Jennifer Lo Hang-yu, senior manager for purchasing at Cafe de Coral Holdings, ensures all products measure up to standards within cost constraints and whet the appetite of the company's discerning customers I have been working for Cafe de Coral for many years, and more than 10 years ago I had an opportunity to take up a position in the purchasing department. Since then I have developed my career in purchasing. Every day of my job is different. I have to handle purchases related to everything that our clients may consume at the shops, ranging from napkins to cutlery and food and beverage items. With more than 10 staff members in the purchasing department, we need to liaise with different suppliers in Hong Kong, the mainland and overseas, and other departments within my company. Sometimes we have to travel to the mainland, the United States and Europe for food sampling purchasing. My team and I have regular meetings with the marketing and product development departments to exchange views on the quality and unique selling points of products. For example, two or three months before a promotion activity, we start preparations such as preparing menus, recipes and promotional material. Sometimes it is the marketing team that makes suggestions as to what they would like to promote, so we try our best to meet their requirements. From time to time we have to ensure that the raw food products and fresh produce supplied to us meet Hong Kong's food safety standards, and meet customers' expectations. There are different types of restaurants under our group, including Cafe de Coral, Spaghetti House, and Oliver's Super Sandwiches. So there is quite a wide range of products that we cover. Price bidding is a challenging and meticulous job. For example, when we know that some suppliers are offering very good sausages for 40 cents each, we have to negotiate the price cent by cent. In one month there could be more than 100 contracts negotiated and signed, because our trade volume is big. When we find that the quality of our food supplies is not up to standard, we will have to evaluate the situation immediately, getting to the root of the problem and see where the responsibility lies. If the problem lies with the suppliers, negotiations will take place in order to cover the loss and implement measures to prevent the same problem recurring. My work also involves sourcing. We have to stay alert to what is happening in the local and overseas food supply industry and be sensitive to the latest changes in supply volume, price and quality. For example, when we want a new type of octopus, then we source it from our existing list of approved vendors, or we will have to find a new vendor. Once we find what we want, we will try the samples, and estimate the costs involved. What I purchase for my company is directly consumed by customers. This makes me feel connected to the public and makes my job gratifying. I have to stay in touch with news and market trends as this will affect our purchasing strategies. This profession does not leave you with much personal time as it is not a nine-to-five job. You need to be responsive, assertive, passionate, proactive and good at networking.