Monique Pellinkhof achter laptop

Procurement lawyer Monique Pellinkhof: "Creating a match is cool"

Tenders are tedious? Not for Monique Pellinkhof (41). She is senior procurement manager at GÉANT, the European association of research and education networks (NRENs). Currently, Pellinkhof is extremely busy with OCRE2024, the European tender for cloud services. "The international collaboration is hugely rewarding," she says.

Flooded with questions

Together with no fewer than 39 NRENs, including SURF, GÉANT published on 20 March a new tender for large-scale procurement of cloud services for the European research and education community: OCRE 2024. From 2025, the outcome will provide the basis of cloud services purchased by SURF members through SURFcumulus.

"Right now, we are flooded with questions from interested parties," Monique Pellinkhof says with a twinkle in her eye. It is the Q&A phase after the publication of the tender. "We have received some three hundred questions by now. On 19 April we will close the Q&A phase and then we will answer everything. We also try to do that already on the go, not only to give interested parties a definitive answer as soon as possible but also not to let the number of questions pile up too much."

"European education and research networks contain a wealth of knowledge and experience"

GÉANT does all this jointly with people from the various national research and education networks, including SURF. "There is a wealth of knowledge and experience there. The 11 people from the evaluation team that will assess the bids were trained in Copenhagen last week, because one of the members of that team works at the Danish NREN. Such international cooperation is hugely instructive. And also necessary, because without all the NRENs we could not do this."

Pellinkhof has been working at GÉANT for almost three years now and has been gaining knowledge and identifying lessons learned and best practices all this time. "Because the best starting point for your tender is your current contract. So I've been looking at what works and what could be improved, and also what new developments, which were not yet relevant in the previous tender in 2020, we need to take into account."

Most exciting moment

"I always find publishing a tender exciting: that push of the button after which everyone can see it on the tender portal TED. That exciting moment did last two days this time because it was a lot of work. Our publication is no less than 80 pages long because we do it for so many parties. Normally, such a tender document is one to two pages. You have to fill in all kinds of fields and if you do something wrong, and that could just be a postal code of the NREN in Moldova, you get an error message from the system and have to wrestle through everything all over again. So that was quite a challenge, haha. And then suddenly: bam, it's online."

Monique Pellinkhof

"In a tender, you try to bring supply and demand together and create a win-win situation"

"I find the large scale interesting"

"What is particularly interesting about this tender is that there are a lot of interests involved, both on the suppliers' and NRENs' side. That's what I find very cool about this, the large scale. Other procurement nerds also think this is really 'wow, next level'."

"You can think of a tender as something one-sided, but I think that's where you miss the mark as a contracting authority. In a tender, you try to bring supply and demand together and create a win-win situation. The nice thing is if you end up with two parties who have found each other and start working together. Establishing a match like that is cool."

The romance of Hollywood

"When I chose to study law, I was honestly a bit triggered by the romance of Hollywood. I also find the tension between law and justice philosophically interesting. When I graduated as a lawyer, procurement law was not yet a specialisation. It is a relatively young field of law that emerged within the borders of Europe in 1970."

"I started as a contract lawyer, but I soon discovered that there is a whole world prior to a contract: that of procurement and tendering. That's actually where you can make or break a contract. There is a super valuable contribution in that preliminary process. I wanted to be able to do that too."

"I want to achieve more than just the biggest price reduction"

A common thread in Pellinkhof's career is the non-profit sector. "Procurement law only applies to the public sector. I did make a foray into the commercial world and that was fascinating, but my heart is not there because it is a bit more short-sighted. Very dynamic and efficient though, which I can appreciate immensely, but I want to achieve more than just the biggest price reduction. If I had worked at a law firm, I could have made more money, but I wouldn't necessarily have enjoyed it more."

Monique Pellinkhof

"This year my life is dominated by OCRE2024, but next year I will resume studying and teaching"

Passion for wine and hospitality

Pellinkhof combines her work in the legal world with a passion for wine and the hospitality industry. "Just before covid, when we could not yet imagine that the hospitality industry was going to close, I invested in a wine bar in Amsterdam. That, of course, went through a deep crisis because of its closure during the coronavirus period. It was challenging."

Her love for wine and hospitality has not diminished, however. She also teaches at the Amsterdam Wine Academy. "This year my life is dominated by OCRE2024, but next year I will continue studying and teaching. I have family in France, a fantastic wine country. I'm looking forward to hopefully being able to go again this summer."

Text: Josje Spinhoven
Photos: Vera Duivenvoorden

OCRE2024: renewed offer of cloud services

The OCRE2024 tender allows research and education institutions to easily procure commercial cloud services cost-effectively and in compliance with the law, without having to tender individually. In 2016, joint tendering was done for the first time.

Expectations for OCRE 2024:

  • a total value of more than €1 billion for the 5-year contract period
  • 2000-3000 proposals from suppliers
  • contracts effective from early 2025

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