Pat Law Portfolio Procurement
Organisations and industries that are performing well generally look to increase staff, while those that are not might reduce headcount or simply maintain current levels. While these trends are often short term, careers are not. The challenge is to track opportunity and maximise your personal contribution to your employer.
Organisations that have embraced procurement and been influenced internally and externally as to its value will invest in it. Where procurement is still seen as ‘back office’, it risks being viewed as expendable. Organisations looking to cut costs may look to procurement to deliver savings, but not headcount reductions. This gives procurement the opportunity to make itself critical. By delivering what is required and a little more, you are increasing its reputation – and your own.
Some recent highlights include continued cost control in public services, activity in the business process outsourcing sector and more recognition of procurement’s value. The manufacturing sector has been troubled, but enjoyed an upturn this summer. The challenge is to maintain it because the value of a strong manufacturing base goes beyond the industry itself.
If you are seeking a new career with challenge, responsibility, visibility and progression, get on board. If you are already in procurement, ensure you are maintaining your personal development, meeting targets, delivering projects and acting as an ambassador for the profession. The best talent will always be in demand.
Nicky Taberner director, Hays Procurement & Supply Management
Despite a tough economic climate over the past few years, procurement has an increasingly important role to play in organisations. A successful procurement team can add value by making cost savings that impact the bottom line, as well as delivering greater efficiencies and sourcing better products and services.
The fact that procurement now often has a voice on the management board and the appointment of more chief procurement officers shows the influence procurement can have on overall strategy and growth and puts the function firmly in the spotlight.
This is all good news for graduates looking for a career in procurement and those early into their careers looking for progression because it means organisations need the right talent to deliver their expectations. Encouraging new talent as well as developing home grown professionals is high on the agenda of many firms.
We are seeing an increase in the number of higher education courses in procurement to encourage people with a wide range of abilities and experience to join the profession with, for example, MScs, MBAs and various diplomas available. This is certainly helping to raise the profile of procurement as a career of choice among graduates.
Neil Syred procurement and supply chain manager, Badenoch & Clark
Procurement is not a business process, but a value-adding business function. Many executive teams now understand what procurement adds and this will continue to grow, particularly as it improves profitability.
Procurement is therefore set to increase in stature over the coming year and there is an increasing trend for its professionals to be viewed as strategic advisors to internal stakeholders. To achieve this, procurement teams need employees who take it upon themselves to add value by creating successful supplier relationships and identifying financial exposure from potential disruptions to production. Procurement teams are increasingly outsourcing tactical, costly transactional work to specialist companies, but maintaining hands-on control of strategic operations, such as managing supplier relations, so there is high demand for these skills.
There is movement in the market. Many procurement specialists with a certain level of experience are considering a move to senior roles in other organisations. The result is a gap opening for entry-level employees and those with one to two years’ experience.
Procurement practitioners need to be skilled in operating at director and cross-functional level to influence key business buy and/or make decisions. Develop your influencing skills – especially with internal and external stakeholders – be professional, flexible and engaging with a persuasive manner, enthusiasm and passion.
Christina Langley managing director, Langley Search and Selection
Organisations are planning for the downturn to be ‘business as usual’ and cannot wait to find new people. Boards are recognising the benefits of good procurement to the bottom-line, efficient operations and limitation of risk.
For graduates, there is less competition to get into procurement than other areas. The number of companies taking on graduates and with graduate schemes has risen by about 5 per cent in the past year. There is recognition we need a good pipeline of candidates coming through, echoed by CIPS.
The prospects for a career in procurement are good. With more firms outsourcing and going back to their core operations, relationships with suppliers are key. There is a shortage of high-calibre candidates and if you are one of these your career progression can be quick.
The road to getting qualified is easier than, say, for accounting, and there are different routes that can suit different circumstances.
The market for procurement interims is well developed in the UK. Overall recognition of the need for skilled procurement people has risen during the recession.
As a ‘destination career’, it would seem to be well paid, exciting and interesting.
Jack Cornelius operations manager, Barclay Meade
The market for young and dynamic procurement professionals is at a premium for companies hiring in the current climate. Regardless of whether they are a small enterprise or global blue chip, every organisation wants to attract the stars of the future into their procurement and supply chain function.
As the procurement agenda rises up the priority list with the board, the niche pool of candidates has become scarce. Coupled with the reduction of graduate schemes over the past three years, firms are now missing the influx of new blood and are turning to the idea of capturing talent from the competition. The result: a new war for talent and a hike in salaries for the sought-after ‘second job’ generation. The attraction to this strategy is the ability to secure resource that is well on its way to development.
The idea is great in theory, but how many graduates are even aware of procurement as a possible career? Barclay Meade is working very closely with CIPS to attract the next generation to the world of procurement.