding them towards getting there. I thrive in diverse, fast-paced cultures that embody qualities of transparency, hard work, and compassion. My primary objective is to spark those “aha moments,” illuminating minds, shifting perspectives, and unlocking new possibilities.

I have always had a passion for automotive. I started my career at General Motors, where I held diverse positions, playing integral roles in purchasing. These roles included serving as the global lead buyer in the new technology and autonomous vehicle group, contributing to purchasing in the OnStar and Global Customer Experience group, and acting as the program buyer for the 2016 Malibu. My contributions were acknowledged with the receipt of the GM Recognition Award over 60 times, a testament to my exceptional service to co-workers and suppliers. Managing contracts exceeding $324 million, I endeavored to transform the automotive industry by facilitating connections between people and things, making the world more streamlined through innovation and urban mobility.

From there, I decided to join RPM, a distinguished logistics firm recognized as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America. The rare honor of earning a seven-year inclusion in Inc. Magazine's prestigious Inc. 500/5000 list, achieved by less than 1% of companies, underscores my pivotal role in shaping the firm's strategy, fostering the growth of sales representatives, and ensuring quality assurance across the organization. I once again held multiple roles; director of quality assurance, VP of sales and quality assurance, and finally VP of strategic execution. Within my time at RPM, I helped shape the careers of over 100-plus sales and operational professionals, improved sales 40% YOY, spearheaded internal process and strategy and the obtainment of ISO 9001:2015 certification, formed multiple different task forces, and executed over 80-plus process improvement initiatives internally and externally. 

After RPM, I wanted to have even more of an impact on the world as a whole; I joined Canoo. Canoo’s mission is to make electric vehicles accessible to all. As the overseer of commodity management, IT, vendor portfolio management, and internal process and strategy at Canoo, I am deeply committed to the company's mission. I am able to have an immense impact not only internally, but externally with our customers and vendors. I am excited to what the future holds.

My continuous achievements have not gone unnoticed, with nominations by Corp! Magazine as Michigan's Most Valuable Millennial in 2021 and recognition as a 30 Under 30 Award Winner in 2020 and 2021 from Western Michigan University. These accolades underscore my dedication to excellence and continuous impact in the automotive industry and beyond.


Supply & Demand Chain Executive: One of the things outlined in your submission is that you negotiated and executed over 350 contracts, resulting in $225 million in savings; you revitalized the IT organization, achieving 100% improvement in meeting deadline commitments; you established and led a process improvement steering committee that resulted in $1 million in ROI; and you led the company in obtaining ISO 9001:2015 certification. Talk to us a bit further about these different initiatives and why renegotiating is so important in today’s environment.

DiClemente: I have always believed that if a company does not have a proper backbone (process and procedures) in place, it will take you five times longer to get to your goal. It is essentially like launching a rocket and trying to build it mid-air at the same time. It is incredibly important that you understand where you are at current state and what the end goal is. By doing so, you are able to build out proper processes and procedures to ensure you will reach that goal, and do it effectively. Having a multi-faceted approach to driving efficiency, cost savings, and organizational improvement is key.

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, the importance of procurement lies in the agility and adaptability it brings to organizations. Ongoing negotiations foster stronger relationships with vendors. Collaborative discussions can lead to mutually beneficial outcomes, driving innovation, and ensuring that both parties are aligned in achieving their respective goals. Re-negotiating contracts provides an opportunity to reassess and mitigate risks. This is especially crucial in an environment where uncertainties, such as supply chain disruptions or regulatory changes, can impact business operations. Over a year’s period, I was able to re-negotiate over 350 contracts with over 150 vendors and mitigate it down to 85 vendors. These are vendors that we want to build long lasting relationships with and grow together.

In short, having a proactive approach to contract management, emphasizing the critical role of vendor relationships and internal process, results in operational efficiency and organizational excellence in today’s dynamic environment.


Supply & Demand Chain Executive: There’s so much going on in the procurement world, and in the supply chain in general. What have you and your company done to help customers improve visibility and optimization?

DiClemente: Within the dynamic realm of procurement and the broader supply chain, Canoo has actively contributed to enhancing visibility and optimization for our customers. At the heart of our efforts lies the development of breakthrough electric vehicles that are reshaping the automotive landscape. Our pioneering technologies, unique design, and innovative business model differentiate us in the industry. With a modular electric platform designed for maximum interior space, we aim to provide a customizable and versatile vehicle solution that spans across multiple owners in the lifecycle of the vehicle.

Canoo's approach is distinctive in that it supports a wide range of vehicle applications for consumers, emphasizing adaptability and sustainability. By introducing this modular platform, we not only respond to the evolving needs of the automotive market but also contribute to increased visibility and optimization within the supply chain. The flexibility of our design allows for efficiency in production and distribution, ultimately benefiting our customers.

On a personal level, my role within Canoo involves redefining how we lead. I am dedicated to creating a transformative approach that prioritizes empathy and the cultivation of solid, enduring relationships both internally and externally. Through empathy, I seek to understand the unique needs and challenges of our stakeholders and vendors, fostering collaboration and mutual growth. This approach is not just transactional but aims to build partnerships that extend beyond immediate business interactions.

Utilizing lean principles and methods have allowed us to reshape how Canoo is operating. Extreme organization is a key pillar of to be successful, ensuring that processes are streamlined, transparent, and optimized for efficiency. By working efficiently and lean, we enhance visibility into the procurement processes, allowing for better decision-making and adaptability to market dynamics.

Building solid and long-lasting relationships is another crucial aspect of my strategy. These relationships extend beyond mere transactions to partnerships built on trust, shared values, and a commitment to collective success. In the fast-paced world of procurement, having reliable and collaborative relationships with vendors is essential for navigating challenges and capitalizing on opportunities.

Continuous process optimization is the final cornerstone of my leadership approach. By consistently evaluating and refining our processes, we ensure that we stay ahead of industry trends and best practices. This commitment to optimization enhances our ability to adapt to changing market conditions and deliver increased value to both Canoo and our vendor partners.

In summary, Canoo's contributions to the procurement world involve groundbreaking electric vehicle solutions, while my personal leadership approach centers around empathy, relationship-building, and continuous process optimization. Together, these efforts contribute to improved visibility, efficiency, and overall excellence within the procurement and supply chain domains.

Supply & Demand Chain Executive: If you could have a conversation with your younger self, what would you tell him?

DiClemente: If I could have a heartfelt conversation with my younger self, I would impart a series of invaluable lessons that have shaped my understanding of life and well-being.

Embrace change. Change is inevitable, and it's a natural part of life. I would encourage my younger self to welcome change as an inherent part of life's journey. The ability to adapt and perceive change as an opportunity for personal growth is not only liberating but transformative.

Follow your passion. Pursue what you love and are passionate about. While practical considerations are important, finding a balance that allows you to incorporate your interests into your life is crucial for long-term fulfillment.

Be present. In the rush of modern living, I would remind my younger self to be present. The pace of life can be overwhelming, leading to a constant focus on the future or dwelling on the past. Practicing mindfulness and savoring the present moment is a powerful antidote to this, allowing for a richer, more meaningful experience of life's journey.

Value education. Continuous learning is essential and a lifelong companion to self- discovery and growth. It is something nobody can ever take from you. Whether formal education or self-directed learning, always seek to expand your knowledge and skills. It opens doors to new possibilities and keeps your mind active.

Be kind to yourself. Understand that perfection is unrealistic. Be kind to yourself when facing challenges, and treat yourself with the same compassion you would offer to a friend.

Set boundaries. Learn to set healthy boundaries in various aspects of your life. This includes boundaries in relationships, work, and personal time. It's crucial for maintaining balance and well-being.

Value relationships. Invest time and effort in building meaningful relationships with family and friends. These connections provide support, joy, and a sense of belonging throughout life.


Supply & Demand Chain Executive: What would you want to tell your future self?

DiClemente: I would tell my future self to continue pursuing my passions with determination and resilience. Never stop learning. Embrace change as an opportunity for growth, and always prioritize personal well-being. Remember to savor the present moment and value the relationships that bring joy and support. Stay true to your values, learn from mistakes, and approach challenges with a positive mindset. Most importantly, be kind to yourself, and never underestimate the power of continuous learning and self-improvement.

Supply & Demand Chain Executive: You’ve been named an overall Pros to Know winner for the Top Procurement Pros category, which recognizes professionals in the procurement space. What advice do you have for others in procurement?

DiClemente: First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude for being recognized as an overall Pros to Know winner in the Top Procurement Pros category. This accolade is a testament to the collective efforts of the entire procurement community, and I am honored to be a part of it. Reflecting on this achievement, I would like to share some advice for fellow professionals in the procurement space:

Lead with empathy. Recognize the human element in every transaction and interaction. Empathy is a powerful tool in understanding the needs and concerns of both internal stakeholders and suppliers. By placing yourself in the shoes of others, you can build stronger relationships, negotiate more effectively, and foster a collaborative and inclusive procurement environment.

Foster a culture of continuous improvement. Encourage a culture of continuous improvement within your procurement team. Regularly evaluate processes, seek feedback, and implement changes that enhance efficiency and effectiveness. Embrace a mindset of continual learning and refinement.

Be adaptable and resilient. The global business environment is characterized by volatility and uncertainty. Develop the ability to adapt to changes swiftly and build resilience into your procurement strategies. This includes contingency planning, risk management, and the ability to navigate unforeseen challenges.

Communicate effectively. Clear and effective communication is essential in procurement. Whether it's negotiating contracts, conveying expectations to suppliers, or collaborating with internal stakeholders, strong communication skills are key. Foster open lines of communication to build trust and understanding.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the 2024 Pros to Know winners.