For the last 20 years, I have recruited professionals across the corporate spectrum and in 2004, an opportunity arose to enter unknown territory, to help spearhead a dedicated recruitment service for the Procurement profession. I recall being fascinated at the time and I was eager to understand the new world I was soon to become immersed in.
Here I am 11 years later, Business Development Director for CPS Group, still focussing on recruiting into the Procurement Industry and sharing some of my thoughts and observations to an audience of eminent Procurement professionals. It didn’t strike me at the start as being the most dynamic career but I soon realised I could not have been more wrong and now understand that this is one of the most exciting and rewarding career paths. After all, how many careers offer such a diverse pathway which can include the opportunity to affect a company’s overall strategy and receive recognition from the CEO for the added value you bring?
At CPS Group we recognise that the profession has seen a shift from what was deemed to be a reactive career to what has now become a more strategic pro-active contribution.
Of course, this can also pose its own challenges as stepping up successfully from an operational role to setting strategies is not easy. Furthermore, being asked by your manager to create a category strategy provides a great opportunity to showcase your ability and elevate your value in any business.
But what comes next?
You may be asked to communicate the strategy and influence senior stakeholders to gain their buy-in. So what’s the solution?
In my view, there needs to be an investment and commitment from both parties. The employer needs to invest in a robust training programme to upskill the employee and ideally to engage a short to mid term mentor and the employee needs to be pushing for more involvement with the business and embracing any training programme available. Influencing the whole value chain, not just through cost reduction but also in creating overall efficiencies, is what current day Procurement is all about. Involving yourself in complex projects will propel your career.
However, the competition for securing your next career move has never been more challenging. You will need to stand out from the crowd at interview and provide evidence of non technical competencies which include initiative, analytical skills, innovation, creativity, strategic decision making and articulate communication. Employers are looking for you to evidence commercial awareness and gravitas in equal measure too.
Career opportunities in the profession are growing, particularly in the areas of Supplier Relationship Management and Contract Award. The days of ‘let and forget’ following a contract award have truly gone in the wake of recent media exposure to high profile organisations not implementing robust measures to manage suppliers. Additionally, if you are an IT Category Lead, we are starting to see opportunity for your expertise in the area of Enterprise Mobility particularly if the organisation is embarking on a change management programme.
I will leave you with a thought. I recently asked a client to tell me what he thought was the most exciting element of being a procurement professional. He responded by saying “I don’t have to think about this for long, we buy anything from pencils to space ships and contribute to the company’s overall vision as part of our daily tasks”. I rest my case, this really is a very exciting career.
Author: Mair Barron
Date: 18th March 2015