In this blog, Nichola Cooke, Assistant Director at STAR Procurement and Deputy Chair of the Connected Procurement and Commissioning (CPC) Programme, reflects on her long standing involvement with iNetwork, discussing how it has benefitted her professional practice.

When I first started at STAR Procurement 8 years ago, I was asked to attend the iNetwork CPC Group on behalf of STAR.  At the time, STAR was very much in its infancy having only been established for 18 months.  iNetwork provided a safe space to share ideas, thoughts and worry beads as we went through a period of massive change and upheaval to get the organisation resourced and organised to get to steady state. Growth came in 2018 with the on-boarding of Tameside as a new Partner, and meant we were now also the procurement support for the iNetwork team.  In text book fashion we had moved through the change curve i.e. the forming, storming and norming phases and into performing and have continued to hit our targets and continuously improve and grow  since. 

Like most procurement teams, the COVID years presented a massive challenge, but the iNetwork Group came together even stronger than ever before and were a real support to each other as we all battled to deal with PPE, emergency procurements, homeworking and stretched resources.  We had weekly calls that provided practical support, sharing of information and most importantly an opportunity to share experiences and pseudo-counselling sessions for each other

Both STAR and iNetwork are going from strength to strength, and CPC continues to be a friendly and supportive group where new ideas, thoughts and risks can be shared openly and honestly.  We cover so many different topics including social value, bid rigging, recruitment, carbon, collaborative procurement and economic resilience, to name a few!  With all these topics on the table, it’s fair to say that it is an exciting time to be in procurement and commissioning, but essential that we have support from iNetwork to help us through this myriad of opportunities, risks and challenges, so thankyou iNetwork Team for your continued passion and commitment to CPC! 

If you have a fond memory of iNetwork or would like to write a short piece on how iNetwork has helped you or your organisation in the last 20 years then we would love to hear from you. Get in touch by dropping us an email at